6 Tips for Maintaining Healthy Indoor Air

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A Breath of Fresh Air

Picture this: it’s a cold, snowy day and you’re curled up in a cozy armchair reading your favorite book. As you sip on a steaming cup of hot chocolate you take a deep breath and…you immediately start coughing. During the winter, windows are closed and drafty cracks are sealed. As a result, homes are also sealed off from any fresh air and the levels of allergens and pollutants are raised.

Studies have shown that air quality during the winter months is 1,000% worse in homes than any other time of the year! For those seeking relief, here are a few tips for maintaining healthy indoor air:

1. Keep it Green

Plants thrive on most of the chemicals that make humans sick, and they quickly remove toxins from the air. To get the maximum air purifying potential from plants you should have one plant per every 10 square yards of floor space. If you lack a green thumb, don’t fret. Most of the popular indoor plants, like peace lily, bamboo palm, English ivy and mum, can live in dark corners with little TLC.

2. Thank You for Not Smoking

Avoid smoking in your home. If you must smoke, or have friends or family members that smoke, do so outdoors a few feet from the house.

3. Circulate Air

When you leave your house to run quick errands, leave a few windows open a couple of inches. This will help to circulate fresh air. Beware: it might be a bit chilly when you get home!

4. Please Take off Your Shoes

If you wear shoes in your house, you’re dragging around and stomping dirt, dust and particles all over your home. Leave a shoe rack by your back door and make it a habit to slide around in socks or bare feet.

5. Use Non-Toxic Cleaning Products

Cleaning supplies are filled with chemicals. There are plenty of natural cleaning products available in stores, or there’s a number of safe alternatives you can make on your own that clean just as well and smell even better. Lemons and oranges are excellent natural cleansing and deodorizing fruits. Drop an orange and lemon slice into your garbage disposal and run. The orange dissolves grease and breaks up food, while the lemon leaves behind a clean scent. Squeeze a little orange into a spray bottle with water, and voila—you have a grease buster and disinfectant to use on countertops. Got streaks? Mix baking soda with household vinegar for a great window cleaner. If you have to use cleaning supplies with toxins, please remember to ventilate so you can get rid of the fumes as quickly as possible.

6. Freshen Up…Naturally

Aerosol air fresheners smell great, but not always natural. They don’t last that long so you have to keep on spraying, which means you’re stuck breathing in those fumes all day long—bad for you, bad for the environment. Here are a few natural odor neutralizing tricks: put some rosewater in a spray bottle and use for a fabric refresher on your furniture. Try rubbing lavender oil on light bulbs around the house or put coffee grinds in the bottom of a clean trash car. Every time you flip a switch or throw away garbage, you’ll get a whiff of fresh air. Soy based candles are also a great way to add a pleasant scent to your home. Just remember to blow out the flames before you leave a room.

Winter is a time of hibernation. We spend hours cooped up indoors with decreased ventilation, so it’s important to take extra care when maintaining indoor quality. And with a little help from Mother Nature, your home can smell fresh and clean all year round.

This article is from the Winter 09 Mambo Sprouts Messenger newsletter.

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