You don't have to be an allergy sufferer to reap the benefits of clean air at home. According to the EPA (United States Environmental Agency), indoor air pollution — think mold, dirt, pet hair, fine particles, and carbon monoxide — can have serious immediate and long-term effects on your health. Everyday annoyances such as dry eyes, headaches, and fatigue could actually be a result of your home's poor air quality — and chances are you don't even know it.
That's why it pays to take the time to better the air you breathe at home. To help, we've gathered some foolproof ways to boost your indoor oxygen flow and cut down those pesky airborne allergens. Read ahead for nine ways to improve your home's air quality, and hopefully, your quality of life, too.
1. Clean air vents
The first thing you can do to improve the air quality in your home is to clean out your air vents. Along with helping your heating and cooling systems run more smoothly (too much dirt slows them down), you won't have to dust nearly as often and you'll be breathing in much cleaner air.
2. Change air filters
Whether you're working with a full-blown air conditioning system or just a window unit, changing your air filters in a timely fashion will make a world of difference. The pros recommend a proper filter switch-out at the start of every season—or every month if you have pets and/or bad allergies—to improve your overall air quality and save you money (by lowering your energy bill).
3. Change and clean bedding regularly (especially pillows)
Turns out the air quality in our beds is so poor that it's considered a scientific "nightmare." Make a habit of washing pillows, sheets, and comforters on a weekly basis—or invest in some allergy fighting pillow protectors—to reduce your exposure to allergens and dust mites while sleeping.
4. Avoid scented products
For as nice as scented candles and potpourri might smell, they're not doing you—or your lungs—any favors. Perfumed products are packed with toxic chemicals (like toluene and benzene) and other harmful irritants, so opt for some air-friendly aromatics instead.
5. Switch laundry detergents and fabric softeners
Commonly used laundry detergents and fabric softeners often contain toxic ingredients—even carcinogens!—that can aggravate your lungs, nose and throat. So go with a natural alternative the next time you're stuck doing laundry, or better yet: just DIY your own.
6. Forgo air fresheners
According to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), most store-bought air fresheners, plug-ins and air sanitizers contain a slew of toxic ingredients—acetone, butane, propane, and formaldehyde—all of which are linked to serious respiratory problems. Before you resort to harmful chemical sprays and plug-ins, try opening a window and letting in some fresh air.
7. Invest in an air purifier
Although they can get pricey, electronic air purifiers—particularly ones with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters—can work wonders for a stuffy room. On top of capturing all sorts of ultrafine, airborne particles (pet dander, pollen, and bacteria to name a few), they help increase airflow and circulation. However, if you're looking for something more affordable, consider a smaller version—or even a humidifier, ionizer, or HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner—instead.
8. Buy plants
Because of their ability to filter carbon dioxide, certain houseplants are actually known to purify your indoor air. Place a few potted plants throughout your place to absorb indoor toxins and jumpstart oxygen production.
9. Consider charcoal
And of course, no air-purifying list would be complete without a proper charcoal shout out. Long used in filters to purify water, charcoal is also celebrated for its air purifying and moisture-absorbing (i.e. mold preventing) properties. Pick up a couple of Moso bags or hang up a bamboo charcoal bar to naturally combat your indoor air pollutants.