Simple Steps to a Healthy Home This Spring

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Giving your home a thorough spring cleaning can certainly make it shine. But a few other steps will help you make sure you're living in a healthy home. Here's what our experts advise.

Pick Household Products Wisely

Consider going green. Many cleaning products contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which can irritate eyes and throat, and cause headaches and dizziness.

Some products have fewer VOCs than others. To earn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Safer Choices label, a product must meet strict standards for limited use of VOCs. Two examples that bear the label: Clorox Green Works Naturally-Derived Multi-Surface Cleaner Spray and Staples Sustainable Earth Multi-Purpose Cleaner. You can use the EPA’s product database to find other items labeled as Safer Choices.

Skip antibacterial soap. Triclosan and triclocarban, which were sometimes used in the past in anti­bacterial soaps, can contribute to the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The Food and Drug Administration banned their use in consumer soaps as of September 2017, so if you bought any soap containing these ingredients before then, it could still be in your cabinets or on your shelves.

Think small. Buy products with strong fumes (e.g., paint thinner and gas) in small amounts so that you don’t have to store half-used containers. Even closed, they can emit noxious fumes.

Make Your Bedroom More Sleep-Friendly

Research shows that getting less than 7 hours of shut-eye per night can harm your health. Try the following for sounder sleep:

Check your mattress. If yours is more than 8 years old and you often wake up stiff and sore, it might be time for a new one. Our mattress ratings, for subscribers, can help.

Keep it cool, dark, and quiet. The ideal room temperature for sleep is between 68° F and 70° F. If streetlights or early-morning sun keep you from a full night of slumber, try blackout curtains or wearing an eyeshade. You can also use a white-noise machine or inexpensive drugstore earplugs to block noise.

Allergy-Proof Your Living Space

Protect your sleep spot. For a healthy home, keep pets out of your bedroom if you’re allergic. Use anti-allergy casings on your mattress and pillows. (Look for products made of ­woven fabric with a fabric pore size of 6 or fewer microns.)

Wash bedding weekly in hot water and dry in a hot dryer to kill dust mites.

Fight pests. Mice, rats, and cockroaches can also be sources of allergens, and you don't want them in your healthy home.

Jay Portnoy, M.D., division director of allergy, asthma, and immunology at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., says that eliminating food and water sources for these pests can help reduce their population, but that you might need to hire a professional to get rid of these unwelcome visitors.

Ditch the dust. Keeping dust levels down reduces allergens. And a 2016 study found that household dust can contain particles such as flame retardants and phthalates, which have been linked to asthma and cancer.

Dust furniture and other hard and soft surfaces around your home often.

Mop hard floors and vacuum carpets regularly. Consumer Reports recommends that people with allergies or asthma use a vacuum with a high-efficiency filter.

You can also try an air purifier, but be sure it’s powerful enough for the size of the room you plan to use it in.

Top-Rated Products

These can help you handle allergens in your home.

Editor's Note: A version of this article also appeared in the April 2017 issue of Consumer Reports on Health.

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

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