How to improve indoor air quality

How to improve indoor air quality

According to experts and scientific evidence, the air inside our homes can be more seriously polluted than outdoor air, even in heavily industrialized cities.

With research indicating people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, this is of grave concern.

So how can we help to prevent air pollution inside our own homes?

Luckily, there are lots of ways you can improve your indoor air quality naturally.  Here are some ideas.

Buy an air purifier

If you suffer from allergies and are irritated by air pollution in your home then an air purifier could make all the difference.

An air purifier works by sucking in and circulating air just like a fan, but it also has filters which trap pollutants and particles so only clean air is recirculated through the living space.

It’s worth researching air purifier reviews as they are vastly different in their effectiveness and ability to tackle indoor air pollution.  Make sure you buy something that has great reviews and does what it’s meant to.

Scent naturally

Whilst a nice smelling home might at first seem pleasant, many plugin air fresheners, aerosols and scented candles are full of harmful toxic ingredients that you’ll breathe in when they are used.

Instead you can scent your home naturally using nontoxic methods such as essential oil diffusers, natural reed diffusers with essential oils and dried fruit and flowers.

If you love to burn candles then choose natural non-toxic candles made from soy wax and scented with essential oils.  They can be a little pricier, but it’s an investment in your health.

Open your windows

One way to ensure fresh air gets into your home and pollutants can escape is by ensuring good ventilation within your home.  This can be as simple as opening your windows.

If you live near a busy road then open your windows in the evening to keep the air fresher.

Even in the winter get into the habit of opening the windows for ten minutes or so each day in each room to allow fresh air to circulate and the stale air to escape.

Every morning I open all our windows and you can really feel the air freshen up and bad odours disappear.

Maintain your HVAC system

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, known as HVAC, improve air quality in homes, particularly in the US, by bringing in fresh air from outdoors.

Upgrading filtration on your HVAC system can improve your indoor air quality substantially removing dust, pollen, pet dander and even viruses such as cold, flu and MSRA.

If you have HVAC installed in your home then make sure you regularly clean the dust build up on the fans with a vacuum.  Ducts may need professional cleaning periodically to keep them clean.

If your HVAC unit is not properly cleaned and maintained, it can create issues for those with allergies and asthma. It might end up circulating the pollutants and allergens, rather than removing them, so make sure it is regularly cleaned and maintained to help improve your air quality as it should.

Never smoke indoors

Smoking is terrible for your health anyway and if you are concerned about good air quality for your health then you should absolutely quit smoking!

However, if you do smoke or know others who do, never ever smoke inside your home.

It will pollute the air and endanger the health of all those around you as they will need to breathe in toxic second-hand smoke.

Not only does this linger and spread out in the surrounding air, but it harmful toxins will cling to your furniture and textiles within your home allowing prolonged harm and pollution.

Ventilate whilst cooking

Cooking fills the air with smoke, grease and moisture.  Make sure you open your windows whilst cooking or use a cooker hood and extractor fan.

Use an extractor fan in bathrooms

I’d recommend opening windows in bathrooms regularly to freshen the air, but extractor fans are also great at extracting moisture and chemicals from the air.

Think about all the toiletries you might be using in your bathroom that pollutes the air, as well as cleaning products.

An extractor fan will also prevent moisture from building up causing damp and mould.

Check for damp and mould

Never ignore signs of damp and mould.  According to Which? high humidity levels can cause respiratory problems, and provide a perfect breeding ground for mould spores, dust mites, clothes moths, fleas, cockroaches and other nasties.

Be sure to clean and remove any mould build up and figure out the reason for its existence.  Perhaps that room needs better ventilation, an extractor or even a dehumidifier if the air is constantly humid, for example in a basement with no airflow.

How to improve indoor air quality

Add purifying houseplants

Indoor houseplants help to bring nature indoors.  Not only do they look great and help to create a calming, mood-boosting atmosphere, but they can help to purify the air too.

Here are some air-filtering plants to try:

  • Dwarf date palm
  • Boston fern
  • Spider plant
  • Devil’s ivy
  • Bamboo palm
  • Flamingo lily
  • Snake plant
  • Peace lily

Use non-toxic products

Whether you are using cleaning products in your home or paints and other DIY products, try and use plant-based non-toxic versions.

Many chemical based products release VOCs into the air which are bad for our health.

Be sure to open windows if you have to use chemical based products and wear appropriate protective equipment such as a dust masks and filters when completing certain DIY jobs to prevent breathing in hazardous particles in the air.

With regards to cleaning, there are lots of eco-friendly cleaning products you can make that are better for your health too and won’t pollute the air inside your home.

You can also buy plant-based readymade cleaners from health stores and even supermarkets nowadays.

Vacuum frequently

Make sure you regularly vacuum to remove dust particles and pet dander if you have pets. Pet dander is tiny particles of shed skin from animals that can trigger allergies and reactions.  It can add to the air pollution inside your home.

If you have the option then hard flooring like responsibly sourced wood or eco-friendly vinyl can be much easier to clean and doesn’t trap dust and other particles as easily as carpet due to its wipe clean surface.

Keep shoes outdoors

Take shoes off at the door, or even better outdoors or in a porch if you can.  The dirt on shoes holds chemicals from outside and this is traipsed through your home to every room if you keep them on.

Door mats can also be effective in trapping pollutants and dirt from peoples shoes before it enters the rest of the home, so place dirt trapping doormats at every external entrance.

Final thoughts

The dangers of air pollution inside our homes cannot be underestimated; however it’s not something that many people give much thought. 

Hopefully this blog post will encourage you to research the dangers and inspire you improve indoor air quality to safeguard your health.

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How to improve indoor air quality