As you shelter from the cold outdoors during winter, indoor air quality can decline. Freshening up your home to remove odors and clean the air can help keep away the winter blues when you’re spending more time inside. Here are eight ways to freshen your indoor air naturally this winter:
1. Improve the Air Flow
Getting more air flowing through your home is the quickest way to get rid of stale air. Turn on all the fans and open all the windows a couple inches for just a few minutes once a week. This will pull the old air out and circulate brand new air in for an instant refresh.
Change the direction of your ceiling fans to clockwise instead of the default counterclockwise. Most have a switch on them you can flip to alternate directions. Even during winter, have your ceiling fans on for a couple hours a day. With a clockwise rotation, the fans pull air upwards from the ground instead of blowing downward. This helps circulate air through the home more evenly, preventing stale, stagnant air from accumulating.
2. Change Your HVAC Filters on Time
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) units have filters that need replacing at regular intervals. Without replacing them on time, the filters can’t do their job to eliminate indoor pollutants. Panel HVAC filters, located flat on a wall behind a metal vent, need replacements on a monthly basis. Pleated ones should be replaced every 3 to 4 months, and media filters last 6 months until a replacement is needed. Make sure you find out what type of HVAC filter you have in your home and how to keep it clean.
3. Clean Using Eco-Friendly Products
Conventional household cleaning products are made with harsh chemicals. Even if you’re not doing the cleaning yourself, these products can irritate your eyes, noses and throat when used in the home. Use eco-friendly cleaning products that don’t leave chemical residue. You can use DIY green cleaning products like baking soda and vinegar, or use a store-bought eco-friendly cleaner.
4. Add House Plants
Plants interact with the air as they respirate, by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. According to research, certain plants also absorb toxic volatile organic pollutants in the air. In a study from NASA, numerous plants were tested and found to remove toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene . VOCs are found in furniture, paint, varnishes, vinyl flooring and other products in the home, and their health risks associated with them begin at the fetal stage .
House plants found to have natural air-filtration effects include bamboo palm, devil’s ivy, English ivy, Aloe Vera, Chinese evergreen, among several others . They offer a fresh, natural fragrance and visually their green liveliness can uplift you on a dreary winter’s day. Incorporate an air-purifying house plant into each of the main areas of your home.
5. Get a Humidifier
Overly dry air irritates your skin, nasal passageways and eyes. You should be reaching for vaseline in the wintertime because of dry indoor air. A humidifier can correct the dryness. Opt for a model that also measures the humidity level in your home. According to research, keeping the humidity between 50 and 60 percent can lower your risk for airborne-transmitted respiratory infections . It’s also the optimal humidity level to help improve symptoms of allergy and asthma.
6. Use an Air Purifier
Air purifiers vacuum up stale air and release clean, deodorized air back into your home. With a whole-home air purifier you leave on 24/7, your indoor air quality can stay fresh and pollutant-free all the time. Choose an air purifier with a carbon filter or a High Efficiency Particulate Absorbing (HEPA) filter. These eliminate 99.97% of air pollutants that are 0.3 microns or larger, which includes allergens like pollen, mold spores and dust mites.
7. Diffuse Essential Oils
Plug-in air fresheners are made with lab-synthesized chemicals that actually release toxins into your air instead of cleaning it. Essential oils are natural fragrance oils that are actually beneficial to inhale, and they work wonders in freshening up indoor winter air. Try a warming, spicy oil like cinnamon or ginger for a fresh, invigorating aroma. To keep the winter blues at bay, opt for a citrus oil like grapefruit or lemon oil, which have an uplifting, energizing effect. Put a few drops into an essential oil diffuser and leave it running in a central area of your home.
8. Clean Your Carpets
Dirty carpets contribute to odors, allergens and air pollutants in your home. You can do a deep carpet clean yourself, or hire a professional service to clean it. Professional steam cleaners can safely remove dust and microbes from your carpeting without using chemicals. For the easiest DIY clean that can freshen up your air, sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda all over your carpet flooring using a fine-mesh sieve. Let it sit overnight to absorb musty, stale odors. In the morning, vacuum it up for a fresher floor.
Spending more of your time indoors in the winter means you’ll want to avoid stuffy, stagnant air that accumulates in these cold months. Combine just a few of these tips, and your indoor air quality will be noticeably fresher. Not only does fresher air feel better, but also it lowers your risk for respiratory illnesses and allergy flare-ups.