As winter settles in, we spend much more time indoors. The cold and flu season begins. When you combine the two, we can be in for a dreary time, especially for those with asthma or allergies. Being confined indoors means that if there are any triggers of allergies or asthma inside the home, we are being confronted with them even more than normal. Think about the fact that young children spend 70% of the time in their home.
A few weeks ago, we ran the article concerning the Healthy Homes program, where we focused on the first principle of Healthy Homes, Keep it Dry. The second principle, which we’ll discuss here, is Keep It Clean. While we all want to think that we keep our homes clean, it makes even more sense that if we are spending the winter indoors, we want the home to be as clean as possible. By Keeping It Clean, we reduce our exposure to chemical contaminants, allergens, pest droppings, pesticides and consumer chemicals.
Dust can come from home-grown items such as dust mites or lead dust, or can be resident-made, such as garbage and clutter. Either way, cleaning is essential. It is suggested that dry dusting or dry sweeping is not the best way to clean. Experts recommend vacuuming with a low-emission vacuum with a beater bar, or wet cleaning, using elbow grease, and being certain to frequently change the water. Using a vacuum that has good filtration and a HEPA air filter is best. Of course, keeping the dust out can begin at the door by installing a dust walk-off system and taking your shoes off when entering. Having cleanable flooring is much better than carpeting. Dust is harder to remove from carpet, and the older the carpeting is, the more difficult it is to clean. If you are going to clean your carpet, steam cleaning is better than chemical cleaners or shampooing.
When cleaning, consider more natural cleaners. For example, if you use an air freshener, understand that most commercial air fresheners do not freshen the air. Instead, they mask one odor with another, coat your nasal passages with an undetectable oil film, or even diminish your sense of smell with a nerve-deadening agent. Instead, try one of the following: open your windows for a short period during the day (even in winter); cinnamon and cloves boiled in water creates a fragrant smell; potpourri, or pure essentials oils added to water and left sitting out.
For an all-purpose cleaner, consider using baking soda (4 tablespoons dissolved in 1 quart of warm water). It makes a good general cleaner. Vinegar and salt mixed together is a good surface cleaner.
Through our recent training to become a certified Healthy Homes inspector, in conjunction with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation St. Louis Chapter, we have developed a 65-point, whole house inspection for families who deal with allergy and asthma issues to help identify and remedy environmental issues that can cause problems. We’re offering this inspection at a reduced rate of $90 through the end of January for anyone affiliated with, or who mentions the AAFA-STL when scheduling their appointment (normal value is $140). What’s more, for every 5 inspections purchased, Get It Done is offering one hour of service to AAFA-STL clients.
AAFA-STL is a nonprofit organization that has been serving the asthmatic and allergic needs of the St. Louis community for over 31 years. AAFA-STL’s medical assistance program, Project Concern, provided uninsured and underinsured children with life-saving asthma and allergy medications, equipment, education, and support. Their educational programs and recourses reach families, schools, and nurses all over the Greater St. Louis area. (www.aafastl.org).
Keeping the house clean will go a long way in helping you survive the winter. Be careful however, this could be addicting!