Who says spring cleaning is exclusive to the springtime?

Winter is upon us, and it’s easy to stay indoors watching movies and preparing home-cooked meals, but did you know that the amount of time we spend indoors during the winter makes us more susceptible to cold and flu viruses? A recent study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that pollutant levels indoors can be two to five times higher than outdoors. Fortunately, cleaning your home can help reduce the chances of becoming ill. Here are often overlooked cleaning tasks around the house that can help prevent the common cold and flu this winter.

Clean your heating vents

Cleaning your heating vents is essential for energy efficiency and the health of those living in your home. Air vents allow air to circulate freely and more effectively, but when vents are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and other debris, they simply can’t draw more dust out of the breathable air. Clogged vents can also contribute to allergy and asthma symptoms because unhealthy particles are blown back into the home. To clean the vents, remove the grate from your wall or floor using a screwdriver. Then, with a dust pad or a damp cloth, wipe the grate until all accumulated dust is removed.

Vacuum and flip your bed

Cleaning your mattress is important and helps eliminate dust mites and dead skin cells, which build up and can trigger seasonal allergies. To start, flip your mattress over; doing so will also help promote a good night’s sleep. Next, vacuum your mattress (yes, we said vacuum). Prior to vacuuming, remove all bedding from the mattress, then sprinkle the mattress lightly with baking soda and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes to absorb any odors. Once you’ve let it sit, use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum to remove the baking soda from your mattress. Vacuuming your bed will help remove dust particles and pests.

Clean your kitchen ceiling

Kitchen ceilings are often overlooked. They tend to build up sticky residue from cooking, catching all sorts of dust particles and other debris like bacteria and fungi that can eventually make its way to your food and can make you ill. Cleaning your kitchen ceiling is simple but will take some time depending on the size of your kitchen. First, mix a small amount of dish soap, vinegar and warm water together in a bucket. Once you have your cleaning mixture ready, dip a sponge mop into the mix, squeeze out the excess water and then gently press it onto the ceiling moving it back and forth until you have removed the residue.

Wipe down your dishwasher

Although the dishwasher’s job is to clean the dishes, it’s also beneficial to take time and clean the dishwasher too. According to a university study, 62 percent of dishwashers tested were positive for fungi, and 56 percent of them contained Exophiala, a form of black yeast that can lead to infections. To prevent buildup in your dishwasher, wipe it down using a cleaning mixture consisting of white vinegar and baking soda. It’s pretty simple!

While cleaning is something often not enjoyed, it is rather important to living healthy. Don’t save the cleaning to once a year with a full spring session, and begin early to help reduce illness this winter.