NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality


Poor quality of the air in your home can be expensive – mold can destroy property that needs to be replaced and medical bills for respiratory illnesses quickly add up.  It can be easy to spend a fortune trying to “improve” the air quality in our homes. We buy fabric sprays, air fresheners, candles, special vacuum cleaners, and expensive purification machines. Unfortunately, most of the candles, plug-ins, and sprays just make things worse. They don’t eliminate odors; they simply mask them. As for the expensive machines, they are usually only required for people with allergies so severe that the slightest bit of allergen can make them sick.

For the majority of us, there are plenty of free and low cost things we can do to improve the air in our homes. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Open the Windows -This is the simplest way to improve the air in your home. When a house is shut up, odors and allergens accumulate. You need to allow fresh air to circulate. It’s especially important to bring in fresh air if you buy new furniture, carpet, or drapes, or paint or wallpaper your home.

Turn On A Fan - If cooking and bathroom odors are a problem, turn on the fan over the stove or in the bathroom rather than spraying air fresheners.

Change or Clean Air Filters -Air filters are great at trapping dust and allergens as they blow through the house but full their effectiveness is reduced or eliminated because they’re clogged up and can’t trap anything else. Change filters regularly or buy the washable kind and wash them out regularly. If you add new carpet or remodel, change filters more often as there are more particles in the air than normal.

Dust & Vacuum -A simple clean up can do wonders for air quality. Dust is in the air and it settles on furniture and in the carpets. When cleaning, don’t forget the baseboards, blinds, and under/behind furniture.  Empty the vacuum or change the bag frequently to keep maximum suction and prevent “blowback” from a full bag/canister.

Reduce Clutter -Clutter attracts dust, mold, and mildew. The fewer items sitting around, the fewer place for problems to develop. Sell, toss, or donate the stuff you no longer use and reduce as much clutter as possible.

Smoke Outside -If you smoke, do it outside. If you have guests who smoke, insist that they take it outside.

Get Some Plants -Plants act as natural air purifiers by helping to remove toxins from the air Clean Your Pet’s Bedding - If you have pets, wash and vacuum their bedding regularly, as well as the areas where they spend time. This will keep odors, dander, and fur problems to a minimum.

Deal With Moisture Immediately -Moisture leads to mold, so if you have any leaks, burst pipes, or rain damage, deal with it immediately. Run a fan or open the window in the bathroom when showering to keep mildew and moisture in there to a minimum.

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