Spring into a healthy home, Part 1: Improve indoor air quality

By Julie Jordan
Published April 29, 2019

Spring is a great time to clean out months of wintery dust and clutter accumulated around your home. Cleaning also helps make your home healthier for you, your family and your guests. U.S. Housing and Urban Development has eight tips to make your home healthy [pdf] and the first three involve the air you breathe inside your home.

Indoor air quality is one of the most important aspects of a healthy and hospitable home. Some common home air pollutants include oven cleaner, cigarette smoke and mold. Other pollutants are harder to detect and do not have an odor like carbon monoxide or radon. To improve the indoor air quality in your home, buy a radon test kit at a hardware store and test your home. Then, follow the tips below.

Reduce asthma and allergy triggers

If the air inside your home is not clean, it can aggravate asthma and allergies. For example, pets, smokers and damp areas can all trigger symptoms. If severe enough, both asthma and allergies may cause death. Make it easier for your family and friends to breathe in your home:  

  • Do not smoke in your home or car, and never smoke near your children.
  • Confine your pets to the outdoors and rooms not used for sleeping.  
  • During spring when pollen is high, leave windows closed. Use central AC with a HEPA filter attachment.
  • Wash bedding every week.
  • Store food in containers with covers.

Keep it dry 

Keeping moisture in your home can cause mold to grow. It can also make asthma and allergies worse. Try to keep your home and everything in it dry. To stop the growth of mold:

  • Repair leaking roofs, walls, doors or windows.
  • Keep surfaces clean and dry—wipe up spills and overflows right away.
  • Store clothes and towels after they are clean and dry—do not let them stay wet in the laundry basket or washing machine.
  • Cut down on steam in the bathroom while bathing or showering. Run a fan that is vented to the outside or open a window.
  • Run a fan vented to the outside when cooking.

Detect carbon monoxide early

Ovens and heaters can cause this deadly gas to build up inside your home. The gas is colorless and odorless, but the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are like the flu. Protect your family:

  • Never use charcoal grills or run engines inside your home, garage or basement even for a short time.
  • Never warm up a vehicle inside the garage. Start lawnmowers, snow blowers, and other yard equipment outdoors.
  • Have a heating contractor check your furnace, chimneys and other sources of carbon monoxide every fall to make sure everything is okay.
  • Have your chimney, wood-burning fireplace or wood stove swept every year. Burning wood nearly always makes a lot of carbon monoxide. It is very important that all the smoke goes out the chimney.
  • Put carbon monoxide alarms near each sleeping area and on each floor of your home.

Learn more about indoor air quality through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency