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Your new Waterloo Region home looks clean, but is it really healthy? Sick home syndrome is a real thing, and it is not something you want your home to ‘catch’. Whether you are planning on moving, have just moved in, or simply want to make sure that your living spaces are as healthy as possible over the course of the next two posts we will be offering some great tips for doing just that.
Creating Healthy Bedrooms
How often do you get up in the morning with a stuffy nose, or find yourself sneezing for no particular reason? The culprit could be dust mites as these microscopic creatures love nothing better than a nice warm bed. To minimize the problem you should wash everyone’s bedclothes at least once a week and if you have younger kids freeze their non washable stuffed toys for an hour or so occasionally to get rid of any dustmites that might be lurking there.
If you are shopping for new bedding you might want to consider purchasing bamboo sheets (yes you really can make anything out of bamboo!) Bamboo is naturally resistant to both bugs and germs and those properties still exist when the grass is woven into cloth. They also wick away moisture very well, 3 or 4 times better than cotton does, so they are very cool for summer sleeping.
You should also consider taking laundry baskets out of bedrooms unless they have lids as they can make brilliant playgrounds for all kinds of germs. Keep wardrobes and closets as tidy as possible too, not only to help keep dust mites at bay but to help make everyone’s mornings easier as well. And if you have pets in home banning them from the bedroom might seem a bit cruel but the lack of dander on your bed will help you sleep a lot better!
If you have carpeted bedrooms vacuuming is very important of course. If possible choose a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter and strong suction so that dirt and dust that you pick up with it will not be thrown right back into the room.
VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are given off by both paint,various flooring types and some furniture (MDF is a big culprit) can be a problem anywhere in the home but especially in the bedroom. VOCs can cause all kinds of nasty diseases over time but the most noticeable short term effect of breathing them in are headaches so VOCs in the bedroom are a real pain (pardon the pun) If you intend to repaint a bedroom look for low VOC paints and consider opting for real wooden furniture finished with a low VOC varnish.
Creating a Healthy Living Room
The living room is more than just a place to gather and watch telly these days. Most of us eat there (at least occasionally) play video games, do homework and a dozen other things. The living room is often also the family pets’ playground and oh yes, most homeowners use the room to entertain guests as well.
That such a busy room gets messy and dirty quickly is no big surprise and although you may think your living room looks nice and tidy there are an unexpected number of germs lurking as well.
Carpeted living rooms harbour the most dust and grime and really do need to be vacuumed on a regular basis with a good HEPA filter equipped vacuum. Soft finishings (the sofa, chairs) should be given the once over once a week as well, more often if you have pets, even if they are banned from sitting on them!
Poor air quality can be a problem in any home and especially in a room where everyone gathers like the living room. Whether its summer and the air conditioning is on or winter and the heat is pumping we all tend to close our homes up very tightly to stop the heat (or the cool) escaping. That is great for your wallet but not so great for your health. Study after study has shown that in many cases the quality of the air people breathe in their homes is worse than the stuff they gulp in outside, even in the city.
While throwing your windows open to let some fresh air in may not always be practical clean air is. Invest in a good air purifier. Companies like Sharp make some really good ones and although you are looking at a $100-$200 investment they really do work well and most people notice a real difference in terms of less sniffling and snuffling, fewer headaches and just a fresher smelling room.
VOCs can be a real problem in the living room as well as they tend to have the most furniture of any room in the house. The air purifier will help but stick to low VOC paints if you are redecorating and furniture made from as many natural materials as possible.
For now we’ll leave you to get started with these tasks, and be back soon with part 2 of this short series.