Our homes are our sanctuaries-the place we feel most comfortable and where we share our lives with our family and loved ones. There are many choices you make in your home, from how you want to design your interior to which whole-home systems you want to install to how you can live a healthier life. The following is a list of items to check to ensure you aren’t negatively impacting your health in your home.

1. Your mattress

Your mattress can be a harbor for dust mites and other airborne allergens. Not only can dust mites set off allergic reactions for people with asthma and allergies, but having allergens present can lead to sleep disruptions during the night. If you’ve had your mattress for a while, another thing you should be aware of is that it can gain weight over time as it absorbs dead skin, dust mites, oil, and moisture.

To keep your mattress in top condition, be sure to wash your sheets every two weeks in hot water and dry them thoroughly. Purchase and use mattress covers and pillow cases designed to keep dust mites from getting through. Additionally, vacuum and dust your bedroom weekly to clean dust mites from your carpets, furniture, and curtains.

2. Towels and bath mats

Similar to your bedroom, bathrooms can be breeding grounds for dust mites, bacteria, and mold, especially in towels and bath mats. Wash your bath mats at least once a month and clean your towels every other week. Additionally, check for any mold that may be growing in damp, dark areas of your bathroom. Consider investing in a humidifier to keep humidity levels in check.

3. Paint

A recent study showed that people that slept in blue rooms got an average of 7 hours and 52 minutes of sleep, while people with brighter colors like purple got as little as 5 hours and 56 minutes of sleep a night. Though inspiration and interior design choices have become easier in recent years, consider sticking with cool, neutral colors for your bedroom. Calm greys, soothing tans, and creamy whites will promote peace and relaxation.

4. Your HVAC units

When air conditioning units cool your home, they leave traces of water in the ducts that can foster mold and bacteria growth. When paired with a forced air system that pushes these spores into the air you breathe, you may suffer from asthma, allergies, coughing, and headaches.

To help improve your overall health, schedule a technician to professionally clean your air ducts and service your heating and cooling system annually to ensure it’s operating efficiently and cleanly. Check and see if your home warranty covers this service, and be sure to consult your warranty if your unit needs to be replaced. Another option would be to remove the ducted air conditioner unit in your home all together and opt for a split system unit.

5. Indoor water leaks

Water damage in a home can be extremely costly, ruining floors and walls and weakening foundations. In addition to the damage water can do to a home, it can have a negative impact on your health. Leaks can cause mold growth in your home, which can lead to breathing difficulty and other health issues.

Check pipes, closets, basements, attics, and crawl spaces to ensure they’re all dry. Check around toilets and be sure to feel floors around tubs, dishwashers, and other appliances to make sure they don’t feel soft or squishy from the buildup of a leak. If you do find any leaky areas be sure to contact a plumber to fix the situation.

6. Clutter

Clutter in your home can impact your mood and also be a health hazard. Remember those breeding grounds for dust mites and mold we talked about earlier? Clutter can be a hot bed of dust mites, impacting allergies and asthma. Not only does it impact your physical environment, it affects your productivity and spikes stress level. Clutter has been shown to make it more difficult to concentrate, stop relaxation, and generate feelings of guilt and embarrassment. Help improve your mood and mental state by taking an afternoon to clear out your closet, file away that mountain of papers on your desk, and tackle that overflowing junk drawer.  

7. Houseplants

Don’t have a green thumb? You may want to work on that. Houseplants can have a positive effect on both your physical and mental health. They’ve been shown to clear toxins from the air, suppress your fight or flight response, reduce fatigue, soothe headaches and sore throats, reduce allergies, and lessen physical pain.

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