Try it risk-free with a 30-day guarantee

Family-owned & operated - Read Our Story

Your cart

Your cart is empty

Not sure where to start?
Try this:

Conquering Common Indoor Air Quality Woes

Conquering Common Indoor Air Quality Woes

Ever feel sluggish or stuffy inside your own home? You might be surprised to learn the culprit could be lurking in the air you breathe. Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) can impact your health and well-being, but the good news is, there are steps you can take to fight back!

When you breathe in polluted air inside your home, it can wreak havoc on your respiratory system. Particles like dust mites and allergens irritate the lining of your nose, throat, and lungs, leading to coughing, sneezing, and congestion. Exposure to volatile organic compounds from cleaning products or even air fresheners can further irritate airways, causing difficulty breathing. More concerning is the long-term impact. Poor IAQ can trigger inflammation in the lungs, making it harder to breathe and worsening existing asthma. This is especially true for our Co-founder, Savanna, who has severe asthma and notices bad air quality is a trigger for her. Chronic exposure might even contribute to the development of serious lung diseases down the road. 

Identifying the Enemy Within

Unlike outdoor pollution from factories or traffic, indoor air foes often hide in plain sight. These can include:

    • Dust, mites, and allergens: These microscopic irritants love carpets, furniture, and poorly ventilated spaces.
    • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Found in cleaning products, paints, and air fresheners, VOCs can irritate eyes and lungs.
    • Mold and mildew: Thriving in damp conditions, these can trigger allergies and respiratory problems.
    • Secondhand smoke: Even lingering smoke particles can pose health risks.

Beyond the Usual Suspects: Uncommon Culprits of Bad IAQ

While dust mites and VOCs are common culprits, here are some lesser-known threats to watch out for:

    • Combustion Appliances: Gas stoves, fireplaces, and even some space heaters can release harmful byproducts like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.
    • Radon: This naturally occurring radioactive gas can seep into homes through cracks in foundations. It's a leading cause of lung cancer, so testing your home for radon is crucial.
    • Building Materials: Older homes might contain asbestos, a hazardous material that can release harmful fibers when disturbed. Lead paint, another legacy of the past, can also pose health risks.
    • Poor Ventilation During Home Improvement Projects: Sanding, painting, and applying certain adhesives can release dust and VOCs. Ensure proper ventilation during renovations and wear protective gear like masks.
    • Strong Odors: While some air fresheners release harmful VOCs, even seemingly harmless essential oils can irritate some people's respiratory systems. Use natural fragrances with caution, and ensure proper ventilation.

Taking Back Your Indoor Oasis

The good news is, with a few tweaks, you can transform your home into a breath of fresh air:

  • Become a Ventilation Vigilante: Open windows whenever possible, especially during dry weather. Consider installing exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to remove pollutants directly.
  • Declare War on Dust Bunnies: Vacuum carpets regularly, using a HEPA filter if possible. Dust furniture with damp cloths to trap particles. Wash bedding in hot water to tackle dust mites.
  • Choose Green Cleaning Products: Opt for natural cleaning solutions like vinegar and baking soda to minimize VOC exposure. Of course it is always best to open a window when dealing with vinegar.
  • Evict Mold and Mildew: Address moisture issues in your home to prevent mold growth. Clean affected areas by hiring a professional mold remediation specialist. Do not use a bleach solution; that will only mask the mold, turning it white. It will not remove the mold.
  • Embrace the Power of Plants: Houseplants like ferns and spider plants act as natural air filters, absorbing pollutants and releasing oxygen. Checkout out our article Breathing Easy The Best Houseplants for Improving Indoor Air Quality. 
  • Filter Out the Bad Stuff: Try an air purifier with a HEPA filter to capture dust, allergens, and other airborne particles. Remember, to improve the quality of indoor air throughout your house, it would be best to have an air purifier in each room, as air purifiers are rated for specific square feet only.
    Try our article Air Purifiers vs Allergen Spray
  • Use Allergen Spray: It is perfectly designed to tackle airborne and surface allergens to help improve your indoor air quality. It is especially useful if air purifiers are not in the budget.

Common Questions

Are there allergy-friendly toys available to prevent dust mite infestation?

Yes, there are indeed allergy-friendly toys available specifically designed to prevent dust mite infestation. Parents have found a clever solution by placing their children's toys in the freezer for 24 hours, effectively killing the dust mites. However, if this seems impractical, there are alternative options. Today, you can find a wide range of allergy-friendly children's toys and even toys suitable for pets that are specifically made to withstand frequent washing. These toys are designed to be easily cleaned, minimizing the chances of dust mites accumulating and causing allergies or respiratory issues. With the availability of these allergy-friendly toys, parents can provide a safer and healthier play environment for their children.

Can dust mites be killed by sunlight or freezing?

Dust mites can indeed be effectively killed by both sunlight and freezing temperatures. Exposing items that may be infested with dust mites, such as rugs, to direct sunlight for a duration of three hours can result in their elimination. Similarly, freezing can also be a useful method to eradicate dust mites. By placing items like children's toys in a freezer for 24 hours, dust mites can be killed off. These methods have been widely practiced by parents in order to rid their homes of dust mite infestations.

How do HEPA air purifiers and dehumidifiers help reduce dust mites in the air?

HEPA air purifiers are highly effective in reducing the presence of dust mites in the air. These purifiers work by filtering out airborne particles like dust, mold, pollen, animal dander, and other allergens. Dust mites are microscopic creatures that thrive in environments with high levels of moisture. By capturing these particles, HEPA air purifiers significantly reduce the number of dust mites in the air you breathe.

Additionally, it is important to avoid ionic air cleaners when choosing an air purifier aimed at reducing dust mites. Ionic air cleaners can emit ozone, which is a lung irritant and can trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory issues. Unfortunately, some popular air cleaners actually contribute to air pollution by releasing ozone. To make an informed decision, you can refer to our Air Purifier Buying Guide for more information on selecting the right air purifier to effectively combat dust mites and other airborne allergens.

In addition to HEPA air purifiers, dehumidifiers also play a crucial role in reducing dust mites in the air. Dust mites are unable to survive without adequate moisture levels in the environment, and excess moisture creates an ideal breeding ground for these microscopic pests. By removing excess moisture from the air, dehumidifiers help to create an inhospitable environment for dust mites to thrive in.

To effectively control dust mite populations, it is recommended to maintain a relative humidity level between 40% and 50%. You can use a Digital Humidity Gauge to monitor the humidity levels in your home and ensure they stay within this range. For a more detailed understanding of how dehumidifiers work and the different options available, refer to our comprehensive Dehumidifier Buying Guide.

By using HEPA air purifiers to filter out dust mites and other allergens, and utilizing dehumidifiers to control moisture levels, you can significantly reduce the presence of dust mites in the air and create a healthier indoor environment.

Besides dust mite covers, what other methods can be used to control dust mites in the environment?

To effectively control dust mites in your environment besides using dust mite covers, there are several strategies you can employ:

1. Regular Vacuuming: Vacuuming frequently with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter can help reduce dust mites. HEPA filters are designed to trap at least 99.97% of allergenic particles, effectively removing dust mites and their allergens from carpets, upholstery, and other surfaces.

2. Anti-Allergen Cleaning Products: Use specially formulated anti-allergen cleaning products to clean and dust surfaces in your home. These products are designed to minimize allergens, including dust mite allergens, and help reduce their presence.

3. Anti-Allergen Laundry Care: Washing bedding, curtains, and other fabrics in anti-allergen laundry detergents or adding anti-allergen laundry additives can effectively remove dust mites and their allergens. This step is particularly crucial for items that come into contact with your skin.

4. HEPA Air Purifiers: Consider using HEPA air purifiers to filter the air in your home. These purifiers are effective in capturing particles such as dust, mold spores, pollen, and animal dander, including dust mite allergens. However, avoid ionic air cleaners that can emit ozone, a lung irritant that may trigger asthma attacks and breathing difficulties.

5. Regulate Indoor Humidity: Dust mites thrive in environments with high moisture levels. By using dehumidifiers, you can reduce excess moisture in the air, making it less suitable for dust mites and mold spores to survive. Aim for a relative humidity of 40% to 50% to discourage dust mite growth. Monitoring the humidity using a digital humidity gauge can help you maintain the optimal levels.

By implementing these additional methods, you can create an inhospitable environment for dust mites, effectively reducing their population and minimizing the presence of allergens that can trigger allergies and asthma.

What are dust mites and how were they discovered?

Dust mites are microscopic creatures that belong to the arachnid family, making them relatives of spiders. These tiny organisms were unknown to humans until the invention of the microscope by Anton van Leeuwenhoek in 1694. When Leeuwenhoek first observed these creatures in magnified photographs, he was astonished and disturbed by their presence. Considering their minuscule size, they were unnoticeable to the naked eye. In fact, it was only through the use of a microscope that their existence was revealed.

Dust mites obtained their scientific name, Dermatophagoides, which means "skin eater," due to their feeding habits. The primary source of food for these creatures is dead human skin, which constitutes a significant portion of the dust found in homes. Consequently, even a small cluster of dust can act as an abundant buffet for dust mites. It is worth noting that astonishingly high numbers of dust mites can be found in just half a teaspoon of dust, potentially reaching up to 1,000 individuals.

What are dust mites and how were they discovered?

The number of dust mites present in a mattress can range from about 100,000 to as high as 10,000,000, depending on the age of the mattress. It is important to note that dust mite populations have the potential to grow rapidly. A single female dust mite can lay around 25 to 30 eggs per week, contributing to the exponential increase in their population.