The market is flooded with “air fresheners” touted to make your home smell like a citrus grove or bower of flowers. However, their fragrance creates a dangerous illusion. Instead of improving the indoor air quality of your home, they worsen it because they emit an array of harmful chemicals. Yet it is possible to reduce the pollutants in your home and infuse it with a delightful scent through natural ways.
The winter season in colder climates presents an added challenge, as people tend to keep their doors and windows tightly shut. While this practice helps keep homes warmer, it traps pollutants indoors; and the prolonged exposure to mold, dust and chemical toxins can be detrimental to anyone’s health. The good news is that it is easy to deal with the problem.
1. Clean Away Odors and Pollutants
Use natural means to keep your home clean. Baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice are effective general household cleansers; and they work without toxic effects. Carpets can trap many kinds of indoor pollutants, so once a week use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Invest in a steam cleaner, and every two months deep clean the carpet with a white vinegar and hot water mixture. You can also keep your hard floors clean through mopping frequently with a vinegar and water solution. Additionally, keep a doormat inside your home’s entryways, and ask family members and guests to remove their shoes before coming inside.
2. Clean Heating and Air-Conditioning Filters and Vents
Heating and air-conditioning filters and vents that are not regularly cleaned can trap pollen, dust and other allergens. 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.
3. Invest in Houseplants
Plants can filter out many indoor pollutants while adding beauty to the indoors. A small palm tree houseplant can effectively help remove formaldehyde, a toxin lurking in homes from various sources. Aloe vera helps clear away benzene and formaldehyde, but it needs to be in an area that gets direct sunlight. Spider plants are easy to care for and can help you get rid of carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, xylene and benzene. Gerber daisies require lots of sunlight but are effective at removing benzene and trichloroethylene, a byproduct of dry cleaning. Other good choices include Chinese evergreens, plants that thrive in the shade, and English ivy, a plant that does well in cooler climates. If you have small children and pets, check to see if the plants are non-toxic when eaten.
4. Avoid Aerosols, Chemical Cleaning Agents and Synthetic Fragrances
Aerosol sprays, including household cleansers and deodorants, can fill your home with toxicity. Be wary of using cleaning agents with added fragrances as well as any type of synthetic home fragrance. Some household fragrance products contain phthalates, chemicals that are hormone-disruptors. Moreover, many synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum, a chemical that has not been tested for safety when inhaled. One study found a plug-in air freshener released 20 volatile organic chemicals, seven of which are regulated under U.S. laws as hazardous or toxic.
Don’t use conventional laundry detergents, dryer sheets and fabric softeners because they emit chemical laden gasses. Look for fragrance-free laundry detergents instead.
5. Scent Your Home With Essential Oils
Essential oils will impart a wonderful scent into your home, and many have antifungal and antibacterial properties that can enhance indoor air quality. Use diffusers but place them on a high shelf out of the reach of children. Good ones to try include citrus, eucalyptus, thyme or peppermint. A nice one for the bedroom is lavender, which has an intoxicatingly fresh scent that promotes relaxation.
6. Get Fresh Air in the House
Unless it is bitterly cold, once a week open the windows a crack and run the fans for a while. This can let out accumulating indoor pollutants
7. Test Your Home for Radon
You can’t see or smell radon, but it can significantly increase your risk of lung cancer. Granite countertops emit this harmful gas, but it can also come from other places within your home. Testing for radon is easy and inexpensive.
8. Maintain a Healthy Level of Humidity
High humidity can breed mold, bacteria and mildew; and low humidity can dry the skin. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends an indoor humidity level of 30 to 60 percent. You can use either a humidifier or dehumidifier to achieve the ideal level.
9. Make Your Home a No-Smoking Zone
Protecting your home from secondhand cigarette smoke is the most important thing you can do to improve indoor air quality. Cigarette smoke has more than 4,000 chemicals and is linked to a spectrum of health problems
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.