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7 Easy Ways to Improve Home Air Quality

When you close up your home for the winter months, stale and musty odors can begin to linger and fester. When you’re in your home, you may not even notice the unpleasant smells. If you notice something a little “ripe” when you first step through the door after a long day at work, though, it’s a likely sign of a problem brewing under your nose. Improving the air quality in your home isn’t just a matter of making the home more pleasant for you and your visitors. It’s also about removing airborne pathogens that can either sicken you directly or increase the likelihood that you’ll contract seasonal illnesses.

When you want to get rid of an unpleasant smell in the home, it’s always temping to just spray some air freshener and be done with it. That’s not a true solution for the problem, though, because things like air fresheners, candles and oil diffusers only mask bad smells. An unpleasant smell in the home will only come back unless you eliminate it at the source. That’s how you improve home air quality permanently.

Quit Smoking

There is simply no getting around the fact that smoking smells terrible and is extremely harmful to indoor air quality. It’s also damaging to your health and the health of those around you. Smoking outdoors rather than inside your home is one easy way to eliminate the smell of smoke, but the far better option is to quit. If you have already tried to quit with traditional nicotine replacement options and failed to do so, consider trying vaping instead. Around the world, more than 40 million people have used vaping products from companies like V2 E-Cigarettes UK to quit smoking. Along with the obvious health benefits, vaping also doesn’t leave an unpleasant odor that lingers on your curtains, carpets and clothes.

When you do quit smoking, use that as an opportunity to give your home a deep cleaning and remove the smoky smell permanently.

Replace Your Filters and Clean Your Ducts

If your home has central heating and air conditioning, unpleasant smells from dust and excess moisture can begin to collect in the ducts. While it’s possible – though not easy – to clean your home’s ducts and vents yourself, it’s a better idea to hire a professional HVAC company to do the work for you. That’s because an HVAC technician can inspect and clean your furnace and/or air conditioner while cleaning the ducts. If your air control system has a mold contamination at the source, cleaning the ducts will mask the issue rather than resolving it. Don’t forget to replace the system’s air filters as often as the manufacturer recommends.

Eliminate Excess Moisture in the Home

Aside from cigarette smoking, excess moisture is perhaps the biggest detriment to air quality in the home because moisture leads to mold contamination – and once mold growth begins, the situation can quickly escalate out of control. Activated charcoal packets and commercial desiccants like DampRid can both help to remove excess moisture from enclosed spaces like basements, attics, closets and under sinks. Remember that excess moisture under a sink could be a sign of a bigger problem; check under your faucets and repair leaks promptly.

Give Your Drains a Good Cleaning

Stinky drains are bigger contributors to unpleasant smells in the home than you might realize. In the kitchen, food particles and bits of grease can collect and fester in pipes. In the bathroom, hairs tend to collect in the drains and harbor mold. In the worst cases, it might be necessary to use commercial cleaners to clear your drains. In many cases, though, it’s possible to dislodge unwanted particles by flushing drains with baking soda and vinegar. To clean a drain, pack it with baking soda and pour in some white vinegar to start the foaming action. When the foaming subsides, flush the drain with hot water. To clean your garbage disposal, run the disposal with ice and salt inside.

Keep Pet Smells Under Control

Though you make every effort to keep them clean, your pets will contribute odors to your home by dropping fur and dander and, possibly, by having occasional accidents. When a pet does have an accident, clean the area promptly and spray it liberally with an enzyme-based cleaner.

Keeping your home vacuumed is the best way to control smells from pet hair and dander, but once in a while, you may want to clean the home a little more deeply than that. First, vacuum the floors and furniture as thoroughly as possible. Vacuum under the furniture. Clean under cushions with a crevice tool. Once you’ve done that, sprinkle baking soda on your floors and furniture, leaving it there overnight to absorb odors. Vacuum it up in the morning.

Circulate the Air in Your Home

It’s not always easy during winter, but when the weather is cooperative, you should open the windows to circulate the air in your home. If there isn’t a cross-breeze, place box fans at opposite ends of the home. Point one fan in and the other fan out to force stale air out and bring fresh air in.

Buy a Good Air Filter

Once you’ve done everything you can to remove the sources of unpleasant odors in your home, getting an air filter can help you maintain the improved indoor air quality by minimizing dust and other airborne pollutants. Before you start shopping, though, you should understand that a good air filter can be a fairly expensive investment. You’ve probably seen air ionizers at electronics stores and online that claim to purify the air at a fraction of the cost of an air filter – and if that sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.

An ionizer works by flooding the air with negative ions. The ions attach to airborne pollutants, which makes them heavier and causes them to fall to the floor. The pollutants aren’t gone; they’ve just fallen to where you can no longer smell them. Ionizers also emit potentially harmful ozone.

A good air purifier works by cycling the air in your home and trapping pollutants in filters. Look for a filter with a HEPA stage; HEPA filters trap particles as small as 0.3 micrometers. A more expensive model may also include a pre-filter stage that traps larger particles and improves the life of the HEPA filter. Lastly, an activated charcoal stage is useful for trapping and eliminating unpleasant smells.


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