Simple Means to Making a Home Healthier

With the spring season finally upon us, the annual rite of passage that is spring cleaning has arrived as well. For homeowners that means it's time to stop resting on their laurels and start cleaning house.

But cleaning house doesn't only involve throwing away a season's worth of magazines and donating clothing that no longer fits. Spring cleaning also involves improving a home's overall environment. That's especially true for the health- and environmentally-conscious homeowner.

One way to clean a home while making it healthier and benefitting the environment is to rid the home of chemical contaminants that can be harmful to both your personal health and the air you're breathing. Many of these contaminants are not associated with traditional spring cleaning but can have as big an impact as anything you do around the house this season.

* Don't allow smoking indoors. Nearly everyone knows of the potentially harmful physical side effects of smoking cigarettes. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including several dozen that are known carcinogens, including formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, and arsenic, among others. While it's ideal to avoid smoking entirely, a good place to start is to stop allowing both guests of the home and residents to smoke indoors. This will also make a home more enjoyable for those who don't smoke, as they likely have an aversion to the smell of cigarettes and will welcome that smell's banishment to the home's exterior.

* Stop burning candles inside the home. While aromatic candles have grown in popularity thanks in large part to the benefits they provide to a home's ambience, it's also important to remember the harmful byproducts of combustion. Those include carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, soot, and VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which can be toxic. So the next time you consider the aesthetic appeal of a candle, don't forget its potential to release harmful emissions every time you light it up.

* Pay closer attention to what you're doing in the home. Oftentimes, our homes are our havens. What we do in our homes is certainly our business, but it can also be problematic. Something as innocent as wearing slippers or going shoeless when taking out the trash can track dust and other contaminants into a home. When attempting to clear a home of potentially harmful chemical contaminants, something as simple as what's on your feet can have a meaningful impact.

* Avoid overdoing it with household supplies. While buying in bulk can help save money, it can also be harmful depending on what you're buying. For instance, storing excess paint, solvents and other hazardous chemicals can lead to harmful emissions if not sealed properly or if they leak. To avoid such risks, simply purchase what you need when you need it and avoid storing too many chemical products in the home, be it inside or in the garage.

* Open the windows when cleaning. There likely is not a single person who enjoys the smell of household cleaning products. However, many people often forget to open the windows or turn fans on when using chemically-based household cleaners. While these products no doubt do a fantastic job cleaning a home, they might also be emitting harmful toxins into the air. If you must use chemically-based cleaners, open the windows and use fans when cleaning to avoid that familiar odor from overtaking the home and potentially emitting harmful chemicals into the air.

Healthy Lifestyle Online Special Section