During Spring (March, April, May) most people in Northern Hemisphere dedicate extra time to clean and organize their house for the warmer months. Many times we start this process unconscious of the dangerous chemicals present in cleaning products that may be released into the indoor environment. What can we do to improve indoor air quality, especially during spring when many people suffer from allergies?
Here I will conclude a few tips and steps in order to make the most out of this process and detox your house from nasty chemicals and other pollutants/allergens.
1st Tip – Bed Linen
It is important to ventilated bed linen and in case this is not an option we can always change them with clean ones. It is hard to tell how often someone should change the bedsheets but I would recommend at least 2 twice a month. Avoid synthetic textiles like Acrylic, Polyester, Nylon, etc, and invest in good cotton or silk (expensive) sheets and pillowcases as they offer the most comfortable experience, and they don’t pollute the environment once they are washed.
Dead skin and hair can build up and we don’t want to feed dust mites. According to House Dust Biology by J. Bronswijk human skin particles make up approximately 53% of household dust which leads me to the next tip.
2nd Tip – Vacuum
If your house is prone to mold avoid mopping the floor too often and vacuum instead. Invest in a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, it is very important. If a vacuum cleaner doesn’t have a good HEPA filter, it releases millions of tiny particles (PM1.0/PM2.5) into the air, and we don’t want to breathe them at any cost. In experiments that I have conducted, vacuum cleaners without HEPA filters catch large particles but they release a cloud of the nastiest particles that can reach even the human brain and create many health issues.
3rd TIP – Dust
Well, don’t dust with fur-like tools, and don’t use disposable dust cloths. Instead cut old cotton clothes into pieces. Then dampen them with clean water and sweep the dust from the surfaces. You don’t need extra chemicals, and in case the surfaces have stains then use a bit of eco-friendly dishwasher gel diluted with water. Please avoid chemicals, just because they smell nice, it doesn’t mean they are healthy.
4th TIP – Ventilate
A healthy house needs to be ventilated frequently. First of all, it helps to oxygenate the air and remove CO2 and other chemicals that build up. Secondly, it regulates the humidity, for example, in the bathroom and kitchen where water is present. Sometimes when I discuss the presence of chemicals in indoor environments I refer to smells as well. If you don’t have a mechanical ventilation system like an HVAC, I will suggest ventilating your house at least twice a day by opening the windows but it always depends on the number of the occupants, the size m2/ft2 of the house, and the activities we do indoors. For example, I work out indoors in my house and I need to ventilate my house after my workout as CO2 has risen very fast and my sweat has increased the relative humidity in the room I exercise.
During the flu season or covid19 it is very important to ventilate in order to dilute the viral load in the rooms.
5th TIP – Monitor
During Spring many people suffer from pollen allergies for this reason we have to monitor the outdoor conditions for pollen alerts. Nowadays, there are special apps that can inform us on when to open windows based on pollen concentrations. Breezometer is one of them, and it is free, download it here iOS or Android.
Apart from the outdoor pollen monitoring, we have to keep an eye on the indoor air quality. For this task, we need an indoor air quality monitor. I have reviewed many of them in the blog. Make sure it is equipped with particulate matter (PM2.5), carbon dioxide (CO2), and optionally volatile organic compounds (VOC) sensors. Temperature and humidity are also important in order to avoid mold growth because mold loves high humidity environments.
It is wise to check the outdoor AQ before opening the windows.
6th TIP – Purify
An air purifier with a good HEPA (H12/H13) filter will allow us to go a step further in the process of eliminating particles from the indoor environment. Air purifiers have been demonstrated to catch all sorts of particles: dead skin, hair, mites, pollen, dust, soot, mold, and many more. They run inexpensively with an annual electrical cost in most cases of about 7 euros. People that suffer from allergic rhinitis aka hay fever rely on air purifiers and for this reason, some air cleaners come with a certificate like the Asthma Allergy Nordic, Certified Asthma and Allergy, Allergy UK Seal of Approval, Korea Asthma Allergy Foundation, etc. I have reviewed some great air purifiers like the BRISE C200, C360 and the HA500 by Healthy Air Technology.
7th TIP – Ditch Wood Stoves
It is time to consider removing the wood stove or fireplace from your house. They are responsible for the deterioration of indoor air quality as they emit a huge amount of particles PM1.0/PM2.5. According to a recent scientific study in the UK, the daily average indoor PM concentrations when a stove was used were higher for PM2.5 by 196% and PM1 by 227% than those of the non-use control group.