- The best way to freshen air is to clean up the source of odors and ventilate, such as running bathroom exhaust fans. Run fans that exhaust to the outside, such as those in the kitchen or bath, or open windows and place window fans to blow air out. Add ventilation when you use household cleaning products indoors.
- From cleansers to pet shampoos, some household cleaners leave behind harmful chemicals or give off gases that can irritate or harm your lungs. Read the small print on labels before purchasing any household chemical, including health and beauty products and air "fresheners." If the product has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) number, the product is classified as a pesticide. But that doesn't mean it's safe. Labels like "organic" and "natural" do not mean a product is safe for everyone either.
- Don't be so quick to turn off exhaust fans in the bathroom or kitchen. They help remove both moisture and air pollutants. Install a quiet, low-energy model. The air inside your home, where you spend up to 95% of your time, can be two to five times more polluted than air outdoors.
- Change the way you clean. Dust mites are everywhere and they trigger allergic reactions ranging from sneezing to asthma attacks. A central vacuum cleaner vented to the outdoors is best, but a vacuum cleaner with a micro filter bag or High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter will also help remove allergens. If the "yuck" factor motivates you, consider this - dust mites feed on skin flakes. Yuck is right!
- Hard-surfaced floors like wood, tile, or linoleum are easier to clean that carpeted floors. Real hardwood flooring is a better deal - when it comes to breathing easy - than engineered wood products used in flooring, which can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- Damp mopping or using a damp cloth to clean hard surfaces at least once a week is a better approach than "dry dusting," which just stirs up the mites and other particles.
- Relative humidity higher than 50% helps not only mold and dust mites thrive, but creepy cockroaches too! Another big Yuck!
- If someone in your family has allergies or asthma, it's important to encase their mattress and pillows in dust-proof or allergen-impermeable covers and replace wool or feather-stuffed bedding materials with synthetic materials. Wool or feather-stuffed bedding attracts more dust mites than synthetics.
- All combustion appliances that burn gas, oil or wood emit carbon monoxide and other dangerous gases. Properly installed appliances vent the fumes outside, but you should also have a carbon monoxide detector in your home and smoke alarms, installed as close to sleeping areas as possible. Remember, carbon monoxide alarms are now required in all Massachusetts' households and apartments.
If you'd like to know more on this topic or other eco-friendly ideas related to real estate, housing, or the Massachusetts housing market, please visit my web site at CyberGreenRealty for more information.
*Bullet points courtesy of RE/MAX Life; written by Broderick Perkins copyright 2009