Achoo! Uh oh, the first sign of a cold, flu or allergies. But using the right tech can help you kill germs and keep your home as healthy as possible (especially during cold & flu or allergy season).
Kill the Germs
You can bleach, scrub and mop up your home, but you may be missing one of your home’s dirty little secrets: the carpet. Some studies show some parts of your carpet can contain more bacteria per inch than your toilet seat… seriously. And that plush carpet could also be hiding dust mites, pet dander, ground-in dirt, and germs. Ready to start ripping up your carpet yet? Don’t! Turning up the heat with a steam cleaner can kill up to 99.9% of the bacteria that’s hiding in the pile of your carpet.
Help From Heat
Your carpet isn’t the only place that should feel the heat when you’re cleaning. Steam cleaners can kill germs and bacteria on hard surfaces while making them squeaky clean. Here’s another bonus – many steam cleaners only use water – so you can clean without using harsh chemicals. Steam can also help kill germs in places you hate scrubbing (think: behind the toilet).
Use Your Filter
Not all vacuum filters are equal. Think of HEPA filters as the Cadillac of filters. True HEPA filters must pass a test proving they trap at least 99.97% of particles – or .3 microns or smaller (trust us, that’s tiny). Results of those tests are usually printed on the box. Non-HEPA filters just send that stuff back into the air. There’s also HEPA-type or HEPA-like filters, which don’t meet the same standards, but do catch most particles. Most capture 85 to 90 percent of particles and that percent can fall even lower for particles of 1 micron and below. Just remember not all vacuums take HEPA or HEPA-like filters, so make sure you get the right one for your vacuum.
And, mark your calendars for a filter-changing party (if that’s what you celebrate, we’re cool with it). Vacuum filters should be changed every six months, whether they look like they need it or not. Vacuums need room to breathe and dirt that’s built up on the filter can make it lose suction, and leave dirt, dander and other nasty stuff in your carpet.
Clear the Air
Speaking of the air, lots of dust, mold spores and other allergens are floating around in the air inside your home right now. But, before you run out and get a gas mask, think about this: home air purifiers can filter out lots of that stuff – like pollutants – you’d rather not breathe in. Be sure to keep room size in mind when you pick an air purifier, most boxes will tell you how many square feet the model is made to work best for. And, the same rules apply for HEPA filters as for vacuum filters, true HEPA will leave your air cleaner than non-HEPA filters.
Just Add Water (to the Air)
This one’s key for when you get the inevitable cold or flu: humidity. Humidifiers add moisture to dry air. The moist air can relieve congestion from a cold, flu or sinus infection. However, don’t put your humidifier away when the cough stops. The moisture can help in the winter months or in very dry climates. Here’s a rule a thumb: if your lips or skin are chapped or if your skin is extremely dry or itchy in the winter, the air in your home might be too dry. Plus, some models make warm mist, others make cool mist, and some do both warm and cool mist. Others, (yes, there’s more) work with special packets to send out soothing vapours, which are great when you’re sick, too. The choice is up to you. However, a cool-only is good for home with kids, so they don’t burn themselves if they get too close to the mist. Here’s another plus, some models have air purifiers or antibacterial features built in.
Too Much Humidity?
Does your hair frizz out whenever you go in the basement? Then we recommend a new hair gel. But seriously, some parts of our homes can be just too humid. And that moist air is a perfect breeding ground for mold spores. A dehumidifier pulls excess moisture out of the air and makes it into water, which is stored in a reservoir, or you can attach a hose and let the water go right down a floor drain. You can use the water to feed the plants, clean or fill your iron. Basements or laundry rooms are the usual suspects for too much humidity. But, you may need a dehumidifier if you notice a musty smell, or see lots of condensation around windows or patio doors in any room. Many have filters, automatic shutoff and timers.
So that’s it. A few tips to keep your home clean and healthy (just remember, you still have to do the dishes).