While the weather outside is definitely frightful, it is the environment inside your home that can affect the health of your family.

While the weather outside is definitely frightful, it is the environment inside your home that can affect the health of your family.

From dust mites nesting in bed linens to mold growing inside walls, your home often harbors the very germs you are trying to keep away from your children -- and yourself.

According to a newly released national survey from The Alliance for Consumer Education, moms believe keeping their homes clean is the best means of protecting families from germs that cause colds and flu.

Getting rid of the germs is just one part of the healthy home battle. 

Cleaning products are often known for their toxic ingredients and can cause an even greater health threat to your family.

Seventh Generation, a distributor of non-toxic, environmentally friendly consumer household products, recently produced its own guide to a toxin-free home. According to the guide, the average household contains anywhere from 3 to 25 gallons of toxic materials, most of which are hiding in the cleaners we use.

Experts suggest looking for products that use 100 percent natural, non-toxic, non-corrosive and biodegradable ingredients and avoiding products that contain petroleum distillates.

Consumers should be cautious of products that claim to be environmentally friendly but fail to list all the ingredients.

Seventh Generation’s guide states, “Remember, the manufacturer that gives you the most information about its product is usually a manufacturer you can trust.”

In addition to products produced by Seventh Generation, experts also recommend cleaning lines from Method and Ecover. Find the Method line at Target, Office Depot, Costco, CVS, Dominicks, Jewel and Lowes. Seventh Generation and Ecover products are available at Whole Foods.

These products are not only good for your health and the environment, but in many cases work just as well, if not better, than their mainstream counterparts.

As the green movement continues to grow, manufacturers of environmentally friendly cleaning lines are making it even easier for families to find more healthful cleaning alternatives that are guaranteed to keep their home clean and their family healthy.

Cleaning tips

- Keep all hard surfaces clean and disinfected: In addition to wiping down kitchen counters and bathroom sinks, parents should also frequently clean their children’s toys. It is also important to look for products that are disinfectants -- not just cleaners.

- Wash clothes and bedding frequently: Tiny, often unseen dust mites love making their home in bed linens, upholstered furniture and even children’s stuffed toys. And while there are numerous products offering unique ways to keep your furnishings “dust free,” frequently washing clothes and bedding will also help keep the germs at bay.

- Keep things dry: Mold thrives in moist areas, so keeping your home dry is important. Shake the shower curtain after you bathe, fix leaky faucets, wipe down sinks, and use exhaust fans while bathing or cooking.

- Wash hands frequently: It’s an oldie, but a goodie -- in addition to spreading germs through human touch, hands often come into contact with what ACE calls “cold and germ hotspots.” These hotspots include doorknobs, faucets, remote controls and telephones.

-- Source: stopgerms.com