The average person spends more than two thirds of their time indoors in a typical week. With that much time spent inside, we should care about the quality of the air we breathe in our homes.
Here a few tips for keeping your indoor air fresh, clean and healthy.
Decrease indoor air pollutants.
Harmful irritants, known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), can be found throughout a house. These compounds, found in everything from cleaning products to couch cushions, decrease the quality of your indoor air and can even cause health problems. So how do you get rid of them?
You may think that regular cleaning will help, when in fact the products you use are probably full of VOCs that can linger in the home as gases long after your daily cleaning routine ends. Exposure to indoor pollutants caused by household cleaners can immediately cause negative effects such as irritation of the eyes, nose and throat as well as headaches or dizziness. Try choosing products that are labeled as low- or no-VOC cleaners. Or, to be certain that your family is not exposed to harmful chemicals, try making your own cleaning agents with standard household items such as vinegar or baking soda.
VOCs are also found in some home décor items, such as furniture, carpet and wall paint. When purchasing these items, look for products that are GREENGUARD Certified for low VOC emissions.
Do your best to reduce allergens.
From pollen to pet dander to dust mites, allergens that are trapped indoors can wreak havoc on your health, even for those who do not suffer from chronic allergies. The good news is that frequent cleaning—using your new, low-VOC household cleaners—can help.
To reduce the amount of pollen that ends up trapped indoors, be sure to dust and vacuum your furniture, upholstery and floors often. This practice becomes especially important during the spring and summer months when flowers, trees and grasses are in full bloom. For children and adults with chronic allergies, consider using an allergen filter your home heating, ventilating and air conditioning system to catch particulates that are missed during the cleaning process.
Pets can also be a source of indoor air pollutants. In addition to pollen and other outdoor allergens that make way inside on pet fur, animals carry dander that can be bothersome to humans. So, be sure to give Fido a bath once in a while, and don’t forget to groom his coat outdoors.
Dust mites are everywhere. Similar to pollen reduction, dust mites can be kept to a minimum by making regular cleaning a habit. Be sure to wash bed linens and blankets in hot water, and don’t be afraid to break out the carpet steamer a few times per year. Allergy sufferers may also want to consider using allergen-reducing pillow and mattress cases.
Give your home a breath of fresh air.
In addition to indoor pollutants like VOCs and allergens, moisture can accumulate inside, causing mold, mildew and odors if left unattended. In fact, a family of four can produce the equivalent of 22-30 pounds of moisture per day from everyday living such as bathing, cooking and even just breathing.
So how do you get rid of moisture, allergens and VOCs? By giving your home a breath of fresh air, of course.
The Home Ventilating Institute states that the best way to ensure continuous indoor air quality is to exhaust stale indoor air and replace it with fresh outside air. This process is called home airing, and can best be achieved using a combination of vertical windows and skylights. When opened together, skylights and windows create the chimney effect: warm, stale air rises and is released through the skylights, while fresh air is drawn in through windows, infusing the home with fresh air.
If your home has higher-than-usual moisture levels, you may also want to use a dehumidifier. Be sure to place the dehumidifier in the dampest place in your house—usually the basement—and empty its contents often.
Use fresh air and sunlight to create a happy, healthy living environment.