7 Ways To Improve Indoor Air Quality at Home

7 Ways To Improve Indoor Air Quality at Home

There is a common belief that the air outside your front door is much worse to breathe than the air inside your home. But, as studies show, the air inside your home may also come with health implications1. How did your indoor air get dirtier than your laundry? Think of fumes off-gassed by furniture, paint, and building materials, chemicals from household cleaning products and fragrances, combustion devices, dust, bacteria, and mold. These are all common culprits of poor home air quality.

When you consider that we spend most of our time indoors, this is a big problem. But it can be especially debilitating for those who suffer from allergies or asthma. Here are some simple solutions to improve your home air quality-many of which are quick, easy, and affordable.

Tip#1: Air it out

Open a window to air out harmful chemicals and let cleaner, healthier air in! Even if it’s for a few minutes a day, it’s one of the simplest (and most affordable) things you can do to improve your home air quality. You can also turn on a ceiling or portable fan while windows are open to recirculate household air and push out stale air2.

Tip #2: Use non-toxic household cleaning products

Traditional household cleaning products are one of the leading contributors to poor home air quality. Your home is not a science experiment. Rather than spend money on household cleaning products, look no further than your pantry for ingredients that possess natural cleaning prowess. Ingredients such as baking soda, white distilled vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, tea tree oil, hot water, coarse salt, and castile soap all do a bang-up job without spewing harmful chemicals in your home.

If you prefer something in a bottle, don’t just trust what they tell you on the label. Do some research before you buy. Look for products that tap into plant-based ingredients for cleaning power without artificial dyes and/or fragrances to better your home air quality. And remember, traditionally, the fewer ingredients on the label, the better.

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Tip #3: Invest in healthy houseplants

Believe it or not, there are some plants that act as renegade air filters by sucking up harmful chemicals that rest in your air and pumping out fresh oxygen. Not just any plant will do. A study conducted in part by NASA found that a handful of plants are particularly skilled at eating up some of the more harmful chemicals: formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide to name a few. Here are a few of the top plants that proved to be most effective at removing harmful chemicals3:

• Bamboo Palm – Dypsis lutescens

• English Ivy –  Hedera helix

• Gerbera Daisy – Gerbera jamesonii

• Janet Craig Dracaena – Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’

• Red Edged Dracaena – Dracaena marginata

• Mass cane/Corn Plant – Dracaena massangeana

• Warneckii Dracaena – Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’

• Mother-in-Law’s Tongue – Sansevieria laurenti

• Pot Mum – Chrysantheium morifolium

• Peace Lily – Spathiphyllum species

Tip #4: Skip the scent

We are all guilty of associating fresh, aromatic scents with a clean home, but synthetic fragrance found in air fresheners, household cleaning products, detergents, and candles infuses your air with harmful chemicals. Since the actual components of a fragrance are considered a “trade secret,” companies are only required to list the catch-all term “fragrance” on the label but they are not required to disclose what they actually are4. In this case, the devil is in the details. A study conducted by Washington University found that nearly 100 volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) were emitted from six popular air fresheners. Of the 100 VOCs emitted, none were listed on the label and five of them released at least one (or more!) cancer-causing chemicals5. Many fragrances have not been tested for human safety, and a group of plasticizers known as phthalates are commonly used to make the scent last longer. Phthalates have been linked to hormone disruption6, cancer7, and reproductive and developmental issues8.

To protect your home air quality, look for household cleaning products, detergents, and aerosol sprays that are fragrance-free or scented with 100 percent natural ingredients. You can also use essential oils, lemons, or baking soda to freshen up your home. Check out these recipes.

improve indoor air quality

Tip #5: Buy safer furniture

Your furniture can off-gas VOCs, which can be highly toxic to human health9. Conventional wood in furniture such as plywood and particleboard are fused with toxic glues that can contain formaldehyde and harmful chemicals and are finished with paints, lacquers, and varnishes that contain even more harmful chemicals. These chemicals can be detrimental to those with allergies and asthma while contributing to serious diseases like cancer10. If you can, avoid buying furniture made from woods that have been treated with formaldehyde and look for furniture that was assembled with non-toxic glues and water-based or low to no-VOC finishes11. Certifications like GREENGUARD also serve as a great guide by identifying products that have lower chemical emissions for better home air quality12. Since healthier furniture can be more expensive, you can always buy second-hand-a good indication that the furniture has already done most of its off-gassing. You can also open a window for better air ventilation (See Tip #1).

Tip #6: Be picky about paint

Are you familiar with that funny odor that fills the room after you have freshly painted the walls? It makes you dizzy for a reason. Conventional paints can emit toxic fumes into your home over its life cycle. Look for safer paints that are labeled “Zero VOC or “Low-VOC.” The most ideal option is “Zero VOC, no toxins and no solvents,” which states that the canister of wall color does not contain any of the harmful chemicals found in traditional paints.

Tip #7: Invest in a HEPA filter vacuum

Carpets and floors can harbor chemicals and commons allergens, which accumulate in household dust. Vacuuming a few times a week is key, but cheap vacuums can just make matters worse. The problem with cheap vacuums is that they suction chemicals in, and then spew them back out in the exhaust to exacerbate poor home air quality. Purchase a vacuum with a true HEPA filter, which is capable of suctioning up dust, dirt, and even the smallest irritants.

4 webmd.com/lung/features/12-ways-to-improve-indoor-air-quality
6 sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130227121903.htm
10 iaqscience.lbl.gov/voc-cancer
11 mnn.com/your-home/at-home/questions/why-is-my-new-piece-of-furniture-emitting-a-nasty-odor
12 http://www.greenguard.org
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Lisa Roth Collins is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) and is the Marketing Manager at NaturallySavvy.com. She is passionate about health and wellness and tries her best to make healthier choices every day for herself and her family. Her journey to natural health was driven by her own struggles with digestive discomfort, depression, and anxiety. Lisa returned to school in 2014 to study nutrition at the Canadian School for Natural Nutrition. She threw herself into her studies so she could learn as much as she could to help herself feel better and thrive. Upon completing the program and being certified as an RHN, Lisa began her work at Naturally Savvy where she has been able to help so many people learn to make healthier choices for themselves. Through her work, she has connected with so many incredible people in the industry whether other authors, influencers, or brands. Plus, she is affectionately known as "Techie Spice" because of her ability to wrap her head around technology. Every day she gets up with a renewed sense of energy and ready to make a difference. You can read all of Lisa's content here. In her spare time, Lisa loves to try new recipes, make delicious and nourishing meals, and she is an avid reader. For more information about Lisa, check out her profile on here.