When we think of air quality we tend to think about the atmosphere outside of our home. Air pollution, dust, and pollens are all airborne materials that can affect our breathing and our health.
However, the air quality inside your home is just as important. Those floating microscopic bits of bacteria and dust can make us sick and have an impact on our living space.
Here are fourteen tips on how to improve the air quality inside your home:
1. Fresh Air Experience
This is the easiest and simplest way to improve air quality in your home. All you have to do is open the windows. Fresh air coming in flushes out all the air filled with toxins.
If you live in a large urban area where smog is an issue, opening the windows may not be in your best interest. The alternative to this is to use an air purifier/air conditioner that will pull air into the system, filter it by removing airborne particles and releasing clean air into your living space.
When vacuuming, use one that has a removable HEPA filter built into it. This way you can filter the air by trapping some of the offensive dust or mites. By removing and cleaning the filter regularly you dispose of them.
The nifty thing about air filters is that they do a great job of trapping those microscopic spores and dust particles that we can’t see but irritate our eyes or get lodged deep in our lungs through normal breathing.
3. Test The Air
You can run tests on the air quality in your home. Consumer brand CO (carbon monoxide) detectors are commonly found in hardware stores. Testing also for radon and lead are good ideas. Each of these can be removed from your home as they can develop into health issues.
Older homes, in particular, may be common offenders for releasing these gases. The logical place to test first is in a basement or crawlspace. To see what levels you are living in during the day, test the main floor but be sure to hang the testing gear at a level close to where you breathe the air in your home.
4. Safe Cleaning Products
When you clean your home, be sure you are using environmentally safe products. This means they will be a green alternative with no harmful chemicals or toxins.
The reason why you would want to switch these out is that the chemicals in some cleaners can result in skin irritations and develop into rashes, as well as trigger allergic reactions in those who are sensitive.
There are many cleaning products on the market these days for people that are sensitive to the chemicals in cleaning products. Because they are not as harsh as the regular products, they may not work quite as well but are still worth it since they won’t wreak havoc on the environment or your health.
5. Skip Fragrance Enhancing
When you use a fragrance product or air freshener to freshen up a room or area in your home, you may want to think twice. Many fragrance products are created by using a mixture of chemicals that produce the finished scent.
Sensitive eyes, ears, nose, throat, and skin can all be targets of the chemicals that are used in many different fragrance products. Fortunately, there are many non-toxic and hypoallergenic brands available in the marketplace to address this concern.
So if you like to use fragrances around the home, and are likely to suffer irritations, then make sure to seek out an air freshener brand that is formulated specifically for those who suffer from asthma or other sensitivities.
6. Plant A Few Plants
Indoor house plants are not only beautiful and can help with mood-setting, but they are also a great filter you can use in an indoor space. Plants can remove several harmful chemicals from the air, such as formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia.
Be sure to discuss plant choice with your local home and garden center. They will be able to better advise you on the correct choice of air-purifying plants to be featured in your home.
7. Stamp Out Pests
Pest control products are not only nasty to the bugs and critters they are designed to kill. They often contain nasty combinations of chemicals that have been connected to cancer and several other chronic diseases.
In response to this concern, there are other more humane traps and capture devices available to assist with ridding your home of various pests.
8. Household Paints
Paint can also be a nasty product. However, if you are doing some interior painting you can help your home air quality by using low or no VOC (volatile organic compound) paint.
As well as this, if you are doing some DIY renovations around the house that require stripping back old paint, this may contain lead and other harmful chemicals. Care has to be taken to not inhale the lead when preparing surfaces for a new coat of paint.
Your local hardware store or paint shop will be able to fix you up with the safest products to prepare and paint your house.
9. Used Is The New New
Secondhand furniture is not only funky, trendy and affordable, but it is also often less toxic.
New carpet and furniture are known for off-gassing. What that means is that new furniture contains materials that emit gases such as formaldehyde, water repellants, flame retardants and much more.
Secondhand furniture that has had time to off-gas does not have this problem. Otherwise, select organic or allergy-free brands.
10. Butt Out
This may not be as easy as it sounds. If you were to ban smoking within your home, it will not only improve the air quality, it will be healthy for you and your loved ones. But what if someone in your family or circle of friends refuses to not smoke while in your home? This is where it can get a bit touchy.
If you have a designated outdoor area for the smokers in your life to enjoy their habit, then maybe that can help. However, only you will know how to best handle banning all smoking inside your living space.
11. Other Smoke Sources
If you are going to ban smokers, you may also want to consider eliminating all candles and fireplaces in the home. These are less toxic than cigarette smoke, but they can still affect the air quality in your home.
With regards to the fireplace, you either quit using it altogether and switch to another form of heating, or change the wood-burning fireplace to an electric insert that looks and feels like the real thing.
If the fireplace is a deal-breaker, just use cured or dried wood and don’t forget to clean and inspect the chimney each season.
If you just can’t kick the candlelit baths or romantic dinners, there are non-toxic, unscented candles you can try.
12. Monitor Air Humidity
Humid environments are breeding grounds for mold and mildew. Mold and mildew can cause allergic reactions and breathing difficulties and can damage your home and other equipment. However, it can be kept in check with the use of a good home dehumidifier. If the humidity level in your home is too high, a dehumidifier can be used to bring the moisture content down to a safe level.
On the other side of the coin, a humidifier is used to monitor and add moisture to the air. Dry air can affect the skin and airways of some people. If it gets too dry, the humidifier will add moisture to reduce the dryness, making the environment more pleasant.
13. Wash Curtains and Bedding
Drapes, bedding, fabric shower curtains and any other large piece of fabric used in your home can be giant dust collectors. In addition to trapping dust mites, other allergens can be attracted to these fabrics.
In order to keep the air quality safe in your home, one of the chores you will have to add to your routine is to wash these items frequently. You will be able to kill off these microscopic hitchhikers by using water above 130 degrees F.
For fabrics that cannot be washed, you may be faced with replacing them with ones that can be, or possibly getting them dry-cleaned.
14. More Filtering
The heating and cooling system of your home circulates dust and all kinds of airborne particles in and around your home. The best way to prevent a lot of the collected allergens from being pumped back into your living space is to check and change the filters of your furnace and air conditioner frequently.
An added extra touch is to have these systems professionally cleaned at least once a year as the ducting will also collect dust and grit.
Indoor Air Quality Matters
If you find that you or your loved ones have allergies or are sick more often than you think is ‘normal’, it may have something to do with the air quality in your home. Many of the steps outlined above are easy to implement and do not cost a lot, so it may be worth trying some of these tips to see if it makes a difference.
All these tips are meant to improve the air quality inside your home. The air you breathe really does matter… the cleaner it is, the healthier you will be.