Get Healthy, Wealthy, Wise-and Squeaky Clean

Because it can be so difficult to keep a house clean, it can be tempting to cut corners or just not clean once in a while. But that thinking assumes the most important reasons to clean are either:

 

  • Aesthetic – a clean home is pleasing to the senses, or
  • Social – people respect or like you more if you keep your home clean.

Those aren’t bad reasons to clean. But, if you are like most Americans, a high percentage of your personal net worth is tied up in your home and its furnishings. A decision to do without washing your floors, vacuuming your carpets or cleaning your tub this week can affect your family’s health, total home maintenance costs and personal wealth.

Clean is healthy.

When it comes to your family’s health, consider the following:

  • Human beings shed close to nine pounds of skin cells every year. For a family of four, that’s 36 pounds worth of gourmet dining for dust mites, which are thought to be among the leading causes ofasthma and allergies.
  • Cold and flu viruses can live for up to 24- and sometimes 48-hours on some surfaces.
  • Bacteria may live for as little as a few minutes or hours but is capable-under the right conditions-of surviving for up to several months, and
  • Fungi (mold, mildew, yeast), properly nourished with humidity, moisture, food, and darkness, can spread rapidly and are implicated in skin rashes, headache, fatigue, respiratory and other health issues.

The good news is that human beings have miraculous immune systems that protect us from normal exposures to common household germs. However, infrequent or sloppy cleaning dramatically improves the conditions under which germs and other microorganisms thrive, forcing your family’s immune systems to work harder than they need to and stealing precious energy from other physiological processes.

Dirty homes cost more to maintain.

From a home maintenance perspective, cleaning time and consumption of cleaning chemicals are two additional factors to consider when you’re thinking about not cleaning this week. The dirt and grime (soil) in your home is really a mix of particulates, oils, biological debris (dander), germs, and other microorganisms. When soil is fresh, it’s relatively simple and easy to clean. Cleaning effort and time is minimal and smaller amounts of milder-typically less expensive-cleaning chemicals can be used. Left alone, though, soils gain complexity, become difficult to clean, and require larger amounts of time, effort, and more powerful-typically more expensive-chemicals to clean effectively.

In addition to costing more, heavy-duty cleaning chemicals carry more risk of damaging surfaces and may have associated health risks. Meanwhile, untreated fungi can lead to big home-maintenance expenses, which aren’t always covered by homeowners’ insurance. Homes with serious fungal growth may even become uninsurable or unsellable.

Dirt hurts net worth.

Speaking of selling, imagine- for a moment- that you are putting your house on the market. On the one hand, you will have a realtor who helps you set a market price for your home. On the other, you will have realtors who show your home to prospective buyers and influence the offers those buyers make. Either way, these professional realtors will be highly trained to view your home for outward signs that it has been consistently and well maintained.

They will look far beyond the fact that there is no dust on the lampshades. They will inspect the sheen or dullness of your floors, the cleanliness of your walls, baseboards, carpets, furniture upholstery. They will look into corners, under furniture, into showers, refrigerators, ovens, and other hard-to-clean areas. They will use evidence of consistent cleaning (or lack thereof) to make judgments about how well you are likely to have maintained the less visible aspects of your home like duct work, chimneys, heating and cooling systems, appliances, pest control, and so forth. Those judgments will have direct bearing on the market value they place on your home and will heavily influence the types of offers you receive and, therefore, your return on investment.

Even if you do not plan to sell your home in the near future, you may wish or need to borrow against the equity in your home. Professional bank appraisers will make the same kinds of judgments that realtors do, affecting your ability to obtain credit for large expenditures like college, remodeling, luxury purchases, or even vacation homes.

The upshot: infrequent cleaning can end up costing you plenty over a life time. Still thinking about not cleaning your tub this week? Maybe it’s time to your protect family and your investment by hiring a cleaning service!

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