Believe it or not, the air inside our Long Island homes and offices can be more polluted than the air outside. The air inside your home may be polluted by fire-retardants, lead, radon, and volatile chemicals from fragrances used in conventional cleaners. Some pollutants are tracked into the home on our shoes and clothing. Some arrive by way of new furniture, carpet cleaners, or a fresh coat of paint on the walls.
Air fresheners and household bathroom sprays can also make the air in your home toxic. Many of the items you use in your home on a daily basis can be detrimental to your health. The good news is that there are natural and easy ways to reduce the pollutants in your home. By making a few simple changes, you’ll be well on your way to chemical-free air.
1. Keep your HVAC filters clean. Heating and air-conditioning filters and vents that are not regularly cleaned can trap pollen, dust and other allergens. Especially now that the weather is getting warmer and air conditioners will soon be turned on, it is vital to clean the filters at least once a month. They are easily accessible in many systems, but if yours are in a difficult-to-reach area, have a professional cleaning service take care of them periodically.
2. Keep your floors fresh. Carpets are the perfect traps for indoor pollutants. Once a week, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to vacuum carpets and wood floors. Every two to three months steam clean the carpet with a hot water and white vinegar mixture. Mop your hard floors frequently with a water and vinegar solution. Put a large floor mat at every door. People track in all sorts of chemicals via the dirt on their shoes. A door mat reduces the amount of dirt, pesticides, and other pollutants from getting into your home. If the mat is big enough, even those who don't wipe their shoes will leave most pollutants on the mat and not the floors in your home.
3. Get rid of bathroom sprays and synthetic fragrances. Although they may make the air smell good, air fresheners are actually filling it with chemicals. Most household fragrances contain phthalates and other volatile organic chemicals. In one study, a plug-in air freshener was found to emit 20 different volatile organic compounds, including seven regulated as toxic or hazardous under U.S. federal laws. But these chemicals were not included on the label; only the word "fragrance" is required to be listed. Essential oils are a safe way to scent your home. Many essential oils contain antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that can enhance your home's air quality. Some good oils to try include citrus, eucalyptus, thyme or peppermint.
4. Keep a healthy level of humidity in your home. Dust mites and mold love moisture. Keeping the humidity in your house between 30%-50% helps keep allergens under control. A dehumidifier and/or air conditioner helps reduce moisture in indoor air and effectively controls allergens. An air conditioner also reduces indoor pollen count, another plus for allergy-sufferers.
5. Bring some plants inside. Gerber daisies, Boston fern, palm plants and other succulent plants can help remove toxins from the air. Aloe Vera helps rid the air of formaldehyde and benzene. Spider plants are extremely hearty and can help you get rid of formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and benzene.
6. Air it out. Enclosed areas should be ventilated periodically to get rid of germs and toxins in the air. On days when humidity and pollen levels are low, open a few windows to let in some fresh air. This will release any built up indoor pollutants, removes any lingering odors and brings fresh air into the room.
Freshen up your home this spring by following the tips above. Contact Dole Fuel Oil, Inc. for all of your home heating questions and fuel oil needs.