You’ve cleared away the trappings of the holidays and are ready to start the year off right with a cleaner, healthier home. But hold on, now. Tidying up is important, but it’s the stuff you can’t readily see that poses the biggest problems. Mold, poor indoor air quality, soil contaminants—these are just some of the issues that plague homeowners and, if left unchecked, can cost a fortune to remediate.

This year, resolve to get your house in order with these simple, clever solutions.

1. Clean smart: That lemony fresh smell in common household cleaners is actually a vinegar baking sodachemical substance that contaminates the air you breathe, adding to indoor air pollution. It also can leave a chemical residue on surfaces. Instead, choose natural products or make your own using common household ingredients like baking soda and white vinegar. If anyone in your family experiences headaches, allergies, or skin rashes, hire a pro to conduct an indoor air test.

2. Fan-tastic: Bathroom exhaust fans are essential to blow moisture out after using the shower or bath. Make sure your fans are working properly, are vented to the outdoors, and are cleaned regularly. If you see or suspect mold in your home, hire an independent tester to assess the situation.

3. Use pesticides wisely: Make pesticides your last resort in fighting an infestation, and insecticidal soapretain a pro to deal with any issues in your home. Outdoors, use chemicals in moderation, too, or use natural pesticides like insecticidal soap. Fertilizers and weed killers can seep into the ground, affecting your well water. The Centers for Disease Control recommends testing your water once a year for contaminants.

4. Equipment check: Household systems like furnaces, hot water heaters, and gas stoves need to be properly maintained and vented to avoid introducing soot, or worse, deadly gases like carbon monoxide, into your home. If you think you have an indoor air quality issue, retain a licensed, independent professional to keep your family healthier and your home cleaner.

5. Go shoeless: Take your cues from ancient Asian traditions and encourage visitors to clean homeleave their shoes at the door to keep dirt, pesticides, and driveway salt out. Then, vacuum regularly using a machine with a HEPA filter. If you suspect that toxins may be present, set up a specialty test to be sure.

For more tips to keep your home clean and healthy, call us at 800.392.6468.

Testing for lead isn’t required in the US — and so doctors miss children exposed to the toxin. (Vox)

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