When we’re spending time at home, we want to make sure we are in a healthy, sustainable environment. You want your home to be safe for you and your family, after all, but sometimes dust or household chemicals can pollute your indoor air quality.
Lower air quality can make breathing harder or just more unpleasant, especially for those with allergies. Plus, taking care to practice good ventilation and minimize the use of chemical products can have a good environmental impact, too.
With that being said, let’s dive into how to improve indoor air quality at home!
Skip to What You Need
- 1 Importance of Improving Indoor Air Quality
- 2 9 Best Ways to Purify Your Air
- 2.1 1. Regularly Change Your Air Filters
- 2.2 2. Ventilate Your Space
- 2.3 3. Decorate With Indoor Plants
- 2.4 4. Seal Your Home
- 2.5 5. Check Your Radon Levels
- 2.6 6. Keep Up With a Regular Cleaning Routine
- 2.7 7. Use Natural Cleaning Products
- 2.8 8. Be Smart About Home Renovations
- 2.9 9. Remove Your Shoes Before Entering Your Home
- 3 How to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Your Home
- 4 About the Author
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
- 6 References and Useful Resources
Importance of Improving Indoor Air Quality
Air quality has been a higher priority for many people over the past few years, and for a good reason. We spend a lot of time at home as it is but with 42% of people working remotely, this time doubles.
There is a close connection between your indoor air quality and the state of your health. Indoor air pollution can trigger breathing problems, allergies, and asthma attacks, and pollution caused by harmful sources like smoke and lead dust can contribute to even more serious health concerns.
Check out this video by the U.S. EPA for more on how indoor air quality impacts your health:
9 Best Ways to Purify Your Air
Fortunately, a combination of home maintenance and natural living tips can do wonders to combat these issues. Since indoor air quality can impact your daily life, follow these tips to improve yours.
1. Regularly Change Your Air Filters
Do you realy on an air conditioner in the hot summer months? The air filters within are essential in providing clean air to your home. When they get clogged with debris, however, it can both lessen the efficiency of the air conditioner and impact your indoor air quality.
Looking to avoid this? Schedule reminders to regularly clean and replace furnace and air conditioner filters. You want to change them every three months, as a simple and inexpensive way to keep your air cleaner as it circulates throughout your home.
2. Ventilate Your Space
Letting in plenty of fresh air is essential — and extremely easy to do without spending a cent. Open your door and windows periodically during warm weather to allow for better airflow. It can bring in clean air and remove unsafe particles. Even just opening windows in the morning can help.
Of course, if you are dealing with unpleasant weather or neighborhood pollution, opening windows might not be an appealing option. Another strategy is to use fans to ventilate the room. They will help move air around, and if you are able to open a window, make circulation a little faster.
3. Decorate With Indoor Plants
Plants make beautiful décor for your home. They also bring a sense of nature indoors, creating a calming environment.
What does this have to do with indoor air quality, though? Another feature of indoor plants is that they may help reduce indoor air pollution. This is because plants can absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, making the air more breathable.
While the science is out on the level of effectiveness plants actually have, there probably is some benefit. The key is to choose large, leafy plants with lots of surface area to influence air purification, according to some researchers.
Here are a few popular indoor plants to consider adding to your house:
- Boston fern
- Golden pothos
- Palm tree
- English ivy
- Bamboo palm
- Aloe vera
Even though plants aren’t nearly as efficient as clean air filters and good ventilation, there are only upsides to nurturing a few leafy friends at home. Plants can also help relieve stress and help you feel happier at home — a win for anyone.
4. Seal Your Home
Alright, so you’ve done the legwork and are pretty confident that your air circulates well, moves through clean filters, and is purified by your collection of household plants. However, when there are more outdoor pollutants around, or poor weather conditions abound, how do you keep that air healthy?
Sealing windows and doors can prevent air leaks and thus increase the efficiency of air conditioning since you’re not losing filtered air to the outdoors. Many homeowners opt to weatherstrip their windows and doors for a simple DIY fix in winter or during natural disasters like wildfires.
Looking for a bigger home maintenance project? Seal up any tiny cracks in your walls or foundation. It keeps outdoor pollution out of your home. The contamination can come from vehicle exhaust, factories, or pollen.
Another way to keep your indoor air pure is to add insulation. Insulate your walls, garage, and attic if not done already. This maintenance task can reduce heat flow and keep your home at a consistent temperature, which reduces the work your HVAC system needs to do to keep the air moving. Insulated spaces are, therefore, more energy-efficient and can lower your monthly expenses to boot.
5. Check Your Radon Levels
One of the most important air purification tasks is to prevent exposure to dangerous gases. One of these gases is radon. Radon is a colorless and odorless gas that comes from naturally decaying materials found in soil. While naturally occurring, if it accumulates indoors due to cracks and air leaks, it can increase the risk of lung cancer — it’s actually the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.
How do you check if radon is a problem for your home? It’s essential to test your home for radon. You can hire a professional or get a home test kit. You can buy these at your local hardware store or online. Follow the instructions on the kit and then send it to the lab for results.
If you think you’ve been exposed to the gas, it’s best to call a professional to evaluate the issue and fix your home. This is usually accomplished using an underground ventilation system or by increasing air change rates.
6. Keep Up With a Regular Cleaning Routine
We have many reasons to regularly clean our homes with natural and eco-friendly methods. Cleaning your floors and furniture makes your home look nicer and can help you feel more relaxed. However, did you know having a clean home also improves your indoor air quality?
Floors and furniture can collect allergens like dust mites and pet dander. So, regularly vacuum your floors, wash your sheets, and dust off your couch and table surfaces. This will help take care of build-up on the regular and prevent these particles and allergens from migrating throughout your home.
7. Use Natural Cleaning Products
Speaking of cleaning, it’s time to swap out some of your products for natural alternatives. Many household cleaners contain chemicals that can irritate the skin and lungs. Harsh products like ammonia and chlorine can also absorb into your carpets or upholstery.
So, switch to a natural cleaning solution such as baking soda and vinegar. There are also plenty of store-bought solutions on the market these days that use more eco-friendly containers and ingredients.
Here are a few more natural cleaning ingredients to try:
- White vinegar
- Liquid castile soap
- Natural salt
- Baking soda
8. Be Smart About Home Renovations
Remodeling your home gives it a fresh look. However, renovation often includes paints and materials with toxic chemicals. Fortunately, a little research can help you and the contractor you work with avoid this problem. Find paints and furnishings with low amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The sealants and adhesives used in many projects also contain VOCs.
Some careful choices here will help emit fewer pollutants and allow your family to breathe easier. While completely eradicating VOCs may be impractical and unnecessary, there are a lot of good options on the market for safer paints and furnishings to keep your home healthy.
9. Remove Your Shoes Before Entering Your Home
Last but not least, here’s another easy tip to keep your air clean. Shoes can carry dust, mold, and pollen indoors. Floors can easily trap these particles, so keep your shoes by the door to reduce the amount of pollution entering your home.
Place a storage rack near your entryway for a convenient drop-off location. This also keeps your house organized and tidy. Remind kids and guests to take off their shoes, especially on rainy days. It will help prevent tracking mud indoors.
How to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Your Home
Like many folks, you may be spending more time at home, so you want a safe space for your family to enjoy. Reducing indoor air pollution can positively impact your health and your energy efficiency — and it’s easy to do with a few home maintenance tasks, plants, and eco-friendly swaps.
About the Author
Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated, where she covers sustainable housing and improved building techniques for readers interested in a greener future.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does increased ventilation help to improve air quality?
Ventilation helps improve air quality because it helps remove or dilute pollutants inside your house by cycling fresh outdoor air through the home. Ventilation can easily be achieved by opening your windows and doors, or if you're cooling your home, running the air conditioner with the vent control open. Read the full guide for more on improving ventilation to improve indoor air quality.
The only time you don't want to encourage ventilation is when there are a lot of outdoor pollutants. This can include smoke from a nearby fire or wildfire or smog if you live in a polluted region. Just be mindful of when to open windows and doors and when to seal off your indoor air.
What are five tips for better indoor air quality?
Check out the full article for the best tips, but if we had to choose just five, here they are:
1. Change your air filters regularly to keep your HVAC efficient.
2. Ventilate your home with open windows, fans, and/or your HVAC.
3. Check that your home has sealed cracks to prevent pollutants from getting indoors.
4. Use a regular cleaning routine with natural solutions to limit dust and dander.
5. Keep an eye on radon levels to test some of the more dangerous air pollutants.
Does an air purifier really work?
One tip we left off this list is to buy an air purifier. Air purifiers are pieces of equipment that claim to sanitize the air, some by trapping particles in filters, others by neutralizing particles as air flows through. While they can work to some degree, research indicates they won't do enough to get rid of particles in your home that are trapped on soft surfaces or on your walls. For that reason, we consider the other tips in this guide to be better uses of your time and resources.
References and Useful Resources
American Cancer Society: How to Test Your Home for Radon
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Air Quality and You: Health Effects of Air Pollution
Safeopedia: Proper Ventilation to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Scientific American: We Need to Improve Indoor Air Quality: Here’s How and Why
U.S. EPA: Improving Indoor Air Quality
World Health Organization: Household Air Pollution and Health