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Meet the Maharrys, an active family of four. When their daughter was diagnosed with severe allergies, they decided to give their home a healthy makeover. Turn harmful habits into a healthy home with these tips and advice.

Consider this: You spend a third of your life in bed. If you wake up with a runny nose or itchy throat, dust mites might be the problem. Wash sheets weekly; blankets every two weeks in hot water. Freeze non-washable stuffed animals for two or three hours. Opt for washable pillows and comforters over those made with down or feathers.

• Laundry baskets and hampers can be a playground for germs. Don’t forget to clean them regularly.

• Keep a healthy level of humidity. Dust mites and mold love moisture. Keeping relative humidity around 30 to 50 percent helps keep these and other allergens under control.

• When choosing paints, look for low- or no-VOC products to avoid headaches and respiratory problems.

Living Room
• Houseplants work as a natural air filter by adding oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide. Some of the best houseplants for treating indoor air pollution: philodendron, English ivy, spider plant, dracaena, weeping fig, peace lily, bamboo and reed palm.

• Make sure to open your windows from time to time and air out the house. Fresh air will help clear allergens from a room.

• For safer fires, install a fireplace insert and check the chimney yearly. Install carbon monoxide alarms and store firewood outside the house.

• Even if you routinely change furnace and air conditioner filters and vacuum regularly, you may still want the extra insurance of an air purifier, especially if members of your household have respiratory problems. When shopping for a system, look at the CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) number. The higher the number, the stronger the cleaning power.

• Mopping picks up the dust that vacuuming leaves behind. New microfiber mops and dust cloths reportedly capture more dust and dirt than traditional materials and don’t require any cleaning solutions whatsoever.

• Filtering your water has never been easier, thanks to the variety of purification products available, including whole house water filtration systems, under-the-sink filters and faucet-mounted devices.

• Don’t forget to replace the filters on your refrigerator’s water and ice maker. Thoroughly clean and disinfect your refrigerator monthly.

• Use a HEPA furnace filter and remember to change it every month (or follow the manufacturer’s recommendations).

• Look for fragrance-free or naturally scented laundry products.

• To prevent mold from taking hold, don’t let wet clothes sit in the washer for long periods of time.

• A dehumidifier (and air conditioner during summer months) helps reduce indoor humidity levels and effectively controls allergens.

This article is excerpted from Lowe’s Creative Ideas magazine.

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