The wrath of fall and winter, truly, knows no bounds. Is it not enough for this dreadful season that it makes us stay indoors? Does it also want to make us sick? Fall and winter create the perfect conditions for the cold and flu virus to survive and flourish. Hands down, these seasons win for being the worst for virus spreading, there are several ways you can defend your home
Minimize mold and dust around your home. You might ask, what’s wrong with a little mold and dust? As long as they stay put behind the washing machine, out of sight under the basement carpet, or around the edge of the bathroom wallpaper, who cares? Well, you should, because they’re not only eating away at your house, they could be eating away at your health, too. Mold is sort of a background fighter in the cold and flu war. It’s not directly linked to the virus but plays a part in impacting your immune system, thus making you more susceptible to illness. Mold thrives in moist areas: keep your bathrooms clean and continuously wipe down wet surfaces. Promptly replace broken tiles or worn-out caulking. Keep an eye on your pipes. Even the smallest leak can result in a mold’s paradise. Use an exhaust fan or open a window in the bathroom during baths and showers. Scour sinks and tubs at least monthly. Fungi thrive on soap and other films that coat tiles and grout.
Have a handle on your home’s humidity. Consider investing in a hygrometer: this device measures your home’s indoor humidity levels. Your home should fall between 40-50% humidity during the fall and winter months. There is a fine line here: too much humidity provides a favorable environment for mold and bacteria and too little bits of help along with the little virus villains. To go a step further you can consult an HVAC professional what your options are for whole-home humidification. Also, adjust your thermostat. Viruses thrive in cold temperatures. Viral particles released into the air (via cough or sneeze) can survive for up to 48 hours! Keep that thermostat at a minimum of 68° to fight these hardy invaders.
Decontaminate your home from dust and dirt. This one is pretty obvious, but its importance warrants mentioning. Cold and flu viruses are relentless little beasts; they can hold on for up to 8 hours on hard surfaces. Sharpen your tools by washing your hands, sanitizing your counters, phones, doorknobs, refrigerator handles, everything! A steam cleaner goes a long way in this battle. Hire a cleaning service such as Rain City Maids for a scheduled cleaning to keep your home in tip-top shape.
To reduce mold in your kitchen; clean garbage pails frequently, clean refrigerator door gaskets, and drip pans. Use an exhaust fan when you are cooking or washing dishes. To reduce mold in your laundry area; remove clothes from the washing machine promptly. If you have a front-loading washing machine, clean the rubber seal and inside of the door. Leave the door cracked open when the machine is not in use. Make sure your laundry area has good air circulation. While you are surveying your laundry area, remember to launder your linens frequently. Your home already has 2 strong allies in this war: your washer and dryer. Wash your linens, towels, rugs, and even your window treatments regularly in hot water.
To reduce mold in your bedrooms; check windows for condensation (water droplets or mist), improve airflow through your bedroom. If your closet is colder than the rest of your room, leave the closet doors open. To reduce mold in your whole house; Use an electric dehumidifier to remove moisture and keep humidity in your house below 45 percent. Drain the dehumidifier regularly and clean the condensation coils and collection bucket. Increase airflow in your home. Open doors between rooms, move furniture away from walls and use fans if needed. Repair roof leaks and roof gutters. Clean out your gutters to remove leaves and debris. When gutters are full or damaged, it can cause leaking.
Pick the appropriate HVAC filters. Dirty filters are bad news. They are both harmful to your HVAC system and your family’s health. A professional can assist, but as a rule of thumb, select a filter that has a MERV rating between 7 and 12. These filters are pleated and trap bacteria, dust, pollen, and pet dander. You will do well to know that filters with higher MERV ratings trap more pollutants. Consider these filters in your first line of defense. It’s recommended to change filters every 2-3 months during the annual cold and flu war.
Here is another simple idea, leave your shoes at the door. Don’t aid the virus monsters by trekking their allies into your home. Flu viruses and bacteria are known to reside in mud, dirt, and debris. Keep a clean doormat on both the inside and outside of every door for good measure.
Consider a whole-home air cleaner. Whole-home air filtration and purification system would be like a 5 star general in your war against the cold and flu virus. These systems work in conjunction with your home’s HVAC system to capture and destroy up to 99% of harmful airborne particles in your home. Also, consider an ultraviolet light component. If there was a 6-star general rating, adding a UV light factor to this system would earn it.
The annual cold and flu season is a long one, and the viruses put up a good fight. If you haven’t been beaten down already, you’re not out of the woods yet. Utilize these tools and declare war on these ruthless viruses.