February is National Care About Your Indoor Air Month. Most people understand the dangers of outdoor pollutants coming from emissions from industrial and manufacturing activities, the burning of fossil fuels for transportation, and farming and landscaping chemicals. And while you might consider your home a safe haven from hazardous breathing conditions, the truth is your indoor air is quite possibly even MORE polluted than the air outside!
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution can be two to five times higher – sometimes even 100 times higher – than outdoor levels. In even the cleanest homes, indoor air can be dirty. How can that be true, you ask? Common indoor air pollutants include tobacco smoke, pollen from plants, fur from pets, dust mites, mildew, pesticides, radon gas, and carbon monoxide. Chemicals found in carpeting, furniture, and cleaning products also affect the quality of air in your home.
Poor indoor air quality affects your ability to sell your home fast
In the winter, when we keep windows and doors tightly closed in an effort to stay warm, indoor air pollution can accumulate to especially high and unhealthy levels. Regardless of whether you want to sell your home fast this winter or you simply want to breathe easier, here are a few tips for improving your indoor air quality.
Remove or reduce the source of pollutants. Dust quickly accumulates on floors, furniture, blinds, drapes, and knick-knacks. Cleaning them regularly helps keep the dust particles from getting stirred up and becoming airborne again. When you dust, use a HEPA vacuum or a damp cloth to collect the dust. Don’t use dusters; they simply stir dust back into the air.
Pay attention to the spray products you use, such as cleaners, air fresheners, hair spray or deodorants, which can leave chemicals suspended in the air for several hours or even days after use.
Reduce your use of perfumes, fragrances, or other chemically scented products. These often contain unhealthy volatile organic compounds and toxic additives.
Check and change or clean your air filters regularly.
Check household appliances. Make sure your gas or oil company regularly inspects your furnace, gas water heater, stove, oven and gas clothes dryer for any leaks. And then have any leaks fixed immediately. If you have a gas range or oven, turn on the hood fan whenever you’re using it to pull out the combustion by-products.
You might not think of your dishwasher as an air pollutant. But if you’re using a dishwasher detergent that contains chlorine, the hot dishwasher water can turn that chlorine into a gas that’s released during washing.
Install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors.
Ventilate. Weather permitting, open windows or doors – even for just a few minutes – to let fresh air in and circulate throughout your house.
Take steps to clarify your air. Portable air purifiers can eliminate 99% of airborne pollutants. Some purifiers can even fight germs such as bacteria, viruses, mold spores and fungi. Consider using a portable air purifier to help circulate the air in the rooms where you spend the most time.
Get houseplants. Many plants possess extraordinary air-purification powers because they filter out common volatile organic compounds. Good plant choices include aloe, spider plant, snake plant, Golden pothos (also known as devil’s ivy), bamboo palm, Boston fern, areca palm, lady palm, rubber plant, English ivy, ficus, and peace lily. Some plants can be toxic to pets, so if you live with four-legged family members, do your research before bringing foliage into your house.
Take these steps to prevent additional indoor air pollution and help clean out what’s already present.
Tracy Kay Griffin is a member of Express Homebuyers Design Team. She was the Series Designer for HGTV’s “Get It Sold,” a Guest Designer for HGTV’s ” My First Place” and the Lead Stager for Washington DC’s premier staging company, Red House Staging & Interiors.