HERE’S TO SPRING CLEANING! Clean Air Hacks for Transforming Your Home into a Healthy Oasis.
By Clare Broderick, PE, LEED-Ap, Founder, Greener Cleaner LIVING, LLC
Did you know that inside air is two to five times more polluted than the outdoors, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency? There are also over 81,000 registered chemicals in the U.S., found in all sorts of products, and only a fraction has been tested for human health concerns?
For some people, symptoms in the form of headaches and dizziness occur immediately, but for others they don’t manifest for years, after regular, consistent exposure to indoor air
pollutants. These effects, which include respiratory disease, heart disease and cancer, can be severely debilitating or even fatal. Bottom line, it’s not just “advisable” to try to improve the indoor air quality in our homes – it’s an imperative!
Making basic changes is a relatively uncomplicated process if you begin by following these straight-forward steps below. There is no wrong or perfect time to tackle this project, so why not start now!
Make the switch to organic, concentrated plant-based non-toxic cleaners. It’s easier than you think! Conventional cleaning products often contain ammonia, bleach, formaldehyde and fragrances. These products are the single, biggest contributor to indoor air pollution and often cause breathing, heart, and immune system issues, as well as bodily inflammation and mental health issues.
Opt for natural, plant-based laundry products. Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested over 850 commonly used laundry products and only 11% received an “A” grade, with ingredients of little or no health concerns. Our skin is our largest organ and comes in direct contact with clothes all day and bed sheets all night. When we wash our clothes in petroleum- based detergents, laden with artificial fragrances and fabric softeners, our bodies are constantly absorbing harmful substances. This puts a tremendous burden on our natural defense systems and wreaks havoc with our immune, neurological, endocrine and hormone functions. Infants and young children, due to their diminutive size, are the most vulnerable to developmental and reproductive effects or even cancer.
Launder sports uniforms, work clothes and outerwear immediately. This simple step will reduce the amount of dust and pollen that comes into the house, especially during allergy season.
Strip and wash bedsheets weekly. Dead skin cells are fodder for dust mites and not conducive to maintaining healthy bedding
Encase mattresses and pillows in dust mite covers. This prevents your bed from becoming a breeding ground for these little, nasty creatures.
Replace plastic shower curtains with washable fabric curtains. Plastic liners are mildew magnets and, if made of PVC, they give off volatile organic chemicals (VOC’s) into the air – another major source of inflammation and sensitivities.
Shower at night. Besides being a relaxing way to end the day, this prevents the day’s outdoor air contaminants from hitting the pillow and sheets with you.
Wash your bath towels and mats regularly. Never leave wet mats on the floor to cultivate molds.
Leave your shoes at the door. All that foot traffic brings dirt, pollen, herbicides, and other pollutants into your home; place a shoe basket near the entry and commit to having your family dump their shoes there. It’s good for your health and it reduces your housekeeping load!
Buy a vacuum with the HEPA filter and use it regularly. A HEPA filter type vacuum benefits anyone suffering from respiratory issues or allergies by capturing pollen and dust as well as volatile organic chemicals (VOC’s), such as those emitted from the flame retardants coating most all home furniture.
Air out your house every day. Flush out your home every day, even if it’s for five to ten minutes because off-gassing of VOC’s happens continuously from our furniture, home décor, curtains, carpeting and other manufactured products in our homes.
Freshen your home naturally. Swap out the artificially scented candles and diffusers with toxin-free soy or beeswax candles. Fragrance and smoke are two extremely potent allergens and carcinogens we can all do without.
Add Indoor plants to your life. They make great natural air filters! According to researchers at SUNY – Oswego Aloe Vera, ficus, spider plants, and snake plants do the best job of removing VOC’s.
Change or wash the air filters in your furnace and air conditioning units regularly. Air conditioning units should be checked before cooling season starts and all units should be checked every month because replacement schedules vary from unit to unit, particularly during heavy use months.
Keep your air system ducts clean and air-tight. If your heating or air conditioning system is at least a few years old, have a professional duct cleaner or indoor air quality specialist inspect the ductwork for gaps or leaks that suck up energy and allow dust and mold to be pumped through the house.