A Clean, Healthy Home for Free

These no- and low-cost simple maintenance tips will help you create and keep a healthy living space.

| May/June 2017

  • Vent hoods should be turned on whenever you use the stovetop to cook.
    Photo by iStock/stockvisual
  • Include white decor and reflective surfaces in your home to increase sunlight.
    Photo by iStock/Katarzyna Bialasiewicz
  • Avoid volatile organic chemicals in your home by using natural wall paints, such as milk paint.
    Photo by iStock/kokouu

Knowing we’ve created a safe and healthful home brings a sense of calm and comfort. But achieving and maintaining that state can feel difficult, particularly when so many household products claim to solve all our problems, but use unhealthy chemicals to do it.

Cleaning with natural and nontoxic solutions (read more in When the Cleaning Gets Tough) is one key to creating healthier indoor air, but an array of other steps can also help create and maintain a safe and sound living space. Try these free or low-cost tips to make sure your home is the healthful, beneficial haven you and your family deserve.

Solar Power

Sunlight is proven to play a role in our physical and mental health. Sunlight is an elemental part of our lives, helping regulate our circadian rhythms and improving sleep. It also plays a role in decreasing energy consumption—according to the U.S. Green Building Council, homes that make use of natural light can cut lighting energy use by 50 to 80 percent.

Getting the most out of this natural powerhouse is easy and inexpensive. Try hanging large mirrors opposite windows and doors to bounce light through a room. Paint window trim and ceilings white, as white reflects light rather than absorbing it. You can also maximize natural light in a room by paying attention to windows and doors—try replacing solid exterior and interior doors with doors that are glass or contain large windows, and choose translucent window coverings that offer privacy without blocking out light.

Get Some Air

Air vents and filtration systems may not immediately spring to mind when cleaning our homes, but properly treated vent hoods, dryer exhaust systems and air filters are vitally important to a safe and healthy indoor space.

Poor installation, improper materials and lack of maintenance in a dryer’s exhaust system can cause house fires. In the U.S., about 2,900 home dryer fires are reported each year. Fires normally start beneath or inside the dryer, and can then spread to cause a house fire. The probability of a fire spreading increases with the use of flexible plastic or Mylar ducts, which can bend and restrict airflow, causing a fire hazard. Experts recommend replacing flexible ducts like these with rigid metal ducts. In addition to clearing out your dryer’s lint trap after every load of laundry, clean lint out of the vent pipe every three months. If you have a gas-powered dryer, have it inspected yearly by a professional to ensure it’s properly connected, and that the connection is free of leaks.

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