Top Tips for Improving Your Indoor Air Quality
Have you ever asked yourself if those persistent cold and allergy symptoms could be caused by your house? Sick houses and the horror stories of chronic health symptoms are all over the news. If you’ve ever wondered if your house is making you sick, today I’ll be addressing some of the top reasons a house may be unhealthy. Plus, I’ll share some simple ways to improve your indoor air quality to help keep you and your family healthy. As someone who has lived through a mold infestation, and suffers from allergy symptoms, I can attest that having clean indoor air is important to maintaining good health.
Don’t let this topic stress you out, I have 19 Tips for Improving Your Indoor Air Quality. And because Broan believes as strongly as I do about helping you have a healthy home, they have sponsored this article.
1. Control Dust: Dust and vacuum regularly. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to prevent dirt from blowing back into the air. Vacuuming regularly is the key to controlling allergy and asthma triggers (especially dust mites and pet dander.)
Use damp rags or microfiber cloths to trap dust. Feather dusters will just move particles around. You might be surprised by the 10 places you probably forget to dust!
2. Mop It Up. Have you ever mopped your kitchen or bathroom right after vacuuming? If you have, you can attest to the amount of dirt left behind that the vacuum didn’t get. It’s best to mop your hard surface floors after vacuuming to get any remaining dirt.
3. Stop Dirt in their Tracks. Speaking of dirt, if you put floor mats by each exterior door, you should be able to cut down on excess dirt and mud in your home. If you detest the utilitarian rubber mats, you can stencil a plain inexpensive mat using this tutorial. To save time on floor cleaning, encourage your family members to go shoeless in the house. You may even be surprised if your guests automatically remove their shoes when they see your’s lined up by the door.
4. Change your Filters. When was the last time you changed your air filter? An air filter is important for trapping dust, germs and allergens. But, it also keeps your furnace and A/C running efficiently. House heating and cooling filters should be changed at least every three months. If you have allergy sufferers in your house, try changing them more frequently. As a busy mom, I know it’s hard to remember to change your air filters, here are some tips for remembering to changer filters.
5. Green Clean. I’ve convinced you to up your cleaning game, but before you start spraying that store bought cleanser or spray, check the label! Do you recognize the ingredients? Is one of them “fragrance”? Most fragrances added to cleaners are made from chemicals that don’t have to be divulged because they are “trade secrets.” You have a right to know what you are spraying in your house, so boycott store bought cleaners and make your own cleaners.
6. Go Odor Free. Similar to cleansers with chemicals, Store bought fragrances, air fresheners and perfumes can contribute to chemical pollution in your home. Although they are pretty, petroleum based wax candles can also contribute to unhealthy air. Instead opt for chemical-free room fresheners. Boil water with natural ingredients like lemon, orange, cinnamon, vanilla, etc. Make your own DIY Room Spray with natural ingredients. If you like a scented room, use essential oils in a diffuser or rub a drop on a light bulb.
7. Look for Low-VOC products.
Speaking of chemicals, I know you’ve heard of VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) but do you know where they lurk? VOC’s are found in many household products:
- paints, stains and varnishes
- cleaning and disinfecting products
- room sprays and other manufactured air fresheners
- personal care products and cosmetics
- permanent markers
- glues and adhesives
- building materials and furnishings (composite wood products that use glues)
- sealing caulks
- dry-cleaned clothing
- and more
Consider using Low or Zero-VOC paints. Ask about chemical treatments (like fire retardants, stain guards, or mold inhibitors) on household purchases like bedding, carpets, building materials, etc. Research and educate yourself about where VOC’s are found and look for alternatives.
8. Aerosol. Although ozone depleting aerosols have been eliminated since the 70’s, today’s aerosols contain VOCs and other harmful chemicals like hydrocarbons and compressed gasses. In fact, aerosol sprays can contain VOCs that contribute to ground level ozone pollution that has a direct correlation to increased asthma cases. Choose non-aerosol products or use aerosols sparingly. If you need to spray an aerosol can, open windows or use aerosols in a ventilated space.
9. Fresh Air. Energy efficient homes are built air tight, which can translate to great energy savings, but sometimes it means your home doesn’t get enough fresh air. On a nice day, open the windows. Let that stale air out.
If you are still struggling to achieve healthy indoor air, you might want to consider a whole house fresh air system from Broan.
10. Exhaust Humidity. Always run the bathroom exhaust fan during and after a shower. An exhaust fan is instrumental in deterring mold from growing in your bathroom or on your towels. If your exhaust fan is old, noisy, or leaves windows and mirror fogged, you are due for a new one. Today’s exhaust fans from Broan will surprise you with their quiet fans; humidity and moisture sensors; ability play music via an internal bluetooth speaker and a variety of styles including decorative dual purpose exhaust fan and light fixtures. Regardless of how new your bath ventilation fan is, remember to clean the cover regularly.
11. Remove Cooking Vapors. Did you know that you should turn on your kitchen range hood a few minutes before you start cooking and leave it on fifteen minutes after you finish? A range hood will reduce cooking odors and remove excess heat and humidity from your home. Make sure you know how to properly clean and maintain your range hood.
12. Dryer Vents. Check that your dryer duct is clear and that it vents properly outside the house. You’ll want to know how to clean your dryer duct to prevent fires and reduce humidity in your house. When cleaning the vent, investigate how long the vent is and where it exhausts. Dryer vents that exhaust into (and across) an unconditioned space can fill with moisture. As enough condensation builds up, it can prevent proper exhaust or worse case cause a leak. The maximum allowable length of a dryer exhaust is 25′ for an electric dryer, but frankly I’d aim for much less to improve your dryer’s efficiency and allow for easier cleaning of your dryer duct. A handyman or general contractor should be able to offer solutions for shortening your dryer exhaust vent if it is too long.
13. Humidity Levels. Keep a gauge of the humidity level in your home. A digital thermometer with humidity gauge (affiliate link) can be purchased for under $10 from Amazon. The optimal healthy range of humidity should be between 30% – 50%. Any level above 50% can contribute to a growing mold and/or dust mite population. Running an air conditioner in the summer will help control humidity. Be forewarned, if you use a window unit, empty the drip pans regularly. If you have a whole house air conditioner, check that the drip line on the unit is clear (dripping water coming out of the tube or hose is a good sign.) As tempting as it is to save energy by not running the heat or air conditioner, forced air units are helpful for filtering the air in your home.
14. Musty Odors. Don’t ignore musty odors or what you might consider a minor leak. Always investigate the source. Slow or small leaks that happen over time can cause major damage in your walls and attic. Black mold and toxic mold could be growing without your knowledge. If you do discover evidence of a leak, call in a contractor to make repairs or a professional to remediate the mold. The best source for a reputable mold remediation company could be as close as a call to your insurance agent or in your Better Business Bureau reviews. If you do hire a specialist to remove mold, get at least three quotes from different companies. Ask each bidding company about the procedures they use to protect spores from spreading in your home. You may find this additional information on water leaks, mold, and mildew helpful.
15. Test Your Home. ALWAYS have your house tested for asbestos and lead paint, especially before undertaking any renovations. Hiring a contractor to renovate? Demand that they test for asbestos or lead. You can test for lead with these lead paint test swabs (affiliate link). It is unlawful for a seller to sell a house without disclosing the presence of lead or asbestos materials in the home. However, some sellers may not know if the harmful materials are present, or will choose not to disclose the information.
16. Test for Radon. When purchasing a house, insist on a radon test. Radon is an odorless gas emitted from natural rock like uranium and granite. Radon exposure can lead to lung cancer.
17. Carbon Monoxide. Install Carbon Monoxide detectors in your home. Install them on each level of your home at or below 5 feet from the ground. CO detectors should be installed close to sleeping areas so an alarm will wake your family. And always install a Carbon Monoxide near the attached garage door. Always test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors at least twice a year and change the batteries every six months. Learn more about carbon monoxide and how you can protect your family in this article.
18. Houseplants. Buy a green plant to help filter your air. Houseplants act as natural air filters (in addition to looking pretty). Do not overwater your plant or you could inadvertently grow mold. If you have pets or children, talk to a local nursery to find plants that aren’t toxic.
19. Smoking. It goes without saying that smoking indoors is extremely harmful to your indoor air quality. Second hand smoke in the home can be damaging to everyone’s health, not just the smoker. It’s important to note that children are especially vulnerable because of their smaller lung capacity.
I hope these Tips for Improving Your Indoor Air Quality help you breathe easier. For more detailed information, the EPA has a list of Frequently Asked Questions about Indoor Air Quality.
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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Broan. I was not told what to write. All opinions are my own. I was compensated for my time and efforts to create this tutorial. As always, I am very particular about the brands I represent and you will always be notified when you are reading a sponsored post on PrettyHandyGirl.com.