Not surprisingly, the best advice to follow for improved indoor air quality is to keep your home clean! We all want to breathe easy, but a build-up of dirt, dust and other pollutants can diminish the purity of the indoor air. Take some sensible steps to be certain the air quality in your home is the best that it can be — for the safety and comfort of your family!
Using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter ensures that the dust and allergens you're cleaning up aren't blown back out through the exhaust. Regular vacuuming can reduce concentrations of dust and other toxins in your home — lead, chemical residue, and allergens from pollen, dust mites and pet dander. When vacuuming, don't just do the floors! Walls, carpet edges, floor boards and upholstered furniture all trap dust. After vacuuming, mop it up! A swab with plain water will pick up any dust the vacuum leaves behind. The new microfiber mops and dust cloths capture more dust than traditional fibers. People track in more than dirt on their shoes when entering the home — outdoor pollutants such as dirt, pesticides and lawn chemicals come in too. Have a large doormat in entryways so most pollutants are left at the door.
The humidity in your home should be regulated at 30-50 percent — any higher is an invitation to dust mites and mold. Air conditioning can reduce the pollen count and keep humidity at a reasonable level. Make sure you vent your clothes dryer to the outside, and use the exhaust fan when you bathe or shower, as well as in the kitchen when cooking or while running the dishwasher. Keep the drip pans in window air conditioners or dehumidifiers empty and make sure there are no plumbing issues. Leaky pipes create a breeding ground for mold.
Make sure your cleaning solutions are non-toxic. Natural cleaning products contain no volatile organic compounds. Materials used in furniture, carpeting and wall finishes, caulks and adhesives should be as chemical-free as possible. Read the labels! Paint with low or no-VO paint. Check your furnace filter every two months, and clean or replace it as needed. A well-functioning furnace is a line of defense in removing air pollutants inside the home.
We associate certain odors with fresh and clean — that lemony scent of a clean kitchen or just-washed laundry. In reality, the fragrances in items such as laundry detergent, fabric softeners and dryer sheets, air fresheners — solids, sprays and oils, and household cleaning products emit dozens of chemicals into the air. Most fragrances are made from petroleum products. A plug-in air freshener can emit 20 different volatile organic compounds! Look for fragrance-free products for cleaning and laundry, open the window to let fresh air into your home and buy some plants. Indoor plants work as natural air purifiers!
It's bad for your health and pollutes indoor air, so make your home a "No Smoking" zone. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, and second-hand smoke is a danger to everyone who is exposed.
Purchase a dehumidifier to use in your home during warm and steamy weather. It will make the house seem cooler and is a way to keep excess moisture inside from encouraging the growth of dangerous mold.
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