A clean home provides an environment that is soothing, relaxing and healthy. Houses that are kept clean help reduce family members’ exposure to many indoor pollutants such as bacteria, lead and allergens like dust mites. A neat, clean house is also less likely to invite pests. And a tidy house is also a safe house. Toys, reading materials, shoes and other items left on floors can create tripping hazards.

A clean house can control allergens. Dust mites are tiny bugs, too small to be seen by the naked eye. They feed on shed human skin cells. The fecal pellets of dust mites contain potent allergens and asthma triggers. If your eyes start to burn and water when you stir up dust in your home or when you make a bed, you are likely having an allergic reaction to dust mite allergens. Regular cleaning of your house using proper techniques can easily keep your home free of many allergens, including those from dust mites.

A clean house also helps to control pests like insects and mice. They need places to hide and make nests. Keeping your home free of clutter deprives pests of these hiding places and discourages them from coming into and staying in your home. Washing dirty dishes and wiping kitchen work surfaces after each meal helps deprive pests of food. If pests don’t find food in your home, they will not stay.

With busy lifestyles, sometimes house cleaning chores are condensed into one day and can seem overwhelming, but there is an easier way to clean that prevents spending an entire day devoted to household chores. If you set up a cleaning schedule, spacing chores over time, you can develop a routine that will make house cleaning more efficient.

Some jobs, like kitchen chores need to be done daily. Wash dishes or load your dishwasher after each meal. Sweep the kitchen floor and mop if necessary. Clean kitchen work surfaces, cook tops and sink after each use. Other household chores that you should consider doing daily are: disinfecting high-touch surfaces; picking up clutter and spot cleaning, and doing a load of laundry. If you have indoor pets, consider vacuuming each day.

On a weekly basis: clean the bathroom, launder sheets and towels, vacuum, dust, mop and clean out the refrigerator. All of these jobs do not need to be done in the same day. Choose one or two and add them to your daily routine. Every month, wash blankets and comforters, vacuum curtains, clean appliances, wipe cabinets, clean out the pantry, dust light fixtures, blinds or indoor shutters. Windows and screens should be cleaned quarterly, as well as shower curtains and pillows. Deep clean and organize at least once a year. Have your chimney and fireplace cleaned yearly. Clean rugs and upholstery each year, or more often if you have pets and children. Gutters should be cleared of debris yearly or more often if you notice clogs.

When you tackle all of your cleaning jobs in small doses, and create a schedule for getting the jobs done, it is not nearly as daunting. For more information about cleaning and healthy homes, contact Lisa Smith at 252-789-4370 or by email at lfsmith5@ncsu.edu.

Thadd White is Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance and can be reached via email at twhite@ncweeklies.com.