Is Dust and Mold a Hidden Problem in Your House?

Here’s a nasty fact: According to the EPA, indoor air can be 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air – and we spend 90% of our lives indoors! Choosing natural, healthy materials for building supplies and furniture and swapping in safer cleaning products will go a long way. But there are still some key air quality issues that need to be brushed up on to make sure your home is as healthy as possible!

 

Dust

Whenever I find myself waking up with a stuffy nose, itchy, watery eyes, or trouble breathing, I know it means the dust situation in my house isn’t under control – and our bedrooms are ground zero because over 2 million microscopic dust mites live in the average bed. As you may have noticed yourself, dust gathers on blinds, carpets, and around collectibles filling shelves and nooks, so regular dusting is important but not a complete solution.

 

Protect your bedding from dust mites by encasing  your mattress and pillows in protective covers and washing all linens weekly in hot water. Some mattress and pillow cases also limit the off-gassing! Kill dust mites in stuffed animals and other bulky items by putting them in the freezer for 3-5 hours per week.

dust mite

Remove your shoes before entering your home. This keeps all kinds of mess (dust included) out of your house. The exception to that would be (like me) if you have an indoor/outdoor pet – like dogs. Our dogs bring all that same stuff in on their paws and fur, so taking our shoes off becomes sort of moot. It’s better to maintain a more rigorous cleaning schedule. Keeping a track-off mat at the front door also helps!

 

Consider installing forced-air filters with a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) of 8 or higher. No central air? A freestanding HEPA filter air purifier in your bedroom or other main living spaces can do the same job – you can pick up one at most home appliance stores (or Amazon).

 

Mold

Molds require only moisture and oxygen to grow, so they crop up easily in bathroom corners, dank basements, fridges, or under kitchen sinks. A mold infestation can trigger asthma and allergies – or even dizziness and flu-like symptoms. It’s impossible to clear your air of ALL mold spores, but as long as you keep moisture under control, you can prevent the spores from landing on surfaces – which is how they grow. Visit epa.gov/mold for more info on handling mold in your home.

mold

Check your home’s humidity level. 30-50% is optimal – any higher and mold, bacteria, and dust mites can flourish. A good digital thermometer or hygrometer can give you an accurate reading on a cool, low-humidity day. And don’t forget to check your attic and basement! Run a dehumidifier as needed to fix the problem.

Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens. The best fans vent to the outside and include a HEPA filter to eliminate that nasty mold-causing moisture buildup.

 

The Honest Life by Jessica Alba

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