How to Create a Healthy Home for Your Family

How to Create a Healthy Home for Your Family

More and more of us are trying to find ways to be healthier.  This includes trying to eat healthier and exercise more.  For an increasing number of people, it also includes finding ways to make our homes healthier by going to “greener” cleaners and even looking for options to keep the air in our homes cleaner.  Below, you’ll find a few general tips designed to help you on your journey to a healthier home.


When it comes to keeping the air cleaner, a good vacuum cleaner can be a great start.  Regular vacuuming can remove a great deal of the dust and other allergens that can be problematic for those with allergy, sinus, or breathing issues.  Air purifiers can remove airborne allergens and other potential pathogens.  If you find that the air in your house tends to seem dry (this can be most problematic during the winter), a humidifier can add moisture to the air, which can help keep nasal passages and sinuses from drying out.  (Dry mucous membranes are more likely to trap germs, bacteria, and allergens.)  If, on the other hand, the air in your home seems too damp (this can be a problem for those who live in more humid climates and don’t have an AC to remove moisture from the air), consider a machine such as a dehumidifier to rectify this problem.  Dehumidifiers can be a lifesaver for those with breathing issues that respond well to drier air.

As for floors, carpets can be hard to keep completely clean and sanitized.  Regular steam cleaning can help.  Look for cleaning solutions that contain all-natural ingredients, but make sure they’re suitable for your type and color of carpet.  For bare floors, mopping can provide an effective level of protection from germs and bacteria.  Opting for more natural cleaners (like a simple mix of vinegar, water, and a few drops of tea tree oil) or store-bought cleaners that use natural ingredients can disinfect without the harsh and potentially harmful fumes contained in some cleaners.  Steam cleaning mops are also a great choice.  The heat from the steam can kill germs and bacteria with absolutely no need for harsh chemicals.  Just make sure you know how much heat your floors can take, as some hardwoods and vinyls could be damaged by excessive heat.


In terms of general-purpose cleaners, there are more and more nature-based commercial preparations available today.  They tend to cost more than their harsher chemical counterparts, but the extra cost can be worth the peace of mind that comes from using products that are less likely to produce noxious fumes and/or pose a potential threat to children and pets.  You can also make your own cleaners.  The above-mentioned vinegar mixture is great for cleaning and disinfecting all of your surfaces.  Mix 1/2 cup vinegar with 3 cups of water and 10 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle.  You can add 10 drops of your favorite essential oil for a scented cleaner.  Full-strength tea tree oil can be toxic if ingested.  Most experts recommend a dilution rate of at least 10:1; the recipe above features a dilution rate of over 1,600:1 with only the water factored in.  If you’re worried about the house smelling like vinegar, don’t be–the smell of the vinegar dissipates very, very quickly.  Vinegar is also a great way to remove cooking smells from the kitchen.  Pour a half cup or so of vinegar in a bowl in the kitchen, and your cooking smells will be gone in no time–including that “fried” smell that seems to linger for days.  And vinegar is still pretty darn cheap!

While the above tips only barely scratch the surface, we hope they represent a good few first steps on your way to a healthier home.

The Best Dehumidifiers for Improving Your Health

The Best Dehumidifiers for Improving Your Health

Today, I want to talk about how dehumidifiers can be used to really improve your health, especially your respiratory health! Respiratory problems are some of the most common chronic symptoms I see as a nurse, and the thing is that many of them are completely preventable. It is easy to understand that concept with smoking, because people who choose not to smoke are obviously taking a positive step for their breathing system. But the way you manage your home air supply also has a very big impact on your breathing, especially when it comes to humidity.

A lot of new homes in the Midwest and in the South have really high humidity which is hard to disperse, especially during the summer. You probably know what a damp, dank basement smells like, and it’s not hard to believe that spending lots of time in one isn’t a great  thing to do for your health. That same phenomenon is true in a lot of entire houses, as humidity reaches higher levels.


High humidity causes a lot of problems, to your house and to you especially. It creates a warm, wet environment that as a nurse, is just a flashing red light warning for mold. Mold spores are one of the leading causes of respiratory problems. They can range from allergies to really serious infections that will leave you in the hospital for weeks. I also see a lot of patients who get infectious viruses that they might have been able to avoid because the humid air in their house helped germs spread between family members. Once you get to 60% humidity or higher, your house becomes a breeding ground for mold spores and bacteria,


A dehumidifier machine is a really tried and true way to reduce your humidity, and it’s one of the best ways to relieve allergies and other breathing symptoms that are related to really moist air. They pull water out of the air and into a tank or a hose that goes into your drain in the basement. Not only do they make you more healthy but it also makes you more comfortable to make that humidify go down, since you will feel less hot in the summer. Many patients I have seen come in with chronic problems have had good results after they started using dehumidifiers, so I definitely think you should look into using one if your home is very moist during the summer or all year round.


There are two basic types of dehumidifiers. They come in either whole-house or portable configurations, and both of them can be really effective if you use them right. Whole house dehumidifiers work in your central air system and take humidity out that way. They work really well if you have vents in every room and the motors in the basement because then you get lots of coverage and all the water drains right to the basement drain. I use a whole house dehumidifier because I have central air, and I find it works very well for me. Portable dehumidifiers are what you would use for houses that don’t have central air, or for just dehumidifying a room or two, such as an an apartment, or a house’s basement. They’re very inexpensive, and I’ve seen that most patients buy one of these first, just to try out the idea and see if it helps with their symptoms.


I recommend Aprilaire whole house dehumidifiers if you already have a good central air system. I know some of the models have changed since I bought mine, but I have found that they are a very good company to go with. My machine is very easy to use since it has a simpler percentage adjustment and automatic humidity sensors which run on their own so I don’t have to keep turning the machine on and off.

I know that some patients I talk to have had mixed experiences as far as how long their portable dehumidifiers last, so I always tell them to check the best whole house dehumidifier reviews instead of asking me about specific models, because they’re always changing. But I have heard better things about Frigidaire than most other companies, so it may be worth a try to see what they are making these days.
No matter which model you buy, I think that dehumidifiers are a really great tool for making your home air supply healthier, especially during the summer. I suggest them to anyone with respiratory problems, especially if you find you are getting sick often.