Cleaning products are a big business: according to Statista, their sales account for $61 billion in the US alone. You only have to look down the cleaning aisle of any grocery store to see a wide range of cleaning supplies, for everything from window cleaning to mould removal. Have you ever considered though, that the cleaning products you are using may actually be making the air in your home dirtier?
Breathe It In
We often think of air pollution as a problem that affects the outside world, and something we can do little about individually – cars that other people drive, factories, forest fires – all are outside our control. Furthermore, part from picking where you live carefully, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. However, recent research suggests that indoor air pollution is a major problem, and that it may actually be the air inside our homes which is more harmful to us.
An Inside Problem
Every item we bring into our home that releases fumes can be particularly irritating to those who suffer from respiratory problems like asthma or skin sensitivities like eczema. We then often use cleaning products on them, which just compounds the problem and increases the levels of chemicals in our homes.
A Natural Solution
The easiest way to avoid indoor air pollution is to think carefully about what you bring into your home: whenever possible, buy items made from natural substances, which in general will off-gas much less than man-made chemicals. For example a leather chair will contain far fewer chemicals than one covered in an artificially manufactured acrylic fabric. When you do buy a new item of furniture try to air it outside for at least a few hours, or if you need to bring it straight inside then ensure the room is well-ventilated for a few days after purchase.
Choosing your cleaning supplies carefully can make a huge difference to the air quality in your home – there are ranges of natural and eco cleaners out there that are much better for both the environment and you. However, make sure to read the labels carefully – the regulations around ‘natural’ labelling are quite lax, and products often contain synthetic chemicals.
A better solution is to stick with nature’s cleaning supplies – hot soapy water and elbow grease are often the best cleaners around, and vinegar and baking soda will make most things gleam again, thanks to their natural cleansing properties. Additionally, air fresheners – contrary to their name – are actually a major indoor air polluter. A much better way to keep your home smelling fresh is to keep it well ventilated, or use an air purifier. If you miss the ‘clean’ smell you used to get from your old air freshener, it may be worth trying an essential oil diffuser – they release a pleasant smell without all the harmful chemicals.
There’s a limited list of things you can do to stop outside air pollution, but you can control what comes into your home. So, ensure your cleaning products are as natural as possible to keep the air in your home fresh and clean.