Spring cleaning tips for a healthier home - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Spring cleaning tips for a healthier home

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Dirt, dust, and mold. They can create health hazards in your home. But while you're deep cleaning, the chemicals can pose their own risks. 

To make the most of your time, you'll need to know where to start for cleaning. 

Dr. Harriet Lemberger-Schor, a primary care physician says that having a clean home can not only keep you healthier, but has psychological and mood boosting impacts too. 

But, getting there takes plenty of effort and elbow grease. 

"With kitchens and bathrooms sometimes you just want to get in, get out and get it done. But more often than not there are probably many many surfaces, or some not so obvious surfaces that need a little more attention because it may be harboring some dust or mold," Dr. Lemberger-Schor said. 

"Places like kitchens and bathroom are probably loaded with mold by the time we get back into the spring season. Dust can be just about anywhere. On any surface in any room," she explained. 

Typically the worst of the dust and mold symptoms come during spring cleaning, when the toxins are stirred up. 

"Nasal, sinus congestion, coughing, wheezing, your typical allergy oriented symptoms. If there's underlying lung problems like asthma or COPD people can get worsening of the coughing, wheezing, even shorter breath. Some people will develop things like headaches, or changes in their energy level. They may be manifesting a different reaction to that," Dr. Lemberger-Schor said. 

To search out the dustiest, moldiest places in your home, start at the rooms farthest from the center of your home. 

Declutter your basement, which can be a big source of mold, mildew, and dust. Take the spring cleaning as an opportunity to throw out things you don't use, get cardboard boxes off of floors, get rid of old papers, and vacuum dust from the floor joists. 

After the basement, experts recommend considering tackling your attic and following the same instructions. 

From there, pay special attention to anywhere dark or cool, such as cupboards, under sinks and tubs, and so on, as these could harbor mold spores. 

Be sure to wipe down all shelving, including in pantries, medicine cabinets, and cupboards. 

Dr. Lemberger-Schor recommends using microfiber towels to trap the dust, rather than feather dusters or paper towels. While you're dusting, experts say don't forget the light bulbs and sconces, ceiling fan blades, tops of doorjambs, inside of window sills, and the tops of cabinets. 

Experts suggest cleaning out all appliances, inside and out- don't forget to clean underneath where old food particles collect dust or can turn moldy. 

Take the opportunity to make sure clean air is circulated in your home, vacuuming all vents, replacing all filters, and cleaning air conditioning units (or having them professionally cleaned). 

Other sources of odors and germs include, drains, garbage disposals, trash cans, laundry baskets, bath mats and more. 

But before you even begin, you'll need to make sure to clean your cleaning supplies. 

Dr. Lemberger-Schor suggests taking the time to replace mop heads, clean brooms, wash microfiber towels, replace vacuum filters and bags, and clean off the heads and nozzles of vacuums to prevent spreading the dust around even more. 

As many people prepare for their spring cleaning spree, many will turn to their store bought cleaners and heavy duty chemicals. 

Those chemicals can come with their own set of hazards. 

Dr. Lemberger-Schor said, "when you think of cleaning supplies, liquid oriented cleaning supplies a lot of people will clean with bleach and ammonia, very irritating to respiratory trees and respiratory tracts." 

In addition, cleaners with heavy fragrances and scents can aggravate sinus and respiratory problems. 

"Aerosols, as opposed to a liquid solution that unless its got a very strong odor you're not going to directly breathe that in, whereas with aerosols, unless you're wearing a mask there's no way you can avoid that," the doctor explained. 

Masks are just one way spring cleaners should protect themselves. Experts also recommend wearing eye goggles, waterproof gloves, and pants and a long-sleeve shirt. 

Dr. Lemberger-Schor says you should also wash your hands frequently with mild hand soap. In addition, she says cleaners should change their clothes immediately after cleaning, since chemicals and toxins can cling to the fabric. 

Dr. Lemberger-Schor says its vital that anyone cleaning with heavy duty chemicals should follow the instructions on the bottle or can. Do not mix two cleaning chemicals together. 

She continued, saying "When you're using a cleaning product, say you're using a kitchen or a bathroom cleaning material, you want to use the smallest amount possible to clean, you want to try to dilute, and certainly follow the directions on the product." 

Ventilation is also a key part in cleaning. Experts have the following tips:
- Open windows while cleaning
- Turn on ceiling fans
- Point portable fans outside to blow stale air out

Another big concern for chemical cleaners i not knowing what's in them. Many household cleaners do not list ingredients on their label. 

"What makes the commerical products challenging is knowing what's in them as well as not knowing what's in them," Dr. Lemberger Schor said. 

"After you've cleaned with them, take that extra minute and that extra step to dry the surfaces so that the cleaning product is not being tracked from one area to another," she explained. 

Fortunately, there are some natural cleaners that Dr. Lemberger-Schor make healthier alternatives. 

Dr. Lemberger-Schor said something that she uses in her own home is a simple solution- "things like baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar, you just make a solution with water, and use those, sometimes you don't even have to wipe the surface off."

Experts say keep in mind that "green" products don't necessarily mean they're chemical free. 

And some suggest avoiding air fresheners and scented options since unnatural scents can mask important odors. Rather than covering up the smell, cleaning experts suggest finding the source, and taking care of the problem. 

Other important reminders- check all smoke detectors and alarms, replace batteries in essential equipment, check emergency supplies, clean out the medicine cabinets and dispose of all medicine properly. 

And overall, take the chance to slim down on your belongings to create a clean that lasts. 

"Clutter begets dirt, dust, and depending on where your clutter is you can also get mold," explained Dr. Lemberger-Schor. 

Just a few tips for a naturally, healthier home. 

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