Americans spend a majority of their time inside their homes sleeping, eating and enjoying family time. Considering how much time is spent inside the home, the air quality inside your home can greatly impact your health – and so it’s essential to start cleaning up the air inside your home.
Unfortunately, the air quality inside your home is worse than outside, regardless of where you live. Microbial pollutants like mold, pet dander, pollen and the natural ozone can combine with dangerous chemicals like radon and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to create a pretty toxic environment in your home. Since we spend the majority of our time indoors, it makes sense to make cleaning the air inside your home a priority.
How does air get polluted inside your home?
Off-gassing from furniture and fire retardants, perfumes and chemicals in cleaners and air fresheners, and even chemicals from clothes from the dry-cleaners can have adverse effects in the home triggering asthma symptoms, eye and throat irritation, and in some cases, cancer. And on top of that, the air is stagnant which means it’s not going anywhere. Outside, the wind naturally blows these things away, but inside is a different story altogether. You can’t eliminate a problem like indoor pollution in your home, but you can make changes to keep it cleaner, healthier, and safer for your family.
Take on these 5 steps to clean up the air inside your home:
1. Leave your shoes at the door
Think of all the things you walk in, on, and over throughout the course of a day. Parking lots, pesticide-sprayed grass, and dirty lots can contain lead or other industrial contaminants. The very first step you can take to clean up the air inside your home is by leaving your shoes at the door. This helps by containing pollutants to the outside of your home without tracking them inside all over your floors. Designate a spot for shoes like setting a basket by the door or carry them to the closet.
2. Avoid VOCs…what are those?
Spray Febreeze, Glade or other air fresheners in your home? Experts say you should toss them! VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are chemicals emitted as gasses from certain solids and liquids and have short-term, or long-term adverse effects. They are widely used in household cleaning products, paints, perfumes, cosmetic items and home air fresheners. VOCs mix with the ozone inside your home to create….smog. The EPA found that VOC concentrations in homes are 2 to 4 times higher than outside, regardless of what kind of area you live in. And these can do more than irritate your eyes or nose – some VOCs are known to cause cancer.
Cutting down on VOCs is essential to cleaning up your indoor air quality. If you are concerned about the levels of VOCs in your home you can purchase a monitor to track your air quality. Make Use Of has put together a list of 6 interior air quality monitors you can purchase for your home. Better cleaning options include choosing more natural cleaning products which will cut down on toxic VOC exposure inside your home. Homemade cleaners like vinegar, baking soda and essential oils can clean most things. Leaving a bowl of vinegar out overnight or essential oils can help with smells you don’t want inside your home.
3. Fill your Home with House Plants
NASA conducted a Clean Air Study to identify the best air-filtering indoor plants for your home. Among the plants on the list are the Peace Lily, Spider plant and Gerbera daisies that can take out chemicals like formaldehyde, and bring oxygen and beauty into the home – they literally start cleaning up the air inside your home for you! Check out this infographic from Love the Garden that lists 18 NASA-recommended plants for your home.
And don’t worry if you don’t have a green thumb – some of these plants are hard to kill. Look for low-maintenance plants and set your calendar to water them after a while it will become second nature. Studies recommend 15 plants in a 2,000 square foot home which sounds like a lot. Start off with one and grow from there!
4. Keep your Home Clean
Chemicals can accumulate in dust, which can also collect dander, hairs, fine particles, lead dust, and pollutants which can trigger allergies, irritate eyes and throats. Make sure to sweep and dust regularly, including places like ceiling fan blades, and electronic equipment. Wet mop floors to pick up more dust, since dry sweeping alone can cause some dust to resettle. Invest in a vacuum with a HEPA filter which traps pollutants, dust, dander, and more helping to clean up the air inside your home. Check out Health.com’s list of Healthiest Vacuum Cleaners for your Home. Also make sure you’re changing up the filters in your air conditioning, ventilation, or furnace filters with HEPA filters as well at least every few months.
5. Open the Window
This is the most natural way to start cleaning up the air inside your home – and the easiest. Okay, so you may have to limit this option during the hottest or coldest times of the year. The key here is that opening the window allows the air to circulate which is key in cleaning up the inside of your home. One of the reasons why the air inside your home is so much more polluted than the outside is the air doesn’t have anywhere to go. It gets stale and all the toxins stay put. If you open up the window and create circulation, you will cut the level of toxicity right away. Regardless of the weather, let some fresh air in the house every day!