If you’re looking for easy, natural ways to combat cold and flu season, listen up. A new study published in the journal Microbiome says that letting natural light pour into your home helps kill germs.

You may remember Grandma claiming something of this nature. You may even have had an intuition. But there had not been much research to explain how or why this is the case inside, until now.

Researchers at the University of Oregon set up a study of 11 dust-ridden, doll-sized rooms and observed what happened when indoor rooms were exposed to daylight through regular glass, UV light, or when the rooms were kept dark, NPR reports. Dust was collected from actual homes in Portland then the miniature room were let to collect dust from outside, all while researchers kept them at a normal room temperature.

Dust can sit around your house for 90 days (even if you vacuum), so researchers let the models sit for the same amount of time before analyzing the types of bacteria present.

And what that found? Well, Grandma was right. The rooms exposed to sunlight had fewer germs than the darkened room. The rooms exposed to UV light (which many windows are made to filter) had just slightly less bacteria than those exposed to daylight.

Ashkaan Fahimipour, the study’s lead author and a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Oregon’s Biology and Built Environment Center, told NPR that it was surprising that both visible light and UV light were equally as effective in break up bacteria.

This study proves valuable since we spend so much time indoors, and knowing what we’re exposed to can help people manage their risks.

In the future, researchers hope to expand on this study and determine how much light is necessary to kill microbes so architects can use the information in the design of buildings that bring better health.

Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, study co-author and co-director of the Biology and Built Environment Center at the University of Oregon told NPR,”Until now, daylighting — illuminating a building with natural light — has been about visual comfort or broad health. But now we can say daylighting influences air quality.”

(h/t NPR)


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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.