Everyone wants their home to be as safe and healthy as possible. While New Year’s resolutions are often based around renovations and backyard spruce-ups, sometimes it's important to take care of the space you've already got. According to Nicole Bijlsma, building biologist and founder of the Australian College of Environmental Studies, “In terms of health, we look at our diet - the food we ingest. Homes and buildings are not given the same attention, but they should be.” Let's take a look at five healthy home habits you can kick-start in 2016 - to ensure your home is always in tip-top shape.
1. Store what you don't use
All too often, we fill up our homes with items we don't even use. Dust accumulates on everything over time, and let's face it, not all of us have time for constant dusting and vacuuming. By storing what you don't use and removing it from your living space, your home will be roomier, cleaner, and healthier. While storage sheds and garages are a great solution, even a deep cupboard can do the trick. Start off by purchasing some plastic storage containers and doing an inventory of all your possessions - you may be surprised just how little stuff you really need.
2. Clean under the sink
Under the sink is a scary place for many of us, with years of toxic cleaning products, mouse droppings, and mould to contend with. While it's certainly not the most fun job, cleaning under the sink is a great way to start fresh and create a healthy environment in the very heart of your home. Other important and often neglected spots include behind the fridge, around the dishwasher, and behind the washing machine. If you happen to find any leaks along the way, you may need to enlist the services of a professional plumber.
3. Open your windows
While it may seem straightforward, the simple act of opening your windows can make a real difference to your health and well-being. Fresh air is good for our physical and psychological health, and also helps to reduce the chemical exposure slowly emitted from building materials and furnishings. While people with hayfever may suffer from too much fresh air at certain times of year, anyone with dust-mite allergies will benefit from exposure to the outside world. By investing in lockable windows and overhangs, you can come home to a fresh and healthy home at any time.
4. Deal with the mould
Excessive mould has a range of adverse health effects, including fatigue, headaches, irritated eyes, irritated nose and throat, allergies, and asthma. According to Bijlsma, “We spend so much time inside them that buildings have a significant impact on our health, well-being and mental state.” It's important to deal with mould before it gets out of hand, through cleaning surfaces, fixing leaks, and ensuring adequate ventilation. If you're building or renovating a house, there are a number of healthy wall and ceiling products approved by the National Asthma Council’s Sensitive Choice program.
5. Avoid toxic cleaning products
Sometimes, cleaning our homes does more harm than good. Phthalates, perchloroethylene, triclosan and other nasty chemicals are found in many cleaning products, many of which are neurotoxic and irritating. While hard-core cleaning may require some commercial products, there's very little that can't be cleaned on a day-to-day basis with a combination of vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils.
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