During the winter months, we love nothing more than arriving to our sealed up, cozy homes for a little reprieve from the weather. However, this means that your home is air tight and likely circulating air that could be cleaner, especially since many indoor air quality issues are completely odorless.
The air inside your home may be polluted by lead, formaldehyde, fire retardants, radon and even volatile chemicals in commercial cleaners. You may be surprised to find that these indoor pollutants can even be tracked into the home via new furniture, carpet cleaners or paint! Even if you don’t have pets, there’s a good chance you’re always around some. Pet dander is considered a “community allergen,” as pet owners carry it around microscopically on their person.
Improving indoor air quality reduces the allergens that can trigger respiratory problems and other issues. Stale indoor air and heating systems can increase the amount of allergens ike dust-mites, pet dander, and mold circulating around your house. Indoor allergens and irritants have become increasingly important because we are spending more time in our homes; modern homes are airtight, making it even more difficult for these irritants to escape. Now that spring has arrived, there are a few things you can do to get rid of the stale and let in fresh air (and keep it!)
Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality
First and foremost, the most effective way to reduce indoor air pollution is to eliminate or minimize the sources by increasing ventilation as it will increase the amount of clean outdoor air, remove pollutants and help reduce the build up of moisture.
Keep the Toxins Out
- Don’t smoke indoors – tobacco smoke contains thousands of pollutants in high concentrations. They may also start a fire, which is a headache all on its own (we can help with that too!).
- Choose low-emitting products that have been certified by a reputable organization, such as GREENGUARD. Be cautious of manufacturer claims of “no VOC,” “Alternative,” or “Natural.”
- Reduce your use of harsh cleaners, solvent based cleaners or cleaners with strong fragrances. There are whole home cleaning lines dedicated to just this!
- Try to keep activities like paint stripping, soldering or gluing, painting, sanding or polishing outside when possible as these produce high levels of toxins in concentrated spaces.
- Do not idle cars, lawnmowers or other engines in the garage, especially if attached to the home.
Stay Tidy, Stay Fresh
- Change and wash your sheets regularly as they’re breeding grounds for allergens, like dust mites.
- Take shoes off at the door to minimize any allergens that may be tracked in from the outside.
- Use entrance and exit mats at your main entrances.
- Use a HEPA vacuum cleaners with disposable bags and microfiber cloths for surfaces.
Maintain Moisture Control
- Keep your home dry, keeping humidity levels under 60%. Use dehumidifiers if necessary, be sure to keep any humidifiers well maintained.
- Repair all leaks immediately.
- Flood or water damage? Take immediate action! Call the pros to ensure moisture is effectively removed from your home. It is imperative that you reach out to a professional to dry all porous materials and furnishings within 48 hours to prevent mold growth. If mold is found on drywall, ceiling tiles or wood – simply discard and replace.
- Run bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans while using those rooms.
- Houseplants are known to improve indoor air quality by filtering carbon dioxide, however an overwatered plant can produce mold growth so be sure not to overwater your inside plants.
Let the Fresh Air in!
- Open doors and windows when the weather permits, but be mindful of outdoor allergens during the spring and fall.
- Maintain all filters. Ensure they are in place, fit well and are changed periodically as per manufacturer’s instructions.
- Be sure that fuel burning furnaces, fireplaces, heaters, rangetops, exhaust fans and other appliances are ventilated to the outside – away from the windows, heating/AC (HVAC) intakes.
Spring is finally here and the best way to celebrate is to open up your windows and get to spring cleaning! Keep your indoor air fresh and your family healthy.
Learn more about the importance of indoor air quality here.
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