We often think of air pollution as being something we are only exposed to when we are outdoors. The truth is, however, the air insides homes, offices and other buildings can actually be more hazardous to your health than the air outdoors. Here are 5 air quality facts you need to know and what to do about indoor pollutants.

1. Pollutants arrive in your home in a number of ways

Some pollutants are tracked into your home on shoes or paws, while others can arrive courtesy of a new mattress or furniture, a good carpet cleaning or even a fresh coat of paint on the walls. Tack on the presence of microscopic dust mites, mold, mildew and pet dander, and you have an allergic reaction waiting to happen.

2. People with asthma, children and the elderly are especially sensitive to indoor pollutants

Allergens and irritants have caused increased concern in recent years because we are spending more time indoors and our homes are becoming increasingly airtight as a means of conserving energy. But what traps warm and cool air inside, also traps allergens and other pollutants inside as well.

3. Suck it up, mop it up, keep it out

Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to suck up allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust mites. Make sure your vacuum has strong suction and rotating brushes so that dirt and dust won’t get blown right back out in the exhaust. After you’ve vacuumed, mop with plain water and a microfiber mop to capture any lingering dust or allergens left behind by your vacuum. Finally put a large mat at every door and have family and guests take their shoes off as soon as they enter to ensure they don’t track outdoor pollutants indoors.

4. Keep the air cool and dry

While running the AC may seem like an unnecessary expense in more moderate months, air conditioners actually help reduce indoor pollen counts, which provides major relief for allergy sufferers. Dust mites and mold also loves moisture, so if you live in a humid area, use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity down to around 30–50%. Mold and mildew particularly thrive in hot, humid climates, so the AC and a dehumidifier are their arch-enemies. Contact an HVAC professional like Doctor Fix-It if you have questions about your AC unit.

5. Clean and freshen naturally

Synthetic fragrances found in a number of different laundry products and air fresheners emit dozens of different chemicals into the air, which can cause everything from skin irritation to asthma. Try and use mild cleaners that are free of artificial fragrances – or better yet, make your own. There are all kinds of recipes available on the internet that use all-natural ingredients to make everything from dish soap to deodorant to laundry detergent.

Keeping your home allergen free can sometimes seem like a never-ending task, but the benefits to your health will be worth it. Since humans can both grow out of and develop asthma at any time, keeping your home as allergen free as possible will not only help you right now, but down the road as well.

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