When it comes to the air quality in our homes, most people are unaware of just how dirty their air may be and how it might be affecting their overall health. The indoor air of your home can be 2 or 3 times as dirty as the air outside. We are going to look at some tips for cleaner home air in this article.
Consider that Americans now spend more time indoors than ever before and you can see why indoor home air quality is starting to get more attention from more homeowners than ever before.
We’ve listed out 40 ways that you can improve air quality in your home. Some of these are obvious and well known. However, there are a few on here that you have probably never considered before.
This is a pretty long list so start making small changes by only tackling a few ideas at a time. Before you know it, you and your family will be breathing easier, comforted in knowing that the air quality in your home is at a healthy level.
1. Wipe tops of doors and door trim with a damp cloth.
You probably already know that dust settles on the flat surfaces of your home like your counter tops, the top of the refrigerator, desktops, etc. But, I bet you never considered that it also sits on another flat surface, the tops of doors and door trim throughout your home. As you open a close these doors, the dust that has settled there can be jostled loose and kicked back up into the air.
2. Vacuum the cooling air intake grills of desktop PCs and other major electronics.
The cooling air intake tends to build up a thick layer of dust and debris over time. This gunk can be sucked into your PC or other electronic equipment and eventually it gets spewed right back out into the air. Check out this article on cleaning your PC.
3. Vacuum vent holes on back of TVs and other electronics.
In the case of TV sets particularly, they tend to collect a lot of dust because of the electrical fields associated with its operation. This dust may be potentially more harmful that the regular dust you find in other places because of the VOC emissions that come from large electronic devices like you flat screen TV.
Be sure to always unplug any electronic device before doing any type of cleaning. Wipe with a damp cloth after vacuuming.
4. Clean portable fan blades and shrouds.
Most people have some sort of portable fans in their home. These fans build up dust over time and must be taken apart and cleaned. Unplug the fan from the power source and take the fan shroud apart.
The fan shroud is the circular grill covering the fan blade. Its function is to protect anyone from getting near the blade as it rotates. Most units are designed with this in mind and should be easy to dis-assemble.
Once the front shroud has been removed, remove the fan itself. The tightening nut is probably reverse threaded so be careful removing it. Lastly, the rear shroud can be removed. Wash all these items with warm soapy water and let dry. Re-assemble and you’re done.
5. Clean blinds with vacuum or damp rag.
Blinds can be a major source of dust build up and as they are raised and lowered, this dust can become dislodged and ends up back in your air. Vacuum first to get the majority of dust out and finish up with a damp cloth cleaning.
6. Use a HEPA equipped vacuum and keep it clean.
One area you will not want to skimp is with your vacuum cleaner. Make sure your unit has HEPA filtration. Also, a lot of people forget that their vacuum gets dirty as well.Once a month, do a thorough cleaning on it to make sure it is not spewing dust back into your air as fast as you can vacuum it up! One last thing, you’re going to want to do this outside. It can be dusty job.
7. Use HEPA air purifiers with activated carbon.
Air purifiers are a great investment when it comes to improving your home’s air quality. Just make sure that whatever unit you select is big enough for the space you want to use it in.
Get one with HEPA filtration and an activated charcoal component. The HEPA filter will remove most of the particulate matter and the activated charcoal absorbs chemicals from the air, otherwise known as VOCs.
Check out this article on selecting the right size air purifier for your home.
8. Vacuum carpets at least once a week.
Maybe more if your home is heavily trafficked or you have pets. Carpets are a major source of indoor air pollution. Take care of them and keep them clean. It is also recommended to have them professionally steam cleaned on a yearly basis.
9. Damp mop your hard surface floors often.
Dirt and other gunk that is tracked in from outside and ends up here will eventually be tracked onto your carpets, which are exponentially harder to clean.
10. Bath and groom your pets often.
Pet dander is a major component of the dust in your home if you live with pets as most people do.
Dust mites also use pet dander, along with your own skin cells as a food source. Dust mites and their droppings can cause respiratory irritation in many folks.
11. Take shoes off before entering home.
This seems like a no-brainer but most people don’t do this. Consider all the things you walk through every day. Now think about all that nastiness being tracked into your home.
12. Use door mats.
Following through from number 11 above, use door mats at all your outside entrances. Put a large, durable mat outside your door and use a second, smaller one for inside. Using a dual mat system will help catch a lot of that nastiness that attaches itself to the bottom of your shoes and prevents it entering your home. Clean mats often.
13. Ventilate your home when possible.
If your home is equipped with some sort of mechanical ventilation system then use it. If not, open the windows occasionally to help bring in some fresh air and cycle out old, stale air that is full of VOC’s and other harmful particulate.Yes, you will get some contamination from outside but keep in mind, unless you live next to a freeway or industrial park, the outside air is generally much cleaner than your home’s air.
14. Wash linens at least once a week.
Dust mites love your bedding. They have plenty of dead skin cells to feast on and it is usually warm and damp from human sweat and breath. Dust mites and their residue (droppings and body sheds) are often irritating to the human respiratory system.
Also, any bedding that cannot be washed should be taken outside and shaken or beaten with a rug beater to dislodge as much dust as possible. While the mattress is uncovered, take the time to vacuum it thoroughly.You can even spread some baking soda over it and let that sit for about an hour before vacuuming it back up. This will help get rid of odors and leave your mattress fresh and ready for a good night’s sleep.
15. Make sure your clothes dryer vents to the outside.
This is another one that seems really obvious to most people but I can’t tell you the number times I have seen pantyhose used as a lint collector just laying behind the dryer. This is not an effective method to collect all the particulate that gets dislodged from your clothing as it tosses around in the dryer. This is also a fire hazard.
16. Plant grass in barren spots in your yard.
You may be thinking we’ve lost our minds but stay with us. Dirt spots in your yard, particularly around entrances and on commonly traveled pathways, allow dirt build-up on your shoes much easier and faster than walking through grass. This muck is going to find its way into your home and eventually, your home’s air.If planting grass is not an option, use stones or gravel on walking paths in your yard and around entrances. Good Exterior Door Mats are a necessity in this situation.
17. Turn ceiling fans off when not in the room.
Ceiling fans are not designed to cool rooms, just people. Air moving across your body picks up moisture from your skin, creating the cooling affect. Turn these off when you are not in the room because they are just spreading dust particulate and nothing else.
18. Clean ceiling fan blades with an old pillowcase.
To go along with the last tip, use this one to keep the fan blades clean, thus lowering your overall dust level in the air. I like to dampen the pillowcase and wring it out real good before using it. Slide it over the blade, encapsulating the entire blade inside. With one stroke, pull the pillow case over the blade, removing all the dust build-up as you go. The pillowcase will prevent dust from flying off the blades when you try to wipe them clean.There are also vacuum cleaner attachments available that do a pretty good job of removing the majority of dust from fan blades but follow up with the pillowcase method to get surfaces as clean as possible.
When cleaning the ceiling fan, don’t forget the top of the main unit and the lamps as well. There are usually vent screens there that can clog with dust. Vacuum as much of this up as possible.
19. Clean tops of kitchen cabinet doors with damp cloth.
This idea goes along with the earlier one of cleaning the top edges of doors in your home. Kitchen cabinet doors, along with other types of cabinet doors can collect dust easily. When they are opened and shut back, particles can be kicked up off these surfaces and back into your air.
20. Vacuum home furniture regularly.
Your home furnishings are another area where dust mites like to live. Keep these areas clean by vacuuming with a good furniture attachment for your vacuum. For really soiled furniture, consider having them steam cleaned.
21. Keep the inside of your car as clean as possible.
How can that help keep my home air clean you might ask? Well, think about this. Where do you go when you exit your car at the end of the day? That’s right, back into your home.All the air pollution from car exhaust, industrial pollutants, smog, and other sources coat the inside surfaces of your vehicle.When you slide out of your car after a drive, all this gunk can hitch a ride on your clothing and eventually end up in your home’s air. Wipe down car seats and other surfaces regularly. Change your vehicle’s cabin air filter regularly and keep windows rolled up as much as possible.
Use the cabin recirculate option on your car’s environmental controls panel. It usually looks like a U-turn signal superimposed on the icon of a car. It usually also has a yellow light that lights up when activated.
It is not recommended to use the recirculate feature all the time because the air inside your car will start to become oxygen depleted and humid. This can start to have an effect on the occupants, making them groggy, something you don’t want to be when driving.
A better option is to use it in particularly stinky situations. Turn it on if you find yourself behind a smoking truck or when driving by a smelly industrial or chemical plant. If someone is burning brush or trash and you see smoke drifting across the road ahead, switch on the recirculate feature to prevent a huge gulp of smoke from coming into your car.
22. Clean showers stalls.
Performing a good clean on showers, both inside and out, will prevent mold and mildew build-up. Mold spores in the shower can be tracked to the rest of your house easily, increasing the chances that it will end up in your air.Learn how to deal with mold issues here.
23. Keep lamp bulbs and shades clean.
With lamps turned off and unplugged, let bulbs cool completely and then wipe all exposed bulbs with a damp cloth. Clean the lamp shades and covers as well. Dusty lamp bulbs can cause a fire and they also spew off smoke particles when dust falls on a hot bulb and burns.
Ever turn on a home heater for the first time of the season and a smoky scent appears? Same thing with light bulbs. You are smelling dust being burned up. These smoke particles enter your home’s air where they can remain for quite a while.
Don’t forget to clean hanging lamps as well. These can collect dust and cause the same problems as floor or table lamps.
24. Keep pets out of bedrooms.
The bedroom is where you spend a lot of time and it makes sense that you would want the air in that part of your house as clean as possible. Letting pets into the bedroom increases pet dander which leads to more dust mites.Also, pets tend to spend a lot of time laying around on your floors where their fur picks up all sorts of contaminates that have been tracked in from the outside. This ends up on your bedding if you allow pets on your bed. You might as well go roll around on the kitchen floor before you slide into bed, same thing.
25. Clean floor mats and area rugs regularly.
If manageable, take them outside and use an old fashioned carpet beater to beat out the accumulated dirt and gunk. If your mats and rugs are too big to handle, then vacuuming should be done.
26. Avoid leaving doors and windows open on windy days.
It makes perfect sense that there tends to be a much greater amount of particulate matter in the air during windy days. If you have your home windows or doors open you’re inviting this stuff into your home.
27. Keep chimney damper closed except during use.
Wood burning fireplaces don’t do any good for indoor air quality. Despite your best efforts, some smoke is going to get into your home. During those times that you are not using your fireplace, keep the damper closed.This will prevent air backdrafts from bringing into your home ash and soot from the chimney stack, and all the associated chemicals and carcinogens that come along with it.
28. Don’t use candles.
Candles create smoke. Smoke decreases air quality. If you must set a mood, try using led candles. These are smokeless and look amazing, almost like the real thing. I discuss candles in more depth in this article.
29. Don’t use air fresheners.
Using air fresheners to try and cover up smells doesn’t really fix the problem. As a matter of fact, you are adding to it by putting more chemicals into your air.
30. Don’t use harsh chemicals for cleaning.
These solutions can put all sorts of chemicals into your air that you shouldn’t be breathing. Try using the “green” products that are on the market today or make your own with simple ingredients you have around the house.Baking soda, vinegar, lemons, even vodka have all been found to be effective for different cleaning jobs around the house.
31. Don’t store chemicals in your home.
Check under your kitchen sink and see just what you have been storing down there. Keep only what you really need and get rid of everything else. Any bottle or container that does not provide an airtight seal is leaking these chemicals into your home so pay special attention to this.
32. Have some indoor house plants around your home.
The effectiveness of using indoor house plants to clean your air is a subject of some disagreement. They do remove VOCs from the air, this much is known but the degree to which they are capable of cleaning your home’s air is probably minimal.
Nevertheless, having a few plants around can’t hurt and will certainly make your home more comfortable and inviting.
33. Control humidity levels in home.
Keep humidity levels in your home at 35% to 50%. This will keep your home comfortable and at the same time, discourage dust mite populations from growing. Levels above this will promote dust mite numbers and can also lead to mold growth in your home. Check out this post on the benefits of using a dehumidifier in your home.
34. Have AC system serviced regularly.
Proper operation of your home AC system will help control humidity levels and keep it running efficiently. Along with a home AC tune-up, the technician can also check your ducts for dirt build-up and let you know if you need to have your ducts cleaned.
35. Put lid down on toilet before flushing.
Did you know tiny water droplets spew out of your toilet each time you flush? Now you do. These tiny droplets can hang in the air where they can be breathed in or settle on things like your toothbrush. Yikes!
36. Always use vent when cooking.
Another obvious but often overlooked method of keeping smoke out of your air.
37. Use cooking oils with high smoke points.
Using the right type of cooking oil can drastically reduce stovetop emissions into your air. When cooking oil burns, it smokes. This smoke is chock full of unhealthy VOCs and other particulates. Use oils like corn oil, peanut oil, and canola oil. Be careful using extra virgin olive oil because it is on the lower end of the scale.
38. Have natural gas appliances serviced regularly.
Natural gas and propane cooktops and ovens use a flame to heat cookware. These flames burn with a blue color. If you see a yellow flame instead of blue, it may be time to have a professional adjust the fuel air mixture so that the flame is burning properly and all fuel is being consumed. Unbalanced flames can emit dangerous gases into your air.
39. Opt for blinds over drapes.
Both blinds and drapes collect dust and other particulate from the air. The difference is that blinds are easier to get clean and won’t promote dust mite growth. Drapes, on the other hand, require steam cleaning or dry cleaning to get odors and pollutants out of the fabrics. Dust mites can thrive on drapes, and more so on ones in rooms with high humidity such as bathrooms and kitchens.
40. Don’t smoke in house.
This is almost so obvious that we considered not even mentioning it. But, just for those that need reminding, cigarette smoke is dangerous in all its forms. Don’t smoke in the house. If you do, use a heavy duty air purifier with HEPA filtration and activated charcoal to help eliminate the VOCs and smoke particles you are blowing into your home’s air. Check out the article on removing smoke from your home here.
Well, there you go. 40 quick tips for cleaner home air!