The best way to keep the air inside your home clean is simple: Get pollution and pollutants out or eliminate them entirely. This means ventilating pollutants created in your home to the outside or using mechanical means to improve your indoor air quality. It also means that, if the air quality outside isn’t great, you need to keep those pollutants outside.
As the seasons change, the way to deal with indoor air quality issues changes. When the weather is mild it’s easy to just open the windows and let indoor pollutants out. When the weather is extreme we keep the windows closed, which traps them in the house. This is when we need to think about pollution reduction, ventilation, or mechanical cleaning.
When you want to keep sources of pollution outside your home:
- Make smokers go outside to smoke.
- Use your air conditioner or dehumidifier to keep humidity at a good level, usually around 50%. You can purchase a hygrometer at a hardware store to monitor your humidity. Lots of pollutants, including mold, mildew, and dust mites flourish in moist environments.
When you want to get rid of pollutants inside your home:
- Use your exhaust fans consistently to remove humidity from bathrooms and gasses from cooking stoves. If you don’t have fans, open a window where possible.
- When the weather permits, open windows to bring in fresh air and move mold, bacteria, spores, and other pollutants outdoors.
- Ensure gas water heaters, furnaces, stoves, and dryers are all properly vented to the outside.
- When you paint, be sure to use low-VOC paints that emit fewer gasses.
- Vacuum and clean any fabric curtains and furniture as well as carpets regularly so that dust mites, pollen, and dirt do not stay in your home very long.
- Don’t burn scented candles or use chemical air fresheners. If there is a scent that needs to be masked, figure out what’s causing it and clean it up.
- Use as few chemicals as possible when cleaning your home; instead, use natural cleaners. There are plenty of places to look up instructions online.
- Have your ducts cleaned every few years and sealed. This helps keep the pollutants that can be in air ducts from being circulated through the rest of your home.
- When the weather is extreme, use mechanical means of cleaning your home’s air including air cleaners, air purifiers, and UV lights.