Happy, healthy and natural ways of improving the air quality in your home
When it comes to living a healthy, natural lifestyle, one of the best ways we can start our journey is by tackling the air quality in our home. After all, we spend plenty of time indoors, and particularly as the winter season approaches. According to the EPA, the air quality inside our homes can be 5-10 times more polluted than the air outside. Scary, huh! That’s why it’s so important that our space not only feels comfortable, but that the air we breathe in is fresh, too.
The idea of keeping a healthy home seems simple but where to start? Do I have to toss everything and start again? The good news is there are a number of small, simple changes that can make a difference to the air quality of your home.
1. Slowly start to switch out your household products
When I first delved into my natural living journey, I was shocked to discover that many ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ cleaning and beauty products still contained myriad of chemicals. Most are hidden under the labelled ingredient ‘fragrance’, which could be a mixture of unidentified chemical ingredients such as carcinogens, allergens, hormone disruptors and respiratory irritants that can throw our bodies entirely out of whack. It’s no wonder so many of us struggle with everyday health ailments.
These days, I love whipping up new sprays, cleaners and other various earth-friendly goods to keep our house smelling and looking beautiful, plus it’s so much more satisfying to make your own. Many of the items in your pantry, such as baking soda and vinegar, work beautifully as homemade cleaners and, what’s even better, is they cost next to nothing to make.
If you’re not into making your own, you might be interested in Think Dirty – a free app that scans potentially toxic ingredients in your cleaning and self-care products.
2. Keep your home smelling beautiful, naturally
Scented candles may seem harmless, however, many of them are made from paraffin, a petroleum by-product that pollutes the air in your home. Similarly, air fresheners, toilet sprays and reed diffusers can also contain harmful synthetic fragrances that disrupt the natural air in your home. Instead, opt for beeswax or soy candles made with essential oils, or invest in a diffuser that will last for years to come.
3. Keep dust to a minimum
It’s essential to keep the dust in your home to a minimum as it contains an array of toxins that can easily be breathed in. I use my homemade all-purpose cleaner to wipe down surfaces at least once a month using a microfibre cloth, and mop floors on a regular basis. A vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter is also a brilliant investment as it can catch smaller particles to remove allergens and other contaminants easily. Alternatively, you could also use an air purifier if you struggle with airborne dust, mould, pet dander or pollen.
4. Open your windows
So how does our indoor air get so polluted? Many of our household furnishings and products are continually releasing Volatile Organic Compounds (also known as VOCs). These can come from new furniture, paint, cleaning and beauty products, carpet and adhesives to name a few. One of the simplest things you can do to remove the VOCs is to open your windows. Each morning, I wander around the house and open the windows in each room and allow the air to circulate for at least a few hours.
5. Pot up a plant or two
Not only do indoor plants add vibrancy, texture and colour to a space, many have the ability to reduce toxins in the air. The humble plant has the ability to absorb indoor air pollutants such as ammonia, benzene and formaldehyde (which is emitted from most new types of furniture). Some of the best air-neutralising plants include bamboo, ferns, palms, peace lilies, chrysanthemum and spider plants.
6. Keep the nasties out
If you’re going to all the trouble of keeping toxins out of your home, don’t forget that many kinds of chemicals can easily be walked inside thanks to pesticides and such. Grass and gardens treated with herbicides, insecticides and fungicides can easily be tracked through our homes when we don’t remove our shoes first. This tip is simple – leave your shoes at the door.
Remember to give yourself grace in this process. Creating a chemical-free home isn’t going to happen overnight. Instead, allow plenty of time to switch out products as you go along, and be sure to celebrate each step of the way.
Homemade purifying mist
This zesty spray is particularly good at diminishing any lingering odours in the kitchen. During the warmer months, I’ll switch out the spicy clove for something a little more refreshing such as eucalyptus, lemongrass or grapefruit. Patchouli or geranium paired with orange is another lovely combination.
- 10 drops orange essential oil
- 5 drops lemon essential oil
- 5 drops clove essential oil
- 10ml witch hazel
- 50ml glass spray bottle
Put all the ingredients into an amber-coloured spray bottle and top with filtered water. Shake gently to combine.
Words and photography by: Eleanor Ozich.