Jessica Alba
Ask An Expert: Healthy Homes
Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We came across an interesting article featuring Jessica Alba today as we clicked through our favorite style sites. She's using her celebrity to tout the importance of eco-friendly homes...for family and for the environment. "Bamboo is a great material that we use in the house, from our sheets to a lot of my daughter’s clothes," she tells "What comes around goes around. And having a consciousness that everything that you do in your life does come around, you do have an impact on the environment."


And she's not alone. Families nationwide are undertaking efforts, big and small, to make their homes healthier. We sought the guidance of home inspection company Pillar To Post to give us tips on healthy homes. We figure if anyone knows about healthy homes, it's the inspectors who flush out toxic mold and find any issues that could potentially endanger a homeowner. 


Here are four tips Pillar To Post gives to keep your home — and your family — healthy. And they have lots more great homeowner tips and tools at their website Living With My Home:


Tip #1: Schedule an Annual Cleaning
Make it an annual event...ideally in the Spring...especially if you live in a climate where your house has been tightly sealed, with the heat on, during the cold months. It may entail a lot of work, but the result will be total relief as it gets rid of dirt, dust, allergens and mugginess. Let fresh air in and allow everything in the house to breathe (open all windows and doors, if possible); change heavy slipcovers to lightweight, washable ones; get draperies and blankets cleaned; roll up rugs and/or send them to be cleaned. Toss everything that has expired in the refrigerator, pantry and medicine cabinet, and give away anything you no longer use or wear.


Tip #2: Buy a Good HEPA Vacuum
You don’t want a vacuum that leaks dust and allergens into the house you’re supposedly cleaning. HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) vacuums are designed to filter household dust and allergens and improve the quality of the air in your home. Not all HEPA vacuums are created equal, though: Canister styles are better choices than upright, and some do leak air through gaps in their plastic cases and around the HEPA filter. A test to see whether yours is leaking is to turn it on in front of a sunny window; if you see lots of particles, your vacuum isn’t properly sealed.


Tip #3: Switch to Nontoxic Products
Help your family and the environment! Almost everything from personal care products (shampoos, soaps, deodorants, toothpaste, lotions) to cleaning products and laundry detergents is available in nontoxic formulas at your grocery or health food store. You don’t have to change everything — and not all at once — but every change will make a difference.


Tip #4: Test Your Water Quality
America enjoys one of the best drinking water supplies in the world. In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act to regulate our public drinking water supply and protect its sources. However, improperly disposed-of chemicals, human and animal wastes, and naturally occurring substances (microorganisms, nitrates, nitrites, heavy metals) can threaten your tap water. And drinking water that hasn’t been properly treated or disinfected can be risky business. Since water reaches the faucet through one of the approximately 160,000 public water systems in the U.S., contact your community water supplier for a copy of your drinking water’s consumer confidence report, or see if your report is posted online at


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Edward Leaman
Edward Leaman is a branding and design innovator who has worked with a number of global retailers such as GAP, Nike and Giorgio Armani. He also writes for the Huffington Post.
Shannon Kaye
Shannon Kaye is host and designer of "Fresh Coat" on the DIY Network, is a correspondent for Lifetime channel’s "The Balancing Act," and is guest host for the TBS show "Movie and a Makeover."
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Our guest editors come from all backgrounds, but they have one thing in common...a desire to enhance their lives by creating meaning in their homes.
Living With My Home
Living With My Home is a great home buyer's resource from the leading home inspection company Pillar To Post. Here you'll find DIY project ideas, cost estimates for repairs, and more tips.
Do It Yourself is the leading independent home improvement and home repair website. It operates the most active home improvement forums on the Internet.

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