In most cases, indoor air quality is worse than outdoor air, even in an industrial region. Any house is likely to have innumerable pollutants unless a few specific measures are continuously and effectively cleansing the indoor air. So, you may wonder about how to keep the house air cleaner.
You can keep house air clean by opening the windows for natural ventilation, using filters and cleaning them regularly, and avoiding all sources of severe indoor pollution. Also, air purifiers, dehumidifiers, essential oils, and houseplants can keep your house air clean.
How to keep house air clean doesn’t have one turnkey solution, as there’s no easy way to tackle all the potential pollutants, including suspended particulate matter. So, you need a multipronged strategy, covering proactive and reactive measures. Read on to breathe clean air inside your house.
1. Open the Windows in Your House To Eliminate Stale Air
Opening the windows for natural ventilation is the most effective and affordable way to eliminate stale air from your house. An even better option is cross ventilation, but not every house has its windows and doors aligned for that purpose.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) studies, indoor air is up to five times more polluted with common organic compounds than outdoor air. Thus, you must let fresh air in if you wish to keep your house air clean.
However, opening one or any window isn’t always practical, especially when an HVAC is on.
2. Clean the Air Filters Regularly or Replace the Old Ones
Most houses have air filters in the following appliances and fixtures:
- Air conditioners
- Air handler units
- Ductless coolers
- Ducts and vents
You must clean these air filters regularly or replace them if they are too old and not reusable. If you think high-efficiency particulate air or HEPA filters aren’t effective for your house, consider using ultra-low particulate air or ULPA filters.
- HEPA filters are effective at trapping 0.3 microns or larger particular matter, eliminating around 99.97% of such pollutants.
- ULPA filters can trap and eliminate particulate matter as small as 0.12 microns, so they can be almost 99.99% effective.
Regardless of the type of filter in your house, you should clean all of them periodically to ensure their efficiency and efficacy. Most homes with ducted HVAC systems have HEPA air filters at the supply and return vents. If you have a forced air handler unit, it has a filter, too.
3. Inspect and Clean the Ducts and Vents When Necessary
Houses with centralized HVAC systems using ducts and vents require periodic cleaning, albeit these fixtures don’t demand the frequent attention that air filters do. Nevertheless, inspecting the ducts, vents, or registers is necessary at least annually, if not twice a year.
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4. Use an Air Purifier To Reduce the Pollutants in Your House
Keeping house air clean has 2 fundamental approaches: prevention and reduction or elimination of indoor pollutants. I recommend both tactics for a holistic strategy. Air purifiers or sanitizers are effective at reducing many pollutants in the indoor air.
However, don’t use air fresheners. Air fresheners do nothing to reduce or eliminate the common pollutants inside your house. Most air fresheners are aromatic, so they mask the foul odor in indoor spaces. These products often contain volatile ingredients and pollutants. Your indoor air will be worse as a result.
5. Get Some Houseplants That Can Cleanse the Indoor Air
Your house may have one or many of the following pollutants:
- Carbon monoxide
You can use a few houseplants that can cleanse the indoor air of these pollutants, such as:
- Areca palms
- Bamboo palms
- Chinese evergreen
- English ivy
- Golden pothos
- Peace lilies
- Rubber plants
- Spider plants
Some of these air-purifying houseplants are toxic to animals, including pets like cats and dogs.
6. Use a Dehumidifier When Relative Humidity Is Too High
High relative humidity has many adverse effects, including the following:
- Allergies due to dust mites, pollen, etc.
- Eye irritation, chest pain, and itching.
- Microbial infestation, including mold.
- Sneezing, wheezing, and others.
A dehumidifier is handy during the summers and whenever your region is about to encounter significant precipitation. But you must clean and maintain the dehumidifier, too. Otherwise, the appliance may become a source of indoor pollutants.
7. Steam-Clean, Vacuum, or Wash Furniture and Upholstery
A clean house has fewer pollutants in the air. That’s obvious, but you should clean your furniture and upholstery regularly. If you have new furniture, keep it in a well-ventilated space before you’re with it 24/7. New furniture has volatile organic compounds in the:
These fixtures will emit fumes or gasses for days and weeks. Some may pollute your indoor air for months. Unfortunately, even the furniture you might get for a baby could have VOCs.
8. Clean and Maintain All Large Household Appliances, Tools, etc.
Furniture and upholstery aren’t the only fixtures you should clean in your house. You must clean the large appliances and tools, too. Most people routinely wash their bedding and clothes. Many clean carpets and rugs periodically. But appliances and tools need the same approach as well.
Most appliances, fixtures, and tools can trap pollutants, including but not limited to the following:
- Air conditioners
- Air handlers
- Flue ducts
- Heat pumps
- Space heaters
9. Use Herbal, Non-Toxic, or Household Cleaning Solutions
Many commercial cleaning solutions are an assortment of chemicals, including volatile organic compounds. Thus, most of these products you get off the shelf or online worsen your indoor air quality. Instead of using polluting chemicals, you may use any or all of the following ingredients:
- Baking soda
- Essential oils
- Lemon juice
10. Ensure Effective Ventilation in Utility Rooms and Spaces
Not all houses have windows in every room. Even if you have a window in a specific space, you may not open it for natural ventilation because you have a weather-stripped and insulated HVAC system. So, you have to use appropriate ventilation mechanisms in these spaces, such as:
- Exhaust fans in bathrooms.
- Hob and hood in the kitchen.
- Vents or ducts in utility closets.
Utility areas emanate many indoor pollutants. Also, these spaces tend to be more humid than the rest of your house. So, ventilating the utility rooms and closets is imperative.
11. Eliminate Mold and Mildew From Your House for Clean Air
Mold and mildew are common fungal outbreaks in many homes. The fungal spores are not only indoor pollutants but also allergens. You should eliminate all mold and mildew to enjoy clean air. Use one or more of the following cleaning solutions to get rid of mold and mildew:
- Bleach solution
- Detergent or soap
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Undiluted vinegar
Detergent or soap works on the mild growth of mold and mildew. Bleach works on most non-porous surfaces. But you may need a combination of concentrated vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to get rid of these fungi from your house and improve indoor air quality.
12. Check for Negative Air Pressure or Backdraft and Fix It
Indoor combustion can be counterproductive if you want to keep your house air clean. Any type of combustion has 3 significant adverse impacts on indoor air:
- Burning any fuel depletes the oxygen content in a house.
- The exhaust or flue gasses can contaminate the indoor air.
- The exhaust vents may facilitate a negative air pressure or backdraft.
A backdraft or negative air pressure will prevent the particulate matter in your indoor air from dissipating outside. Some of the most common culprits facilitating this problem are:
- Flue duct
- Gas fireplace
- Gas oven
- Gas stove
- Pellet stove
- Wood stove
When such a fixture is running, exhaust fans in the bathrooms or the vent in your kitchen might worsen the negative air pressure or backdraft. Thus, the pollutants in your indoor air won’t flow out. Instead, the particulate matter and the harmful compounds will stay confined to your home.
13. Identify and Fix the Recurring Sources of Bad Indoor Air
Many houses have recurring sources of pollutants that consistently worsen the indoor air quality, including but not limited to the following:
- Air freshener
- Cooking oil
- Pet dander
- Shoes indoors
Here are a few simple solutions to these common problems:
- Use essential oils instead of mass-produced air fresheners.
- Groom your pets so that they don’t cause a dander outbreak.
- Leave your shoes outside the living areas and indoor spaces.
- Light a beeswax candle if you have to use one, as it is better.
- Try to use one of the cooking oils with a higher smoke point.
14. Avoid the Common Sources of Severe Indoor Pollutants
Last but not least, steer clear of these severe pollutants to keep your house clean:
- Carbon monoxide
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Tobacco smoke
- Volatile organic compounds
- Wood Smoke
You may need to act upon one or all the solutions I have shared in this article, especially if you or anyone in your family has respiratory ailments or is vulnerable to allergies. Outdoor or indoor pollution isn’t identical everywhere. Thus, you have to select the best remedies for your house.