This room redesign started because it seemed like everyone except me was sick in my house. No kidding, the moment I turned the heat on this year, everyone started coughing. We have radiators, which means that our air does not get filtered in the winter, and since heat rises, that means our dust rises, too. Over the past months I’ve been attacking, one by one, the top spots that might be making your family sick.
Researching what might be the causes of chronic winter coughing, and what I could do about it, the top culprit listed was always carpet. Always.
I could not stand it one minute more. After dinner one night, I decided to see what was under our upstairs carpet. Glory be! The hardwoods I knew were there were in decent shape. Monday, I was ripping up entire rooms. By Monday afternoon I hired a contractor (who is now one of my favorite people ever), and he started on Tuesday to sand and coat the floors. Guess what? The MINUTE we had that carpet out of the house, the little ones stopped coughing. Huh. We had to endure a couple days of sanding, but even through that, the little ones did not cough.
Now, I’m not telling you to get rid of your carpet. But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
In the process of getting the floors done, we removed all of the radiator covers and found another hotbed of cough-causing dust. YUK! I don’t even want to show pictures. These were not dust bunnies. They were dust elephants. It took a combination of a dryer brush and a Lint Lizard vacuum attachment to get in all the little nooks and crannies, and now the deed is done.
Don’t think you are home-free if you don’t have radiators. Forced air vents are known to harbor bad stuff in the ducts. And baseboard heaters have the same issues we have, with dust hiding spots above and below the units.
Bedding and mattresses are just bad. I have a whole article coming up about how to clean what we sleep on and in. One surprising change I made stopped the coughing overnight! Also, I could wash the sheets more. (I could run more marathons, too, but that’s not going to happen.)
Tops of curtains are an obvious dust-catcher. I admit, I just don’t dust or vacuum mine enough. When I emptied the rooms having floors redone, I was actually relieved to have an excuse to throw curtains in the wash. Between bedding and curtains, I did laundry non-stop for days! This little chore alone, curtains and horizontal blinds, could probably be what justifies a house cleaning service for many families.
Along with the tops of curtains, the tops of doorways actually have always kind of grossed me out. It’s funny, because they usually don’t get painted properly, which means they are rough, and kind of hard to dust. If you find a contractor who takes care in finishing the tops of windowsills and doorways, you know you’ve found a good one.
Closets are another hide hole for things that might be making your family sick. I’ve seem all sort of things in closets, trust me. How spider webs end up inside closets is just a mystery, but plenty of other things end up there, too. Dust bunnies, moths, and silverfish hide back there, too. I love keeping a closet organized enough that it’s easy to vacuum or sweep, and dusting off the shelves is a light chore. Also, if your clothes are dusty in the closet? Well that’s a sure sign that you aren’t wearing them, and it’s probably time to purge a few.
The unassuming light bulb, which has gone through so much innovation in the last decade, hasn’t evolved enough. It also can harbor dust. Light fixtures, shades, and the bulbs themselves can all use a good dusting. My favorite duster I mentioned recently is great for quickly cleaning light fixtures.
Remember, when you are cleaning, start from the top and work your way down. Clear cobwebs from high corners, then clean hanging light fixtures, dust high shelves, then low ones. Then finish with the floor. And contrary to what you might think, run your whole house fan (without the AC or heat) while you are cleaning, or for some time after you finish cleaning, so the system can do the hard work of catching the smallest irritants. Change your system’s filters twice a year (summer and fall, if not more often).
Does any of this matter? Apparently, yes, because my little petunias have not coughed in their sleep for over a month. This, I think, is a clear win.
Have you made any drastic changes to keep your family from getting sick in the winter?