“An average American spends 90% of their time indoors” – EPA.gov
That’s a lot of time we spend indoors, but not many people think to improve the air quality of their living space.
You might think you are safer inside than outside, yet that’s not necessarily the case. Everything you see from the floors to cleaning products are contributing to pollution in some way.
However, you don’t have to buy enormous machines and expensive gadgets to clean your surrounding air. Just a little knowledge can take you far.
We have got you covered with 10 of the easiest ways to improve indoor air quality. Here’s what you need to know!
Why Should You Really Care About Indoor Air Quality?
Home is the place where we spend almost half of our entire life or even more. If the air inside is filled with toxins, it can impact your health. Here’s why you should try to improve your indoor air quality:
Biological pollutants can be anywhere inside your home. This includes dust mite allergens, fibers, pollens and animal dander. These pollutants can come from outside and can trigger asthma. Stagnant homes with no air circulation can make the case worse.
Chemical pollutants are by far the most dangerous elements of indoor air. It can include VOCs, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and carcinogens. Common sources are cigarettes, furniture, air fresheners, floor coverings and so on. These chemicals can cause respiratory problems if you are exposed to them long term.
Small particles, roughly 7 microns to 8 microns in size, can pose greater risks. These particles mainly come in the form of dust and pose risks of lung cancer and asthma attacks.
When there is already so much pollutants outside, you want to try to keep your home as much fresh as possible.
10 Strategies to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
1. Clean Floor Means Clean Air
You might not have thought this before. But the reality is our floors are sources for dust, pollen, lead and lots of other toxins. Whether or not you turn on the fan, these toxins are constantly affecting the air inside.
You can keep your floor clean and healthy in 4 different ways:
Use vacuum cleaners
If you have a vacuum with strong suction, get it up and running as frequently as you can muster. Vacuum the floors, furniture and anything that can store and accumulate dust.
Mop the floor
You need to mop the floor for extra safety. As dust is dry, it can leave behind traces. A simple mopping with plain water can freshen up your room in no time. It can also decrease the usage of cleaning solutions which might contain other types of toxins.
Strategically place floor mats
Floor mats act like filters. If you place them in different spots inside your home, they attract dirt and store within itself. Just clean them once a week.
Change your floor material
Hardwood, ceramic tile and linoleum are the best option for flooring. These materials last longer, are easier to clean and don’t emit any VOCs. If you avoid carpet, laminate wood and vinyl then the air in your home should become cleaner than ever.
2. Ventilate and Circulate Air
A simple way to purify the air inside your home is to maintain air circulation and ventilate the space.
Stagnant air can accumulate a plethora of dust, emissions and bad odor. If you have windows, keep them open at different times of the day, preferably in the morning when road traffic is less. You can also invest in a cooling fan to keep the air moving around.
You definitely need to have a ventilation fan inside your kitchen and bathroom. These rooms can contribute more to your indoor air problems than any other.
In one study, it was found that California home kitchens had hazardous levels of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide – all from just cooking. You need to get those gases out. So, either a ventilation fan or range hood can really help.
3. Keep the Filters Clean
There are different kinds of filters lying around in our households. They keep the air clean but by doing so, they also trap dirt and pollutants.
Let’s start with the AC. It cycles the air and maintains the room temperature. Inside it, you will find a filter that accumulates pollutants on a regular basis. You can clean it using the manufacturer’s guideline. If it’s too dirty, you probably need to change it.
Your vacuum cleaner also has filters. The better the condition of the filter, the cleaner your floor remains. A monthly change is a good starting point.
You might have heard about activated charcoals or carbons to help clean water, skin and even the air. You can replace your regular filters with activated charcoal filters. Such filters don’t just combat regular pollutants, they can also remove VOCs. It’s not always cheap, but can be worth it.
4. Avoid Toxic Emissions With Safe Furniture
Furniture selection is important for a healthy living atmosphere. In fact, common household furniture is associated with the several toxins.
These organic compounds can be found in paints, varnishes, plywood, particleboard and glues. These elements are a common part of furniture. The after effects of VOCs can be nausea and in certain cases may lead to kidney and nervous system damage.
This is usually present in stain-resistant fabric in furniture. Long time exposure to PFCs might hamper reproduction and liver functionality.
Carcinogens can find its way in the form of glues and carpets inside our home. They have been linked it leukemia and cancer.
So, what can you do to save yourself from such toxins? One way is to avoid plywood and particleboard furniture.
5. Maintain Optimal Humidity
Humidity and moisture can increase the likelihood of mold and mite infestation and degrade the air quality of your home.
30-50% is the optimal humidity level and you should try to maintain such levels. Here’s what you can do.
Use a dehumidifier or an AC during the summer. Both machines remove moisture from the environment and control allergens.
During winters, you can do the opposite and bring in a humidifier to increase the moisture.
Keep the windows open when cooking or keep the exhaust fan on.
Clothes dryers can release a lot of moisture. A good idea is to place it outside on the balcony, patio or outside the home.
Check leaks inside water pipes. Leaky pipes will promote the growth of molds.
Let sunlight enter your home. The heat rays can eliminate moisture to some extent.
6. Improve Air Quality With Beeswax Candles and Salt Lamps
Do you love lighting up candles? Then ditch the artificial candles and bring in some beeswax candles at home.
When these candles burn, they release negative ions. As pollutants and other dust particles have a positive charge, the negative ions from candles removes them from the air.
Alternatively, you can put up salt lamps that will give you the same results.
A salt lamp is just a light source placed inside a large chunk of Himalayan salt. It releases negative ions that can repel positive dust ions. These lamps have been claimed to reduce asthma, ease coughing and improve mood.
Check out the video below for more on salt lamps.
7. Go Natural With Indoor Plants
According to research by Nasa, indoor plants have the capacity to remove toxins. But for a significant impact, you will have to place a plant every 20 sq.ft.
If you love plants and want a breath of fresh air, then go for it. Don’t overdo it as it can cause moisture and increased level of humidity.
Here are plants that you can place at home.
This plant can enhance the decor of your home with red, yellow and orange colors. It has the ability to remove benzene and formaldehyde.
This is a perennial vine that can reduce molds and faecal particles.
If you want an additional supply of oxygen at night, you should definitely have a snake plant at home. It can also filter out benzene and formaldehyde.
For pet lovers, this is the perfect plant as it’s not toxic to animals. It can fight against carbon monoxide and xylene.
Apart from the soothing properties of Aloe Vera, this plant can purify air to some extent.
This plant can grow as much as 8ft high. If you have a high ceiling and want to decorate the vertical spaces, go for it.
8. Ditch the Commercial Fragrances and Make Your Own
It’s refreshing to add in a bit of fragrance early in the morning. But commercial fresheners all have a huge load of phthalates, PEG-40 and carcinogens.
Enter essential oils. These oils have a multipurpose use in human life. You can easily turn them into a natural air freshener for your home.
Here’s a list of essential oils according to their property.
Anti-bacterial essential oils
Lime, Wild orange, Rosemary and Sandalwood.
Anti-fungal essential oils
Lavender, Thyme and Eucalyptus
Oregano, Lavender and Lemon
To make the essential oil air freshener you will need:
- 2 cups of distilled water
- 5 to 6 drops of lavender (for soothing effect)
- 5 to 6 drops of lemon (for boosting energy)
- 5 to 6 drops of eucalyptus (for fresh smell)
- 1 tbsp. Baking soda.
How do you make it? Mix all the essential oils and baking soda together. Put it inside a spray bottle. Add water and shake the mixture till everything dissolves. Enjoy fresh air now!
9. Opt for Eco-friendly Cleaning Products
A home involves different cleaning routines – floor, furniture and dishwasher cleaning.
Commercial cleaners can leave strong footprints that may impact air quality to some extent and trigger allergies.
You can find eco-friendly cleaning products like DAZZ cleaning tablets, Good Life Stain remover and Mrs. Meyers Clean Day dish soap.
In the simplest form, vinegar and lemon can clean a lot.
Here’s an interesting recipe for an all-purpose cleaner.
- Half a cup distilled white vinegar (acts as a disinfectant agent)
- ¾ cup of hydrogen peroxide (acts as antiseptic)
- 1 tsp liquid Castile soap
- 2 cups of water
- 10-15 drops of tea tree oil and lavender oil (tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties)
Mix them all in a spray bottle. You can use this cleaner for your bathroom and kitchen especially.
10. No-smoking at Home
Smoking at home can significantly increase the risk of respiratory infections and asthma in children. Smoke from cigarettes might contain as many as 4000 chemicals. According to San Diego State University, smoking is a major source of particulate matter and it degrades the air quality of your home.
If you can’t quit smoking, you will need to find a dedicated space for smoking. The best way is to smoke outside and never at home. If you have a small corner room, you can transform that into a smoking zone with large ventilation fans and air coolers. But keep that room locked and isolated from the other rooms.
Implementing almost these strategies is possible in as little as 2-3 days. Maintain a checklist for everything inside your home that can contribute to air pollution and tackle each one. The very least you can do is to open your windows and let the fresh air in.