Seven Principles of Healthy Homes

1. Keep your home dry.

Damp and wet environments make it possible for dust mites, cockroaches, rodents, and molds to grow and thrive. Keep your home dry by fixing plumbing and structural leaks, improving drainage for rainwater and opening windows or using an exhaust fan so steam doesn't build up in the bathroom or kitchen.

2. Keep your home clean.

Clean homes help reduce pest infestations and exposure to contaminants. Keep your home clean by trying to keep contaminants out, creating smooth and cleanable surfaces and reducing clutter. Use a damp mop or rag to clean and always follow label directions on cleaning products. Check out these tips for cleaning and reducing clutter.

3. Keep your home well-ventilated.

Increasing the supply of fresh air can help reduce exposure to indoor asthma triggers and other contaminants. To keep your home well-ventilated , use exhaust fans and open windows, especially when you are cleaning, cooking or using chemicals in your home.

4. Keep your home pest-free.

All pests, including cockroaches, mice and rats, need food, water and shelter to live. Keep your home pest-free by storing food (including pet food) in pest-resistant containers, fixing leaks and sealing cracks in floors, walls and ceilings, reducing the amount of clutter in your home and storing garbage outside in a can with a lid.

If pests are already a problem, use sticky-traps and baits in closed containers or try other types of non-chemical management. If you need to use a pesticide, follow these guidelines for how to choose, apply, store and dispose of pesticides safely.

5. Keep your home contaminant-free.

Contaminants in the home may include lead, radon, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, environmental tobacco smoke and carbon-monoxide. Keep your home contaminant free by testing it for radon, installing a carbon-monoxide detector, using lead-safe practices to fix deteriorating lead paint, establishing smoke-free home rules and by storing and using chemicals, paints and cleaning products safely.

6. Keep your home safe.

Many injuries can occur in the home, including falls, burns and poisonings. Children and older adults are at higher risk for some types of injuries. Keep your home safe by properly labeling and storing all chemicals (including medicines and personal-care products), by securing loose rugs, removing hard and sharp surfaces from children's play areas and installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

7. Keep your home well-maintained.

Poorly maintained homes are at risk for pests, moisture, deteriorating lead paint and other structural problems. Inspect, clean and repair your home routinely. Take care of minor repairs and problems before they become large repairs and problems.