You've Found Your Place in this World, Now Make it a Healthier Home

On average, we spend 65% of our time at home. Hopefully, we at KMS Partners have helped you to find a home in which you can be happy, feel comfortable and at peace. Now let’s make sure that it is a healthy environment too! Here’s some tips to get you started.

 For an Overall Healthier Home:

  • Ventilate your home:  If the outside air is clean, and it generally is in Fairfield County, use it! (see Air Quality Index)  If not, or if you are susceptible to allergens, install interior air filtration. Have a crawl space? Install a vent fan to keep the humidity level down, preventing condensation, the spread of musty odors, mold and mildew, which can trigger allergies and asthma. 

  • Let in the light. Humans need light. And they need to see nature. Open up windows and shades to see what is outside and let the outside in.

  •  Add mats on both sides of your front, side and back entrance doors. Up to 80 percent of the dirt that gets tracked inside—along with countless allergens, bacteria, and lawn chemicals—can be caught with washable matting before it makes itself at home. Take it a step further and remove your shoes. You don't want to know what attaches itself to your shoes throughout the day. Don't bring this into your home and spread it around

  •  Be certain your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors work and change their batteries regularly. Life expectancy of these life-saving devices is 10 and 5 years, respectively.

  •  Any home built before 1980 probably has lead paint somewhere. Remove lead (professionally) from your home. It's a harmful neurological toxin.

  •  Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. High-efficiency particulate air filters are best for sucking up dust, dust mites, animal dander, and fleas. Use a crevice tool on upholstery and a brush attachment on dust-catching curtains and lamp shades.

  •  Add oxygen-generating house plants.  Some like orchids and succulents are ideal for bedrooms as they release oxygen at night. Spider plants, peace lilies, philodendrons, and aloe vera can help neutralize formaldehyde (found in furniture) and benzene (found in car fumes and paint). Snake plants, English ivy, Boston and asparagus ferns, and Areca and bamboo palms are good neutralizers too. All are mood-boosting and studies show improve concentration and memory!

 A Healthy Kitchen (no, we’re not talking about your food choices!):

  • Repeat, ventilate! A vented hood, or open window help when cooking, especially with gas.

  • Always have a fire extinguisher within easy reach. Every household extinguisher is labeled A, B, or C, which tells you the types of fires the extinguisher is effective against. A is ordinary combustibles like wood, paper, and cloth; B is flammable liquids, such as gasoline or cooking oil; and C is live electricity. Did you know they make magnetic pressurized cans to attach to your range hood? They are designed to pop open from the heat of flames, spraying sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

  •  Avoid plastic and non-stick cookware: Glass and cast-iron are best.

  •  Use filtered drinking water. A whole-house water filter is best. When was the last time you changed your water-dispensing refrigerator filter?

  •  Don’t exterminate with chemicals, investigate.  Find the source of your pest problem and tackle it with an integrated pest management (IPM) program. Eliminate food, water and hiding places with routine cleaning and clearing of clutter in and around home; eliminate the existing population (trap or biologically control); remove entry points to your home through caulking and fixing broken doors, window or screens).

 Bedrooms: Sleep well, be well

  •  Make the bedroom the room where you focus on healthy sleep. Remove things that activate the brain. Darken the room thoroughly and eliminate any blue light that stimulates.

  •  Make it quiet. Heavy curtains or those lined with sound-reducing lining work well. Add a layer of sound-proof windows. Use earplugs if you need to…

  •  Let your bed air out before you make it each day. This will allow mite-friendly moisture to evaporate. Airing out your pillows and vacuuming the mattress will help control mites too. Don’t forget to wash sheets, duvet covers, and bedspreads once a week in hot water to keep asthma-inducing dust mites under control.

  • We breathe about 11,000 liters of air every day; a third of all that air you breathe will be in your bedroom. A good air purifier is wise. A houseplant works wonders too. Don’t forget to air out your dry cleaning. Take off plastic bags before you come inside so that any residual perchloroethylene, a common dry-cleaning solvent and suspected carcinogen, can evaporate. Better yet, look for an organic, perc-free dry cleaner.

  • Most humans sleep best in a room with a temperature between 65-70 degrees. Keep the bedroom cool at night.

 Bathrooms, beyond the surface cleaning:

  • Repeat ventilate! To keep moisture at bay, run your ceiling vent fan after every shower. Install a switch timer to make sure it runs at least 20 minutes.

  •  Avoid air-fresheners and personal products that contain toxins. Generally, he more fragrant, the worse they are. Buy products with few ingredients. Avoid soaps with antimicrobials.

  •  Look for effective green cleaners labeled as certified safer by a third-party organization like EPA Safer Choice, Green Seal, or ECOLOGO. Did you know a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, left on grout for 30 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing, outperforms chemical grout cleaners?

  •  Swap out vinyl shower curtains for washable nylon or polyester ones. Vinyl can contain phthalates, which may be hazardous to reproductive health.

  •  Replace failing caulk and cracked tiles to discourage mold from growing behind the walls.

 Basement, from the ground up:

  •  Measure and control radon. This odorless natural gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Use a test kit to measure levels every few years and after any basement work.

  •  Keep it dry. De-humidify the basement. A small de-humidifier can work wonders. If you own a sump pump, check it monthly to be sure it is working properly.

  •  Schedule an HVAC checkup to make sure furnaces, boilers, and water heaters are properly venting carbon monoxide. Replace filters every three months. Electrostatically charged pleated filters do a particularly good job of removing allergens.

  •  Homes built prior to 1970 probably have asbestos. Check for flaking asbestos around pipes and boilers. Call a professional for remediation.

     Avoid carpets: a hard floor is easier to maintain, keep dry and avoids mold. Choose lime plaster walls over drywall, or at a minimum, choose the paperless drywall which is less vulnerable to moisture.

  • Don't store chemicals in the basement, even when sealed. Many paints have harmful chemicals.

Outside Your Home:

  •  Avoid harmful pesticides and herbicides. Runoff is a major source of pollution in rivers and lakes—which helps explain how nitrates and weed killers can end up in your drinking water.

  •  Beware of the air quality of attached garages. Ventilate your garage well and never leave a car running inside the garage. Safely dispose of half-empty containers of dried-up paint, stain, and solvents. Store gas in a no-spill container.

  •  Secure the envelope of your home: seal exterior cracks and holes and have a proper vapor barrier.

  •  Replace gas-powered lawn gear for quieter, fume-free electric and manual options.

  •  Be security conscious and secure the perimeter of your home. Solar powered, motion-detecting lights can be effective.

  •  Establish a pet checkpoint. Dogs showers are being added to mudrooms and lobbies across the country. At a minimum, use a fine-tooth comb to catch fleas before they come inside and treat cats and dogs with a monthly tick-and-flea medication. Flea shampoos and collars contain pesticides, which can rub off on kids and furnishings.