How To Refresh The Air In Your Home & Get Rid Of Indoor Air Pollution
Back in the day, our homes weren’t exactly what you would call sealed.
My grandpa loves to tell stories of his childhood, and I love to listen to them. Doing just this one afternoon, he nonchalantly mentioned, as part of a larger tale, how the snow would come through onto his pillow at night, as a boy.
I imagined the pale blue lines of moonlight pouring through between each wooden board onto his bed, and wondered if the snow patterned itself in this same way, until slumbered movement dispersed it, or until it melted from the warmth of his little body.
I tell this story because these days we live in very different homes, most of us. Homes that are sealed tight, homes where snow landing on our pillows in the night is unthinkable and third worldly.
And this is largely a good thing, I think we’d all agree.
But hardiness does come at a price, and it could certainly be argued that exposures to less than ideal situations like the one above, do good things for an immune system.
Furthermore, our perfectly sealed homes do not jive well with the plethora of chemicals we bring into them.
From the very building materials of modern houses to the formaldehyde that is literally on every single household product, to the chemicals we use to [ironically] clean our homes and ourselves.
We go on to burn candles that contain toxic lead wicks and chemical-laden fragrances, and amidst it all, we hardly ever open a window for very long.
All of these pollutants get brought inside our sealed-tight homes, and there they stay. Living with us, living with our newborns, our children, the elderly, getting breathed into lungs, interacting with our skin, making their way into our bloodstream, and wreaking havoc both short and long-term.
It’s no secret— our modern Western world isn’t exactly known for its good health, with a large percentage of the population living with chronic diseases, and where prescription medicine for something is the norm.
And we rarely even think to consider our homes as a potential contributor.
Years ago, the EPA released a statement that warned of the dangers of indoor air pollution. It turns out that indoor air pollution is often worse than outdoor air pollution.
I keep this in mind with my own home, and I wanted to share the strategies and routines and habits that work for me when it comes to keeping our indoor air fresh and clean.
How To Refresh The Air In Your Home & Get Rid of Indoor Air Pollution
open your windows
This is first and foremost because it’s the most simple.
You can stand up and go do at this very moment. Easy.
This is hands down the best way to refresh the air in your home and cycle pollutants out.
If you have reasons for not opening your windows, find the solutions. Worried about a break in? Use a bar or stick in the adjacent window from the open one, this will lock it in place and make it virtually impossible to slide open any further.
Put a screen in if you’re lacking one.
Disagreeable temperatures? I say adapt. But, if that’s out of the question, open the windows for atleast an hour or two each day as opposed to leaving them open and if it’s hot outside, nighttime breezes will be a lot cooler.
How we do windows: we pretty much leave our windows open non-stop. Our bedroom window stays open at all times, with a bar lodged in it for security, and opening the windows throughout the rest of the house is part of my morning routine. We are so so fortunate to live beside the sea, so closing the windows feels sacrilegious. My lifelong chronic allergies have mostly disappeared since moving here and I attribute it mostly to the salty sea.
use beeswax candles
This recommendation is two-fold: use beeswax candles and replace all other candles with beeswax.
The fragrances in candles are often toxic chemicals that just add to the pollution soup, but even worse is the fact that many candle wicks have been found to contain lead. When you heat lead and send those fumes into the air, a whole host of health issues can arise.
If you do want a scented candle, do your research and look for a candle that only uses essential oils.
Bonus - beeswax candles aren’t neutral, they actually help purify air. Win-win!
incorporate more houseplants
Take NASA’s advice on purifying indoor air: collect houseplants.
invest in a good air purifier
My husband and I are both fan sleepers.
So rather than using an actual fan to generate soothing white noise, we keep an air filter in the corner of the bedroom. This is the exact air purifier we have.
I recommend having at least one air purifier in the home. Ideally, a central location. When we live inland, I keep a centrally located air purifier going all the time.
These help reduce dust, dander, mold spores, and other allergens and are especially crucial for anyone with allergies or asthma.
add a salt lamp to each room*
*There are a lot of claims about salt lamps filtering air and releasing negative ions and being beneficial for health, but unfortunately I couldn’t find any evidence that this is actually true.
Despite! I use salt lamps. They are beautiful, and add the perfect warm relaxing glow to corners and shelves, giving a soothing spa element to the home.
And maybe just maybe there is something to the claims and we’ll find out one day. Who knows. Either way, I figure there’s no harm.
reap the benefits of charcoal
If the air purifier listed above isn’t in your budget, consider trying this smaller charcoal air purifier.
Charcoal is the ultimate natural purifier. You’re probably familiar with people consuming activated charcoal for detoxes and when they’re sick.
But did you know you can even put a chunk of charcoal in front of a fan, pointing the fan to blow over the charcoal, and this will aid in filtering pollutants in a room? So if you’re really strapped for cash, there you go!
diffuse thieves oil
I don’t know how I ever lived without diffusers.
Now, I like to have them all over the house :)
In the Wintertime, it’s lovely to diffuse a nice Spruce, Pine, Frankincense, or Cedarwood essential oil. In Spring, an Orange or Lemon or Lavender oil. Autumn is the perfect season to add a drop or two of Cinnamon Bark, Cardamom, or Nutmeg. And Grapefruit or Ylang Ylang to add freshness amidst the sultry Summer.
For the purposes of air purification, though - it’s Thieves oil all the way for me.
use simple non-toxic cleaners
Ironically, cleaners are one of the biggest sources of indoor air pollution.
For carpets, I mix baking soda with about 10 drops of Ylang Ylang essential oil and sprinkle it over the carpets and rugs a day before vacuuming.
I mop with a simple bucket of hot water and about 2 tablespoons of Dr. Bronner’s Eucalyptus soap.
For an all-purpose cleaner, a hot towel with Thieves oil works fine.
If you do buy products, just make sure to check the ingredients and opt for a non-toxic brand.