Winter is a time of family, food, cold, snow… and sickness! With the change of seasons and the cold weather comes a new slew of allergies, viruses, and the flu. Ugh! It can be overwhelming to try to keep everyone in your family healthy. This especially true if your kids are in school, or someone in your household works in a vulnerable place like a hospital. While there is not too much that you can do to prevent being exposed to sickness while you are out and about, you can do some things at home to keep your home healthy.
While we need to clean our homes anyway, in winter we may want to take a few extra steps… pump up the cleaning ritual to kill the germs that cause colds and flu. Here are a few things that you can do help.
Remove Your Shoes When You Come in the House
This one comes up for debate quite a bit. A friend recently posted a poll about it on Facebook, and people had a lot to say! Here’s the thing… I DO NOT like outside shoes worn in my house… period. We do have hardwood floors downstairs, but the upstairs is carpet. Every since we moved into a home back in 2006 that had light beige carpet I have insisted that shoes be removed. Now I don’t make all guests do this. It depends on the situation. If we are having a big party, I do not insist that every guest remove their shoes if staying on the first floor. However, do not try walk on my carpet with them on.
Here’s the thing… the bottom of shoes are nasty! You walk in them in the street. You wear them in the subway. You walk in grass and dirt. In the winter you walk in snow and salt. Your shoes are wet. You have them on when you go in public bathrooms… and who knows what is on those floors! Sometimes gum… that has been in someone else’s mouth… gets stuck to them. Do you really want to track that into your home?? Talk about germs! Not to mention if you have carpet it will be filthy in no time if you allow outside shoes on your carpet. Be safe, remove the shoes. Get everyone some nice fluffy house shoes, keep them by the door, and change them as soon as you come home.
Dust, Vacuum & Mop More Often
Even though you are trusting everyone to remove their shoes which keeps down dirt and germs from outside, you still have to worry about dust. Dust can settle very quickly. You may notice that your electronics get very dusty. And it settles on floors and especially in carpet. Plus, carpet traps little particles from everything else. And we may not even see it. But, when we vacuum we hear it being sucked up. And when you look in the tank of your vacuum you can see just how much dirt and dust it picked up. If you don’t vacuum often, this stuff can float through the air, irritate the nose and lungs of your family members, and even make them sick.
Wash Bed Linens More Often
This is something else that people don’t really like to talk about… dust mites! Trust me… I don’t like to think about it either. But, when we sleep our skin sheds. It’s a natural thing. In addition to that we might sweat when we sleep. And some of us (not me!) may slob on our pillows. Ick! All of this settles in your bed and attracts dust mites. Dust mites are very, very small bugs. They are too small to see with the naked eye. They feed on human and animal skin flakes, which means that your bed is a buffet. Disgusting I know! And dust mites can cause allergies and sickness.
To keep them at bay, change your sheets often… at least once a week. When you remove the sheets, vacuum your mattress and spray it down with disinfectant. This will capture any dust mites, and the disinfectant will kill any germs on the surface.
Have Everyone Take Extra Vitamin C
I just started doing this recently. In the past, I’ve been pretty lax about making sure that the rest of the family took their vitamins. But, I recently picked up a huge pack of Emergen-C. I try to make everyone drink down a glass every morning. I’ve definitely been doing it. Not only does it help boost the immune system to make it strong against sickness, it also boosts my energy level. Of course if you prefer, just make sure that your family takes a multi-vitamin. This is important for kids that might not be good about eating their veggies!
Keep the Air in Your Home Healthy
Air quality can make a huge difference in your health. Dust floating through the air, particles from paint, clothing, dirt, and other particles can irritate sensitive sinuses and make them more susceptible to sickness.
When my kids were younger, one of my boys used to get constant nosebleeds during the winter. That home did not have a whole house humidifier. I had to run a portable one in their room to moisturize the air. Why? He had nosebleeds because the air was way too dry. Dry air from indoor heat irritates and dries out nasal membranes which can lead to nosebleeds.
Keeping the air moisturized is important. Just like we need water to be hydrated, our nasal passages don’t do well if too dry. Keeping humidity in the air will keep the nasal passages moist and prevent viruses from thriving. We definitely notice a difference now that we have our Aprilaire Humidifier. The Aprilaire Humidifier is specifically designed to add moisture to homes up to 4000 sq feet. This eliminates dryness, making the air more comfortable. The relative humidity (RH) of your home should generally be between 30-50%. So far, we have had no problems with feeling dry at night, or having bloody noses. And, hopefully we will be less likely to get sick.
These are just a few tips to help you keep your home cleaner and your family healthier in winter. No one has time for colds and flu!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Aprilaire. All opinions are my own.