5 things you should be doing to keep your home healthy

Many of us are spending more time inside than ever this winter. So how can we keep our homes healthy?

From washing your sheets, to throwing open your windows and banishing mould, here’s how to keep your house in great shape.

Increase the airflow in your house

When temperatures dip, it’s easy to go for weeks on end without letting a burst of fresh air in.

But a lack of airflow can lead to excess moisture, says Adele Taylor, program manager of Sensitive Choice at the National Asthma Council Australia.

“If you have limited air movement and you’ve got areas in your home that tend to get damp, you might find that you’ll get mould growing, and mould can be quite a bad trigger for some people with asthma and allergies.”

If it’s too chilly to open your windows, Adele recommends investing in a dehumidifier or moisture-absorbing crystals.

Avoid gas heaters – or get them checked

Heaters can have a huge impact on the health of your home.

It’s better to steer away from gas heaters if possible. However if you’ve got an old gas heater, you need to make sure that it’s checked regularly so you’re not exposed to potential carbon monoxide poisoning,” Adele says.

If you have the cash for a bigger outlay upfront, she recommends hydronic heating or convection heating is best.

“You’re not actually pushing air out, it’s heating an element, as opposed to moving air,” she says.

“Because when you’re pushing air throughout the home, you might be pushing dust and other allergens around the place, which could trigger a flare-up for someone with asthma and allergies.”

Change your bedding regularly

Allergies affect about 20 per cent of Australians and New Zealanders at some time in their lives, according to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy.

House dust mites are among the biggest culprits, particularly in coastal cities and towns.

It recommends washing your sheets, pillowcases and other bedding weekly in hot water to kill dust mites and wash away the allergens they produce.

Other steps to take:

  • Cover your mattress, pillow and quilt with dust mite resistant covers.
  • Remove sheepskin or woollen underlays.
  • Remove soft toys from the bed and bedroom.

Keep the vacuum cleaner (very) handy

The more vacuuming the better, for people with asthma or allergies, says Adele.

“It depends on how dusty your home is, but at least once a week is the bare minimum,” she says. “If you’ve got pets and kids it’s almost a daily thing.”

Whether you have carpet or floorboards also makes a difference – contrary to public opinion, floorboards stir up more dust, whereas carpets catch the dust, which can then be vacuumed away.

Purify the air

Adele says if you’re worried about your air quality, an air purifier – preferably with a HEPA 13 filter or higher – and a carbon filter will help.

“If you have an open fire, the smoke of the open fire can be a trigger, or if you live near a main road and you get exhaust fumes, those carbon filters will actually help filter out those smells as well,” she says.

Written by Larissa Ham.