With all of the issues that we face in the environment and keeping our planet healthy, one area we need to remember to take care of is our home. Sure, we clean it and do things to make it smell good and be a comfortable living space, but do we make sure that the quality of the air is exceptional? It is possible for indoor air to be up to five times worse than outdoor air!
Generally, sprays do little to improve air quality. Remember that commercial about fish and flowers? And many sprays include harmful compounds that not only do not improve the air quality, they actually make it worse!
Whether or not you have ever considered the air quality in your home, do not worry! There are easy ways to improve it and make it the best it can possibly be.
Many people know that activated charcoal can be taken internally to remove toxins from the body but not many carry that knowledge through to the possibility of using it to remove toxins from the air. Carbon filters can be used in heating and cooling systems and air purifiers to filter out a large quantity of impurities from the air.
Air Filters / Purifiers
Of course, the air filter on your air conditioner and heater is important (choose a HEPA filter for best results), but it is also possible to get machines whose sole purpose is the filter your home’s air and remove impurities. These suck in the room’s air, send it through one or more filters, and push it back out clean and fresh. Some use water as one of the filters, through which pure essential oils can be distilled throughout your home.
You may also check out our Guide to Selecting an Air Purifier for more tips and recommendations.
Gas appliances can negatively affect your air quality, as can furnaces and fireplaces that use wood or coal for heating. Keep these appliances maintained well and make a point of offsetting these potential gases with purifiers such as plants and ventilation to the outside.
Candles can make the house smell better but be aware of what they may be putting into the air at the same time. Cheap candles can release a lot of contaminants into the atmosphere of your home. Stick to high quality pure beeswax candles for best results. These release negative ions which bond with toxins and help to remove them from the air.
Dust and Mold
Especially if you or someone in your family has seasonal allergies, removing dust and mold from your home can be beneficial. Dust with a damp cloth rather than a feather duster in order to keep the dust contained and not send it flying into another part of the room. Vacuum and mop regularly to remove dust from the floors, and reduce knick-knacks and things that gather dust.
Pure essential oils can freshen the air and not only not give off pollutants, but also improve air quality and give other benefits, depending on which oil you choose. Some increase relaxation and promote sleep, while others improve mental clarity, prevent illness, relieve pain, and more. They can also deter insects, kill airborne fungi, and are unlikely to be a problem with children and pets.
Ideally, the exhaust fan in your kitchen vents to the outside. If it does, be sure to turn it on whenever you are cooking or cleaning in the kitchen to increase ventilation. However, if it is the type where it vents toward the ceiling, then it is better to open a window and put a small fan in it that blows outward during these activities to help clear the air.
Wash towels, sheets, pillows, etc. regularly to cut down on the dust that comes from skin cells shedding and the dust mites that feed on them. A good hot wash once a week will cut down these potential allergens by a large degree.
The paint on your walls, the coverings on your floor, and the materials that make up your furniture can all contain substances that give off harmful gases. Formaldehyde is a common gas given off by inexpensive items. Choose materials that are proven not to release harmful gases to help keep your home’s air breathable.
Air conditioning that is efficient is also sealed – which means that everything inside the home stays inside and that includes contaminated air. A good filter on the intake that is cleaned regularly can help some with reducing this effect but opening the windows and letting the natural breezes blow through is a refreshing way to cool your home and clear out the air.
Many paints, especially ones that have been on the wall for a long time, may give off VOCs (volatile organic compounds). It is likely that most of today’s paints are low- or no-VOCs, so if your paint is giving off these gases, it may be a good idea to repaint to limit the exposure.
Pet dander can be a problem for a lot of people and pet fur, even when it is not loose on the floor and furniture, collects airborne contaminants from outside and brings them into the house. Keeping your pets groomed, combed, and bathed and vacuuming regularly can help to reduce the potential problems in air quality that are pet-related.
Because plants thrive on carbon dioxide and release oxygen, they automatically improve the air quality in a home. Some plants also purify the air, removing airborne toxins in the process of feeding themselves. Two excellent options are aloe vera (which also has topical healing properties) and spider plants, both of which tend to be difficult to kill. This means even someone who is not a green thumb is more likely to be able to keep them thriving.
Cleaning products, fabric refresher sprays, air fresheners, and similar items can contain things that worsen the air quality. Choosing products that are closer to natural or making your own mixtures from common household items can result in a lower level of air pollution in your home. This is especially true of commercial cleaning solutions, which can be harsh and are full of potentially harmful chemicals.
If you have a particularly old home, it may be worth your while (and a boon to your health) to do some renovations. Or, if you are already in the process of renovating, there are some things to keep in mind. Hard floors are easier to clean than carpets and do not gather dirt, pet dander, and allergens as easily. Blinds collect less dust than curtains. Be sure to include proper ventilation for gas-powered appliances and fireplaces.
Himalayan salt lamps are a popular way to promote clean air inside your home. They give off a soft light and also emit negative ions, like beeswax candles. They are very beautiful to look at, making them a great addition to the décor at the same time.
Keeping smoke out of the house, regardless of its source, will improve the air quality greatly. For fireplaces, make sure the chimney is regularly maintained to keep the smoke going outside. For wood stoves, make sure the stovepipe is open and clear. For those who choose to smoke tobacco, choosing to indulge outside will be best for keeping your indoor air cleaner.
Store chemicals such as pesticides, solvents, glues, and similar items in a separate shed or garage rather than in the house to prevent them from affecting the air when they release gases. Even chemicals in sealed plastic bottles can release into the air over time.
Vacuuming regularly will help to collect the dust and dirt that can cause problems in the air. Using a vacuum bag that has HEPA filtration or the type of vacuum that uses water for filtration can reduce the airborne dust and nasties by a huge amount.
Make sure there is plenty of ventilation. This allows air to circulate and prevents mold and mildew from forming and allows fresh air to dilute or replace lesser quality air in a room. This can be done by opening a window, adding a fan, or otherwise keeping air moving into and out of a space.
Some of these may be easier for some people than for others, and some may only be easy if you are already in the process of renovating or replacing things, but all of them are sure to improve the quality of the air you breathe inside your home.