If you’ve invested in a home, you likely find yourself spending most of your time inside it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans spend about 90% of their time indoors.*
Have you ever taken a moment to think about your home’s indoor air quality, though? You may assume it’s pure, but the EPA says certain pollutants can actually be more concentrated indoors than outdoors. And air particles can lead to respiratory symptoms, eye irritation, headaches, fatigue, or even certain diseases.
Don’t despair. Take a deep breath, and consider these tips for improving your indoor air quality.
1. Check vents and filters
The filters connected to your home’s air conditioning system play a major role in the quality of the air being circulated. Whenever your air conditioning is running, those filters are working to collect dust and other allergens that could otherwise make it into your lungs.
A good general rule of thumb is to replace your home’s air filters every season. And clean those vents while you’re at it. If you have pets or are susceptible to allergies, you may even want to experiment with replacing them more frequently—perhaps every other month or even monthly during allergy season.
Speaking of filters, when’s the last time you changed the filter in your vacuum cleaner? Consider all the other appliances that may be catching dust or particles around your home and make sure their filters are in decent shape, too.
2. Establish a cleaning routine
If you have allergies, you probably already know how much difference regular dusting and vacuuming can make in your indoor air quality. If you’re already consistent with your dusting and vacuuming, consider how often you clean your bedding, drapes, and other furniture—especially anything pets hang out on. They're potential hot spots for dust and allergens, so cleaning them monthly or even every other week may be worthwhile.
In addition to cleaning, don’t discount the importance of decluttering your home. The more objects in a room, the more opportunity dust and mold have to collect and become a nuisance.
If you’ve been eyeing new flooring, keep in mind that carpet is prone to hold more dust compared to hard flooring.
3. Go big on the greenery
Plants serve a dual purpose in your home—they make it look good, and they're natural air purifiers. It’s common knowledge that houseplants absorb carbon dioxide, releasing fresh oxygen in the process, but some even absorb harmful toxins. Pothos plants, for example, absorb benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene. They’re also super easy to take care of as far as houseplants go.
Be mindful, though, about what plants you bring into your home and how well you care for them. If not properly maintained, houseplants can foster mold growth, potentially negating the benefits of the fresh oxygen they produce. Also, if ingested, certain plants can be toxic to pets like cats or dogs.
4. Take advantage of technology
Modern appliances can come in handy when it comes to improving your indoor air quality, too. If you live in a humid region or struggle with moisture in your home, those are factors that can contribute to mold growth and respiratory issues, especially during the summer. Keeping a dehumidifier nearby or strategically placed throughout your home could solve your moisture problems and make you more comfortable.
Another device growing in popularity is the air purifier. Similar to how your vents catch dust, pollen, and other particles through their filters, an air purifier draws in the air around it, sending it through its own filter, and then circulates the filtered, clean air back out.
With so many different air purifiers now on the market, deciding which to try could seem overwhelming at first. If you deal with allergies or asthma, make sure you opt for a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, which collects finer particles that may otherwise pass through other filters.
When it comes to improving your home’s indoor air quality, these strategies should prove useful. Consider unique factors like your location and personal health concerns as you experiment to find which methods make the biggest difference for you and your family. With a little effort, you’ll hopefully be breathing a little easier and appreciating the comfort of your home more than ever.
*Source: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) https://www.epa.gov/report-environment/indoor-air-quality
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