Health & Cleanliness of Residential Spaces

Living on campus means eating, living, and interacting with many more people than likely typical; and being responsible for maintaining your own living spaces. It’s important to stay aware of personal and group practices that will help foster a healthy living environment.

Suspect an issue with your room?

Submit a work order or contact hall staff if you notice any cleanliness/repair issues with your room/apartment. Housing & Dining Facilities will visit the space to determine next steps. This is the most effective way to alert us to issues. Sometimes we hear second-hand about potential issues in lieu of receiving a work order (through word of mouth, social media, etc.), which delays the process and resolution.

All residential buildings are inspected for health and safety compliance regularly, both in living/public areas and operations/utility spaces. While all buildings have passed these inspections, older building fixtures are more prone to prominently present dust, discoloration, odors, etc. If you observe any concerns, please submit a work order so staff can take a look.

Because many residents are traveling on the weekends, illnesses may be brought back to residential living spaces. This can be heightened in higher density living spaces and especially following academic breaks. While this may appear to indicate an issue with a student’s on-campus living space, other factors such as changes to sleep, diet, stress, room upkeep, typical Northern Colorado allergens, and student activities should also be considered.

Information About Mold

  • Each year, a few reports of mold and/or other environmental allergens potentially contributing to resident health issues are received. These reports are taken very seriously and are responded to quickly. Environmental Health Services has done, and will continue to do, testing when appropriate. In all cases to date, the results have shown particulates in the room/building to be lower than those found outside and below any identified public health concern.
  • While mold exists in the environment and is not always harmful, it can cause alarm when spotted indoors. Please let us know if you have a concern about mold in a residential space by submitting a work order so we can determine what it is and if action should be taken.
  • At-home tests have not been proven to be a reliable or precise indicator of harmful particulate levels. Testing completed by professionals, like Environmental Health Services, can provide more accurate testing and help identify any potential health risks.

Maintaining a Healthy Living Space

  • Wash hands frequently, avoid touching eyes/nose/mouth, cover coughs, keep rooms clean, and wipe down surfaces that come into frequent contact with people’s hands (doorknobs, phones, keyboards, etc.).
  • Get plenty of sleep to stay healthy and recover more quickly from illness.
  • Stay in your room, rest, and avoid contact with others as much as possible if you are sick. This allows for quicker recovery time and limits the spread of illness to others. Friends are even permitted to pick up a to-go meal for sick students: (housing.colostate.edu/dining/faqs).
  • The Health Network is a great resource. Call (970) 491-7121 to make an appointment. More information about flu prevention, including how to tell if symptoms are related to the common cold, flu, or COVID-19, is available on the Health Network website at health.colostate.edu/cold-and-flu-prevention-and-care.
  • Your cleaning efforts should focus on strategies to reduce the accumulation of dust, crumbs, and other debris lurking in your room.
    • Vacuuming the carpets and area rugs at least once or twice a week with a vacuum cleaner. If you are particularly sensitive, you may want to consider purchasing a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter.
    • Regularly clean bedding, surfaces, and other items that tend to attract allergens—particularly if you have a service animal. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends washing items in water that is at least 130° F. Also consider using dust mite–proof covers on pillows, whenever possible.
    • Clearing clutter because it traps and holds dust that can trigger a reaction in sensitive persons.
    • While some plants are touted as helping to improve indoor air quality because they release oxygen, they are still allergy triggers for many people. If you have plants, avoid excessive quantities of them, and clean on & around them regularly.
    • If you’re allergic to indoor allergens and can’t control the source of the problem, it may help to use an air purifier. These devices, in particular ionic purifiers, can help capture some of the irritants that may trigger your symptoms. You’re probably not going to be able to remove these allergens completely, but you can cut down on them, which may help the problem. Housing & Dining Services Facilities and EHS do not recommend the use of ozone-producing air purifiers by residents or occupants.
    • Even in the cold months, open windows from time to time to allow fresh air to move into the room.
    • Dispose of garbage promptly and properly.
    • Store food properly in airtight containers
    • Clean refrigerators and microwaves on a regular basis.
    • Avoid drying clothing in your student room/apartment as it increases the humidity
    • Avoid an excessive amount of plants

Bathrooms

When it comes to how often should you clean your bathroom, you want to clean this area at least once a week. Community bathrooms are cleaned by staff daily, Monday-Friday. Suite-style bathrooms are cleaned by staff once a month, and we strongly encourage students to do some additional cleaning in between. Some areas of your bathroom require more or less attention. If you keep up on regular cleaning of your bathroom, you shouldn’t have to give it a deep cleaning more than once a month. A deep cleaning goes further than just regular cleaning. Not only are you cleaning surfaces but cleaning out drawers, medicine cabinets, and more. You are also sweeping all the crevices and giving everything within the room a thorough disinfecting and scrubbing.

  • Shower: If you shower every day or multiple times a day, wipe it down after use, with a towel or squeegee, and clean it once a week.
  • Toilet: When it comes to how frequently you should clean the bathroom, the toilet is ground zero. This is where all the germ action is happening. Clean the toilet every 2 to 3 days.
  • Sink: The germs from your hands collect on the sink knobs and in the sink bowl when you wash your hands. So, even if you live alone, the sink needs a good wipe down regularly with an all-purpose cleaner or antibacterial cleaning wipe.
  • Floor: Mopping is variable and can happen every 1-2 weeks, depending on how dirty your bathroom is. However, you want to consider wiping the floor around the toilet down with hydrogen peroxide or disinfecting wipes more often.

Air Fresheners

Air fresheners can impact indoor air quality by adding potentially hazardous pollutants to the air. The use of air fresheners is associated with elevated levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylenes, in indoor air. These VOCs are often difficult to smell in the air, but they can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, as well as cause headaches and nausea. The types and amounts of VOCs emitted depend primarily on the fragrance composition of the air freshener, not on the type of air freshener.

The use of air fresheners can increase exposure levels to air pollutants. These exposures, even at relatively low levels, have been associated with a range of adverse health effects. These effects may include migraine headaches, asthma attacks, breathing, and respiratory difficulties, dermatitis, and neurological problems, particularly for sensitive individuals. Please be thoughtful, that even if these materials don’t cause you difficulty, they can have an impact on your neighbors.  If you are experiencing sensitivity and unsure where it may be originating, it may be worth a visit to your neighbors to see if they may be using something causing a reaction.

What are some alternatives to using air fresheners?

  • removing the source of the odor
  • increasing ventilation by opening a window
  • regular cleaning and vacuuming
  • use of an air purifier when other means are not sufficient