Fall is an ideal time to enjoy the great outdoors. The leaves are falling, the grass is covered in dew in the mornings, and perhaps it rains more, depending on where you live. A hike in the woods or simply walking the dog takes on a whole new flavor. One downside is, we often bring the outdoors indoors — onto our previously clean floors.
The fall and winter tend to bring more grime inside the house, in form of mud, leaves, and eventually, snow, ice and those sticky ice melt products. To keep your humble abode a safe and healthy environment, take a few important steps this fall.
The Hazards of Bringing the Outdoors In
Muddy shoes are more than an eyesore. Where dirt goes, harmful bacteria often follows. If you’re not careful, your home could become a breeding grounds for some nasty things. A University of Arizona study found E. coli, meningitis and diarrheal disease, all on the outside of shoes. Another study, by the EPA, found toxins tracked indoors on shoes included herbicides. Some of these remained on shoes up to a week after they had been applied.
Keep in mind, dirty floors and carpets mean more cleaning. Cleaning gets expensive and the chemicals and constant scrubbing wears out floors prematurely. So your best bet is to keep dirt from getting inside in the first place.
Ice melt brings its own hazards. It can break down the finish on floors, leaving a residue. You can remove it with an acidic chemical, but better to avoid the problem. Ice melt can also leave an oily residue or white spots on carpeting.
Keep the Indoors Shoe-Free
Keeping certain parts of your home shoe-free is the most efficient way for you to rid yourself the hassle of excess grime. Buy shoe organizers and place them just inside the door, or in a covered outdoor area. Encourage family members to get in the habit of always removing shoes. It is up to you whether you want to ask guests to do the same.
Consider Using a Back Entrance
In many homes the front door leads straight into frequently-used living areas, putting family members at risk for contact with dirt and bacteria. The front entry is also the area visitors see first, so you may wish to keep it as clean and presentable as possible. Opt for a back entrance during fall and winter, like a back door that leads to a tile floor, or a garage entrance.
Train Your Pets
It can indeed be difficult to keep your home clean with dogs or other pets. This is especially true in autumn as dogs love gallivanting outside. It’s not impossible, however. This video explains how to train your pets to wipe their paws before entering. Don’t forget to stock up on treats. You’re going to have to reward them when they perform well. You can also teach them to wait at the door for you to wipe their paws. Just keep an old towel handy for the task.
Invest In Outdoor Rugs
In case you don’t feel like going shoe-free inside your home, outdoor rugs are your best bet. There are rugs in the market that could scrub off the dirt and snow that are nestled in the soles of your shoes. Place one rug outside to scrub off dirt, and another inside to dry the insides of your shoe.
Re-Organize Your Entryway
If you have a mudroom, use it to your full advantage! This allows you to quarantine the dirt, helping maintain clean floors elsewhere. Put rugs, shoe racks, and a chair in your mudroom so you can take off or clean your shoes conveniently. If you don’t have a mudroom, you can designate a small area just inside a backdoor, on an enclosed porch, or in the garage. Include coat racks and a place for umbrellas.
It only takes a few adjustments and reminders for family members, to keep your home cleaner and healthier this fall.