A Greener Way of Living, at Home and Abroad
I saw the first burst of pine pollen on my car window this morning. That is my sign that it is time for Spring Cleaning. Spring Cleaning is a good time to go through your cleaning supplies and make a decision on whether you want to continue using a product. We have tried to go with cheaper homemade products but there are some products we have not yet been willing to give up. The main product that causes a lot of arguments in our home is BLEACH. My husband says he is just not ready. So our compromise is to use it sparingly and dilute it with water when we are using it.
The reason he is attached to bleach is that he HATES mold! Growing up in Louisiana and south Mississippi and raising our family in Georgia we have had to deal with a lot of moisture. Our climate is so humid that we just cannot seem to get rid of mold. After paying closer attention to where mold is worst in our home, we have decided that one issue was the bathroom exhaust fan was not doing the job. So this spring we are putting in two new stronger exhaust fans. We are hoping this will help.
1. We identified the problem areas in our home and we have dealt with the sources of the moisture. We cannot realize that in our part of the world there is no such thing as a mold proof home, but we are working to deal with causes of mold: we identified all the problem areas; and we fixed all the old and new moisture problems.
2. We have dried out all the problem points inside and outside of our home. Remember that mold needs moisture to grow. We are paying attention to those places where we have had problems to make sure that our efforts are working. Even a clothes hamper with wet towels can contribute enough moisture to trigger mold growth.
3. We have installed better exhaust systems in the critical rooms: Bathrooms, laundry room, kitchen. If you notice condensation on your laundry room windows when you are washing or drying your clothes you need to look into installing exhaust fans. Make sure the fans vent to the outside and not into your attic. Also make sure that all your appliances that produce moisture are vented to the outside and clean your vents. Your dryer vent needs to be cleaned from the inside and around the outside exhaust outlet. Make sure that your shrubs are not blocking the vents.
4. Another step that we have taken is when we have purchased new products we look for products that do not increase the moisture in our home and now that we are considering replacing our flooring. We will purchase mold resistant materials.
5. Looking for a good birthday present for a ‘gadget addict’ look no further than a humidity monitor. Remember that the EPA recommends keeping indoor humidity between 30 and 60 percent. You can get an indoor humidity monitor at most home good stores or go online. If the humidity in your home is high start looking for the source of moisture. Is it high when someone is bathing or does it peak when you are cooking? Maybe your exhaust fans are not doing their job.
6. We love our garden and the plants around our house, but we learned early on that we needed to move foundation plantings back from the house and to make sure water was not pooling around our foundation. We installed new guttering and made sure that water running off the house was moved away from the foundation and that the ground sloped away from the house.
7. Cleaning and repairing our gutters is a part of our spring and winter maintenance plan. Take the time to clean off your roof and clean your gutters. Depending on your landscape you may need to do this more that once or twice a year.
8. Cold air can hold less moisture that warm air, so when the temperature drops you might find that your windows, walls and floors may feel damp or might even see moisture forming. This is when you really need to pay attention to your home’s airflow in your home. There are several things you can do to increase airflow. Keep interior doors open make sure that you have enough space between your walls and your furniture that air can circulate. Also, don’t forget to leave your closet doors open. I know that our closets are often cluttered and we don’t want folks to see the mess, but maybe the need to keep the doors ajar might help us cut down on excess stuff. As the seasons change and the temperature warms up air out your house but remember when it starts to rain close your windows.
9. Pets and plants are our babies now that our children are grown. With our children there were spills, wet clothes thrown on the floor, and piles of wet towels and soggy shoes by the door. With our pets we have spilled water from their bowls, lovely little gifts left when we are gone, and a litter box that adds to moisture to our home. Just like with the kids we have to be Johnny-on-the-spot with cleanups. With my husband’s houseplants, though lovely, he is always on the lookout for over watering and he cleans the dust off of the plants and check for mold on the soil.
All that being said I am hoping that we can cut back on cleaning time and on my husband’s love affair with bleach, well at least slow down his use.
For more information check out the following links: http://www.fcs.uga.edu/ext/pubs/hace/HACE-E-53.pdf