I want you to close your eyes and take a deep breath. Imagine the space inside your home. Is it dusty? Clean? Perhaps a mix of both? It is obvious that removing dust from the home makes it look better, but did you know that proper and consistent dust removal can significantly improve the air quality in your home? 

Household dust is the largest avenue of exposure to toxic chemicals in our homes. Chemicals from the products we use, surround ourselves with and track in leach into dust, which is then inhaled. Examples include, but are not limited to, lead in paint, formaldehyde and glue from compressed wood furniture, flame retardants from mattresses and furniture, phthalates from scented products, pesticides, dust mites, mold spores, etc. 

Research from the Centers for Disease Control, Duke University, Harvard University and other leaders show that the levels of toxins we are exposed to through dust in our homes are at the same levels as have been proven to cause neurological harm and hormone disruption. If you are anything like me, that information just amplified that thin layer of dust as a neon highlighter in a textbook.

As always, though, when we know better, we can do better. Here are 10 simple tips to improve the air quality in your home:

  1. Vacuum regularly, ideally two times a week with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. 

  2. Dust frequently with microfiber cloths and without chemical-laden dusting sprays. If you need something akin to a dust spray, try a small amount of olive oil and buff it into the furniture. 

  3. Have professionals remove any lead paint still in your home. This may not apply to everyone, but will make a big difference to those who need it done.

  4. Wash your hands after handling lint. The small things add up!

  5. Wash your hands before eating. We all know this, but it never hurts to enforce it more frequently.

  6. Change out the filters in your A/C unit and furnace. Bonus points: Set a reminder to check and change them monthly, or as needed.

  7. Invest in an air filter, especially in bedrooms and/or high traffic areas of the home.

  8. Grab a few NASA-recommended plants to help filter your air. Quick note: These will help improve air quality and aesthetics, but will need to be dusted monthly as well.

  9. Invest in flame retardant-free furniture. This is a higher-priced option, but important nonetheless. Start with the things you use the most (mattresses, couches, chairs) and replace as needed with products free from flame retardants. 

  10. Open your windows. Arkansans are lucky to have pleasant weather a lot of the year, so open the windows and flood your home with fresh air several times a month.

Positive, lasting changes happen with consistent, small actions. Pick one thing. For me, it all started with a bi-weekly reminder to vacuum my home. After about a month that became a habit, which led to the mental space to do one more good thing. Consistency is key, and your health will thank you!

 

Heather Disarro is the author and creator of Heather’s Dish, a clean beauty educator, a health coach and social media boss of Content Titan, a digital content powerhouse. She loves spending time with her husband and two kids doing almost anything outdoors, eating great food, reading and enjoying everything Arkansas has to offer.