Healthy Home

Many people spend a large part of every day in their homes, so your indoor home environment can have a big effect on your health. Whether it is a single-family home, apartment, mobile home, or any other type of housing, many factors influence the health and safety of your home.

Children are more vulnerable to contaminants in their home environment because they breathe more air, drink more water, spend more time on the floor, and put more things into their mouths than adults. Pregnant people, people who may become pregnant, and nursing parents should also be careful around chemicals that can harm the health and brain development of babies.

Steps to Help Keep Your Home Safe and Healthy

Graphic pointing to the places in a home where you can keep it safe and healthy, as explained in the content below.
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Keep it Safe

To reduce the risk of injury:

  • Install baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector outside every bedroom and on every floor of your home.
  • Never use gasoline-powered equipment or burn charcoal inside.
  • Never use a gas oven to heat your home.
  • Install a smoke detector on every floor in your home. Fires in homes are most often caused by cooking accidents, smoking, or unsafe use of woodstoves or space heaters. Learn about things you can do to avoid a home fire or protect yourself during a fire.
  • Dispose of household over the counter, and prescription medications (including medications for household pets). More at our Safe Medication Return program.
  • Prepare and be safe during an emergency. Know what steps you and your family can take before, during and after an emergency or hazard, including floods and power outages.
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Keep it Clean

To get rid of contaminants trapped in indoor dust:

  • Leave your shoes by the door.
  • Wash hands before eating and after playing outside.
  • Dust, wet mop, and vacuum regularly.
  • Keep it cleanable: Pick smooth surfaces and avoid clutter.
  • Use safe cleaning practices in your home. If done right, cleaning and disinfecting can help keep you healthy. Many cleaning supplies and household products contain chemicals that can cause health problems like eye or throat irritation and headaches. Always read labels on cleaning products and keep them out of kids’ reach. Never mix cleaning products. See dangers of mixing bleach.
  • Avoid asthma triggers. Asthma attacks can be triggered in the home by allergens or irritants such as dust mites, rodents, cockroaches, mold growth, second-hand smoke, excess dust, pesticides, and fragrances.
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Keep it Temperature-Controlled

To reduce your exposure to extreme heat and cold:

  • Take Hot Weather Precautions, indoors and out. Severe heat may cause illness or even death.
  • When it’s hot, keep shades closed from early morning until sunlight is no longer hitting the window. Learn more about Cooling Indoor Spaces Without Air Conditioning (PDF).
  • Plant trees in a strategic location to provide shade. Choose fire-resistant and drought-tolerant species.
  • Get your heating and cooling systems inspected annually.
  • Check with your local utility for energy-saving incentives and resources.

Keep it Dry

To prevent mold, wood rot, and pests:

  • Fix water leaks. Clean up and dry water-damaged areas.
  • Use and maintain exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom.
  • Avoid condensation on windows, walls, and furniture. Use light window coverings and wipe up any water droplets. Make sure conditioned air flows into all areas of the home. Move large objects a few inches away from the inside of exterior walls.
  • Do a rainy-day inspection for proper drainage.
  • Learn more about how to control mold growth
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Keep it Pest-Free

Insects like bed bugs, cockroaches, rodents, mosquitoes, and other pests can harm our food, property, and health. Many pests can transmit diseases or trigger asthma. Other pests bite or sting, causing allergic reactions. To keep pests out of your home:

  • Seal cracks and holes.
  • Keep screens on windows in good repair and seal gaps to keep critters out.
  • Store food in sealed containers.
  • Learn about safer ways to get rid of pests using Integrated Pest Management. Find more information about pests and your health.
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Keep it Well-Ventilated

To reduce contaminants in indoor air, which may be more polluted than outdoor air:

  • Bring fresh outside air inside. Open windows when weather and outdoor air quality permit, even if it’s for a few minutes. Watch the Fresh Air for a Healthier Home video for more information on home ventilation.
  • Replace older wood stoves with cleaner gas, pellet, or EPA certified stoves. Learn more about wood stoves and other home heating, Department of Ecology.
  • Test your home for radon, a naturally occurring, dangerous gas. Find a radon test kit at your local hardware store.
  • Protect your loved ones from secondhand smoke. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. It causes about 41,300 lung cancer and heart disease deaths among non-smokers every year in the United States and is known to cause asthma and chronic respiratory infections. 
  • Learn how to reduce indoor air contaminants, such as asbestos, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and radon, that can cause serious health effects. See guidance on choosing a portable air cleaner
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Keep it Contaminant-Free

To reduce chemicals that can harm health, growth, and development:

  • Move cleaning products and pesticides to a locked cabinet out-of-reach of children.
  • Choose safer cleaning products with the EPA Safer Choice Product Label.
  • Look for tags that show furniture and children’s products are made without flame retardants.
  • Call your local solid waste authority or the Department of Ecology to learn how to dispose of household hazardous waste properly.
  • Switch to glass, ceramic, or stainless-steel food storage containers. Plastics can release chemicals into your food.
  • Use household products safely. Chemicals in common household products can be harmful to children and pets. Store harmful products safely, use less of them in and around your home, and properly dispose of products you don't need.
  • Learn more about drinking water in your home. Although America's water supplies are among the safest in the world, some contaminants can still affect your health.
  • Prepare food in a safe manner. Sometimes foodborne bacteria and other contaminants can make you and those you care about sick.
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Keep it Well-Maintained

Take care of minor problems before they become larger problems:

More Resources

For Practitioners and Public Health Professionals