Fighting Air Pollution in the Great Indoors: Better Health with Better Air Quality

If you’re like most Americans, you spend about 65 percent of your life indoors at home. And if the air quality inside your home is poor, that means you spend most of your life breathing bad air. Any number of allergens, chemicals and pollutants can lower the air quality in your house and affect your health. Headaches, allergies, asthma and a general lack of energy can all be caused by poor air quality.

Fortunately, there are several easy and inexpensive steps you can take today to improve the air you and your family breathe.

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Open a window

It seems simple, but cracking a window or two to let in fresh air is one of the easiest ways to improve indoor air quality. Because your home is built to keep climate-controlled air in, you breathe a build-up of dust, pet dander and toxic off-gasses every day. Opening a window, even slightly, is the best way to circulate fresh air into and contaminated air out of your home.

Change air filters

Keep the air filters for your home’s heating and cooling system changed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. The filters for heaters and air conditioners do a lot to collect dust and fine debris from the air, but without proper maintenance, filtering systems can’t do their jobs.

Vacuum

A vacuum is one of the most important tools in your arsenal against unclean air. According to This Old House, decreasing the amount of dust in your home is the most effective way to decrease allergens. Traditional dusting typically just moves dust from one place to another. Use your vacuum’s on-board tools to effectively remove dust from the tops of tall furniture; from curtains and heat registers; from under and behind large appliances, inside closets and along baseboards. Regularly vacuum upholstered furniture, mattresses and pet bedding to control dust mites and dander.

If you have wall-to-wall carpet, regular vacuuming is a must to remove dust and allergens. When it’s time for deeper cleaning, consider hiring a cleaning company that “dry cleans” the carpet instead of steam cleaning. Water-based cleaning methods increase the risk of mold or mildew growing in your carpet.

Clean it green

All of the harsh chemical cleansers sold for home cleaning can leave behind residue and continue to off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The fewer chemicals you use in your home, the cleaner your indoor air will be. Look for nontoxic home products. The word natural is often used to sell so-called eco-friendly products, but it doesn’t guarantee the product is free of toxins. The best option is to make your own cleansers from gentle ingredients like vinegar, baking soda and citrus peels.

When people talk about the need for cleaner air, they’re usually talking about outdoor air quality. Most of us have little control over the outdoor pollution from manufacturing, farming and transportation, but we can take control of air pollution at home. Removing dust and allergens from your home, reducing your use of household chemicals and keeping your HVAC system running efficiently can keep your family healthy and breathing easy.

Joseph is a health and fitness enthusiast with a passion for writing. In his spare time, he enjoys blogging on behalf of Sears and other brands he loves.