Written by Brad Crawford
The air quality of your home is important for the health and comfort of everyone who lives there. Air quality is, naturally, at its least healthy during the winter months when we tend to keep ourselves locked inside, shutting out the cold (and fresh) air. Sealing your home
against the winter cold is good for keeping heat inside, but it can also provide harmful pollutants and indoor allergens with the perfect place to thrive.
Indoor pollutants can cause a particular hazard to children, asthma sufferers, and the elderly, although the sad truth is that some of the adverse health effects from poor air quality in the home only appear many years later – and after much exposure. Because we
spend much more time indoors than recent generations, these risks are increasing all of the time. Modern homes are also much more airtight thanks to things like double glazing and insulation. The factors that adversely affect air quality do vary considerably — everything
from dust mites in our furniture and carpets to pet dander, even the paint on the walls.But, there are ways you can help improve the air quality in your home and to provide a healthy environment for your family.
• Keep it clean. It can be very tempting to put things off, especially in the winter months, when all we really want to do is to stay warm and cozy by the fire. Regular cleaning can help to reduce the irritants and allergens in the air. Dust surfaces with a damp cloth, rather than something like a feather duster which really just redistributes the dust back into the atmosphere. Pay particular attention to the
areas which are out of sight and difficult to reach – ceiling fans and refrigerator tops are particularly easy to ignore.
• Pets. Your pets will probably spend much more time indoors during the winter time; after all, they want to stay warm, too! This will probably lead to more dust, dander,and fur, so remember to groom your pet regularly, give him plenty of baths, and don’t forget to give the dog bed frequent washes in very hot water. Another good tip is to not allow your pets into your bedroom.
• Circulation. This is another tip for improving the air quality in your home. Don’t be afraid to open the windows every now and then for a little bit of fresh air, even on a cool day. This is especially important when you’re cleaning, painting, or cooking. Exhaust / extractor fans are also important to take away the grease and odors while you cook.
• Clean your floors regularly. Instead of using chemicals, which can add to the problem, you should use a strong vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to prevent any dust which has been sucked up from being blown out again. Mopping the floor after vacuuming will take away the last traces of dust which have been left behind. And, plain water will do the job just fine, there’s no need for soaps or chemicals.
• Door mats. These should be placed on the outside of your home in order to keep as much dust and dirt outside as possible and improve the air quality in your property. This will make a significant difference in the amount of dirt that is walked into your home.
• Humidity level. Your home should also be kept to a healthy humidity level. Mold and dust mites thrive in moisture, so you should aim for the humidity to be kept around 30 percent, or 50 percent at the maximum level. A dehumidifier is a worthwhile investment to reduce the moisture in the air and help to control the allergens.
• Smoking. We don’t need to tell you that smoking is bad in so many ways, but another way to help to improve the air quality in your home is to make it a strict smoke-free zone. Cigarette smoke is packed with chemicals (around 4,000 of them) and a smoky environment has been proved to increase the risk of children developing many illnesses, including respiratory infections, ear infections, asthma,
SIDS, cancer, and more.
• Fragrances. Don’t overdo the synthetic fragrances, which are designed to make your home smell good. Synthetic fragrances in air fresheners and other cleaning products are simply sending chemicals out into the air and affecting the air quality. This is
true for many products including fabric softeners, air freshener sprays and solids,detergents, dryer sheets . . . in fact just about everything which is designed to make your home smell nice may actually be harming the air quality.
As you can see, improving the air quality in your home really does have many benefits for all members of the family.