Find out exactly how to clean the air in your home with these handy tips. We clean our homes regularly - making sure everything from our ovens to our bedsheets smell fresh, but how often do we really think about cleaning the air? Dust particles, extreme temperatures, pets, and even cooking can lead to dirty air - and they are all things that can act as irritants - causing sneezing, breathing problems, and even headaches.
So, how can we clean the air in our homes so that we can breathe better, sleep better and avoid any nasty allergy symptoms?
There are many ways to clean the air in your home, from investing in the best air purifiers, keeping your house well-ventilated, and even ditching your normal household cleaning products for more eco-friendly ones.
Here we take a look at the many ways to clean the air in your home and the benefits of doing a regular spring clean, not just for your house, but for the air in your home.
How to clean the air in your home
Unlike a dirty stain on a carpet, you can’t see just how dirty the air in your home is, but that doesn’t mean it can't affect your health. Cleaning products (which are full of chemicals), viruses picked up from outside the home, and even pet hair can cause us to suffer from allergies or get sick. Here are six ways to clean the air in your home.
1. Fill your house with plants
Plants not only look good in your Zoom background, they also hold some potential as a great natural purifier in your home. One study from the journal of Water, Soil and Air Pollution showed that the soil in potted plants can help to filter the air in your home, while over 30 years ago NASA’s Clean Air study was one of the first to show that plants could clean the air of organic compounds such as formaldehyde and benzene. Spider plants, English Ivy, and Snake Plants are some of the best options if you want to buy a plant to purify your home.
The marked downside of opting for purifying plants is that you'll need a lot of them in order to have an impact and filling your home from top to bottom with foliage might not be a viable option. For a more in-depth analysis on the effect of plants on air quality check out our feature: Do indoor plants purify air?
2. Use natural cleaning products
Ever suffered from headaches, fatigue, or eye and nose irritations after a good spring clean? It could be the side effects of using products that are full of nasty ingredients. We’re not only harming the environment when we use products that have an array of chemicals or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in them, but we could also be adding to the air pollution in our own houses.
In fact, a study by De Gouw published in Science in 2018 showed that the VOCs emitted from household products are actually much higher than the US estimates - two to three times higher. So, how can you stop emitting harmful chemicals into the environment and your house? Eco-friendly cleaning products are a great alternative, and rather than having to find a niche website to order the product, they are now more mainstream.
3. Try an air purifier
There’s an array of air purifiers on the market that can improve air quality. The best ones contain a High Efficiency Particulate Absorbing (HEPA) filter, which are able to remove at least 99.97% of allergens down to 0.3 microns in size. Anything smaller than ten microns in size is inhalable and can cause respiratory irritation, but a HEPA filter is capable of removing almost all of these small particles.
4. Keep your home well ventilated
It’s only normal to want to keep all your windows closed in the winter months, but poor ventilation in the home can cause a build-up of condensation and mold and decrease the air quality. Cracking windows open every so often can let well-oxygenated air into the house and also release any built-up pollutants such as gases from cooking and other appliances. Try opening a smaller window in the winter months for at least an hour every day.
5. Remove mold from your home
Mold spores can build up over time, especially in kitchen and bathroom areas. But how can mold affect the air quality and our health? A 2004 study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found a correlation between subjects exposed to mold and dampness and those who were normally healthy but suffered from upper respiratory tract symptoms, including coughing and wheezing.
Mold test kits are a great way to determine how bad your mold problem is. Kits can be bought relatively cheap and results can determine what types of mold you have and how to get rid of it.
Cleaning expert Lynsey Queen of Clean also recommends removing the mold patches as soon as they appear. She says: “Use a natural product such as white wine vinegar to remove any mold patches that may appear in the kitchen and bathroom.”
- Related: Do air purifiers help with mold?
6. Keep your pets clean
Pets, especially ones with hair, can shed pet dander in the home. The dander contains a protein that some of us can be allergic to. If you’ve got pets, and you’re allergic, it’s a good idea to vacuum regularly throughout the home, including pet beds. Do this straight after combing through your pet’s hair or giving them a bath.
Benefits of cleaning the air in your home
It may take a few weeks to notice it, but science and stats show that cleaning the air in your home can have multiple health benefits. You could be breathing in well-oxygenated air rather than possibly harmful chemicals, pet dander, and mold spores that had built up over time.
Cleaner air could also help those who suffer from allergies too. If you’ve been using a humidifier, conditions such as eczema could improve, and if you own a pet you could be less allergic to them. Of course, always consult with your doctor, especially if you have severe allergies.
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Sarah is a freelance writer - writing across titles including Woman&Home, Fit&Well, The Independent, LiveScience, and the BBC in the UK. She covers a variety of subjects, including trends in beauty, business, and wellness - but her biggest passions are health and fitness. She can normally be found trying out the trendiest fitness class or interviewing an expert about the latest health trends.