6 Easy Actions to Make Your Indoor Air Quality Even Better
It’s fair to say our home has been a bit of a germ zone lately!
Between myself, husband and 2 kids we’ve had a succession of sniffles, coughs, colds, sore throats…
Undoubtedly there’s always lots of bugs going round at this time of year, and with young children it’s inevitable that they’ll pick things up from their school friends and then ‘kindly’ share them with the rest of the family.
But lately I also got to thinking – is our health being compromised by the air we’re breathing in, particularly indoors?
It would appear so.
There’s a growing body of research which suggests that poor indoor air quality can be responsible for a number of unpleasant, debilitating or dangerous health issues, both in the immediate and longer term.
This article by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, for example, lists some of the negative effects ‘dirty’ air may be having on our health and well-being.
So, taking steps which can improve the state of the air inside our homes and workplaces, however small, is something we should all consider doing.
To that end, here’s my top 6 tips for healthier indoor air quality – including one simple thing you can do right now.
1. Open Your Windows – The One You Can Do Right Now!
I love the invigorating sensation a blast of cold, fresh air brings.
I can almost picture all the stale, fusty air that has been building up inside my home being sucked away!
Of course, in the winter I might only leave my windows open for a few minutes or so at a time. But long enough to feel that I’ve got a good dose of new air circulating round.
Ventilating your home regularly by opening your windows helps to replace carbon dioxide with oxygen, and also helps to mitigate against a build-up of moisture, which in turn can lead to mold.
2. Reduce Indoor Humidity Levels
On the subject of mold, we’ve been blighted in the past with lots of colonies of yukky mold cropping up on our window frames upstairs.
I now realise the root cause of this problem has been the lack of an extractor fan in our upstairs bathroom.
Until we get one fitted I’ve started to use a dehumidifier – it’s startling actually how much moisture it draws out the air in our house!
You can help to prevent dampness, mold and mildew in your own home by using an extractor fan in your bathroom when bathing or showering, and one in your kitchen when cooking.
Limiting the amount of clothes you dry indoors can also help to reduce humidity levels in your home.
Where possible, hang wet clothes outside to dry to avoid a build-up of dampness indoors.
Remember that if you use a dryer for your clothes to vent it outside, or use a neat little condenser box.
Or even better, use a condenser type dryer which captures the water removed from the wet clothes and stores it safely in a container inside the machine.
Check out this great article on the science of clothes drying which is packed with more information to help you dry your clothes efficiently.
3. Clever Cleaning
I will be the first to admit that cleaning is neither my passion nor my forte! With two young children, it can seem like a futile/never-ending task!
However, I’ve learned a couple of little tricks that can make it a bit easier and which might also help improve your indoor air quality.
A HEPA filter is superior to a regular filter in capturing those microscopic particles such as mold spores, dust and pet dander.
That’s because in order to be HEPA-certified the filter must be capable of capturing 99.97% particles down to 0.3 microns in size – i.e. the ultra-tiny ones.
Definitely something to consider if you share your home with pets, smokers, or if you’re prone to certain allergies.
Another great product I use all the time is my E-cloth.
This is a brand in the country I live in, but if you can’t find the same one, essentially what you’re looking for is a microfibre cloth which cleans effectively without the use of any cleaning products. Microfibres mops are available to buy too.
Microfibre cloths capture more dirt and dust than traditional fibres. I use mine all the time to clean my mirrored wardrobe doors, shower screens and all the windows in my house and they come up a treat.
And as I don’t need to use any cleaning liquids or polishes with them it also saves me money.
4. Go Natural
On the subject of cleaning products, think about making a switch to natural ones which aren’t packed full of synthetic and potentially harmful chemicals.
Some cleaning products contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which aren’t particularly great for the environment, and which may also aggravate pre-existing medical conditions such as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).
Nowadays, there’s a pretty good choice out there, as more and more consumers are ditching old-school bleaches and potent potions in favour of more natural options.
I guess in some respects it’s like going back to the things our grandmothers used back in days of old, utilising everyday items like vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda.
If this is something you’re insterested in, please take a look at the article I’ve written which has a collection of recipes for different homemade natural cleaning products and their many uses.
But it’s not just cleaning products which can contain contaminants which may pollute your indoor air.
Lots of things everyday items contain synthetic fragrances such as air fresheners, laundry detergents, and personal care items like soaps, shampoos, hair sprays and perfumes.
It undoubtedly involves a lot of effort to completely eradicate items with synthetic compounds from our everyday lives, but even just making a few small changes can help to make a difference.
5. Consider Investing in an Air Purifier
You might also want to consider investing in an air purifier to help improve your indoor air quality by drawing out many different contaminants.
There’s a great choice out there now for all budgets.
My most important piece of advice would be to make sure you buy one that’s suitable for the size of room you’ll be using it in.
Don’t be tempted to go for something which is recommended for a smaller space – it won’t work as well and will just be a waste of your hard-earned cash.
And secondly, if budget allows, go for one with a HEPA filter, for the reasons mentioned earlier.
6. Keep Appliance Maintenance Up To Date
My final top tip for healthy indoor air quality is to make sure any gas appliances you use are safe, properly maintained and regularly checked.
We pay a monthly fee to our energy company, and in addition to covering the cost of any repairs if our boiler breaks down we also benefit from an annual boiler check to make sure everything is in good and safe working order.
Also be sure to replace the batteries regularly on your carbon monoxide detector.
So there you have it – my top 6 suggestions for cleaner, healthier air in your home. None of them rocket science, but instead relatively straightforward things you can hopefully do without too much effort or expense.