Goodbye winter, hello spring! That chilly winter air is finally gone, which means it’s time to start spring cleaning. We’ve mentioned before that indoor air can be more polluted than outdoor air, thanks to the airtight nature of modern construction. During winter, indoor air pollution can skyrocket, leaving some people feeling less than healthy by the time warmer weather shows up. Air pollution can cause all sorts of symptoms, including headaches, stuffy nose, and a general feeling of malaise. For people who are very sensitive, flu-like symptoms are known to appear. If you find these symptoms disappear as soon as you leave your home, there is a good chance indoor air pollution is the cause of your discomfort.
Well, now’s the time to throw open those windows, roll up those sleeves, and get into full spring cleaning mode. With a little elbow grease and a few small changes, you can ensure that your home will have fresh air all season long. Here are some quick tips to get you started on the road to cleaner air and fewer respiratory problems.
Do a Little HVAC Maintenance
For those readers who are part of our Priority Customer Service program, now is the time to set up for spring checkup. For those of you who aren’t yet a part of the program, click on the link above to learn more. One of the benefits is a bi-annual inspection of your HVAC system – that means twice a year our technicians come out to do a check on your air conditioner and heater to make sure everything is clean and in good running order. A clean air conditioner will run more efficiently and lessen the chance of dirt getting into your ducts. You don’t have to be a priority customer to schedule a check-up, however – just give us a call, and we can schedule an inspection of your system whenever you’re ready.
Another maintenance tip? Clean your filter! Clean filters go a long ways towards keeping the air in your home clean. Think of all the nasty dust and dirt particles floating around your home due to a dirty filter…no thanks!
Open Those Windows
That’s right…when the weather is beautiful, and the pollen is not as bothersome, it’s time to open those windows and in some fresh air! Even with an excellent ventilation system, homes can benefit from the added sources of windows and sliding doors allowing old, stale winter air to escape. Bonus points if you have a garden with fragrant flowers – you’ll get fresh air and a lovely natural scent all at the same time.
Renew Your Cleaning Supplies
Surprise! Cleaning products do, in fact, have expiration dates. Anything with antibacterial properties should be thrown out after a year, while other cleaning products last up to two years. That said, most common household cleaning products contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are not ideal for indoor air quality.
Now may be an excellent time to switch to better cleaning solutions. What is amazing is that many old-fashioned cleaning recipes used by our grandmothers were more efficient at cleaning while being much safer for air quality. For example, Dawn dish soap and good old white vinegar create a multipurpose cleaner that works almost everywhere. Add some baking soda, and you have a fantastic bathroom cleaner. Check out this post for more VOC-reduced or –free cleaning supplies.
Dust, Dust, Dust…Then Vacuum
Reducing the amount of dust, and dust mites, in your home will help to improve your indoor air quality. Many people, including those without allergies, suffer side effects when exposed to dust mites in high numbers. To keep down the dust and the mites, it’s important to dust on at least a weekly basis. Throw that feather duster to the curb, though, and grab a microfiber cloth – the cloth holds onto dust much more efficiently and can be thrown into the washer later.
The most effective dusting strategy is moving from the top of a room to the floor, leaving vacuuming for last. In this way, you can get rid of as much dust as possible without the need for a special air purifier (in most cases – we can’t make any promises for those living in the country).
Air Out Those Comforters
While washable bed linens are the best way to go when it comes to air quality, many of us just can’t resist the look of some fabrics or the feel of a down comforter. Unfortunately, our friends the dust mites just love to live in bedding materials. What to do?
In this case, take non-washable items outside on a sunny, low-pollen day and let them air out. If you can, put them somewhere with direct light. While this isn’t great for dark fabrics, it will allow some of the moisture that may have built up inside the bedding to dry out. Mites don’t like hot and dry, so this will help to keep those pesky guys at bay. Give everything a good shake out before you bring it back indoors.
Banish Those Candles & Air Fresheners
This year, why not go all natural with your home fragrances? Candles and commercially-available air fresheners tend to contain a lot of VOCs, which makes for less-than-stellar indoor air quality. Instead, opt to simmer some fresh citrus slices in a pot of boiling water, or create your own air freshener spray with essential oils and water. Your home will smell just as lovely but without all the extra pollutants that can leave you and your family feeling under the weather.
This Year, Opt to Go Shoeless Indoors
Finally, why not make 2017 the year you go shoeless indoors? It is stunning how much dirt and dust comes into your home on the soles of your shoes. In turn, that dust and dirt spread everywhere, making a mess and lowering your home’s air quality.
Set up a shoe station at the door where you and your family remove your shoes. To make this process a little more fun, why not get everyone a pair of slippers specifically for the house? It’s a comfortable enticement for keeping the dirt outside, where it belongs.