Television shows featuring hoarding, clutter and filth make me gag, but some people just need help out of a downward spiraling situation. Hey – call in a service or private house cleaner to help you with a one-time clean and get on top of it, then you can implement the new routine that will help you keep it clean and healthy. You think you can’t afford it – but you can’t afford not to; it’s just a matter of making the call and spend what you can to get help.
It isn’t only your physical health that is affected with dirt, it’s your mental health! We should all be able to find where we put something within about 60 seconds, or something’s wrong with our organization and stress builds. Stress isn’t good for us.
In case your mother didn’t teach you 🙂 I’ll go over some reasons
- why everyone should have a clean house
- how to organize the cleaning chores
- what happens to people who live in a home with dirt, dust and bad air
- why mold is bad
- why most cleaning supplies aren’t great for you, and
- how to clean your house with healthy supplies
There’s a clean space and an organized space – two different things.
Organization of your things just makes life a lot more simple. Simple means less stress and higher self-esteem for your family members. You can find things and use them efficiently if you have a system for where they go (and you’ve gotten rid of things that you can’t use again). My brother-in-law told my sister, “One thing in and one thing out” when she went out shopping. She’d buy a chair or a dress, and the old one would go out. I thought this extreme at first, but now I see the wisdom. Replacing a television? Get rid of the old one!
Baskets (even laundry baskets), file boxes, file cabinets, a computer and photo boxes have been a big help to me in the battle to stay ahead of clutter. The last three years, I’ve been sorting through my pre-internet papers of over 40 years worth of projects as a teacher, business owner and active community person. The teacher part of me likes to be organized, but I keep too much. If you have to keep it, use the paper file boxes, but hopefully the files you generate nowadays will be largely paperless.
Now cleanliness: Be truthful, would you rather come home to a shiny home that smells sweet, or a sticky, moldy, stinky mess. Unless you’re nuts, you’d prefer the shiny home. Now, obviously, you can’t clean unless you’ve organized, so the best method is to work one room at a time, i.e. take everything out of it that isn’t furniture and then move the furniture to clean and dust where it was, washing the wood on the furniture also. Vacuuming furniture needs to be done carefully so it doesn’t redistribute the dirt and mites into the air.
House dust is a reservoir of dust mites, fungal glucans and bacterial endotoxins. It’ll take four to five vacuuming sessions with a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter-equipped vacuum cleaner at a rate of one minute per square metre for carpets and half a minute for non-carpeted areas to significantly reduce the amount of fine dust in homes tested in a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation study.
Dust Mites are your enemy. They live on fluffy things like stuffy toys, pillows, mattresses, upholstered furniture, fabrics and carpets. Clothing in piles on the floor – YUCK! Mites feed on human skin flakes and in humid environments. The Environmental Protection Agency (USA, 2008) said mites can trigger asthma symptoms and can cause asthma in children with no previous asthma symptoms.
- Get the house relative humidity (RH) under 50 to be safe … mites need over 55 to grow.
- Use the HEPA filter that exhaust to the outside and vacuum often.
- Keep children and sensitive people away from the area you’re vacuuming and wear a N95 respirator to reduce exposure to dust mites that become airborne with the fine dust.
- Maintain furnace filters, vacuum as far as you can reach into air registers and return ducts. Have them professionally cleaned if they haven’t been since the house was built or you moved in.
- Reduce tracking dirt in by taking off your shoes and use washable doormats.
- Use a damp cloth or HEPA vacuum to dust.
- Reduce upholstered furnishings and fabric coverings in your bedroom (and piles of clothing).
- Avoid carpets if you can.
- Change bedding frequently.
- Wash bedding in warm water, hot is not necessary.
- Use at least 200 thread count linens.
- Replace pillows at least once a year.
- Avoid the use of “acaricide” pesticides.
- Don’t pile things on your bed during the day so it will dry.
- Cover a new mattress with mite-and allergen -impermeable covers, but they still need to be washed and/or vacuumed.
- These organisms grow on wet or damp surfaces, if you have a problem area, try to keep the relative humidity (RH) 35 or under to prevent growth, e.g. on windows from condensation. This mold can cause asthma-related symptoms such as chronic wheezing, irritation symptoms and non-specific symptoms. “Asthma-like responses, inflammatory responses in the lungs of rodents and severe histological and biochemical changes have been observed in laboratory animal studies.” So, that cold that won’t go away might not even be a cold, but the mold and/or mites in your home.
- Vent bathrooms, dryers and other moisture sources to the outside; increase ventilation and use exhaust fans when cooking, dishwashing and cleaning.
- Keep the bathroom as cool as possible. If you don’t have a exhaust fan, try to have one installed.
- Prevent condensation on cold surfaces like windows, pipes, exterior walls, roof or floors by adding insulation if you can.
- Carpet and moisture problems do not mix.
- Note that molds can grow on almost anything, if there is moisture.
- For people sensitive to molds, exposure can cause nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation. People who are exposed to molds at work (e.g. farmers and moldy hay) can get fevers and shortness of breath. With a chronic lung illness, like obstructive lung disease, can even get mold infections in their lungs!
- Mold and mildew can both be on the windows, they look very similar and are related fungi. Mold is often black, green, red or blue, while mildew is usually gray or white. Mold can be tested, but just get rid of it.
- The most simple and natural way to kill mold and mildew is to put white vinegar into a plastic spray bottle and spray it well over the affected area, allow to sit overnight. The mold should be gone the next day. Use a rag to wipe everything away (and toss it). Tea Tree Essential Oil, 2 teaspoons to 16 ounces of water also works, but it takes a couple of days. Using a natural mold remover saves you from getting sick from a harsh chemical. Use a professional for severe mold problems.
Three years ago, we moved into a home with single pane windows (and this is NOT Arizona) so we experienced moisture on the windows from time to time. We replaced them a year ago, and there is NO condensation at all – it’s fabulous … but if you haven’t replaced yours, for your health you should
- keep kitchen or bath ventilating fans on or windows open somewhat.
- Storm windows and caulking around windows will keep the interior glass warmer and reduce the moisture.
I won’t even go into the details with animal dander from fur-bearing animals, or tobacco smoke, or wood smoke.
Kids and Clean
I used to hear moms say, “Oh, Johnny’s room is such a mess, but that’s his problem so I just close the door and it disappears.” Wrong! It’s part of good parenting to walk children through the methods of coping with the mess they create and understanding organization. Kids aren’t born knowing how to do all of that; it’s like everything else we need to show them. The good news is, they like to feel useful when they’re little – they like jobs! We might not all live on farms, with those associated chores, but they can help around the house as a whole:
- They need to clean up after themselves, when they leave the table or their toys after playing, this begins the discipline.
- Laundry baskets are better to keep dirty clothes and toys in than leaving them on the floor.
- Get rid of toy pieces that have broken off or just won’t stay with the main toy assembly. It’s probably not needed – throw it away – I just got rid of some of them and I felt better just knowing they wouldn’t go into a baby’s mouth (we have twelve grandchildren).
- Train them to make their bed the minute they roll out of it. I’m not above bribery with stars or treats for a few days in a row of this.
- Show them that a wrapper of any sort belongs in the garbage. Why is that such a difficult concept?
- On the other hand – teach them to keep directions to purchases in one place.
- Keep things off the closet floors – another great use of laundry baskets. This makes sorting easier and keeps things cleaner.
- Let your kids use a damp cloth to dust and clean their bed headboard, walls, door, etc.
- Let your kids help with the dishes and show them where things are to be put away.
- Take a picture of your kitchen and have a look at the clutter that accumulates. Use ziplock bags and have your children help to organize the itty bitty things that collect and then re-locate the items. Try using photo boxes for some things that need to be kept close because they stack so well and look decorative – everyone will enjoy the neater look!
- Teach your children how to do recycling, or garbage collection around the house – where it goes, etc. Show them how to put their hand in a plastic grocery bag (as a quick glove replacement) if they don’t want to handle something.
- It’s nice to give them a small reward for helping out, but it’s really more important to know that chores are just part of life, whether we’re the mom, dad or child, and that it’s like being an apprentice for their future roles. If you don’t teach them how to do it, and teach them to appreciate cleanliness, then guess how they’re going to live in the future.
Just plain dangerous …
- Clean out that microwave (electromagnetic radiation), especially on and around the door and the seals. The greatest health hazard is from the energy being attracted to the food and oils there and escaping:
“Proper maintenance is the key to keeping microwave leakage levels within acceptable limits. The amount of leakage may go up if the oven’s door or seal is damaged, or if there is a build-up of dirt around the seal. It is also important to keep all of the hinges and latches in good working order.”
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) says that a person can be exposed to radiation if a microwave oven doesn’t totally seal …” Clean door scrupulously to seal right.
Cleaning doesn’t have to be drudgery; it can be a fun challenge. Change your mindset! Put on some music with a great beat and turn it into a party atmosphere! (Latin music makes me move.) Tackle only one area/room at a time and give yourself a big pat-on-the-back when you’ve seen some progress, then forge ahead another day and another room 🙂