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Staying ahead of dust, dirt, and dander goes a long way to improving indoor air quality, but according to the experts, pollutants can lurk in even the most fastidious housekeepers’ homes.

To keep pollutants at bay—with little effort and at minimal cost—the following tips offer some often overlooked housecleaning techniques.

Lose the broom—A broom may be the traditional tool for removing dirt and dust from floors, but it’s not necessarily the best one. That’s because the very action of sweeping sends dust, dirt, and dander particles flying into the air.

Better to put the stuff in a bag using a high-quality vacuum cleaner. Most have a hard-floor setting just for that purpose.

Mat it—A door mat may welcome guests in, but it also helps keep pollutants out by trapping dirt and mold-loving moisture hitching a ride on the shoes—and paws—of all who enter. Just remind everyone to wipe their feet.

Pour more—Crawlspaces and ductwork are prime locations for mold growth, but there are plenty of other spots mold loves to live. And the bathroom is prime real estate for spores. Regular cleaning keeps tile, tubs, and other fixtures mold-free. But drains and overflows are often overlooked.

Pouring bleach into bathroom sink and tub overflows every three to six months inhibits spore growth and reduces drain odors.

Dry up—Moisture is attractive to mold, so give it less to love. Mopping up around areas where pet water bowls are kept, around kitchen sinks, and splash boards—anywhere water can settle—will keep those areas mold-free.

In bathrooms—Where mold is most likely to move in, use a shower squeegee to dry tile walls and other surfaces around tubs and showers. Be sure there’s plenty of ventilation when using common chemical bathroom cleaners; remember to use cleaners only according to label instructions, and don’t mix cleaning chemicals, including household bleach and ammonia.

Filter frequently—Home heating and cooling systems usually don’t get much attention—unless they fail. But they should not be ignored indefinitely because left unattended they can actually add pollutants into indoor air.

Changing conventional furnace filters every three months will reduce the release of dust and other allergens into indoor air space. Upgrading to reusable electrostatic filters that create a static charge that attracts dirt and dust particles is even better. Just be sure to flush filters of accumulated debris on a monthly basis.

Grilling—Dust and dirt settle on heating and cooling vent grills. Keep them clean by removing dust as part of routine housekeeping. Remove them for a thorough washing every month or so.

Get help—Annual visits from certified maintenance professionals not only keeps HVAC systems clean, but increases efficiency and extends service life. Likewise, carpets and upholstery benefit from deep professional cleaning, not only to extend their lives and beauty but to remove particle pollutants that accumulate over time.

To read the Kentucky Living October 2007 feature that goes along with this supplement, click here: Clean Up Indoor Air

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