Big Changes You Can Make to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
If you’ve ever walked into your home and said to yourself, “Ewww...what is that smell?” then you might have a SHAS - stale home air situation. Bad odors can happen to good people—and the really potent smells can be tricky to get rid of, especially if you’d rather not use chemical-laden solutions or blanket your home with artificial fragrances to mask the odor.
Modern homes are built to be more efficient than homes from even 30 years ago, which is great. But that efficiency—retaining heat, retaining coolness, being well-insulated—also brings a lot of things that can negatively impact your indoor air quality, like trapping every airborne contaminant and odor imaginable. Even airing out your home by opening a window can be less effective at getting rid of stale, unpleasant odors than you’d like...but really great at allowing in extra pollution, fumes, pollen and various other gunk. It's like you can't win.
In cooler months, indoor air quality concerns can become even more of an issue. Temperatures drop, people predictably spend more and more time indoors…which is great for staying cozy, but not be so great for your health. Of all the seasons, winter presents the greatest indoor air quality conundrum: you spend most of your time indoors to keep warm, but what kind of air are you actually breathing?
Start with the Fireplace
A fireplace is a beloved home feature in winter. But with fireplaces come indoor air quality hazards, especially if your fireplace is wood-burning. Also during colder climes, pets are (and should be!) inside more often, which can increase your exposure to pet dander. (Not to mention what all they bring in from the great outdoors when they do go outside for a potty break!) People with mild to moderate pet allergies can notice their symptoms worsen in winter months, and a greater proximity to pet dander is a likely cause.
Renovating a part (or all) of your home can also be one of the chief offenders when it comes to negative impacts on indoor air quality. So if you've ever installed new carpet, repainted a bedroom, or purchased new furniture, then you've most likely—and unwittingly—introduced volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into your indoor environment.
VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have adverse short- and long-term health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. Due to the efficiency of modern home construction, VOCs are less likely to slip out through a poorly-insulated attic or drafty window. This means they stay trapped longer in your home. (And VOCs are the guests you don't want, trust us.)
If your indoor air is full of gunk, there's no escaping it so long as you're indoors—not even while you sleep. As anyone who’s experienced allergies or asthma can tell you, struggling to breathe can also have a huge impact on the quality of sleep you actually get.
If all this talk of air contaminants has you wanting to sell your home and camp out in a tent for the rest of your adult life, take heart. There are less dramatic ways to stay in your home and get your indoor air back into breathable shape. Let's start with a few easy fixes:
- Fix leaks when you discover them (hello mildew)
- Don’t overwater plants (hello mold)
- Vacuum regularly
- Banish smoker far, far outside
- Be cognizant about what cleaning products you use to clean your home (more natural products will off-gas fewer VOCs)
- Bathe pets regularly
Our favorite solution is using our Large Room Air Purifier, which has a carbon pre-filter to trap large particles and odor, and a True HEPA filter, which can remove particles in your air down to 0.3 microns in size. For those of us who also want our home to have a pleasant, familiar scent that doesn't cancel out the clean air being generated from an air purifier, our air purifiers are equipped with aromatherapy options, so you can choose to scent your space with 100% Pure Essential Oils over chemical and synthetic home fragrance options.