We live in a colder climate and during the winter months the air in our home tends to not be as fresh as it is during the spring and summer when windows and doors are left open to let the fresh air waft in.
That being said, during the winter I have to be a little more proactive about keeping the indoor air quality more to what it should be. And although you probably won't notice a difference in your air quality, chances are it will have decreased significantly during the winter months if you live in a colder climate.
These days are homes are very well insulated and for that I am truly thankful. But a downside to that is not having fresh air coming into our homes like we need.
During the winter our houses are all closed up--keeping the toxins in and the fresh air out. In fact, unless you're buying ecofriendly furniture, paint, cleaning supplies, carpet, etc., chances are those items may still be off-gassing their VOCs (Volatile organic compounds) into your home. "VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects." source In fact, according to the EPA, VOCs may be up to ten times higher indoors than out. (I knew there was another good reason for me to get outside and go for a walk in the winter! Sigh.)
In fact, if you're a Stay-at-Home-Mom like me, then you're at a higher risk for developing certain cancers because of the toxins in your home (many of which come from all those chemicals you may be using to clean your home.) Click here for some cleaning options using Essential Oils instead!
So, to help improve your indoor air quality, you can do the following:
- on a daily basis (and I don't) is to crack the bedroom windows for 5 minutes a day. When I do this, I make sure to close the bedroom doors so as not to lose all our heat from the house. But considering how much time we spend in our bedrooms each night, it's a good idea to let some fresh air in on a daily basis. There is something invigorating about cold fresh air and I especially like to enjoy it for a few minutes from my nice warm home rather than actually getting out IN it. Can you tell I'm not much of a cold weather girl? :)
- stop using air fresheners whether they be sprays or plug ins. Again, you can use Essential Oils to make your home smell good. (See an alternative below)
- make your own natural household cleaners.
- stop burning candles (I know, this may be hard for some of you although I have heard that Mia Bella candles are non-toxic and soot free. I will confess, every once in awhile we do light a few candles for a candle light dinner. The kids love it!)
- Include plants throughout your home.
NASA has actually done quite a bit of research on the effectiveness of having houseplants in your home. According to their research, the following plants are the most effective at removing formaldehyde molecules: Philodendron, spider plant and the golden pothos. Gerbera daisies (love these!) and chrysanthemums also received a superior rating when it came to removing benzene (a petrochemical). Some other great options for your home are Dracaena Massangeana, and Golden Pothos.
NASA's top 10 most effective plants at removing Formaldehyde, Benzene, and Carbon Monoxide from the air are:
- Bamboo Palm – Chamaedorea Seifritzii
- Chinese Evergreen - Aglaonema Modestum
- English Ivy Hedera Helix
- Gerbera Daisy Gerbera Jamesonii
- Janet Craig - Dracaena “Janet Craig”
- Marginata - Dracaena Marginata
- Mass cane/Corn Plant - Dracaena Massangeana
- Mother-in-Law’s Tongue Sansevieria Laurentii
- Pot Mum – Chrysantheium morifolium
- Peace Lily - Spathiphyllum
- Warneckii - Dracaena “Warneckii”
One plant I'd like to try is the Peace Lily because it can grow well in limited lighting. (We have very limited window space where plants can actually get the light they need. This plant's native area is the bottom of the rain forest floor so it was made to survive without a lot of light.) Besides, the peace lily is one of the top indoor air cleaners.
I am very thankful for the symbiotic relationship we enjoy with this aspect of God's creation. We need plants and trees to produce oxygen and they need our carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. They are essential to good air quality.
And don't forget to try this natural air freshener recipe from my friend Karen to help your home be healthy.
Air Freshner using Essential Oils
Combine 1 cup water, 10 drops bergamot oil, 10 drops lavender oil, 10 drops orange oil, 10 drops sandalwood in a small spray bottle. Shake before spraying. During the holiday’s, feel free to switch it up with ginger, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon oils. Or, you can try evergreen and peppermint essential oils.
What do you do to improve your indoor air quality and what kind of plants have you found to be easy to grow indoors?
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