winter house cleaning for indoor air quality

We are all familiar with spring cleaning. It just seems like a good thing to do: after all, your house has been shut up all winter, and dust has been accumulating all season.

Spring cleaning is certainly not a bad thing, but fall and winter house cleaning may actually be more important from an indoor air quality (IAQ) perspective. The reasons are simple. As outdoor temperatures drop, people generally close their houses up tighter and tighter to eliminate drafts and conserve heat. But insulating your home limits fresh air exchanges, which allows the level of indoor air pollutants to increase.

Seasonal Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Some common activities that can have a negative impact on IAQ include burning fires, using air fresheners and scented candles, and cleaning with toxic cleaning products.

The air inside your home gets recirculated over and over through the HVAC system. Even the best air filters don’t remove all contaminants from the air. Dust begins to accumulate in the house, and burning fires may add soot and smoke to the air. Air fresheners, scented candles and cleaning products may release harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air you breathe.

How Moisture Affects Indoor Air Quality

Breathing, showering, doing laundry, and cooking all add excess moisture to the air. This excess moisture increases the relative humidity inside your home, which can negatively impact IAQ. Relative humidity above approximately 60% can lead to a mold problem.

High relative humidity combined with accumulated dust is a mold problem waiting to happen. Read our recent post to learn how to prevent a mold problem in the fall. These conditions will often lead to mold growing on furniture, clothing and other contents, especially in areas with restricted air flow such as closets, under beds, and behind furniture.

Ensure Healthy Indoor Air Quality this Winter

To keep the air in your home safe for your family to breathe, follow these simple fall and winter house cleaning steps:

  • Thoroughly clean your house to remove accumulated dust and dirt.
  • Have your ductwork professionally cleaned.
  • Replace your air filter with a high quality pleated filter.
  • Use ceiling fans to circulate air.
  • Switch the HVAC system fan to “on” to cycle the fan during periods when the heat is not running.
  • Limit the use of air fresheners and scented candles, or switch to all natural alternatives.
  • Replace toxic cleaning products with all natural alternatives.
  • Ensure that your fireplace and chimney are clean and functioning properly.
  • Run exhaust fans when showering and cooking.

Clean air, especially indoor air, is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. Contact us today if you would like to schedule indoor air quality testing or inspection. We’ll identify specific issues within your home that should be addressed during your fall and winter house cleaning.