There are simple things we can all do to improve indoor air quality. Why bother worrying about indoor air quality? Because it’s important for our health. If you have a family, it’s even more important.
Take It Easy On Toxic Chemicals
Toxic chemicals are common in household cleaners. And, while they might make cleaning some areas of the house easier, they’re also a health hazard. Most areas of your home can be cleaned with vinegar and baking soda. You can also use less toxic cleaning products that are citrus-based.
For areas where disinfecting is necessary, bleach is effective and is surprisingly less toxic than many other cleaners commonly used to disinfect. You could also use a 70 percent or greater concentration of isopropyl alcohol to disinfect an area.
Tune Up Your HVAC
Tuning up your HVAC is an important way to keep mold at bay, but it can also clean the air of viruses and bacteria, while keeping dust and pollen down too. HVAC systems typically come equipped with an air filtration system.
This system circulates the air through the house, and a filter at the cold air intake helps clean the air before it enters the system. Filters should be changed every 2 to 3 months, or whenever they get dirty.
You should also consider bringing in qualified and insured technicians to service your system every year or two to make sure that none of the other system components are wearing down prematurely.
Technicians can also help you determine the overall efficiency of your system, which is helpful if yours is more than 10 years old.
Avoid Dry Cleaning
Dry cleaning is something most people do without really thinking about it. But, dry cleaning chemicals contain perchloroethylene (PERC), a potential carcinogen. The Coalition for Clean Air recommends that if you do have a lot of your clothes dry cleaned that you should put them outside or in a well-ventilated area for four to five days after they’ve been cleaned.
If you don’t want to go through that, ask your dry cleaner about a PERC-free wet-cleaning option or you can sometimes clean them at home with a mild soap, like Woolite.
Wool dress shirts are also another option. They don’t need to be cleaned as often, don’t hold stains, and can be hand-washed and dried at home. They also tend to last longer than cotton shirts.
Dispose Of Unused Paint, Solvents, and Other Chemicals Immediately
Dispose of paints, solvents, and other chemicals when you’re finished with them. Don’t let them sit in a garage or the basement where the fumes will be taken up by the HVAC system.
A dehumidifier can improve indoor air quality by taking moisture out of the air during the summer. This is especially important when mold is a concern. During the summer, mold spores are more active because it’s warm and moist.
Of course, you can use an air conditioner to remove moisture, but that can get expensive. And, you don’t always want to cool down the house, especially at night when it may cool off but still be humid.
Hilary Smith is an air quality engineer. She likes to help people breath easier by sharing her insights. Her articles appear mainly on homeowner and home improvement sites.