Five Common Habits That Decrease Indoor Air Quality

Having good indoor air quality (IAQ) is imperative to the health of a household and the cleanliness of a home. Poor indoor air quality can lead to all sorts of negative health effects, including but not limited to asthma, allergies, difficulty breathing, sinusitis, and insomnia. On the other hand, poor IAQ can also make a house dirtier than usual, regardless of how frequently it is cleaned.

That said, maintaining good indoor air quality in the home should be a priority of every homeowner. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the things that cause poor IAQ, much less the habits that contribute to it:

1. Using cleaning products with harsh chemicals

Commercial cleaning products may be effective at getting rid of dirt, grime, and stains, but they may be doing more harm than good to your health. Many detergents, multi-purpose cleaners, and anti-bacterial sprays contain harsh chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These can cause various negative health conditions, such as shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, and skin irritation, especially with constant and excessive exposure.

To avoid this, be more careful about the cleaning products that you choose. Check the ingredient list and ensure that they do not contain benzene, fluorine, chlorine, formaldehyde, and other harmful chemicals. Furthermore, never mix two different kinds of cleaning products together, most especially the ones that contain ammonia and bleach.

Better yet, use natural cleaners instead, such as vinegar, vodka, lemon, and baking soda.

2. Forgetting to clean the air filters

The air filters in your HVAC system need regular cleaning to prevent the accumulation of dirt. If you neglect this chore, the dirt and dust on the filters will eventually circulate around your home, thereby decreasing your IAQ and causing a lot of respiratory problems among your family members.

Clean or replace your air filters at least once every two to three months. If you are not sure how to do so, hire an air-conditioning service to do it for you, and have your system checked while they are at it.

3. Turning on dirty ceiling fans

Whenever you turn on a dusty ceiling fan, you are effectively spreading the dust on the blades all around the room. So if you notice that your eyes get itchy or that people start sneezing whenever you turn on the fan, it is likely high time to clean the blades.

Luckily, cleaning ceiling fans is very easy; all you need is a mild cleaning agent (e.g. distilled white vinegar or water with soap) and a pillowcase. To use this hack, simply dampen the blades with the agent, cover each blade with a pillowcase, and then pull the pillowcase back to wipe away all the dust without having it fall to the floor or spread around the room.

4. Burning candles

Burning scented candles can easily set the mood and help you relax after a long day, but it is not that great for your home’s indoor air quality. Scented candles contain VOCs that can spread in the air when they are lit, and they can be very harmful to the respiratory system. If you don’t want to give up scented candles, however, there are several ways you can minimize their harmful effects.

First, trim the wick below a fourth of an inch before lighting it, then open the windows to ventilate the room. However, avoid placing the candle in the direction of indoor drafts to prevent accidentally igniting anything that is near it. It is also advisable that you choose candles that are made from soy or beeswax instead of those that contain petroleum derivatives, such as paraffin wax candles.

5. Going overboard with the air fresheners

Similar to candles and cleaning agents, air fresheners contain VOCs and other compounds that are harmful to the respiratory system. Avoid using air fresheners, especially those that come in aerosol spray cans and automatic dispensers. If you want to introduce a good scent in the room, use alternatives like herb sachets, homemade room sprays, and plants instead.

It is also important to avoid spraying a lot of perfume, body spray, or cologne while inside the house, especially if there is a member of the household that is sensitive. Better yet, avoid using these products as much as possible. Aside from being potential respiratory irritants, they can also reduce your indoor air quality and even severe health effects like cancer, endocrine disruption, and birth defects (especially with long-term exposure).

Maintaining good indoor air quality can help keep your family healthy and your house free from pollutants. That said, kick these habits today and enjoy fresher, cleaner air starting at home.

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