Winterizing your home

Getting cabin fever with all the bad winter weather? The EPA said that the average home has 2-5 times more pollution than outside air. So to hunker down for the winter can be unhealthy for you. What to do? Some days, especially on warmer days, I turn off my heat and open the windows to let some fresh air in. I remove my shoes at the entrance and place them on a mat by the door to catch pollutants, especially from the salt and sand.

Seventh Generation offers more tips on winter housekeeping:

  • Consider getting some houseplants to remove airborne chemicals. Particularly effective varieties include Boston fern, areca palm, lady palm, bamboo palm, rubber plant, English Ivy, ficus, and peace lily.
  • Use a chlorine-free dishwasher detergent. Dishwashers vent about six liters of air into your home per minute during certain cycles, and the very hot water they use can turn as much as 100% of a detergent’s chlorine into a vapor that’s released as they work.
  • Use warm rather than hot water when cleaning so that whatever you’re removing from household floors and surfaces doesn’t volatize into the air your family is breathing.
  • Although winter may seem like a good time to do some annual maintenance cleaning, hold off until spring. Without open windows and an ability to clean things outdoors, you’ll just be stirring back into the air a lot of the dirt and contaminants you’re trying to banish.
  • If you’ve stored clothing or other items in mothballs, air them out thoroughly then launder to remove toxic paradichlorobenzene residues. For the next season, use natural cedar to protect your vulnerable textiles instead. By the same token, let dry cleaned items air out in the garage before you bring them inside. They, too, can emit unhealthy fumes.
  • During warmer months, don’t use mildewcides or fungicides, poisons it will be hard to rinse out of your home during winter. Instead, get rid of mold and mildew with a solution of two tablespoons of tea tree oil in two cups of water. Spray on the affected area, let sit for half an hour, and then wipe clean.
  • If air seems stale and it’s too cold to open a window, resist the temptation to use commercial air fresheners, deodorizers, and other similar products. Instead make your own by adding 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil to a spray bottle filled with two cups of water.
  • During warmer months, don’t use mildewcides or fungicides, poisons it will be hard to rinse out of your home during winter. Eliminate mold and mildew with a solution of two tablespoons of tea tree oil in two cups of water. Spray on the affected area, let sit for half an hour, and then wipe clean.
  • Conventional cleaners create a barrage of chemical fumes and invisible aerosol particles when used, all of which can be easily inhaled. Only use cleaning products made from natural and non-toxic ingredients.

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