Check them at the door! (How to bring less contaminants into your house)
Oh, how I love to walk barefoot or bare-socked around my house! It’s a pleasure that doesn’t happen often enough. With two (albeit non-shedding) dogs who constantly bring sand and dirt in from the outside, and my own habit of walking straight in from outside with my shoes on, walking barefoot only happens for a few hours after I vacuum and mop. Vacuuming and mopping takes a minimum of 45 minutes to do, so how often does it get done? Embarrassingly, not enough!
There are even more benefits to cleaner floors than walking barefoot. After all, you and your pets are not just bringing in lifeless dirt…there are microorganisms like mold, pollen, bacteria and viruses in every grain of dirt. These can wreak havoc on those who are more sensitive, and especially those who spend more time on the floor, like babies and young children. At HypoAir, we’re all about avoiding bringing contaminants indoor whenever possible!
It’s hard to believe what you can’t see, so I was grateful to run across this article. The hostess of this website became self-educated about mold after she and her family experienced numerous health problems from the homes they lived in, and she has a very informative website that includes interviews with experts! She performed a test with a white towel laid at the door of her home, to catch dirt and mold particles as they are tracked in. She performed a mold test before and after two days. Although the “before” mold test revealed some mold from the clean towel being stored in the garage, the “after” test was definitely more prolific and indicated that some colonies could be producing mycotoxins. Yuck! Unfortunately I know this is happening at my house in the woods during the very wet summer we’ve had….
This has prompted me to research strategies to avoid bringing that dirt, mold and germs in! There are some ways that make a big difference.
Leave your shoes at the door. My main problem with this is time (like when I’m bringing in groceries), and sheer number of shoes. Patience and dropping off loads at the door will take care of the first problem, but for the second one, If I had a “mudroom” this might be more easy to organize. I’m not a shoe collector by any means, but I have a number of shoes that I like to wear outdoors! This has led me to find a used low bookshelf and number of baskets so that I, my sister who lives with me, and any number of guests can feel comfortable storing them at the door.
Find the best doormats for your situation, and use them! When I went searching for “doormats” online, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number and diversity of them. Then I refined the search to “best doormats for pets” or “best outdoor doormat”, etc. and read what people wrote about them. I am even doubling up (one indoor, one outdoor) for more protection.Here are some good ones:
Doormat for pet feet: I like the generous size and decor options for these rugs by PURRUGS, but they are made of polyester.
Outdoor mat for removing dirt:
According to Spruce.com, coir (pronounced “coy”-er) is the best material for removing dirt: it’s made from coconut husks, so it’s scratchy and natural-looking. A lot of coir mats are made with a rubber backing, which doesn’t let the dirt fall to the floor, but if you get a woven one with no backing like this one by Kempf ($43), you don’t have to shake it out as often.
For a modern look, Clean Machine Mats are made of Astroturf, but not all of them have the bright green color! This one ($29) just takes a simple shake to empty all the sand off your porch.
Indoor mat: Requirements for good indoor mats are that they need to be of a safe material that doesn’t create dangerous VOCs (polyester and PET may have endocrine-disrupting chemicals in them). A non-slip backing is best, but solid rubber or plastic may harbor mold if moisture gets underneath, so check for mold during wet or humid weather. Machine-washability is a plus!
Large and absorbent, these mats by Crate and Barrel ($135) are great for wet and muddy feet. They can be spot cleaned or taken outside for scrubbing and hosing down. The rug is made of polypropylene, which is quite durable and has a low off-gas. The backing is made of rubber (20% recycled), which can give off a smell but doesn’t seem to be a complaint with this rug.
Chenille is very absorbent and soft, which makes these rugs by Gorilla Grip a nice buy at $35-50 depending on the size. They are machine washable!
I love the idea of recessed mats, which are popular in commercial buildings and apartment buildings. They “fit” into your floor and are very unlikely to slide around. Water and dirt will also be more contained in a recessed mat, where you can easily vacuum it up. You’ll need to create a standard-sized recess that is laid into your floor at the front door.
If you have pets, teach them to stop at the door and wipe their feet! (cue cute video…) More seriously, you can teach them to at least stop while their human helps them wipe their feet! You can even hang a towel near the door for that purpose on a simple hook or more elegant towel rack. You can also use EC3’s Mold Solution Spray ($28 for 32 oz) for misting their fur to deactivate any mold spores they may carry in.
Use a non-toxic additive or detergent to get rid of mold in the laundry. EC3 products by Micro Balance are recommended by a number of experts and experienced laymen who know about mold! This non-toxic, environmentally safe laundry additive ($29) is good for about 11-16 loads at the recommended dosage of 2-3 oz per load. It’s great for washing those dirty door mats and washable shoes. (moldfreeliving.com)
For shoes that can’t be washed in the washing machine, spritz them with EC3’s Mold Solution Spray ($28 for 32 oz) before you put them back in your closet. You can also spritz it on the indoor mat between washings. (moldfreeliving.com)
Vacuum and mop frequently(1-2x per week) in the entranceways of your home, if not your whole home. At the beginning of this article, I was lamenting the time it took me to successively vacuum and mop the ground floor of my home (where the most dirt lies). Well, this is the case IF you don’t have a combo vacuum/mop, which can be a total game changer! I’m happy that I have all tile with only a few area rugs on this floor, which makes it the perfect candidate for such a machine. I grew up using cumbersome canister vacuums, which seemed to hit every doorjamb as I tugged them through the house. My mother has already graduated to a Bissell CrossWave, and raves over it. Here is a great review of the newest upright vac/mop combos, in which I’m sure you’ll find one that’s right for you. The only problem with using water floor cleaners is that they tend to have chemicals of questionable toxicity in their proprietary cleaning solution (7 of 11 Bissell products earned a “D” grade on ewg.org). If you use another solution during the warranty period, your warranty may be voided. If that prospect does not bother you, this article gives some tips on making homemade cleaning solutions for your vacuum/mop machine that have non-toxic ingredients.