When was the last time you asked yourself, “is my home’s air clean?”
You may not know it, but there are things you can do to keep your home’s air clean, making it better for you and your family.
In fact, a lot of our standard weekly cleaning (such as vacuuming and dusting) helps us keep our air clean from allergens and pollen. So, you’ve already been working to keep your home’s air clean, and we bet you didn’t even know it.
In this post, we will cover the six ways to keep your home’s air clean. Specifically, we will show you how to reduce indoor air pollution (with some tips that are free and some that cost a little bit of money).
Shoes Off, please
It may sound too simple to be true, but having a “no shoes on inside” policy is an easy and quick way to keep your home’s air clean.
Here’s why. Shoes track in outdoor pollutants, such as danger and other allergens. By leaving shoes at the door, those pollutants don’t get kicked up and re-circulated throughout your home.
Use an Exhaust Fan
Exhaust fans work to circulate the air inside your home.
There are two types of exhaust fans: ducted and non-ducted.
If you have a ducted exhaust fan, the fan sucks pollutants and moisture from the air and pushes them outside your home.
Meanwhile, a non-ducted exhaust fan runs the pollutants and moisture through charcoal filters and then releases the air back into your home.
Change Your Filters
Air filters are (in case you can’t guess) important when it comes to air quality. How often you need to change your air filter will depend on the manufacturer, but it can range from once every month to a few times a year.
Here is what happens when you’re using an old, clogged air filter.
First, it isn’t uncommon for an air filter to filter, on a daily basis, the entire air volume of your home multiple times, so long as your HVAC is on.
Second, a filter is supposed to remove airborne particulates, such as dust and dander.
But if the filter is dirty, it can actually make indoor air quality worse. Because now the air pollutants are being circulated throughout your home multiple times a day.
Thankfully, Alpha Environmental offers a stand-alone filtration unit with a large HEPA filter for particulates, four carbon filters for treating Volatile Organic Compounds, and four more standard paper filters to gather the dust and debris.
Vacuum and Dust Often
Dust builds up over time. Let’s say you live in a home with a good air conditioning system and an air purifier or two but then add a family and a dog.
As your family goes on with its day, people are going in and out of the house, trekking in pollutants. People are cooking, opening the door, opening the window. Your family pet is shaking its dander into the air.
We recommend you help keep your air quality intact by vacuuming your floors with a vacuum that comes with a HEPA filter. Fun fact: to be HEPA-qualified, the vacuum’s filter must retain 99.97% of the allergens as small as .03 microns. How small are .03 microns? Take a single strand of human hair and reduce it 240 times.
Keep in mind: A cheaper vacuum won’t help with indoor air quality as much because it’ll just re-circulate the dust and dander back into the air.
Control Pet Dander
Pet dander is a leading indoor pollutant. Keep your dog clean with consistent baths, plus take the time to brush your dog. Remember, dogs shed their winter coats as spring comes around the corner.
By brushing your dog, you can get excess hair out of the way, dispose of it immediately, and reduce the amount of unsupervised shedding your dog does on a daily basis.
Look for Non-Toxic Cleaning Products
Finally, when it comes to dusting or wiping down appliances and countertops, use only non-toxic and eco-friendly cleaning products.
While some cleaning products may smell great, they are filling your home with artificial flowery scents. That doesn’t reduce indoor air pollution, as much as it adds to indoor air pollution.
Replace Carpet with Hardwood/Low VOC Vinyl Floors
When you vacuum, are you vacuuming hardwood floors or carpeted floors?
If you’re still living on wall-to-wall carpeting, consider making the switch to hardwood floors. Carpeting is a trap for dust mites and other allergens. Plus, if you have a dog or cat, their dander and hair will be that much harder to clean up.
But hardwood/low VOC vinyl floors are different. Because they are solid, the dust mites, allergens, pollen, and dander can’t permeate the surface. This makes it easier for you to keep your home clean and your air pure.
Use an Air Purifier.
An air purifier strips the indoor air of pollutants, toxins, and allergens.
While air purifiers do work, you need to use them in addition to doing the other steps mentioned in this article, along with using a proven solution. Sometimes people look to air purifiers as a quick and easy fix. The truth is air purifiers are expensive and usually only work for small, enclosed spaces (think of an office).
In fact, most air purifiers struggle to cover an entire bedroom on their own. That’s why it is important to use a proven and tested solution provided by an expert like Alpha Environmental.
Check the Quality of Your Furniture
Buying new furniture is often already a chore. Couches, beds, and chairs are expensive and hard to move.
Now, add, “but are they toxic?” to the list.
If you’ve bought a new mattress recently, you’re probably somewhat familiar with VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
VOCs are emitted by most new pieces of furniture, in a process referred to as “off-gassing.” It isn’t so much that you can avoid off-gassing altogether, but you can mitigate the risks and expedite the process of getting VOCs out of your home.
When you get a new piece of furniture, keep it in a well-ventilated room for at least a week. If you have a certified air filtration system from Alpha Environmental, put it up next to the new furniture to help pull VOCs from the air.
If buying furniture with foam, check for certifications like CertiPUR-US®. If you’re buying textiles, check for Greenguard or OKEO-TEX certifications. These 3rd-party certifications guarantee a reduced use of harmful pollutants.
Should Windows Be Open or Closed?
This is a tricky question without a simple answer. Because, well, it depends. It depends on your current indoor air quality and the current outdoor air quality of where you live. It also depends on the weather, your lifestyle, and the neighborhood in which you live.
The case for keeping windows open. . .
If the inside air quality is bad because of indoor pollutants and you need some fresh air, we recommend opening the windows. For example, if you bought a bed and are letting it air out its VOCs, then we recommend you open windows to let the bad air out and fresh air in.
You should also open your windows when you’re cleaning, painting, and if your home has any current mold or fungus problems.
The case for keeping windows closed. . .
If the outdoor air quality is bad (or not ideal for you, specifically), then maybe it’s best to keep the window closed.
If you have seasonal allergies or the air outside is humid, then keep that window closed. The same goes for high air pollution days and when smog is prevalent in the air.
To sum it up: if the air outside is full of pollutants, keep that window closed. But if the air inside is full of pollutants (and this includes when you clean or paint), then crack open a window. If you need to cool down or heat up but can’t open your windows, then use an air conditioner to keep air circulating.
Truth be told, there are countless other things to consider when looking to improve indoor air quality.
We didn’t touch on carbon monoxide (absolutely no smoking indoors and if you’re going to use a fireplace or wood-burning stove, find one optimized for low-emissions or for best results just switch to a gas stove and gas fireplace).
At Alpha Environmental, we know the importance of clean air in one’s home. It’s why we offer indoor air quality testing in Portland, Oregon.
We can test your home’s air for carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, particulates, and other asthma triggers.