Ready to Make Your Home and Yard More Eco-Friendly?
Follow our tips to make your house greener and healthier -- inside and out.
Your home is where your health begins, so making your living environment as green as possible can only mean good things for your mind and body. Our living spaces, the air we breathe, and our yards offer numerous ways to make eco-friendly and health-conscious choices. Three environmental medicine experts offer tips on how to make your home “green” and how to ensure your family's well-being.
Making Your Home Green
From the kitchen to the carpeting, most homes can be made more eco-friendly and healthy for every member of the family.
Mold killer. Finding mold in your bathroom is easy -- just look inside your shower or toilet a few days after its last cleaning. Eliminating mold, however, means you need to get creative if you want to be green.
"Vinegar is naturally acidic," says William Rea, MD, a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon and environmental medicine expert at the Environmental Health Center in Dallas. "And acid is the key to getting rid of mold and other fungi that grow in humid environments like bathrooms."
Vinegar straight-up at 5% concentration -- the kind you can purchase at the grocery store -- with no water added, is a natural mold killer. Better yet, it earns bonus points for killing bacteria and germs as well as fuzzy fungi.
HEPA clean. You can vacuum till your fingers turn blue, but if you don't have a HEPA-armed vacuum cleaner you're just blowing dust in the wind. An acronym for high efficiency particulate air, HEPA filters have a well-deserved reputation as green-worthy.
"HEPA filters basically suck air in and clean it out," says Darryl Zeldin, MD, clinical director at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. "They pull allergens like pet dander, mold, and fungi out of the air and trap them in an exhaust system rather than blowing them back into your living environment."
You can retrofit your vacuum with a HEPA-designated filter. Or if you're buying a new vacuum, look for a certified HEPA vacuum with a minimum efficiency of 99.97% at a particle size of 0.3 microns.
Humidity be gone. Dehumidifiers are a home's best friend when it comes to minimizing mildew, mold, and dust mites.
"You want to keep your humidity levels in your home below 50%," says Zeldin. "Dehumidifiers are an inexpensive way to lower your allergen and exposure levels to molds and dust mites." So along with purchasing a dehumidifier, test the air moisture levels in your home with a humidity sensor, and shoot for that 50% mark.