Breathe Easier at Home with These Expert Tips

Say “air quality” to most people and they think of outdoor particles and pollutants, like ozone, pollen, and smoke-breathing factories. But the truth is, indoor air is two to five times dirtier than outdoor air, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, thanks to all the dust, dander, and bacteria airborne in it. air that float in our homes. And it’s a good day!

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When high humidity allows mold spores to grow, or during major remodeling – when gaseous emissions from building materials fill the air with toxic chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – indoor pollution can be much worse. Add to the fact that people spend around 90% of their time indoors (even without a stay-at-home pandemic order in place), and you see why indoor air quality is such an important part of any household. home wellness strategy.

To help you clean the air, we’ve brought in home professionals from the Good Housekeeping Institute, as well as industry partners from York Heating and Cooling – many of whose products are backed by the Good Housekeeping Seal – and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), to weigh in on the subject. Their advice includes steps to take immediately, as well as things to consider during your next home improvement project.

Vacuuming seriously

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We know, it’s a drag. But vacuuming is one of the best ways to reduce airborne allergens, according to AAFA, especially if your vacuum has a HEPA filter, which captures even the finest contaminants (a sealed vacuum with a HEPA filter is even better). Once a week should do the trick in many homes, although pet owners probably need to vacuum every few days, especially during molting season. PSA: Remember to replace or wash the HEPA filters, as recommended by the manufacturer, to keep them working as they should.

To reduce how often you have to lug around the full-size vacuum, consider investing in a robot vacuum for additional surface debris removal while you do other things. These options got top marks in our rigorous pet hair test.

Dr John McKeon, former emergency room physician and CEO / founder of Allergy Standards, an international standards and certification body, also stresses the importance of deep steam cleaning at least once a year. “The weight of a carpet can triple over its lifetime due to the buildup of allergens and debris,” he says. “Unless switching to hardwood floors, regular steam cleaning is the best treatment.”

Quick fix: Don’t forget the welcome mat. Encouraging family and guests to brush their shoes will help prevent pollutants from entering your home in the first place. Or go better and install a no shoes policy.

Anti-allergenic your bedding

When it comes to indoor air quality, there’s a good chance your bedroom needs some work. For starters, do you wash sheets and pillow cases weekly in hot water (130 ° F if possible)? This is essential for killing mites (a hot drying cycle does this as well). Other bedding items, such as pillows and comforters, should be washed every one to two months or more often, if necessary. While the bed is stripped, take a minute to vacuum the mattress. To remove odors, vacuum first, then sprinkle baking soda on it, work the product with a soft brush, let it sit for a few hours to deodorize, and vacuum again. Our pros also recommend using woven mattress and pillow covers to prevent the buildup of mites and animal dander.

Quick fix: If you have severe allergies, be sure to cleanse regularly all of your bedding – not only sheets and pillowcases, but also pillows and comforters.

Bring in some fresh air

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Houses in the United States are built quite tightly, which is great for energy efficiency. But for indoor air quality, not so much, which makes exhaust fans essential. Each complete bathroom in your home should be equipped with a bathroom fan; make sure you run it for at least 15 minutes after showering. In the kitchen, a ventilated hood is ideal for extracting smoke and fumes.

If your home uses forced air heating and / or air conditioning, you can incorporate a whole house air filter that can help capture harmful toxins as it circulates through the system, such as the media cleaner for any. Affinity House in York.

Quick fix: Regularly break a window. It’s the easiest way to bring in fresh air and it doesn’t cost anything!

Control humidity

Keeping your home’s humidity between 30 and 50 percent will minimize moisture-loving mites and molds. Obviously, outdoor humidity increases in summer, so now is the time to deploy dehumidifiers to dry the air. This dehumidifier was one of the top picks in our last tests, maintaining optimum humidity levels in large spaces.

Quick fix: Promote air circulation throughout the house by leaving doors open between rooms.

Eliminate toxins

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Many people pollute the air in their homes without even realizing it. Beware of the “cozy culprits” as Dr. McKeon calls them, who refer to things like scented candles and deodorants that may contain irritants, like scent compounds that aren’t necessarily listed on lists. ingredients.

Many home improvement materials, from paint to flooring to insulation, can also contain harmful pollutants, including formaldehyde and VOCs. AAFA has a certification process designed to help homeowners find products that meet minimum thresholds for airborne irritants.

Quick fix: Many surfaces can be cleaned – and many stains can be removed – with pantry staples like baking soda and vinegar. Look for cleaners with minimal ingredients and those labeled without fragrances, dyes, and other irritants.

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