Water or moisture and the indoors is often the most important factor for any microbial growth. Microbes are organisms that occupy your living area, such as mold, sources such as excess humidity, condensation, or water leaks, can encourage the growth of mold and other microorganisms and may attract or support other unwanted pests (such as insects or mice). Water or moisture present for long periods of time in areas that can’t dry out, or on materials that absorb water, such as carpeting or drywall, will increase the likelihood of mold growth. Controlling moisture and regular cleaning can help to reduce the growth of indoor microorganisms.
Remember, there is no standard for a normal indoor microbiome and some microorganisms will always be present indoors. Microorganisms may have neutral, adverse, or beneficial effects in different people. In many cases, it is not yet clear what actions are likely to have specific effects on the indoor microbiome or how to predict what impact those actions could have on human health. While some products may claim to alter the indoor microbiome to make it healthier, research has not yet shown any health benefits from intentionally adding microorganisms directly to the air or the indoor environment.
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Some actions that can be taken to maintain a generally healthy indoor environment include:
Control moisture, including humidity, condensation, and water leaks.
Promptly dry areas that are wet and keep areas that are supposed to be dry, dry.
Clean up visible mold.
Regularly clean surfaces, including floors, walls, fixtures, and furnishings. For most routine cleaning of hard surfaces, damp wiping with clean water or water and a detergent is sufficient.
Using doormats at exterior doors and taking off your shoes when you enter your home can reduce the dirt and other contaminants that get tracked in from outside.
Ventilation, such as opening windows to bring in outdoor air, can help to lower the concentrations of indoor air pollutants in your home.
Consider using portable air cleaners that are properly sized to the room and well located. For more information, see EPA’s Guide to Air Cleaners in Your Home.
Get your HVAC system inspected regularly and upgrade filters if possible. You may need to consult a professional HVAC technician to determine the highest efficiency filter that will work best for your system.