If you’ve been looking to improve air quality at home it may be because you’ve had a recent bout of the sniffles or you’ve simply grown tired of stubborn dust on your surfaces and mold cropping up in your cupboards and corners. As human beings, we spend most of our time behind doors, whether it’s sleeping, working, or eating. So, while chock-a-block traffic, chimney smoke, and cigarette fumes may be some of the first things that spring to mind when someone throws out the phrase air pollution, the home is the number one place where you’ll really want to care about what’s lingering in your air.
Luckily, there are a few quick fixes that will help you to banish pollutants such as dust, pet dander, and chemicals from your living quarters. We’ve rounded up 10 ways to improve air quality at home so that you’ll be able to breathe easier (literally), and spoiler, there’s more to it than peeling away mold or sticking a doormat out the front.
10 ways to improve air quality at home
1. Replace your air conditioner filters
With the best window air conditioners (opens in new tab), you’ll already be benefiting from a super breezy airflow. However, without proper maintenance, the air your unit puffs out might not be as fresh as you believe. That’s because the air filter inside your air conditioner unit is easily clogged up with dust, dander, and other pollutants flying around your home. Naturally, when there’s this type of blockage, your air conditioner will only push these allergens further around your home, firing up a sniffly nose or other breathing problems.
Thankfully, there’s an easy fix, and it’s as simple as cleaning or replacing the air filters regularly. For most filters, that will typically be at least every 90 days. The same goes for cleaning the ducts used by the best central air conditioning units (opens in new tab), as these can easily gather and spread grime in the same way.
2. Prioritize proper ventilation
When it comes to bolstering your air quality, proper ventilation is gold, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. In fact, it’s as straightforward as popping open a window or door every now again. Nowadays, our homes are well insulated to keep the heat in, but this also traps stale air. So, having a window open will not only whisk out the baddies but also fight off humidity, which is like honey to mold and dust mites.
3. Use air purifiers
While ventilation and well-maintained air conditioners work quietly in the background, you’ll want something that gets into the thick of things too. That’s why the best air purifiers (opens in new tab) are one of the handiest fresh air-boosting devices you can have in your arsenal. How do they work? Well, air purifiers haul in dirty air, filter out dust, pollen and other pollutants, and in return, pump out fresher, cleaner air into your home.
4. Clean up your space
If you’ve been putting off your spring clean, it may be time to slap those gloves on and get to work. Cleaning is a foolproof way to wave goodbye to dust, dander, and other pollutants that may have holed up in your carpets, furniture, and bedding. You’ll also want to clear out any clutter that might gather dust, wash bedding on a high heat and use a high-powered vacuum to suck up especially stubborn allergens from your floors.
5. Keep the cleaning products natural
Harsh chemicals are found in many cleaning products, so you’ll want to switch out products with ingredients such as ammonia or chlorine for natural-based products without the nasty fumes. While these can be everyday ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice, products that are fragrance-free, organic and allergy-busting will do the job too.
6. Invest in a dehumidifier
As well as clutter and cleaning products, another difficult combo that impacts your home’s air quality is heat and moisture. Mold, bacteria, and dust mites are all fond of humid environments, so one of the best things you can do to ward them off is to get one of the best dehumidifiers (opens in new tab) to gobble up excess moisture in the air.
7. Upgrade your range hood
You may think a steamy shower room is the biggest culprit for moisture in the home, but the kitchen is also a big root for humidity issues, not to mention combustion products from cooking. Handily, one of the best range hoods (opens in new tab) will wipe out smoke, steam and other fumes, keeping your kitchen air in fine feather.
8. Quit smoking indoors
While we’re on the topic of smoke, you’ll want to keep your smoking strictly outdoors only. As well as the smell attaching to your furniture and clothing, smoking a cigarette indoors also lets loose thousands of chemicals at once. Outdoors, these chemicals are quickly whisked away, but indoors, they will linger around your home and make their way into your system.
9. Get rid of paraffin candles
Once you’ve ditched the cigarettes, it might be time to send any paraffin candles packing too. They might feel homely, but one 2009 study suggests (opens in new tab) that long term exposure to paraffin wax candles could cause ‘poor indoor air quality’. However, no other published research echoes this opinion. So, while the jury is still out, why not try swapping paraffin-based candles for more natural offerings? Try investing in candles that are made from beeswax, soy or other plant-based waxes.
10. Be DIY-smart by using non-toxic paints
A fresh lick of paint or a new splash of color can certainly spruce up your interior. However, paints can be pretty meddlesome, as toxic ingredients such as petrochemicals, plastic, and ammonia or oil-based concoctions may trap air on your walls, leading to mold. To stay safe, you’ll want to keep an eye on the labels and look out for water-based paints with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs).