air quality

Most of us spend a considerable amount of time inside our homes, so it’s important to keep the indoor air as clean as possible, especially during winter when we’re likely to keep our windows and doors shut to seal out the cold. Indoor air quality can be twice as polluted as the outside air, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some quick and easy ways you can improve indoor air quality at home.

Check your cleaning products
Most commercial cleaning products contain fragrances, hazardous chemicals and toxic fumes which can irritate the lungs and cause difficulty breathing. Many also contain volatile organic compounds, which emit toxic gasses and also provoke respiratory inflammation. Using products like chlorine bleach, toilet cleaners, fabric softeners, floor cleaners and disinfectant products just once a week can increase your chance of developing chronic respiratory problems significantly.

The safest products to use for cleaning are warm water, fragrance-free traditional soap, castile soap, bi-carb soda, lemon juice and vinegar. These plus a good quality microfibre cloth and natural bristle brush will effectively remove dirt, mould and grease around your home while protecting your lungs from irritation and damage.

Avoid aerosol sprays
The petroleum-based chemicals found in aerosols, including deodorants, air fresheners and bug sprays emit air pollution in the form of volatile organic compounds. VOCs interact with other particles in the air to create smog, which can in turn trigger asthma and permanently scar the lungs.

Switching to a natural deodorant cream or paste, and using natural air fresheners and pest repellants is a quick and easy way to avoid these pollutants.

Increase ventilation
Proper ventilation allows harmful air pollutants and allergens to circulate outside, and therefore decrease your exposure to them. Open your windows regularly, even during winter. If you live near a busy road, try to avoid opening your windows during the busy peak hours.

Swap to beeswax candles
Unlike petroleum or soy wax candles, beeswax candles emit negative ions which work to clear the air of positively charged particles, including mould spores, pollen, dander, odours, germs, dust, etc. When negative ions grab hold of these positively charged particles, they become too heavy to remain airborne and drop to the floor waiting for you to vacuum or wipe them up.

Keep floors and surfaces clean
Sweep, mop and vacuum floors regularly (at least twice a week). Wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth to pick up particles. Try using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, which will trap a large number of very small particles other vacuum cleaners would otherwise recirculate back into the air. HEPA vacuums are great for minimising dust, dander, and other common allergens.

Eliminate mould
Mould exposure can lead to health and respiratory problems. If you discover you have mould it is important to get to the source of the problem. The root cause of moisture is likely to be excessive condensation, inadequate ventilation, inappropriate drainage, plumbing or roof leaks, flooding or high humidity.

To rid mould from hard surfaces, wipe the surface with an 80% white vinegar to 20% water mix using a microfibre cloth. Wash the cloth well in a 50:50 white vinegar to water solution after use to prevent recontamination.