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7 tips for making your home a cleaner, safer environment

Posted June 16, 2020 5:42 p.m. EDT

While it's easy to spot dirty dishes in the sink or a messy living room, it's also important to maintain the cleanliness of things in your home that aren't as visible, such as your air ducts. (CHOReograPH/Big Stock Photo)

This article was written for our sponsor, 6 & Fix, Inc.

A sparkling clean home is no doubt a more welcoming one, but it's also a healthier one.

Homes can accumulate clutter, yes, but a home can also attract dust, allergens, mold and pests if not properly upkept. If gone unchecked, these things can wreak havoc on your well-being. When it comes to your home, cleanliness is next to healthiness.

"It's routine for people to clean dirty dishes for example, but it's not as routine for them to regularly clean their air filters. Tasks like this should be part of your home to-do list because things like the indoor air quality of your home can have a significant impact on your health," said Nick Scarnecchia, founder and president of 6 & Fix, Inc., an indoor comfort services company in Raleigh.

6 & Fix provides services such as heating and cooling, HVAC maintenance and repair, indoor air quality purification, and indoor cleaning services to homes and businesses. Scarnecchia has years of experience helping homeowners realize the cleanliness of their homes is directly related to their health.

Below are seven tips for making your home a cleaner and safer environment.

1. Maintain your home with routine cleaning

Doing the dishes, keeping bathrooms and kitchens clean and sanitized, wiping down surfaces, vacuuming and mowing the lawn are things you should be doing regularly to maintain your home.

Routine cleaning helps keep bacteria and allergens at bay, mitigates the potential for intrusive pests, and helps uphold the indoor air quality of your home.

2. Change air filters regularly

While many air filters are advertised as being good for 90 days, this isn't a hard and fast number. Depending on what type of filter you have, and how many allergens and dust mites are being filtered through it on a day-to-day basis, an air filter is only good until it's dirty, which renders it ineffective.

Different usage and higher frequency volume causes a filter to get dirtier, faster. A home with six people and two dogs will need its filter changed more often than a home with just one person living in it, who is mostly at work during the day.

"The AC filter plays two roles: it's filtering the air that passes through and keeping the allergens down, but it plays a role in maintaining and allowing the air conditioner unit to breathe properly. The number one thing that causes an air conditioner to work inefficiently is a dirty air filter," Scarnecchia said. "Changing air filters regularly is the easiest thing that the homeowner can do to prolong the life of their air conditioning system and increase the quality of air that they're breathing."

Scarnecchia recommends checking filters once a month and replacing them at least every two months.

3. Control humidity

"Humidity control inside homes is something that will help with the cleanliness and the comfort of the house," Scarnecchia said. "High humidity will increase mold and mildew growth in areas. Additionally, the higher the humidity, the more uncomfortable you feel in your house. Humidification control is important."

According to a study conducted by the EPA and Berkeley National Laboratory, dampness and resulting mold increase the risk of "a variety of respiratory and asthma-related health outcomes by 30 to 50 percent."

More than 21.8 million people in the United States report having asthma, and approximately 4.6 million cases are estimated to be attributable to dampness and mold exposure in the home.

4. Get your duct system routinely checked

Your home's duct system is the passage through which heating, ventilation and air conditioning travels through your house. Scarnecchia recommends the system is cleaned every seven to 10 years.

"It's something that people don't think about, but dirt builds up through your duct work, and that keeps passing through the house for years, so you want to get that cleaned," he said. "Also, make sure there's no duct leakage in your duct system. You don't want to be pulling crawlspace or attic air into your home for efficiency purposes, and also for the cleanliness of the house and odors."

5. Let in some fresh air — the right way

Opening a window to let in some fresh air is one way to get clean air into your home, however, this air isn't filtered. Open windows and doors can also let in pollutants, allergens, insects and other irritants — especially in the pollen-ridden spring season.

Instead, opt for an HVAC system that filters outdoor air into your home.

"We recommend a fresh air intake that can be set up with timers to allow fresh air to be introduced into the home, but it is filtered. This is all done through the mechanics of our HVAC systems," Scarnecchia said. "This type of fresh-air filtration is a requirement that is done in every commercial office, but many Energy Star-rated homes have this as well. This is a practice that is used in many applications that we work with daily that most people don't even think about."

According to Scarnecchia, indoor air inside of a home is typically 30 percent more polluted than outdoor air. With doors and windows shut most of the time, indoor air is trapped and recycled, with only air filters to clean it. An outdoor air filtration HVAC system provides a way to bring fresh air in the right way and enhances overall air quality.

6. Wash bedding and other linens

A human sheds more than 1 million skin cells per hour. Combine this with dirt that's tracked into our homes from the outdoors, natural body oils and odors, and dropped food particles that go unnoticed, and you might reconsider how clean your home really is.

Additionally, fabric is a trapping agent for all kinds of allergens, dust and pollutants. It's important to wash bedding, pillowcases and even curtains often. Also, vacuum rugs, carpet and upholstered furniture weekly at minimum. Washing and vacuuming linens and fabric removes visible dirt, dander and pet hair, but also microscopic allergens and things like dust mites.

7. Deep clean your home at least once a year

6 & Fix provides cleaning services to both businesses and homes that hone in on sanitation and cleanliness.

Its patented, EPA-registered indoor cleaning system has been particularly popular amidst the COVID-19 pandemic when many homeowners are worried about the spread of the virus. It can be used on a range of surfaces to render a cleaner and safe home.

Additionally, 6 & Fix offers sanitation services for mildew, mold and other pollutants.

Scarnecchia recommends deep cleaning your home at least once a year.

This article was written for our sponsor, 6 & Fix, Inc.

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