The Seattle Smoke that has enveloped Seattle and the surrounding area for the last two weeks is finally clearing. Wildfires raging all over Eastern Washington, British Columbia and Northern California gave our area some of the worst air quality of the century, outranking even large cities like Beijing. While the fires have probably caused you to think about taking your outdoor activities inside, you may not even know that your indoors may be just as polluted. Here are five ways to keep your home clear of pollutants, smoke or otherwise:
Take off your shoes. When you come in from outside, your shoes can track in all kinds of debris, germs and allergens. That’s why it’s probably best to have a mud room or entry area storage bench where you regularly remove your shoes before tromping through your house. Dirt and debris on the floor can also be hazardous to babies crawling around, so keep those floors and rugs cleaned and vacuumed regularly.
Use natural cleaners. Perhaps you’re under the impression that commercial cleaners, bleach and strong, scouring abrasives are what it takes to keep your home clean without killing your arms, but there’s a better way. You don’t actually need all those harsh cleaners, which can have carcinogenic ingredients, allergy triggers, respiratory irritants and even pesticides. A mixture of baking soda and vinegar will do a fine job cleaning sinks, tubs and toilets (and even help break up clogs), and borax can be used as laundry detergent. At the very least, remember that gray water and water in storm drains eventually ends up in Puget Sound! For more information on what to flush and how to clean, visit King County’s Keep Water Clean page.
Freshen your air. If your home doesn’t have a built in air filtration system, it might be time to think about getting a portable one. Dust, mold and pet dander are allergens that tend to build up if a house isn’t cleaned often enough or improperly ventilated. In the summer, this might mean using a HEPA air filter, and in winter a dehumidifier. Keep in mind areas of your home that have poor ventilation as well, such as the garage, laundry room or basement.
Drink plenty of (clean) water. Water that comes from the city is tested, but it travels a long way to get there, through old pipes and probably collecting some dirt and debris on the way. So you might want to go the extra mile and get a water filtration system. Make sure to change the filters regularly, too!
Boost Lighting and Plants. Conserve energy during the daylight hours and open curtains to let in the natural light. During nights and the darker months of the year, equip your home with broad-spectrum daylight bulbs. Plants can also provide a robust defense against airborne toxins and allergens in the home. For a full list of the best plants to get to detoxify your home, click here.