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My room as a teen in no way showed what my homekeeping standards would be as an adult — and thank goodness! I remember having to have major clean-up sessions before being allowed to hang out with friends. Even in college, when I no longer lived at home, I had a huge clothes pile in the closet I shared with my roommates (sorry, guys!) and I was notorious for leaving a collection of mugs around, many with about an inch of tea or coffee at the bottom.
But by the time I had my own place to keep up, my habits had changed. (Well, mostly. I still leave the odd mug of coffee that’s gone cold out on my desk or in our bedroom for far too long.) The habits my mother taught me made a deep impression and, eventually, they won out, to the point that many of them are the very same habits I practice today.
One of my most vivid, classic “mom” memories from childhood is her pulling open the blinds every single morning without fail. This is most definitely a habit that made its way to my bones. I cannot stand closed blinds during daylight hours and no matter where I am, almost without exception, I open them immediately upon waking. Closed blinds during the day make me feel suffocated, shut in, and just off.
For sure having open blinds is our preference, but it turns out my mom and I, inadvertently or not, are onto something with our blind-opening ways. According to this Science Daily article, which features a study published in the open-access journal Microbiome, letting the sunshine into your home has many benefits.
First off, letting the sunshine in through opening the blinds — get this — reduces bacteria. Apparently, dust harbors bacteria that can lead to respiratory diseases. (As if we needed more reasons to hate dust!). An experiment conducted by researchers at the University of Oregon found that “allowing sunlight in through windows can kill bacteria that live in dust.” The scientists discovered that compared to 12% of bacteria that were alive and able to reproduce (yuck!) in dark rooms, only 6.8% of bacteria exposed to daylight were viable.
In addition to reducing dust-borne bacteria (which is reason enough), opening the blinds can reduce energy costs. Keeping the blinds closed when the hot sun pours in through the windows on hot summer days can help keep the house cool, but the opposite is also true: Opening the blinds and letting the sun in during cooler months can help warm up the house.
So it turns out that my mother’s enduring habit, which has become one of my own, does far more than she realized. I can’t wait to tell her and I, for one, have more reasons than ever to keep throwing those blinds open every day.