10 Easy Upgrades for a Healthier Home

’Tis the season for pollen and pesticides, not to mention pet dander and disease-carrying creepy-crawlies. The editors at ThisOldHouse.com checked in with health and environment experts across the country for easy, inexpensive tips to help keep your home healthy.

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind:

Add mats on both sides of the door. Up to 80 percent of the dirt that gets tracked inside—along with countless allergens, bacteria and lawn chemicals—can be caught before it makes itself at home with washable mats on both sides of the door.

Establish a no-shoes-indoors policy. Keep a basket of slippers or socks near the entryway for family members and guests alike.

Create a pet checkpoint. Treat cats and dogs with a monthly tick-and-flea medication, and use a fine-tooth comb to catch fleas before they come inside. Know that flea shampoos and collars may contain pesticides, which can rub off on kids and furnishings.

Caulk holes and crevices. Check the kitchen windows and sink, and caulk any crevices to keep out insects before they come looking for a free lunch.

Clean food-prep surfaces often. Keep bacteria away by scrubbing cutting boards with hot, soapy water after each use.

Use your range hood when you cook. It’ll reduce cooking-related air pollutants, including carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, and will lower humidity, which can encourage the growth of mold and bacteria.

Open a window. Unless you’re fighting pollen, remember that indoor air can contain two to five times more chemical pollutants than air from the outdoors.

Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. High-efficiency particulate air filters are best for sucking up dust, dust mites (and their allergy-aggravating droppings), animal dander, and fleas.

Pot up a plant or two. Spider plants, peace lilies, philodendrons and aloe vera can help neutralize formaldehyde (found in furniture) and benzene (found in car fumes and paint supplies). Snake plants, English ivy, Boston and asparagus ferns, and Areca and bamboo palms are also good neutralizers.

Sanitize handheld devices. Telephones, TV remotes and even computer keyboards can harbor more bacteria than a toilet seat.

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