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A healthy home

With so many South African’s struggling with severe or chronic allergies, it may be time to consider a healthy home makeover, says Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

He notes that a growing trend worldwide, especially in the US, has seen many homeowners deciding to give their homes a healthy makeover and turn harmful living habits and choices into healthy ones. “The trend to opt for a healthier way of living has become very popular among families who have children, particularly if their children suffer from allergy-related illness on an ongoing basis.  Considering the large amount of time spent in and around the home, making adjustments to the living conditions could have a marked impact on the health of those who live there,” says Goslett.

He provides a few tips that experts suggest homeowners can consider in order to make their home a healthier place in which to live.

The bedrooms: 

When we consider that we spend as much as a third of our lives in bed, it seems the most likely place to start. If the occupants in the home are suffering from a runny nose or itchy throat, dust mites could be the cause. Dust mites and mould love moisture, so keep the rooms ventilated. This will keep the humidity levels in the bedrooms lower, which will also keep other allergens under control. 

It is suggested that bed linen be washed every week, and it is important that the water used is as hot as possible, preferably boiling. Items that are non-washable such as stuffed toys can be placed in a freezer and frozen for a few hours. While the bedding is getting washed, leave the mattress exposed and allow it to breathe.

The living areas:

Opening windows as often as possible will allow fresh air into the living areas to help clear allergens. Air flow through the home will also help to clear the cumulative effect of pollutants in living areas. These come from a variety of elements such as the glue holding the carpets down, furniture, and even the paint on the walls. If you are repainting, choose paints that have low- or no-VOC products in them to avoid headaches and respiratory problems.

Make sure that air conditioner filters are changed timeously. If members of the family suffer from respiratory problems, it may be worthwhile purchasing an air purifier. Certain house plants can work as a natural air filter by adding oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide.

If energy saving or compact fluorescent lights are used in the home, make sure that they are handled and disposed of carefully. These bulbs contain mercury vapour, which can be harmful if the light bulb breaks. If you are concerned about the vapour, purchase regular incandescent light bulbs with lower wattages.

The kitchen:

As the heart of the home, the kitchen is where many families spend a large amount of time. And if you have ever watched Kitchen CSI, you will know that this is where most household germs and bacteria lurk. While using conventional cleaning agents will kill the germs on the kitchen surfaces, the chemicals used in those agents could be potentially harmful. Products that use harsh chemicals can leave behind toxins, so rather use cleaning agents that are labelled green and are nontoxic. Some new microfiber mops and dust cloths can capture more dust and dirt than traditional materials and don’t require any cleaning products at all.

If the kitchen is the heart, then the refrigerator would be the pulse. It is also important to replace water and ice maker filters and ensure proper maintenance. These days drinking filtered water is easier than ever with the vast variety of products available to homeowners. Aside from the bottle filters, homeowners can install filtration systems directly to their taps.

When choosing laundry products, it is better to use options that have no fragrance or are naturally scented.  To help prevent mould from forming, don’t let wet laundry sit in the washing machine for extended periods of time.

“Living in a healthy home, will ensure that the quality of life and time spent in that environment is the best it could possibly be,” concludes Goslett.


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