Wipe your shoes

Dust contains many pollutants so it’s important to reduce it as much as possible. One small step that will have a big impact is to get everyone to wipe their shoes on the doormat and, ideally, remove their shoes before entering the house. Place a good-quality coir doormat at every entrance.

Get rid of dust

The way you clean is just as important as cleaning itself. Use a damp cloth instead of a dry one to prevent dust particles from circulating through the air. Avoid sweeping with a conventional broom and creating clouds of dust. Instead, invest in a microfibre mop or broom to gather up dust particles rather than redistributing them.

Clean carpets properly

Invest in a good vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, a device that traps dust particles rather than allowing them to become airborne. Don’t use vacuum cleaners with dust bags that suck up the dust at one end but let out fine dust particles in the exhaust. Also steam-clean the carpets regularly.

Air out bedding

Kill dust mites by airing out duvets, blankets, underlays and pillows. Replace pillows every two years and mattresses every 10 years.

Use natural cleaning remedies

Do you really need harsh chemicals to clean your home? Many cleaning agents contain toxic substances that have been linked to health problems. Shake up your cleaning routine and use vinegar and baking soda to clean the kitchen and bathroom, sinks, showers and tiles.

Mould is bad news

Mould causes respiratory illnesses, coughs and colds so you need to control it. Mould survives where moisture is present and tends to occur in toilets, bathrooms and kitchens. Fix any leaks, examine bathroom ceilings, and remove moisture from areas such as baths, showers and kitchen sinks after use.

Indoor plants are a great addition to any interior as they absorb carbon dioxide and other toxins while releasing oxygen. Photo: Trinette Reed Photography

Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate

Mum always said “go outside and get some fresh air”, and it turns out she was right. Well-ventilated areas decrease moisture and mould, so turn on the extraction fan when cooking and turn on the fan and open windows when you shower.

Avoid plastics

Research suggests that if scratched or heated, plastic breaks down and leaches chemicals it might be harmful to our health at certain levels. While it’s hard to reduce exposure to plastic, don’t use it to store or heat food. Instead use stainless steel, glass, porcelain and enamel metal containers and pots where possible. And carry your own glass, steel or ceramic water bottle instead of a plastic one.

Avoid VOCs

Volatile organic compounds are chemicals that are released into the air at room temperature and can be harmful to people and the environment.

Typically produced by products including paint, glue, adhesives, carpet, flooring and furniture, they are known to cause headaches and dizziness, and might also lead to chronic health problems. Look for products with low VOC levels and check labels for eco-certification when renovating or buying products.

Get an indoor plant

Indoor plants are a great addition to any interior as they absorb carbon dioxide and other toxins while releasing oxygen. Terrific air-cleaning plants include peace lilies, Boston ferns, spider plants, aloe vera and the gerbera daisy.

A modern problem

We are building better buildings and sealing them more efficiently, architect Antony Dimase says, but are not paying enough attention to how those spaces are ventilated, which can lead to potential health problems. “In new homes, it’s really critical that architects and builders find ways to ventilate these spaces to prevent issues with hygiene, CO2 build up and mould build-up,” he says. “There are definitely things you can do to address issues with ventilation, but it goes back to the design. Buildings that don’t give enough consideration to ventilation are potentially a really big problem.”

The Weekly Review