When you think about air pollution, have you ever considered the air inside your home? Truth is, your indoor air quality can be worse than it is outdoors. And what’s more alarming is that nowadays we spent most of our time indoors.
Indoor allergens are prime culprits when it comes to respiratory illnesses like asthma flare-ups and other health issues. Troubling too is the fact that indoor air pollution can often come odorless and invincible—making it hard to notice. Moreover, several factors affect indoor air quality such as dust, smoke, mold, paint, and others. Even poor ventilation and household cleaners can contribute to toxic indoor air.
While this news may sound ghastly, you shouldn’t resort to fear and panic. Here are seven things you can do right now to improve your indoor air quality.
Common Indoor Air Pollutants
The best defense is also the best offense. Thus, to combat indoor air pollutants, first, you must know what’s causing them.
The most common indoor air pollutants are brought in from the outdoors which could range from dust, dirt, to carbon monoxide resulting from natural gases. While inside your home are volatile chemicals coming from conventional cleaners, as well as formaldehyde, radon, fire-retardants, asbestos, and lead can contaminate your air. Even new furniture, mattress, and wall paints can release harmful contaminants into the air. Not only that, your pets and the shoes you wear can bring in microscopic allergens such as dust mites, mold, mildew, and pet dander.
Now, that you have a basic awareness of what’s causing these pollutants, let’s take a look at the things you can do to improve your indoor air quality:
1. Indoor plants to freshen the air.
First on the list, of course, is to consider having an indoor plant. Not only that plants are a cheaper, safer, and healthier choice when freshening up indoor air but they also add aesthetic appeal. As natural air filters, plants have been scientifically proven to improve indoor air quality. Moreover, certain plants are great in removing benzene, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, and other toxins in the air.
Plus, most indoor plants not only filter air contaminants but they also provide oxygen. However, when you have kids or pets, make sure to add plants that aren’t poisonous when ingested or touched. Areca palm, ferns, aloe vera, spider plant, and snake plant are some of the best indoor purifying plants out there.
2. New technologies.
With today’s technological strides and continuous innovation, it’s no longer hard to find any tool you need. And when it comes to air purifiers, you will not encounter any shortage nor difficulties. Your job then, is simply to find the most effective, safe, and gave a lot of bang for the buck.
The best air purifiers for you are those that effectively filter your indoor air. It should also fit your lifestyle and fall within your budget. But note that air purifiers are only great for cleaning airborne particles. This means it cannot clean surfaces. If you want to clean both, you should consider air scrubbers.
Air scrubbers are a different technology than purifiers, as well as in application as it can function even without any attached ductwork. It can clean both the air and surfaces. It’s an air pollution control device that can effectively and thoroughly purify the air.
3. Let the fresh air.
Open your windows and doors and let the fresh air in for proper ventilation. At least once a day, you should push the bad indoor air out and pull fresh air in. And the simplest way to do this is to open your windows or doors to help remove stagnant air.
It’s recommended to leave your windows open as much as possible especially if you’re in an area close to nature or surrounded by plants and trees. Nevertheless, if you’re living in a city or near a busy street, it’s best to only open them very early in the morning or late evening. This is to make sure you are not letting more air pollutants inside.
Mechanically bringing fresh air into your house helps facilitate the effective movement of fumes or airborne particles present indoors, thereby refreshing your interior air. Good airflow prevents contaminant build-up in the air. So, when you’re doing chores like cooking, laundry, or using the bathroom, make sure to turn on the exhaust. It’s also good to consider regularly checking your home ventilation system to make sure that you aren’t trapping toxic air inside.
4. Clean or change your AC filter.
Your ever-reliable air-conditioning system has been working year-round, seven days a week, to provide you the most comfortable temperature at any time of the day. But you should not forget that your AC also filters common air pollutants inside your home. When you neglect cleaning or changing its filters, you downplay its ability to clean your air. Especially if you’re living in an area that has high levels of pollution, regularly changing your AC filters is indispensable.
It’s equally important as well to pay attention to other air filters in your home to maintain quality air. These include your vacuum cleaner, kitchen and bathroom vents, clothes dryers, and other household appliances.
5. Keep your floors clean.
This one may seem basic, but just like many people, you may be guilty of not doing so. Keeping your floors sparkling is crucial to not only make your house look clean and neat, but it also helps eliminate pollutants. Know that allergens, chemicals, and other contaminants can accumulate on your floors.
Clean up your floors with a vacuum and a floor mop to get rid of what’s left behind after vacuuming. Using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter can help reduce lead, brominated fire-retardant chemicals (PBDEs), other toxins, and allergens. It’s recommended also to use a vacuum with strong suction and rotating brushes.
Further, aside from your floors, be sure not to forget cleaning your walls, carpets, rugs or floor mats, and upholstered furniture. When you’re mopping the floor after vacuuming, it’s best to skip chemical cleaners. Plain water should suffice. Alternatively, you can use lemon and baking soda.
Another option to prevent dust and dirt from spreading is to place mats at every door. Doormats act as a filter too by trapping dust and other pollutants in its fibers.
6. Keep humidity under control.
You should not let humidity and moisture in your home go above 50%. Otherwise, your home will become a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and other allergens which can be very dangerous for your respiratory health. Consequently, reduce the amount of moisture or lower indoor humidity levels by having dehumidifiers.
Another way to keep humidity under control is to fix water leaks inside your home. You shouldn’t overwater your indoor plants too as not only that doing so can kill them, but it also up indoor humidity level. Additionally, place your clothes dryer vent outside and empty drip pans in your dehumidifier and window-type AC.
Lastly, when cleaning areas affected by mold, you should use soap and warm water. You must never forget to completely dry the area too.
7. Use natural air fresheners.
A good smell often equates to cleanliness. But using fragrances in different areas in your home can do more harm than good. If you’re using aerosol sprays, air fresheners, and other fragrances that are commonly sold in supermarkets nowadays, you should think twice. These products are usually made from petroleum products and can contain different VOCs (volatile organic compounds). So, what happens when you use artificial fragrances is that you reduce the quality of your indoor air. These not only cause allergic reactions and skin irritations but it can aggravate asthma symptoms.
Instead, opt for natural air fresheners that not only eliminate bad odors but also purify the air. You can use baking soda, vinegar, activated charcoal, and even coffee grounds to help absorb unpleasant odors. You can also use sliced lemon for a citrusy-scent, but make sure to replace them daily.
Improving your indoor air quality does not need to be costly and time-consuming. Sometimes, simple changes and conscious effort goes a long way. And when it comes to purifying your indoor air, going all-natural is still the best for your health and the environment. Moreover, there are a lot of ways you can improve indoor air quality without sacrificing a huge chunk on your budget.
Author’s Bio: Megan Jones is an author who works with AerIndustries. She mostly writes about home remodeling, healthy living and wellness, and related topics. Having a huge experience in indoor air quality maintenance, Megan has gained some valuable knowledge, which she is now actively promoting.