cleaning for fresh air

How To Keep The Air In Your Home Clean? 32 Ideas You Can Try Today

cleaning for fresh air

Are you tired of living in a house with poor air quality? Well,  you don’t have to live under such conditions any longer as I am about to share with you 32 awesome ideas you can put into action today for cleaner air in your home.  

Maybe you suffer from asthma or sinuses or you have multiple chemical sensitivities. In this post, you will discover how best to keep your indoor air clean and eliminate all the air pollutants in your home that trigger your allergies and ailments.

All the air contaminants you can find in your home can be classified into two main categories namely, gases and particulate matter. Accordingly, the tips I share with you will show you cleaning methods you can use to get rid of both contaminant gases and particulate matter in your indoor air.

 Lets Get Started

1. Ventilate Your Home

The first thing you need to do to improve the air quality in your home and keep your air clean is to ensure ventilation. Open curtains, doors, and windows around your home to let the fresh air in. If you cannot open up your home for fresh air to flow through for any reason, the next step is to consider investing in a Heat or Energy Recovery Ventilator (HRV).

An HRV will ventilate the air in your home without you having to open up all your windows and doors. The HRV system brings in clean purified air from outside into your home and takes stale dirty air out of your home without losing any heat or energy in the process.

2. Light Some Beeswax Candles

When you light a beeswax candle, unlike other candles it produces and releases negative ions into the air. The negative ions are then attracted to positively charged pollutant particles floating around in the air. Then once the negative ions attach to the contaminants around the air in your home, the contaminants become too heavy to float in your air and fall to the ground.

This does eventually create  a mess that  you have to sweep and wipe off surfaces around your home, but the upside is that your air becomes much cleaner. So, by lighting a beeswax candle you eliminate some germs and allergens from the air in your home.

3. Try A Himalayan Salt Lamp

Himalayan salt lamps also work by releasing negative ions into the air to get rid of air pollutants in your home. They do this by attracting moisture from the air on their surface, on which water rapidly evaporates as their surface is warm. Then through evaporation, they produce negative ions which neutralize positively charged airborne pollutants like dust and allergens making them too heavy to float and accordingly fall to the ground and on surfaces around your home.

Manufacturers of Himalayan Salt Lamps claim that by producing negative ions Himalayan salt helps to improve your breathing. I am yet to come across independent scientific evidence supporting these claims but there is no harm in having a Himalayan Salt Lamp shining somewhere around your home for whatever little improvement it makes in your indoor air quality.

4. Place Activated Charcoal Around Your House

Activated carbon or charcoal is known for absorbing bad smells in the air. However, they can do more than this. They are also capable of absorbing a range of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which include paint fumes, and dangerous fossil fuels emissions and chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde.

You can get them in the form of bamboo charcoal air purifier bags like the Moso Air Purifier Bag. Place these in closets, cupboards, under sinks and sofas and anywhere in your home where you suspect odors may be coming from and your home should smell better.

A word of caution though, bamboo charcoal bags will not work for serious odors which have an active source. So if you have fresh pet poo in the corner somewhere with bamboo charcoal next to it, you will still smell the poop. Get rid of the poo and the bamboo charcoal will help with the lingering odor.

5. Get Some House Plants

Houseplants can be very helpful in reducing gas pollution levels in your home. They do very well in absorbing VOCs including benzene, chlorotrifluoroethylene, xylene, toluene, and formaldehyde. This was all discovered in a 1985 study by NASA.

Some popular houseplants that help clean your indoor air include Areca Palm, Lady Palm, Bamboo palm, Rubber Plant, Dracaena “Janet Craig” and Philodendron. To effectively purify your air,  NASA suggests you place one of these plants for every 100 square feet of your home. There are so many more plants that can help with your indoor air quality. To find out more check out all the house plants that can purify your air in more detail here.

6. Remove Some House Plants

I have shown you plants that improve the air quality in your house but you also need to be careful with plants as some can actually worsen your air quality. Some plants will release pollen in your home and if you have pollen allergies these kind of plants will not help you.

Furthermore, you will find some plants attract bugs and dust mite. When dust mite and some of these plants defecate, their feces become airborne and contain allergens which can trigger asthma attacks and trigger allergic reactions in some people. So be careful when choosing plants and make sure you know if a plant produces any unwanted pollutants over its lifetime before you bring it into your home.

7. Use Essential Oils

Essential oils are used for aromatherapy. Some essential oils have antibacterial properties and when you release them into your indoor air, they release an arguably nice aroma that kills germs floating around. By cleaning bacteria in the air, essential oils also have beneficial health effects on you.

Essential oils can open up your blocked nose and make your breathing easier. The best way to use them is to place them in a diffuser which will diffuse them into your room’s air as vapor that you can inhale. Some great essential oils, to purify your air includes, eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, red mandarin, cinnamon, and Lemon oil.

8. Don’t Smoke Indoors

If you have a choice, and you are serious about cleaning the air in your home, then make it a rule not to smoke inside your home. If you or anyone in your house smokes indoors the decision to stop smoking alone can significantly improve your air quality.

9. Declutter

Sometimes your air quality is only bad because there is clutter in your home. Dust, insects, dirt and other contaminants that cause airborne pollutants in your house love clutter and breed and grow more quickly in it if the clutter is there for a while. Therefore if you have clutter in your home, over time your air quality will likely become unbearable.

You create a home for pollutants if your home has clutter everywhere as its so hard to clean your home properly. So if you have clutter in your home, the first thing you need to do to improve your indoor air quality is get rid of the clutter.

Throw away things you don’t need, pack things away neatly in storage containers and fold your clothes away. If decluttering is not your strength and you need fresh air in your home, you could try out a guide like Good Bye Clutter if you are willing to put in the effort yourself to keep your home clutter free.

Alternatively, the more expensive option is to  hire someone or a cleaning service to help you. It's so difficult to have a home with clean air if you have clutter anywhere around your house so be sure to start by getting rid of clutter if you want to improve your indoor air quality.

10. Spring Clean With Eco-friendly Cleaning Chemicals

Once your home is decluttered, it's easy to move things around in an orderly manner and clean every corner of your home.  However, when you are spring cleaning, use Eco-friendly non-toxic detergents. If you use the usual detergents, they contain many dangerous chemicals and VOCs and you will literally be spreading toxic fumes around your home.

11. No Shoes In The House

After walking around outside your home you don’t know what you’ve picked up in public toilets, dirty streets, and wherever you managed to step with your shoes today.  So it only makes sense to take off your shoes before you enter your home so that you do not to bring all those pollutants into your home.

Yet some people still walk around indoors in shoes they have been wearing outside all day, and some even jump on their beds with them. If you want to wear shoes indoors, at least have house shoes that you never leave the house with and you only wear in the house. House shoes or simply keeping shoes off in the house will minimize the amount of pollutants that become airborne in your home.

12. Store Off-Gassing Household Goods In Airtight Containers

There are so many things releasing VOCs in our homes. This process is called off-gassing. Some common off-gassing items in your home include carpets, furniture, toys, paint on the wall, and electronic appliances. To reduce the effects of off-gassing, place items you can store  like toys in airtight containers.

Additional measure you can take is to buy second-hand furniture and goods as these would have already off-gassed. Be picky with what you buy. For instance, go for solid hardwood things rather than plywood. Avoid toxic glues and try to buy stuff that is glued together with water-based glues.

Also, try using a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels around 45% in your home as chemicals off-gas more when it's humid and humidity levels are above 50%. If you have an option between scented and unscented products choose unscented and finally air out new products when they are fresh out of the box.

13. Use A Damp Cloth For Dust

Once dust becomes airborne, it takes some time before it settles and you continue to inhale it as you wait for it to settle. Every time you try to dust surfaces in your home with a dry feather duster you are just making your air dirty. To avoid this, use a damp cloth to wipe dust rather than dusting it back into your air with a feather duster. The other thing you could do is use a vacuum cleaner to suck it all up.

14. Use a HEPA filter Vacuum Cleaner

HEPA filters are very good at trapping particulate matter. They can trap particulates that are as small as 0.1 microns. They prevent particulate matter that have settled on surfaces from going back into your air. So if your vacuum cleaner has a HEPA filter, rest assured no particulates are escaping through your vacuum cleaner as you vacuum away. A HEPA based vacuum cleaner is the best way to vacuum if you have allergy sufferers and people with respiratory conditions in your home.

15. Wash Your Bedding Often & Use Hypoallergenic Bedding

To keep your air fresh, wash your bedding at least every two weeks. This will keep bed bugs and air polluting dust mites at bay by killing off their new colonies every time you wash your bedding's. To make sure they die, soak your bedding in extremely hot water and use hot water to wash them.

In addition to washing your bedding, get hypoallergenic bedding's. This type of bedding has smooth surfaces with minimal pores and space for bugs as small as dust mite to fit in and hide and so prevents bed bugs colonies as a whole from inhabiting and reproducing in your bedding's and releasing pollutants in your home’s air.

16. Fix Water Leaks

If you have any leaking pipes around your home, this is a potential source of humidity and dampness in your walls. The leaking areas create a conducive environment for mold and mildew to thrive.

If not fixed on time, and your walls get damp and you might just see mold starting to grow on your walls. Once you have mold growing on walls, even before you spot them you will begin to smell a musty, damp, earthy kind of smell around your home. It becomes challenging to breathe in your home and unpleasant. So make sure you fix leaks around your home as soon as you spot them.

If the damp on your walls is coming from outside and has nothing to do with leaks, the next step you can take is to get your home waterproofed. Sometimes you crawl spaces can get wet and you can get mold smell from under your under your home. In this case, you could consider getting your crawl space waterproofed to ensure the air you are breathing in your home remains clean and safe.

17. Don’t Burn Wood Indoors

Burning wood indoors releases carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide and can leave your house smelling like smoke if you don’t use the right kind of wood. Rather opt for electric or gas heating in your home for cleaner air. Though burning gas leaves some unhealthy byproducts as well it not as bad as burning wood. Your best bet is electric heating but obviously this will spike your electricity bill.

18. Control Pests

If you have rats, roaches, and other pets flying and racing around your house, eventually their feces and urine will begin to pollute your home’s air. Pests not only release allergens in your indoor air through their fecal matter but can also cause your home to smell bad.

To keep pests at bay, don’t leave dirty dishes out at night and leave food outside that will attract them. Also, keep your home as clean as possible and clutter-free so that you don’t give pests hiding places and make them feel comfortable in your home.

Lastly, set up anti-pest measures like mouse traps, and ultrasonic sound repellents to keep pests out. Worst case scenario, call an exterminator to intervene and have them set up preventive measures so that pests do not return and pollute your home’s air all over again once they are gone.

19. Use Mesh Screens on Your Doors To Keep Bugs Outs

Another important measure against pests, mainly flying insects is to use mesh screens on all your doors leading outside your home. Mesh screens basically filter out bugs and prevent them from flying into your home while your doors are open. A good example of a mesh screen is Magic Mesh. They keep the air in your home clean and clear of insects that would otherwise fly around all over the place and irritate you.

20. Keeps Pets Clean and Zone Off Pets

If you have pets, it can be tricky to keep your indoor air clean. For cats, you need to make sure you use cat litter media that produces the least dust and that you change your cat litter often. With dogs, don’t miss their washing and grooming cycle. For caged animals, you need to change and clean their cages up often. If you sleep on the job, your air gets polluted with smells, fluff and pet dander. It's as simple as that. When you signed up for a pet, in addition to the joy they bring you, you also signed up for cleaning up pee, and poop .

21. Detect and Clean Invisible Pet and Pest Urine

There are times where you will clean and perhaps spring clean your home, but the stench just does not want to go away and you cannot find its sources. This is when a blacklight flash light like the Escolite comes in handy. This torch will help you find the invisible source of your odor like magic. It works using UV light which when you chine on surfaces reveals stains you would have never otherwise known are there. You have to see it to believe it., check out the video below.

22. Use Air Contaminant Absorbing Paint

You can now  find indoor air contaminant absorbing paint on the market. The one I have seen commonly talked about is the Ecos Air Purifying paint. This paint absorbs the odors in your home and does not release it back into the air even when you peel the paint off the wall. To add on the manufacturer of this paint also claims it releases fewer paint fumes and VOCs than other paints and does not smell as bad. I am not saying you should smoke indoors but if you did this paint sucks up all the odor.

23. Keep Indoor Humidity Levels Between 30%-50%

I have already mentioned the importance of a dehumidifier in preventing off-gassing. Beyond off-gassing dehumidifiers can also help to keep your air clean by preventing mold causing moisture and damp on walls. Dehumidifiers also help by preventing general musty odors due to high humidity levels.

So if you have issues with humidity get a smart dehumidifier or  humidifier with automated functions and one that can tell you your rooms humidity level and adjusts its performance to maintain a constant humidity level.

A dehumidifier is especially useful if you have a basement. It goes a long way in keeping the air in your basement dry and preventing mold and stenches from developing there. It's also useful when trying to dry a basement after flood damage. Check out my recommended dehumidifiers here.

24. Install Exhaust Fans in Your Bathroom and Toilet

Exhaust fans in your shower can prove very useful in removing excess humidity. In both bathrooms and loos, they come in handy in keeping these rooms smelling fresh over time. So for cleaner and better-smelling air in your home, install an exhaust fan in all your loos and bathrooms.

25. Use a Kitchen Stove Extractor Hood

Another important place to put an exhaust fan of some sort is above your cooker. These are actually called extractor fans or cooker hoods. Preferably go for one that comes with an activated carbon filter to absorb all the odor and steam from your cooking. An extractor hood over your cooker will help reduce the spread of food smells across your house.

26. Clean Your Air Ducts

If you have a central air system or an HVAC system and do not clean your air ducts for a while eventually these systems will start blowing dust and dirty air around your home.  I do not advise anyone to try and clean their own air duct. Your air ducts can get full of sand, rat poo, and dangerous debris and you don’t want to mess around and break something in there. It will work out better for you if you have someone professional come in and clean it up for you. Watch the video below of how air ducts are cleaned.

Besides the health benefits, and getting the air in your home clean, cleaning your air ducts also prolongs the life of your HVAC or central air system. Click here to see my list of highly convenient  websites for finding HVAC professionals at fair rates near you.

27. Maintain Your Air Conditioner

Maintaining your air con will prevent it from blowing dirty air into your home when warming or cooling your home. To maintain your air con, you need to clean the filters, clean your condenser coil and get rid of the dirt around your condenser.

You also need to check that your unit’s condensate drainage system is not clogged. If its clogged it can prevent your ac from reducing humidity. There are so many other things that go into routine maintenance of your air con and I would honestly rather call a professional to do it to ensure your indoor air quality is at its best. However, if you are keen on doing it yourself, check out this handy man guide.

28. Replace Your HVAC Filters

For HVAC and central air system owners another major thing you need to do to keep the air in your home clean is to change your furnace and air handler filters. If you have an air purifier on your HVAC system, you will also need to replace its filter. 

Saturated filters will clog up your HVAC and prevent it from circulating, heating and cool your air properly and eventually cause it to malfunction if not changed on time. So replace all your air filters routinely to get the best air quality in your home and keep your air clean.

29. Install An Air Curtain Or Door On Entrances Into Your Home

An air curtain is an extremely powerful fan that hangs face down on doors, usually the entrance of a store or large home, to separate and prevent outdoor air from coming indoors and vice versa. Air curtains can also prevent flying insects from going into your home. They also prevent odors from getting in and out of your home.

In fact, if you have a door leading to your kitchen you can put one over there to prevent food smells from spreading from your kitchen through the rest of your house. An air curtain will keep the air in your house clean by preventing air pollutants from getting in through your entrances and by preventing pollutants from traveling between rooms within your home as you choose.

30. Use Odor Adsorbents

Odor adsorbents are materials that can absorb odor-causing gases and VOCs from your indoor air and neutralize them. I have already mentioned activated carbon earlier but it's not the only adsorbent. You also get baking soda, volcano minerals, certain gels, and even coffee granules. Adsorbents usually come in a bag, canister or jar.  You just place as many as you like near the source of your odor or suspected VOCs, and over time they start to absorb the odor molecules and VOCs until eventually, the odor disappears. 

However, as I mentioned earlier for bamboo air purifier bags, if the source of your odor continues to actively release odor-causing gases then the effectiveness of your adsorbent will be limited. So make sure you address the source of your odor first before expecting an adsorbent to help you get rid of an odor and ultimately clean your air.

31. Use an Air Sanitizer Spray

A quick solution to clean your air in emergency situations like when you have unannounced guests, you can use an air sanitizer spray like Ozium. Air sanitizers work by chemically reacting with airborne and surface germs and gaseous pollutants such as odors and killing and neutralizing them respectively.

There are various sanitizers out there like Lysol and Febreze but My favorite is Ozium. Ozium is very strong and does have a public bathroom chemical smell. The stuff is toxic but it does work. It will take cigarette, farts, and feet smell any day.

One lady’s review I was reading the other day said that her daughter's feet smelt so bad she would put her gym shoes in a plastic bag and spray Ozium in there and leave it outside  for an hour and by the time she takes the shoes out of the bag they smell fresh again. 

Ozium contains powerful anti-bacterial and sanitizing chemicals. My suggestion is that  as much as it works, use Ozium in moderation, and only when you need to get rid of an odor fast. For example, you can carry it around to eliminate public toilet odors and airborne germs before you use one.

32. Use Air Purifiers

After you have tried everything else on the list, to maintain the ultimate air quality in your home, next,  you need to run air purifiers 24 hours a day and every single day around your home.

Now, there are many different types of air purifiers out there and they will all remove different things but generally put, air purifiers will get rid of and minimize harmful gases, odors and particulate matter in your home's air.

I have posted a lot on air purifiers but I think a good place for you  to start is with my post on different types of air purifiers. You have to decide what kind of air purifier you need based on the type and size of home you are in and what airborne pollutants you would like to eliminate from your home’s air.

If your aim is to eliminate everything, my suggestion is you check out a Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) air purifier. It is the only type of air purifier that I have seen that can eliminate both gases and particulate matter, over a coverage area of up to 3000 sq ft and in a portable home friendly size.

To conclude, I have now given you all the 32 tips I think are important to help you keep the air in your house clean. I have covered a lot to help you maintain good indoor air quality and with some caveats you can apply these tips even for your office space. So, you now have no excuse for your home to have poor indoor air quality.

Oh and I almost forgot,  you can check out my resource pages if you want more product information on safe cleaning supplies you can use to keep your indoor air fresh and also other gear that will help you keep your air clean and exactly where to get them. Do share your thoughts in the comments below if you have any.

About the Author

Jean-Baptiste

Jean is a research economist by profession and he runs Fresh Air Genie. He is enthusiastic about maintaining good air quality at home and on the go and he shares his knowledge about this here at Fresh Air Genie.

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