The calendar is telling us that spring has sprung, even though the weather may not have fully followed suit just yet! Even without the cooperation of the weather, the spring is the best time for us to look at getting our homes in order and cleaning up the dust and cobwebs from a winters worth of shutting ourselves in from the cold, and hibernating in our cozy castles!
Although getting rid of the dust in all the crevices within our homes is a fantastic start…it’s not just the dust that we need to pay attention to. More and more research is telling us that our indoor air quality can be far worse than what we find outdoors, and our health, comfort and well-being are suffering. Considering we are spending more time inside than we ever have historically, the hidden pollutants that impact our air quality, such as mold & fungal particulates, VOC’s, and formaldehyde (just to name a few) are just as important to address during your spring cleaning as the dust! So here are some tips to help you reduce mold and improve your indoor air quality this spring:
Scrub it Clean and Look for Leaks
We know that nobody loves to clean, and a thorough spring clean might be overwhelming for many, but an extensive clean can help reduce allergens, dust, mold, and other irritants within our homes. In areas of high moisture, such as kitchens and bathrooms, cleaning surfaces by spraying and allowing time for disinfection can be very helpful. While cleaning and decluttering, keep an eye out for signs of water leaks and moisture intrusion. Look out for staining, wet spots or visible water drips so that any issues are caught and dealt with immediately. Don’t give mold the opportunity to develop! Clean spills up quickly and don’t let water drips go unresolved for any length of time.
Maintain Healthy Humidity Levels
Mold and dust mites love a humid home, and high humidity levels provide for an ideal environment for them to thrive and spread! So, it goes without saying that keeping your indoor humidity levels low, or within the recommended guidelines, is the key to reducing their ability to wreak havoc on your air quality. It is recommended that a homeowner should try and keep humidity levels indoors between 30-50% for the optimal comfort of building occupants, and also to minimize the amount of mold and dust mites allowed to take up residency in your home.
It’s Spring….Open the Windows!!
As the weather improves, let the fresh air in! Opening the windows and increasing ventilation is the best way to get rid of that stuffy feeling we get while cooped up in the winter. When we shut ourselves in, Carbon Dioxide levels tend to rise in our homes, and opening the windows is exactly what’s needed to dilute these levels and improve the air quality inside! Get the air circulating and you will reduce any odors, chemical smells or stuffiness that have found their way in!
Keep it Green While You Clean!
When we clean, we work hard to remove contaminants lurking in our homes, so it’s really important that we aren’t inadvertently putting others back in while we scrub. Cleaning products that smell great are often the biggest sources of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) in the home. Pine and lemon artificially scented products can be the greatest offenders even though we associate their scent with “clean”. Whenever you can, try to choose water based or more natural products while cleaning. By choosing non-toxic, non-aerosol and unscented products we reduce the amount of burden they are putting on our indoor air quality. A quick internet search will reveals dozens of natural disinfectant alternatives. It is also important to regularly check labels on synthetic cleaning products in an effort to help reduce exposure to formaldehyde and other unwanted pollutants.
Bring Your Outside In
Mother Nature has given us some very powerful tools when it comes to improving our indoor air. Adding live plants into your home is a fantastic way to help remove VOC’s and even Formaldehyde from your environment. Plants will also add oxygen in to your home while actively working to reduce Carbon Dioxide levels…just make sure you don’t overwater and wipe any spills up as soon as they happen. So, when your cleaning efforts are complete, bring your outside in and use plants to help improve your air quality.
By approaching your spring cleaning as an opportunity to not only clean, but to also improve your indoor air quality, health, and well-being, you are arming yourself with the tools needed to keep your home and family safe! Even though it may not be realistic, possible or even needed to remove every contaminant from our living space, a small effort via the tips above can go a long way toward keeping your home your sanctuary.
Yvonne Braj is the Vice President of Sales and Operations for The Informed Decisions Group of Companies which includes Informed Decisions Mold, Indoor Air Quality & Environmental Solutions, Air Quality Solutions, The Air Quality Experts, and The Mold Inspection Experts. Yvonne holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto and is a Certified Indoor Air Quality Consultant with many years of industry experience. She is also the primary writer of three industry related mold and indoor air quality blogs.