Tips for a Cleaner, Healthier Home

How clean is clean? Understanding the difference between a home that looks clean and a home that is properly disinfected is especially important. A room may appear immaculate, but millions of germs and bacteria are lurking where you least expect them.

To protect your family from illness, you must disinfect all areas to destroy germs and prevent them from spreading. Your kitchen sink and counters should be cleaned with antibacterial solutions after each use. Bacteria left from meats and vegetables can get on your hands, utensils or other foods.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some viruses and bacteria can live two hours or longer on surfaces like telephones, doorknobs and tables. Cleaning and disinfecting these “hot spots” regularly is key to keeping a healthy home.

Poor indoor air quality also is to blame for a variety of health effects. Americans spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors, where air pollution levels can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels.

“Homeowners often complain about poor indoor air quality leading to headaches, dry eyes and fatigue, as well as asthma and allergy attacks,” said home improvement expert Lou Manfredini.

But you can breathe easier by following these strategies for reducing air pollution in your home:

* Control the source. Reduce or remove as many asthma or allergy triggers from your home as possible. Keep pets outside whenever possible; wash all bedding weekly in hot water; and don’t allow anyone to smoke indoors.

* Invest in an air purifier.

“You will notice a significant change in your breathing and overall well-being, and recognize the worth of this investment immediately,” said Manfredini.

* Check and replace. Maintain your heating and air conditioning systems by changing the filters frequently. This includes gas appliances, wood stoves and fireplaces. Good maintenance and ventilation are important for keeping indoor air pollution under control.