We do our best to make sure that our home is a safe and clean environment for us and our family. We stock up on healthy foods, make the space feel comfortable and relaxing, and keep it clean and inviting. But one of the most important qualities of a healthy home is often forgotten, though it’s right in front of us—between every laugh, before every word we speak, and even while we sleep: our air.
Here in Colorado, even our weather conditions affect our indoor air quality. During fire season, we keep windows closed for days (or weeks) to avoid smoke irritating our respiratory systems. In the winter we’re closed-in from the cold with the heat cranked up and our humidifiers on to protect our sensitive skin and sinuses, creating the perfect environment to nurture bacteria, mold, and viruses if not properly filtered and ventilated. Even energy-efficient building construction, in addition to being a huge resource-saver, can also contribute to stagnant air and may worsen indoor air quality.
The air in our homes is vital to our overall health. According to the EPA, Americans spend, on average, 90% of their time indoors—and that’s before we were all told to stay home!
In our household, we take pleasure in our days spent at home, gathered together, enjoying activities as a family. So when we learned that indoor air can be up to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air, we made it a priority to learn more about what that really means and what we can do to improve ours.
Sources of Indoor Air Pollutants
Some indoor pollutants are less obvious than others. Many of the most common external sources of pollutants come in through ventilation systems and open windows such as:
- Outside pollutants
But there are also many indoor air pollutants that we may be less familiar with but are surprisingly common. It’s subtle sources like these that we may not notice until they build up in our homes and cause symptoms. Examples of more subtle indoor air pollutants are:
- Cleaning products
- Air fresheners
- Cosmetics & personal care products
- Clothes that have been dry cleaned
- Non-stick cookware
- Pet dander
- Pest control chemicals
- Termites, cockroaches, and dust mites; including their droppings
- Smoke (cigarette/tobacco, fires); even what’s brought into our house on our clothing
- Gas stoves, ovens and dryers
- Chemicals found in building materials such as asbestos, formaldehyde and lead
Symptoms Associated with Indoor Air Pollutants
If you’ve been living in the same home for a long time, it might be hard to tell if your air quality is good or bad. Take a moment and ask yourself if you’ve noticed any of these symptoms in you or your children.
According to the EPA, indoor air pollution can cause immediate symptoms such as:
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation
- Difficulty concentrating
In the long-term, asthma symptoms may develop or worsen. Studies also suggest an increased risk for respiratory diseases, heart disease and even cancer.
How to Improve Indoor Air Quality
There are many ways to reduce common indoor air pollutants. Remember, even a small change in your home can make a big difference to your health. So, if you can’t make all of these changes at once, it’s okay. Do what you can and, little by little, you’ll feel a difference.
- Swap out chemical cleaning products for natural or homemade cleaning products (this cleaner is our favorite and the most economical!)
- Trade out fragrance air fresheners and scented candles for one made with high-quality essential oils (see this post to learn how to make your own candles)
- Instead of using perfume and deodorants with synthetic fragrances, look for natural alternatives with a short list of clean ingredients—or make your own! (check out our D.I.Y. deodorant recipe)
- Choose natural hair sprays, shampoos and cosmetic products to minimize the scents that can fill your home with toxins (this post discusses how to purchase safe cosmetics)
- Invest in pans that are free from toxic chemicals (see our recommendations in this post)
- Upgrade to organic products with certifications that ensure low VOCs to prevent outgassing of toxic volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from house paint, carpet, mattresses, and furniture (read this post for the mattress we own and love and this post to learn about healthy home improvements)
Ways to Filter Indoor Air
Along with swapping out possible contributors to indoor air pollution, there are additions to your home that can naturally filter the air and improve air quality. Many of these also have the added benefit of making your home feel cozy and relaxing, too.
- On beautiful days, open your windows and allow the air within your home to circulate. Be mindful, however, if you have seasonal allergies, live in a polluted area or live near a lot of construction that this could make matters worse.
- Add plants to your home that will help to purify the air.
- Diffuse or spray essential oils (our favorites are Thieves and Purification).
- Purchase a Himalayan Salt Lamp; these lamps are supposed to help attract pollutants in the air, increase the negative ions that we need, and neutralize the effects of electronics around us.
- Regularly upkeep your home’s HVAC system. Ducts should be cleaned every few years, especially after a home renovation.
- Invest in a good air purifier. We have several air purifiers in both our home and office and they make a huge difference for our health!
Our Personal Decision to Purchase an Air Purifier
At our house, at least a few times each spring and summer, we get “skunked.” Not only is it a nasty assault on our nostrils, it caused us a few sleepless nights each year. This was actually what motivated us to purchase our first air purifier, and it has now saved our sleep many times when the skunks strike!
We purchased additional air purifiers for our office at the beginning of COVID…and additional ones for our home during the months of fires that we endured in Colorado last summer. Many days it would be “raining” soot and I even developed a mild but persistent cough.
What Makes a Great Air Purifier?
Shopping for an air purifier can be overwhelming. There are many different considerations when investing in something that is going to keep your family healthy. Though everyone’s needs are slightly different, keep these four points in mind when doing your research:
1. Size matters. Some great air purifiers simply don’t have the capacity to filter all of the air in a large space. Check to see how large a room your air purifier can filter and how long it takes to do so.
2. Not all filters are alike. There are many different types of particles in the air, with varying sizes and risks. Check to see what particles your air filter can remove from the air.
3. Energy efficiency. An air filter could be running 24/7 in your home, so you don’t want to be racking up a huge bill to keep your air clean.
4. Price point. Purifiers are an investment but they don’t have to break the bank!
Our Favorite Air Purifier: AirDoctor
We LOVE the air purifiers that we use in our home!! We have all three units that AirDoctor makes, since the different models provide different levels of power.
Not only do they help with smoke, skunk, and the general air irritants that we’ve mentioned, the AirDoctor air purifiers also suit our various room sizes while being ultra quiet and energy efficient. It puts our minds at ease, knowing that our family is breathing clean, fresh air in every room in our home.
In addition, AirDoctor has been third-party tested and is backed by science. If you’re familiar with us, you’ll know that we don’t recommend products lightly and always make sure that we have all the facts before passing along recommendations to our community.
AirDoctor captures 100% of airborne particles as small as .003 microns in size and most VOCs (volatile organic chemicals). They even tested their purifiers in a standardized test room and found that AirDoctor removes 99.99% of a test group of 11 bacteria and viruses, including swine flu (H1N1), enterovirus (EV71) and E. coli. According to the FDA, these test bacteria and viruses are representative of a wide variety of pathogens, including COVID-19.*
*Please note: While AirDoctor has been shown to capture particles as small as COVID-19, it has not yet been tested for this virus. Until such testing is available and completed, AirDoctor does not claim to be effective at removing or killing COVID-19.
What Makes AirDoctor Purifiers Unique
In addition to an easy set-up, we really appreciate the automatic setting, which uses an air quality sensor to adjust the level of filtration to make sure that our air is consistently pure. We never have to monitor or adjust the filter speed. When we cook…or paint an accent wall…or smoke from a nearby fire gets into our home, our AirDoctor senses it and the speed increases temporarily to remove the contaminant.
Another stand-out point is their 4-in-1 filtration, which includes AirDoctor’s UltraHEPA air filter. It is 100 times more effective than an ordinary HEPA filter and it filters tiny particles – as small as viruses and smoke – quietly and in as little as 12 minutes!
In this 1-minute video, our daughter Mia and her friend Veda explain how we personally use our air purifiers at home.
Save up to $300!
Because we wholeheartedly use and love their products, we have partnered with AirDoctor so that our clients will always get the best prices they offer! You can save up to $300 when you purchase an AirDoctor air purifier through this link.
Click the orange ORDER NOW button to load the best prices, which will be lower than on Amazon or even through their website directly. We will also notify you of special sales and promotions as they arise.
The Benefits of Clean Air
Air circulates through our whole body and good air quality can have a huge benefit to most of our bodily systems. Clean air quality can help you:
- Breathe better
- Sleep more soundly
- Improve cognitive function
- Combat asthma and other respiratory issues
- And even lower the risks of conditions such as heart disease and diabetes
The bottom line is that when your air is clean, you feel good!