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6 Ways to Have Cleaner Air Quality at Home

Updated: Nov 29, 2022




 

Overview


From home working to cosy winter months, we can spend significant portion of our days in our homes. Keeping that environment clean and healthy for us to live in takes some regular effort, but the rewards are worth it.


This post is a short summary of the causes of indoor air pollution, and some simple actions for tenants to take. 10 to 15 minute read.


Types of indoor air pollution


Air Pollution is best defined as “dust, dirt or gases in the air inside a building that harms us if we breathe it in”. It can be caused by many things, from poor ventilation and damp to chemicals in cleaning products and paints. It comprises tiny particles that usually cannot be seen or smelled. There are three main types of pollution in our homes: particulate matter (PM), gases and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).


UK property is designed to contain a basic set of mechanical ventilation tools to change the air, which are then augmented by the occupants depending on how they live and use they’re home.




Ways to optimise Air Quality

  1. Use the ventilation in your home

  2. Open your windows – but be strategic

  3. Dust Regularly

  4. Remove condensation and damp

  5. Use less-polluting cleaning products

  6. Keep House Plants


Use the ventilation in your home

Ensure that extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom are operating when you cook or shower, and until the moisture in the air has been cleared. Ideally also open the window in the same room to create a through path of air for the extractor to pull new air from. Where there are airbricks and windows have trickle vents, keep these open and unobstructed.


When steam or moisture has been generated in a room, make sure it is cleared through air flow and not allowed to linger and condensate on the walls and ceilings. This will lead to damp and mould. When you do start seeing mould, wiped it off with bleach or eco cleaner.


Open your windows – but be strategic

Opening your windows regularly through the day removes polluting particles from the air in your living space and lets in fresh air. If your near a busy road then try to avoid peak traffic times. Don't forget to do this in winter when humidity is high, however tempting it is to keep all windows tightly closed. Fresh air will make you feel more alert and natural rather than a stuffy heated home.


Ideally you want to open windows so there is a through draft across your home. For example having them open in the kitchen at one side of the property, and at least one in a bedroom at the other side. This gives a pathway in and out of the home. Rather than just a single window open, where the clean air will not move through the property.


We recommend you leave all windows, without trickle vents, on the first opening lock position, so there is a small opening for continuos airflow.


Dust Regularly


A good quality vacuum cleaner is a powerful force against dust, pollen and dirt, all of which can quickly build up and irritate your respiratory system. Vacuum as regularly as you can, including underneath sofas and beds.


Bash cushions, rugs and throws against outside walls to reduce how much dust they’re holding. Change your bedding weekly and wash it at 60 degrees to kill dust mites and germs. Keep surfaces clutter-free for frequent dusting and use a damp cloth to trap those particles.




Remove condensation and damp

Condensation forms when hot air and colder surfaces meet, and the hot air cools to form a vapour on the surface. The biggest causes of this issue are cooking, kettles, showering, breathing and too much heating.


Dust mites, mould and viruses love heat and moisture. Take care to keep the door shut when taking a hot shower, open the window, run the extractor fan and also importantly use a sponge to wipe down the shower walls after to remove the moisture. When cooking cover pans, turn on the extractor fan to get rid of steam.


Avoid the temperatures cycling between high and low and look to maintain an even 18-20 degree temperature throughout the property. Humidity between 30-60%. Open the windows as much as possible to prevent condensation building up, especially while sleeping. Here we will expel large amounts of warm air (and CO2) in a single room, for a long period of time. Research has shown sleeping with the window open offers significant benefits. If controlling your humidity level proves a struggle, consider investing in a dehumidifier or moisture trap.


Drying clothes - Avoid drying clothes on radiators as this can cause localised condensation and mould, along with damaging the fibres of your clothes.


We recommend either outside drying or when inside using a heated drying rack in your largest non-bedroom, with the window open to allow the extra moisture to escape while drying. Or if the window is closed use a dehumidifier or moisture trap. You can buy a heated towel rack from the likes of Argos for £50 upwards, and they use about 10th of the energy a tumble dryer does, making them much more environmentally friendly.


If you find mould starting to grow on surfaces, clean it off with an eco-cleaning product. Consider why it is forming – this is almost always condensation and too much moisture. The video below gives further information on removing moisture. If you suspect a leak then raise an issue report and provide details.


The below video has some great insights and points on removing moisture and hence condensation from a property.





Use less-polluting cleaning products

Consider switching to ways of cleaning that are less polluting than household aerosols and sprays.

  • E-cloths are microfibre cloths designed to remove more than 99% of bacteria. All you need to do is rinse the cloth and wring it out, draw it across your dirty surfaces and wash it afterwards with hot water or in the washing machine.

  • White vinegar can be great for some jobs, such as descaling kettles and shower heads, and leaving streak-free windows. Don't use vinegar to clean mirrors, stone or granite kitchen countertops, or wooden or stone flooring, as it can make them lose their shine. Don't use it for knives, washing machines or dishwashers, either, as it might cause damage.

  • Baking soda works wonders for stains and smells, it's non-abrasive and saves you having to scrub or use bleach. You can use it to wipe away old food residues from the inside of a fridge, for example, or you can add it to pots and pans to help lift stubborn, crusty foods.

Be aware that in marketing, words such as 'green', 'natural' and 'eco friendly' are often meaningless, as there's no regulation around their use. If using shop-bought cleaning products, choose cream cleaners over spray cleaners, and scentless or low-scent products if you can. The less fragrance, the less reactive chemistry there is likely to be.



Keep House Plants

Below is a short video from Youtube about house plants that can remove moisture and improve air quality. This doesn’t happen overnight and it not a silver bullet to clean your air, but they can help and provide a relaxing environment which will naturally lower your bodies stress levels and increase happiness. Try and shop local for any plants you buy, there are a number of local stores such a BUD or Platt fields Park allotment where you can purchase from.




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