4 Easy Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Many of us--especially city dwellers--worry about the pollution in the air outside of our homes. But get this: the air inside your apartment or house may actually be more toxic than the air outside of it! Paint, furniture, flooring, and cleaning products all degrade the purity of the air we breathe inside.

But before you replace all your furniture with new organic options or repaint every wall with milk paint, consider these simple ways to reduce indoor air pollution:

  1. Vaccuum more. I know this one might not feel so easy (especially if you've got young kids at home), but it truly goes a long way. Many toxins--including flame retardants--accumulate in dust bunnies, and brooms are not as effective as vacuums are at eliminating dust (they also send plumes of it into the air). HEPA-sealed vacuums are superior for their toxin-trapping capabilities.

  • Open windows. Even if you live in a city, you should start each day by opening your windows. Urbanites should check their city's Air Quality Index to determine when pollutants are at their lowest, and close up windows during times when they are high.
  • Detox your cleaning products. You don't need Clorox to keep your family healthy: A recent study found that children living in homes that were regularly bleached suffered from more infections than children whose parents didn't use bleach. What's more, a major source of indoor air pollution is the chemical-laden cleaning products we use. It's tough to know which "natural" cleaning products are truly nontoxic, and EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning Products or the Safe Product Guides on GimmeTheGoodStuff.org can help you identify some that are legit as opposed to green-washed.
  • Fill your house with plants. Unless you suffer from significant allergies, expensive electronic air fresheners are unnecessary. An easier and cheaper way to improve indoor air quality is by filling your rooms with houseplants, which absorb toxins and produce clean oxygen. You'll want one plant per 100 square feet of indoor space. The NASA Clean Air Study identified the top air-filtering plants, so choose from this list.