Many people put a lot of effort into staying healthy – they eat right, exercise regularly, don’t smoke and drink only in moderation. But have you ever given any thought to how healthy your home is?

If the health of your home environment isn’t something you’ve thought about lately, maybe you should. Your home environment contributes to numerous factors that affect your overall health and comfort, from how often you get sick to how well you sleep. Many of the issues that make your home unhealthy contribute to reduced air quality that can exacerbate allergy symptoms and asthma and may even lead to other serious issues over the long-term.

Here are 10 tips to keep your home healthier:

  1. Clean air vents and HVAC filters often. Do it more frequently if you have pets, allergies or asthma. According to Family Circle Magazine, as much as 40 pounds of dust can collect in the HVAC system of a 1,500 sq. ft. home in a year. That dust contains dirt, bacteria, fungi, mold, allergens and dust mites. Yuck!
  2. Open the windows when you shower to remove moisture and prevent mold growth. Use exhaust fans in the bathrooms and kitchen if you have them.
  3. Reduce clutter to minimize dust collection. If you have a lot of items displayed, make sure you clean them often.
  4. Don’t mix chemicals. For example, don’t use bleach and ammonia at the same time. Keep chemicals stored in their original containers and never store near food.
  5. Use non-toxic ingredients to clean your home. Everyday items like baking soda, vinegar and lemon can take the place of many of the household cleaners that contain numerous chemicals.
  6. Filter your tap water. Whether you put a filter on your kitchen faucet or the water dispenser on your fridge, you’ll reduce unwanted particles in your water and can limit the amount of bottled water you use (which may be no better than tap water anyway).
  7. Never smoke in your house. If you must smoke, only do so outdoors. Better yet, quit.
  8. Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at least once a year.
  9. If your home was built before 1978, get your home tested for lead. The main source of lead contamination in homes is old paint that chips or erodes.
  10. Have your home tested for radon gas, which can cause lung cancer. You can buy a home radon testing kit at most home improvement or hardware stores.