As the cold weather comes, the windows start closing and home air may quickly turn stale. Screen doors get replaced with storm doors, and after awhile the furnace kicks in. Air is circulated throughout the house leaving us all with poor air quality. So how do you clean your home’s air? There are several things that can be done year round, and they become even more important during the colder months. Although most of us haven’t hunkered down for the winter yet (thank goodness), it’s good to get prepared now so when the cold does hit, you won’t be caught with your air quality down.
Indoor Plants – This is an inexpensive and easy way to better indoor air. You don’t have to have a green thumb to keep a few houseplants. I’m not known for my gardening skills (just take a look at those sorry rosebushes), but houseplants have always done well for me. Things like peace lilies and ficus are not only great air cleaners, but they brighten up the house as well. It’s rather calming being surrounded by green leafy life when things start getting grayer outdoors.
Vacuum – A good vacuum cleaner is vital in a home where allergies and asthma persist. Make sure your vacuum cleaner has a high quality filtration system, and clean it out often. Always get the best you can afford. And if your carpets are smelly, try sprinkling baking soda down as a carpet deodorizer instead of those commercially sold ones. You’ll cut down on chemical exposure, which will have everyone’s lungs breathing a sigh of relief. Also be sure to thoroughly vacuum your basement, especially those cement floors. Cement always creates dust, and if your furnace is in the basement, guess where it gets the air from to heat your home? You may even notice when the furnace kicks on, you get an initial blast of “eau de basement”.
Dump the Chemical Cleaners – Possibly the biggest lung irritant found in the home is what we use for cleaning! Glass cleaners, soaps, chemical-laden rug shampoos, degreasers… you name it, they’re filled with stuff better left on the store shelves. For truly effective and natural cleaning, try a mix of vinegar and water (1 part vinegar to 3 parts water). I add a few drops of essential oils such as lavender or sweet orange for a fragrance. For more scrubbing power, baking soda does wonders. Use a damp cloth dipped into the dry soda and scrub. It’s amazing what you can easily clean. You’ll not only save your lungs, you’ll save big dollars too!
Air Filters – If you can afford a really good air filtration system, this one can make a big difference for allergy and asthma sufferers in the family. You may remember in the summer of ’08 I wrote a review of the IQAir HealthPro Plus. I still use it all the time, and it’s been a fantastic help with air quality. A pricey model for certain, but well worth the savings in doctor’s visits, not to mention sick time!
Air Out the House – Even in the coldest of weather it’s a good idea to open the windows if ever so briefly. Open all your windows at least a crack, open the doors to all the rooms, and let the air circulate for as long as the weather allows. This is something we do each morning, and it not only gets rid of the stale overnight air, but it’s invigorating and seems to remind us that there is actually nature and trees and sky out there! That’s a nice way to wake up.
Thankfully we have some time before the winter wind blows, but as fall settles its beautiful colors and cooler air upon us, it’s good to start getting into the practice of keeping that indoor air as fresh and clean as possible. Your home will become a healthy haven where the whole family can take a deep breath, relax, and settle into the ever-changing seasons.