A Healthy Home is one that provides a safe, sufficient, and sanitary living space in order to prevent disease and injury.  According to the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Healthy Homes, substandard living conditions can lead to several negative health effects such as respiratory illness, reproductive issues, neurological disorders, and accidental injury.

What should you do?

To prevent negative health effects, take these steps.

  1. Keep your home DRY  
  2. Keep your home CLEAN
  3. Keep your home VENTILATED
  4. Keep your home PEST-FREE
  5. Keep your home SAFE
  6. Keep your home CONTAMINANT-FREE
  7. Keep your home MAINTAINED
  8. Keep your home GREEN

Keep Your Home Dry

Mold problems are moisture problems. When moisture enters your home it creates a welcoming environment for pests and mold, which can cause respiratory illness and structural damage. Keeping your home dry will help prevent these problems and provide a safe, clean environment for you and your family.

Follow these simple steps to help keep your home dry:

  1. Find and fix water leaks. Leaks may be from the structure or plumbing.
  2. Maintain indoor humidity below 50 percent.  
  3. Make sure rainwater drains away from your home.
  4. Check windows and doors for a weathertight seal.
  5. If you have a basement, make sure it has a working drainage system.
  6. Use exhaust fans in kitchen and bathrooms.
  7. Use the UGA Extension Mold & Moisture Checklist to identify problems.

Click here for more about mold prevention and cleanup.

Keep Your Home Clean

Do you know what's in the dirt inside your home?  Dirt contains lead dust, pllen, pesticides, insect fragments, and lots of other contaminants. The first four steps you take inside your front door bring in close to 85% of the outdoor contaminants found indoors. The best ways to reduce outdoor contaminants are to add doormats and remove your shoes. Research suggests that we spend about 90% of our time indoors, and almost two-thirds of that time is in our homes! A clean home means less exposure to contaminants, less clutter, and a more comfortable living environment for you.

Follow these simple steps to keep your home clean and clutter-free:

  1. Clean floors and surfaces regularly with a damp mop and microfiber cloth.
  2. Use a HEPA vaccuum. If that doesn't fit your budget, use a vaccuum with a HEPA air filter and vacuum often.
  3. Add doormats by all exterior doors.
  4. Remove your shoes and leave them by the door.
  5. Clean dishes or load them in the dishwasher immediately after use
  6. Reduce clutter.  So you are not overwhelmed, start in one room and remove one-third of the clutter. 
  7. Make your own green cleaners using the UGA Green Cleaning Recipes. (English Recipe Cards)  (Español Recipe Cards

Keep Your Home Ventilated

A well-ventilated home filters and then circulates clean, fresh air to promote better respiratory health. Proper ventilation can reduce your exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), allergens, mold, carbon monoxide, and more.

Follow these simple steps to keep your home well-ventilated:

  1. Use kitchen and bath exhaust fans when cooking and bathing.
  2. Do the toilet paper test to make sure the exhaust works properly.
  3. Change air filters regularly on heating/cooling units.
  4. Clean dryer lint traps.
  5. For fireplaces, make sure the flue is clear and open when a fire is lit.

Learn more about what is in your air.

Keep Your Home Pest-Free

Of course you want to keep your home free of pests, but you may not realize how much harm bugs, rodents, and other pests can cause. Exposure to pests, such as mice and cockroaches has been linked to asthma in children. To control pests people often use pesticides which can cause further problems. The best way to control pests is to make your house less inviting.    

Follow these simple steps to make your home less inviting for all pests:

  1. Seal cracks and crevices with copper mesh, expanding foam, or caulk.
  2. Eliminate sources of food and water by putting food in sealed containers and repairing leaks and dripping faucets.
  3. Use trash containers with sealable covers.
  4. Remove clutter, which reduces hiding places.

Click here for more information on dust mites, roaches, bedbugs, and more resources on pests.

Keep Your Home Safe

Accidents happen, but some of them, like falls, fires, and poisonings, can be easily avoided with just a few simple steps. Falls are the leading cause of unintentional death in the home, followed by poisoning, choking, drowning and fire. The Centers for Disease Control estimate the costs associated with falls for people age 65 and over are more than $34 billion a year. Improving the safety of your home is important not only for older adults, but also for the entire family. Safety begins at home by reducing the likelihood of accidents and making your home a much healthier place to live.

Follow these simple steps to make your home a safer place for children and adults of all ages:

  1. Use the Home Safety Checklist to review your home and see which areas can be made safer.
  2. Childproof Your Home using this room-by-room safety checklist.
  3. Store household cleaning products out of reach of pets and children.

Click here to learn more about making your home safe.

Keep Your Home Contaminant-Free

Many different contaminants may be found in your home, including radon, lead paint, asbestos, tobacco smoke, carbon monoxide, mercury, pesticides, and household chemicals. Below are tips for controlling contaminants in your home.

  1. Radon - The only way to know if you have this invisible, odorless gas is to test your home. Learn more at UGA Radon.
  2. Lead can be found in the soil, water and some consumer products. You can reduce lead dust in your home by adding a doormat, removing your shoes and keeping your home clean by damp mopping. Learn more on the UGA Lead Information page.
  3. Asbestos may be found in a wide range of building materials in older homes, including insulation, flooring, roofing and textured paint. The best thing to do is to leave it alone or hire a professional to remove it. For a llist of asbestos contractors in Georgia, contact the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. Learn more about asbestos on the EPA website.
  4. Well Water needs to be tested for contaminants. Contact your Extension Office and test your water quality
  5. Tobacco - Turn your home into a smoke-free zone.
  6. Carbon Monoxide - Maintain combustion equipment like heating systems. 
  7. Mercury - Clean up broken compact fluorescent lights and go to Earth 911 to dispose of them.
  8. Hazardous Household Products - Store them out of reach of children and pets and learn how to properly dispose of items.
  9. Look-Alike Products - Leave products in original packaging and medications on the counter or in an accessible handbag. 

Keep Your Home Maintained

Your home is your biggest financial investment.  Keeping your home maintained can protect you from moisture and pest problems, structural damage, and spending extra time and money on repairs that could have been prevented. Follow these simple steps to keep your home maintained. 

  1. Check your home for "curb appeal"
  2. Clean gutters and downspouts
  3. Change the air filters and Inspect heating and cooling system
  4. Inspect septic system and pump if needed
  5. Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors

Use the UGA Home Maintenance Checklist.

Keep Your Home Green

A green home is one that makes simple changes to conserve energy and natural resources. These changes will not only reduce your carbon footprint, but also save you money on energy and water, and create a healthier living space.  

Learn about going green by visiting UGA Greenway.