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Keeping your bathroom air clean

One of the worst places for air pollution is not just close to home—it is your home. Indoors, concentrations of some pollutants are up to five times higher than outdoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and many of those pollutants can do everything from triggering allergic reactions to causing cancer.

One of the worst offenders in your home? The bathroom. That’s partly because mold and mildew thrive in steamy, warm environments. With the addition of plush bath mats and toiletries, all sorts of culprits, from dust mites to potentially toxic chemicals, may also live there.

That’s why it’s especially important to understand how to keep your bathroom as allergen-free as possible.

Floor and walls

If the room is carpeted, vacuum and sweep regularly to get rid of dust mites and pet dander. Use washable bath mats—and clean them regularly. For walls, no matter how pretty it is, remove wallpaper, since mold can grow underneath it. Instead, install tile or paint with mold-resistant enamel paint.

Creams and emollients

Chances are, your bathroom is where you keep a wide variety of soaps, shampoos, cosmetics and the like. But many cosmetics and toiletries use preservatives that break down to formaldehyde, a chemical that has been linked to cancer. To be safe, read the labels and consider tossing potentially problematic products, especially those with preservatives that release formaldehyde, such as quaternium 15, imidazolidine urea and diazolidinyl urea. In addition, look for lotions and potions that are fragrance-free.

Shower, tub, toilet and sink

Clean all surfaces regularly, from faucets to grouts. Towel-dry the tub and enclosure after use. Also, wash shower curtains once a month and replace moldy ones. In addition, be sure to repair leaky plumbing fixtures. Finally, if you keep reading material on hand, periodically remove old magazines and newspapers, because they can be a haven for mold spores.

It’s also important to have adequate ventilation and keep humidity low, especially when bathing or showering. Exhaust fans and an open window can help. Finally, using a smart air purifier with a HEPA filter, like Coway Airmega, can go a long way toward eliminating a host of pollutants from the bathroom.