Your spring cleaning To-Do list is already full of all those tasks you’ve been putting off since September: giving the bathtub a good scrub, re-organizing and de-crumbing your pantry, emptying all the clutter from your desk drawers, and untangling all those cords behind your TV, for starters.
But spring cleaning is also a good chance to help purify your home’s air. We know, we know: You already have SO much to do. Why add more to the list? But most of the things that purify the air also just clean your space in general. Everyone loves multitasking, right?
Clean air at home has a big payoff: Fewer contaminants in your home air may lower your risk of respiratory problems, infections, and lung diseases (even lung cancer). Clean air can also minimize complications from allergies, asthma, and eczema. Before you invest in pricy air filters, try these natural remedies for cleaner air at home.
Fix leaks and drips ASAP. Besides wasting water and making annoying drip-drop sounds all day, leaks create stagnant water in your kitchen and bathrooms. Standing water is a breeding ground for mold, which is linked to asthma flare-ups, coughing, congestion, and sore throat, especially for people with allergies.
No smoking. No exceptions. You already know what smoking does to your body, but cigarette smoke adds pollutants to your home air as well. Each year, secondhand smoke triggers over 202,000 asthma flare-ups in children and is responsible for 7,330 deaths from lung cancer, according to the American Lung Association (ALA). Don’t let anyone smoke in your home, and encourage any smokers in your life to try these methods to quit smoking today.
Keep humidity levels below 50 percent. High moisture encourages growth of mold, bacteria, and dust mites. Use a dehumidifier if needed, especially in bathrooms after steamy showers.
Ditch scented candles and fragrances. That warm vanilla scent may be a cozy welcome when you step into your home, but artificial fragrances are a common irritant for allergies and asthma, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. This includes scents from candles, air fresheners, body sprays, scented wax warmers, and cleaners.
Bathe pets weekly to reduce dander. Pet dander commonly trigger allergic reactions for many. The dander actually comes from Foxy’s saliva, not her fur itself, so washing her regularly (or freshening up using dander-reducing wipes) can reduce the amount of dander on her fur. Word of caution: Don’t wash too frequently or with harsh shampoos or you could dry out their skin.
Go green with plants. A 2010 study tested 86 types of houseplants and found that the Japanese royal fern was the most effective at reducing formaldehyde in the air. Devil’s ivy is another top performer; it effectively reduced levels of the chemicals benzene and trichloroethylene in a Plexiglas chamber to “barely detectable levels within two hours,” according to a 2011 article in Environmental Health Perspectives. Do your research before investing in a houseplant—some may trigger certain allergies.
Keep food and trash covered and floors clean. Um, you’re already doing this, right? Leaving out food (even those muffin crumbs on the floor) invites pests, especially cockroaches. In addition to being incredibly unpleasant to look at, cockroaches produce allergens in their poop (yep) that can contaminate the air and worsen asthma and allergies. Exposure to cockroach infestations may even cause the development of asthma in toddlers and young children, according to the ALA.
Avoid toxic cleaning supplies. Unfortunately, the same supplies you might use to dust your living room or mop your kitchen floor may also pollute your air. The harsh chemicals in many of these products can irritate your throat and eyes and trigger headaches. (Learn other common headache triggers here.) You could go all natural (and budget savvy!) by cleaning with warm water and unscented soap or baking soda. You can also find air-friendly cleaners using the Safer Choice list by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
While you’re cleaning and decluttering, here’s how to organize your fridge for healthy eating.