Whether your concerns are about pollen and allergens, overall indoor air quality or just breathing a little cleaner, consider these tips to clear the air.
1. Install HVAC upgrades
Ultraviolet lights, humidifiers, dehumidifiers and filters all offer different ways to strip allergens and impurities from your air. These do come at a premium cost, so talk to an HVAC expert about what’s best for you. If you have an older HVAC system, you can improve air quality just by upgrading your equipment to a current energy-efficient model. (And if your system is older than 12 years, you’ll probably need to replace it soon anyway.)
2. Change your habits
You can sharply cut down dust and allergens with a few simple changes to your habits. For instance, get into the habit of taking off your shoes when you come into the house. Around 85% of the dirt that enters your home is tracked in from the outside on shoes! Vacuum your carpet frequently to keep dust mites in the air. Clean your sheets and pillows once a week to get rid of dead skin you shed at night (yuck!).
3. Add houseplants
Any kind of plant naturally scrubs the air at all times as it exchanges oxygen for carbon dioxide. Many plants have particularly useful features. English ivy absorbs formaldehyde, and peace lily removes that and two other common VOCs: benzene and trichloroethylene. (Be cautious with peace lily; it is poisonous to pets.) Spider plants, aloe and rubber plants are all relatively low maintenance and absorb many impurities from the air. Snake plants and bamboo palms are also excellent natural filters.
4. Keep your closet clean
Closets are basically dust factories. Clothing and towels are constantly shedding tiny fibers that accumulate on the floor and the spread throughout the house. Plus, closets don’t usually get cleaned as diligently as the rest of the house. Vacuum and clean your closet once a week to keep this dust from building up.
5. Clean your rugs the old-fashioned way
Vacuums can get most of the dust in a rug, but they don’t get everything. In this case, the old-timey methods are the best! Take your rugs outside and hang them on a clotheslines, fence or other sturdy object. Then, use a stick, broom or even a tennis racket to give your rubs a thorough beating. You’ll be amazed by how much dust you kick into the air — and out of your house!
6. Minimize the use of artificial air fresheners and cleaning products
Synthetic chemicals can get into your home’s air and stick around for quite a while. You can’t completely eliminate these elements from your daily life, but do what you can to replace them with natural alternatives. A professional cleaning service can give you advice on nontoxic and natural cleaning products.
Tweet your home care questions with #AskAngi and we’ll try to answer them in a future column.