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How to Detox Your House

The Biggest Problem continued...

To put a stop to growth, you have to control the moisture level in your home. Indoor humidity should be between 30 and 50 percent (buy a hygrometer at your local hardware store to measure your house's level). If your home is more moist than that, buy a dehumidifier and fix leaks right away (mold grows quickly under the right conditions).

Your Detox Duties

Scrub grout with a mix of 1/4 cup liquid chlorine bleach and six cups water (use a stronger solution if necessary), and rinse. Remember to wear rubber gloves and keep the room well ventilated.

Clean both sides of rubber mats with the bleach solution above, but first check the label: Some brands are machine-washable, so you can conserve your energy and save yourself precious time.

Put plastic shower curtains in the wash for five minutes on the gentle setting. If they're moldy, GHRI recommends adding 3/4 cup liquid chlorine bleach to the load.

Consider installing an exhaust fan that's vented to the outside, if you don't have one in the bathroom already. Ventilation is key to keeping this room dry and toxin-free.

Check cement walls (particularly near the floor, ceiling, and windows) and crawl spaces in the basement for mold. If you find patches, scrub them away (wearing gloves and using lots of elbow grease) with a stiff brush soaked in a solution of one cup liquid chlorine bleach and one gallon water. Do the same thing for painted walls. (Tip: If you have to repaint any areas, mix a mildew-resistant additive into the can first.)

The Biggest Problems

In your living room and bedroom:
Dust and dander.
A buildup can cause flulike symptoms and respiratory problems. (That stuffy nose your son wakes up with every morning? Not a yearlong cold.)

Your Detox Duties

Get your air conditioner ready for prime time. A well-maintained unit can help filter out some allergens — but if the filter, drip tray, or other parts are dirty, the AC may actually spit new allergens into the house. If you have a room unit, remove the grill and wipe it with a wet cloth. Take out the filter; if it's reusable, submerge it in hot soapy water for a few minutes, then rinse with clean water and let dry. Before replacing any parts, wipe inside the AC with a damp rag and dust the evaporator coils (located behind the filter) with a vacuum attachment. Then clean the drip tray according to the manufacturer's instructions. Finally, fasten a damp towel over the front of the unit the first time you turn it on, to capture any hidden particles. Have a central air system? Replace your filter at least every three months; if you have the electrostatic kind, clean it. Hire a professional to inspect the system once a year. And, every five years, pay a duct- or vent-cleaning contractor to clean your HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning) system. The service is pricey ($450 to $1,000), but it's worth saving for (think of your family's health every time you sock away a $20 bill).

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