How to Clean the Air

Happy Monday, all!

I have never professed to be an expert on anything science-y (yes, science-y, not scientific), health related, or anything that didn’t involve the law, history, or drawing fuzzy pink and purple hearts (I am oh, so an expert on those!). I do not work in the health industry, and would never survive 5 minutes of working in the food service industry.  I occasionally get conned into substitute teaching, and  this perfect brew of germy shenanigans, mixed with young children, in a small room, is enough to drive me right over the ledge. This random, babbling brook of a caveat is meant to reiterate that I am not a scientific expert. When I post updates about health, fitness, allergy-safe products, the views are based upon my own experiences, and life within my household. I don’t simply regurgitate the opinions of actual, or self-proclaimed, health experts. You won’t find me yelling stats about a vendor or chemical, or attacking an industry. What you will always hear is the heart of a mom who wants the healthiest choices possible for her family. What on earth could possibly require me to write all of that? Well, I know that what I am going to post may offend some people; however, what I always write is what I know to be true.

I am constantly searching for more information, and learning daily. These days I am continuing to focus on clearing my lifestyle from toxins.  What triggered this? When we relocated to a new area, I couldn’t breathe. Literally. I could. not. breathe. Prior to moving, I occasionally needed antihistamines for seasonal allergies, but I never had issues with asthma. What happened? Well, my previous locations had a few safeguards in place: emissions mandates for vehicles, non smoking buildings, etc. Our new location did not have the same requirements. It didn’t help that my allergist found that I was allergic to all of the trees and grasses that are indigenous to this region. I was miserable for quite a long time.

My misery didn’t just creep up when I tried to run outside, or drive with the windows or sunroof open, but I also suffered respiratory difficulties when I was inside. That was when I learned that the chemicals in certain cleansers just didn’t mesh well with my body. I also investigated flooring and paint components, and found that we could only use certain brands. Carpet had to go. Even those carpet brands that were advertised as “hypoallergenic” had toxic chemicals in them. Crazy, isn’t it?

We cannot live in a bubble, and no one wants their family members to live in misery (well, some might), so what are the options for clearing our air?

Easy Steps to  Cleaner Air at Home (Tweet this)

1) Stay Away from Wood Burning Fireplaces. Yep, this one ticks me off, too. Sadly, wood burning fireplaces produce soot and carbon. This is awful for someone without respiratory issues, and allergies, but it can be a nightmare for someone who already has these issues. Smoke is a nasty inhalant.

2) Kill the Dust Mites. Wash all of your linens in hot water (at least 130 degrees) weekly. Encase your mattresses and pillows in covers that are labeled specifically for allergens and dust mites. As luxurious as they may feel, goose down pillows and comforters are a big no-no.

3) Get Rid of Toxic-Laden Products. You will find irritants in everything from certain perfumes, hairsprays, cleansers, and detergents.  Some die-hard, crunchy, health-nut mamas make their own versions of everything. I am not there yet. I am not a chemist, and I have very little time.  I did find several brands that I like, and they are free of toxins. This will take the most time for you to research, and locate a brand that both works well for you, and is the safest. As a general rule, if you are encouraged to wear gloves while using a product, and if you cannot pronounce the ingredients, it isn’t a safe one.

4) Kill the Pet Dander. I didn’t say kill your pet. I didn’t say shave your pet. However, some of the steps that worked for my family may cause some animal lovers to have a conniption.  Wash your hands after petting your dog or cat. Keep your pet off of your furniture (I can hear some of you gasping already), and definitely out of your beds (one of you just fainted). If you have carpeted bedrooms, keep the pets out of those rooms. Pets can be more work for allergy sufferers because you will have to make more of an effort to daily keep the floors and furniture clear of pet hair.

5) Use Air Filters. We prefer Certified Allergy & Asthma filters. These filters are designed to keep out the allergens that float around in the air, and have been tested on their claims to be safe for allergy and asthma patients. If you have pets, you will need to change your filters more frequently than the manufacturer’s minimum suggestion.

6) Check Moisture Levels. You may want to consider using a dehumidifier. Why? Because dust mites, mold, and mildew just love moisture. Bedrooms and bathrooms can be prime breeding grounds for molds, so you’ll want to maintain the best possible ventilation in these areas.

7) Know When to Open the Windows. It is helpful to “air out” your house, and allow fresh air to flow through it. If you are in the middle of allergy season, you will obviously want to keep outside allergens out. If you live in a high pollution area, you’ll also want to keep the windows closed on poor air quality days.  You can always check the daily air quality in your area by visiting Air Now.

8) Search for Allergy Safe Toys and Toy Boxes. Check the labels for your kiddos’ toys for the types of paint or stuffing used.  There are many manufacturers of safer toys; parents just have to read to know what we are allowing into our homes.

9) Cut Back on the Knick-Knacks.  This one may hurt your Grandma’s feelings. Unless you are going to hire someone to daily clean rows and shelves of random collectibles, it is best to cut down on them. Why? They collect dust. Dust is an irritant. Simple enough, right? Well, maybe that isn’t enough for dear, old Grandma’s feelings. Possible solution: maybe you can pull out the precious collectibles whenever she visits, and keep them neatly stored when she’s not around.

These are tried and true tips for my household, and I hope that they will help you and your family breathe a little easier.

Until next time,


How to Avoid Frozen Pipes


I’m a southern girl. I bleed sweet tea, banana pudding,  and bless your hearts. Unlike most of my southern region family and friends, I LOVE winter. Also unlike many in my family, I have survived real winters. I’m not talking about your typical, wimpy, “ooh, it is down to 40 degrees” winter. I mean the real stuff: snow, ice, L L Bean gear, wishing you’d bought that Caribbean condo kind of winter. I lived in Maine. Enough said.

What is a southerner to do when caught in a surprise, real winter? What is the primary rule?
Do not drive. Just don’t. I don’t care if you have a military issued Humvee, with Siberian snow treads. Just don’t drive. You simply aren’t skilled enough to handle black ice, and your roads probably haven’t been properly plowed or salted. Why? Because you are in the south!  What do you do for the home front? After stocking up on food, firewood, and entertainment, you might want to remember to protect your home. How? Don’t forget your pipes.

Don't do this...

Don’t do this…

  • For external pipes:
    • Drain any underground irrigation systems
    • Protect outdoor pipes and fixtures, as well as those in crawlspaces and unheated garages, by wrapping them with insulating materials
    • Disconnect hoses from outside faucets
    • Drain outside hoses, and store them
    • Shut off water for all external pipes
  • For internal pipes:
    • Insulate hot and cold water pipes
    • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and allow warmer air to circulate to those spaces
    • Keep a trickle of water running in an inside sink
      • This will keep water moving through your pipes
      • The cost of this trickle for an evening is much cheaper than the plumber’s emergency visit for your busted pipes. Just saying…
The ONE TIME I don't follow my own advice!

The ONE TIME I don’t follow my own advice, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS!

There are many times when we do not heed the warnings of local weather forecasts. Why? Because they are often “wrong,” or the weather front changes. I understand the tendency to ignore the notices for caution, and I have been guilty of it recently.  I thankfully didn’t have an extremely expensive lesson, but it was enough to remind me to take my own advice. Prepare and protect your home. Stay safe, and warm, and remember to pray for those who aren’t.

Remember, it is best to prepare, than to be caught unaware. Click to Tweet.

Until next time,