A little dust MAY just be hurting you and your health
House cleaning has never been one of my favorite jobs. In fact, I used to avoid it at all costs. Way back in my single days, I’d keep things neat but I was never fastidious about vacuuming and dusting, to say the least. I always preferred things have their place, but a little clutter didn’t bug me too much.
Fast forward to life with a husband and kids, things have had to change a little. For a long time, my tried and true ways of tidying just wasn’t cutting it. The clutter would pile up, we moved house and were still figuring out where things went, and five people can make a big mess in very little time at all. Needless to say, we felt we were always playing catch-up. When we needed to organize for guests, it was a monumental effort. As a gift, my mom got us a few visits of a housekeeping service which we stretched out and continued for a while. But every two weeks we’d be in a panic to “clean” for the cleaning people! Help?!
Big Change #1:
We finally made the decision to remodel our kitchen. This was a loooong few months, but man what a difference. We had a LOT more storage and actually loved our kitchen (instead of hating it intensely). We cook almost every meal from scratch so needless to say we spend a lot of time here. We still have more work to do when budget allows, but this has been life changing.
Reality check, not everyone can remodel their kitchen (and this was a huge investment for us) but here are a few reasons this made a huge difference:
- Storage: Not only did many more things have a distinct place in the house, now we weren’t stashing them in corners or burying them behind piles of towels in our closets. Moving kitchen appropriate things into the kitchen freed up space elsewhere for items that truly belonged in those various spaces. Adding a hutch, shelves, or just re-organizing your current storage solutions can give you much of the same result! We have an old dresser stuck into our dining room closet which serves as a bar (the top) and storage for linens, candles and other items.
- Reorganize: Taking everything out, assessing what you have and then slowly finding places for things can be time-consuming but so worth it. When a certain area is frustrating me enough, I know it’s time to tackle it in this way. I try to think about where we use it the most, where it makes the most sense to remain, and what other items it should be near or paired with. When I get really annoyed by something (the jar of dishwasher powder taking up room on my counter, for example), I think about where it makes the most sense to house that item (the drawer under the sink, with the other cleaning supplies) and dive in. I removed a few things we don’t use, moved some other things to a more appropriate place (ie. a bathroom cabinet) and now the dishwasher powder is out of sight. Win!
- Purge: There’s nothing like a home disrupting project to make you think about what you have but don’t need anymore! There are always things we hold on to for various reasons but try to think about when you used it last. Is it just taking up space or do you really need it?
Big Change #2:
Knowledge is everything. I’ve long suffered from seasonal allergies and the fall is often the worst time of the year for me. Our kids have similar symptoms at times so creating the right environment at home is important to us. Since we reorganized our home to an extent, we’ve been better able to keep up with the clutter and the cleaning. The kids can even pitch in fairly often which is a huge bonus.
We’ve made big changes in our diets, eliminating almost all processed sugars, vastly reducing dairy and being very selective about the grains we eat. We also spend a lot of time outside when we can, don’t over-sanitize ourselves or our home (usually natural cleaners when possible), eliminating toxins when possible (aka. plastic, single-use items, etc.). This season, we’ve been the healthiest yet as far as colds, allergies, and other common ailments. All of these changes came about because we researched, tested, retested and kept trying until we figured out what works best for our family. Typically, each fall, my husband has a huge bout of bronchitis after a few weeks of being back at work (as a teacher). The change in routines, stress, and dealing with a school building that hasn’t been used for two months takes it’s toll. Finally, after years of combating this pattern…we finally broke it. This is an intensive process and you have to be patient with yourself as you figure things out. We’re still learning, and likely still will be long into the future.
Recently, I was listening to some podcasts about home cleaning and WHY it’s important. We already use a lot of chemical free products, eliminated a lot of plastics, use water filters, we use an air purifier, and we are very careful about the food and items we bring into the house. So I was really curious about what else I was missing. The biggest “aha” moment was about dust. I’ve always hated dusting and figured a little dust doesn’t hurt anyone. However, it turns out that a lot of the big items in your house (mattresses, carpets, furniture and even construction items used to build your home) can off-gas for quite some time. You’ve heard of low VOC paints, right? Well, it turns out that tons of items in your home give off VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Ever bought a new shower curtain and can’t shake the “new” smell for quite some time? How about a room that always smells a certain way due to the carpet or mattress? And what do those chemicals stick to the most?! DUST!
One of the best and most effective ways to eliminate those chemicals from your home is to dust, simple as that. Sooo, now you’ll likely find me dusting much more frequently. Let the record show that this fall has been my bet yet. With a little elderberry syrup and Yogi Breathe Deep tea, I’ve managed to chase off all unwanted bugs before the escalate. Fingers crossed to a healthier cold and flu season this year!
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