We spend most of our home maintenance time investing in stuff like window screens, weather-proof sealants, and air-tight doors and windows. We’re taught to keep things like bugs, the heat, and cold out of our homes. It keeps us from getting sick, we tell ourselves, and yes this is true. However, if you trap the air inside your house, you’re risking air quality problems.
Believe it or not, your furniture can lower the quality of your indoor air. According to the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Some sources, such as building materials, furnishings, and household products like air fresheners, release pollutants more or less continuously.” So your couch, your blankets, and other things you’re around for hours a day can emit harmful gases and chemicals.
We live in a time in which most of us spend a majority of the day indoors. Consider the time someone sleeps in their bed, wakes up and goes to work, sits in their car to transition between home and work, and then return home. On average, many of us spend more time indoors more than outdoors now. Exposure to these pollutants are problematic for not just for people with asthma, in poor health, or are differently-enabled, but can have long-term effects on anyone if precautions aren’t taken. Here are five ways you can make the quality of your indoor air better.
Switch From Chemical to Natural
DIY (Do It Yourself) projects are all the rage online. Hundreds of videos are available and can teach you how to make virtually anything from home. These videos are helpful for creating Galaxy-style tennis shoes, and they’re also very helpful in helping raise your indoor air quality. Many chemical-based products, such as aerosols, are doing your house more harm than good. While it may make your house smell good and leave your counters sparkling, these products are also leaving hazardous particles in your home.
The better way to clean your house is to use natural products. For instance, for the removal of hard stains, instead of going to your local store and buying a chemical product, consider investing in baking soda, vinegar, and natural citrus oil to create cleaning products that are eco-friendly and smell good!
Mop, Sweep, and Vacuum Regularly
Sure, this seems like something people regularly do but how many of us admittedly wait until our floors look dirty before cleaning them? Dust isn’t just an annoyance; it’s also a breeding ground for dust mites. So, you’ll want to make it a habit to clean your floors at least once a week.
When you’re cleaning once a week, consider taking a few other “shortcuts” to help keep the dust at bay. Mopping after sweeping is a good idea because it helps to get up what the broom didn’t. Vacuuming with a HEPA filter will aid in your fight as well. Lastly, don’t keep the cleaning and vacuuming to just the floors. Remember that dust settles in your upholstery and furniture as well!
Watch the Humidity Level
In especially higher humidity climates, mold and humidity love to be in each other’s company. Between 30-40 percent is the ideal humidity range. If your home is naturally more humid (i.e., if you use a swamp cooler), you’ll want to invest in a dehumidifier. Those of you with air conditioners are in luck as these can help keep the humidity down.
Also, consider places like your bathroom. Showering creates humidity, which can create mold. Consider investing in a ventilation system if you don’t have one. Open a window, or crack the door. Wiping down the tiles after a shower also helps.
Don’t Smoke Indoors
According to the American Lung Association, cigarettes “create more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many are poisonous.” These chemicals linger in everything, from the furniture to clothing, to the walls and are why a “cigarette smell” lingers in smokers’ cars and houses. These chemicals, especially when you’re exposed to them over an extended amount of time may result in health issues.
Bring the Outdoors In
Don’t underestimate the power (and beauty) of indoor plants. Not only are there a wide variety of indoor plants to pick from, but your relationship with it is symbiotic. They need CO2, and you need oxygen. It’s a win-win scenario! They help to filter your indoor air as well. Some of them even give off natural fragrances, so you don’t need to buy air fresheners anymore!
Speaking of the outdoors, don’t be afraid to open up your doors and windows in specific intervals. Get a cross-breeze going by opening them on each side of the house. Doing this for five to ten minutes a few times a day will work wonders.
Keywords: Air quality, American Lung Association, US Consumer Product Safety Commission, DIY (Do it yourself)
*Author’s note: Sources are hyperlinked.