3 ways to improve your indoor air quality

3 ways to improve your indoor air quality

Let’s improve your indoor air quality? Why? Because the air you breathe matters. A lot. And I’m not just taking about the great outdoors. Nope. We’re talking indoor air quality here. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air quality may be anywhere from 2 to 5 times poorer than outdoor air quality. In some cases, it’s more than 100 times worse (source).


This becomes even more of a concern during the winter months when we spend less time outside. And let’s be honest, most of us spend more time indoors than we do outdoors no matter what the season.

Some of the immediate reactions to poor indoor air quality include:

  • 3 simple ways to improve indoor air quality. Good to know.Frequent sneezing and coughing at home
  • Waking up congested or with a headache
  • Irritated throat, nose or eyes

Long term reactions include things like asthma and respiratory infections.

Poor indoor air quality: Common culprits

  • Smoking indoors, smoke drifting in from outdoors, or smoke being carried indoors on clothing
  • Other things that burn, like oil, gas, kerosene, charcoal briquettes, wood or candles
  • Central heating, cooling or humidifying systems
  • New or recently installed building materials and furnishings, including carpets and certain wood pressed products
  • Household cleaning and maintenance products
  • Personal care products, like hair spray or soaps
  • Too much moisture in the house
  • Tracking pesticides and pollens in on shoes and clothes
  • Improper circulation of fresh, outside air

The quality level in your home is determined by how much and how often pollution is getting into the air. For example, if you have a properly adjusted gas stove, it will emit significantly less carbon monoxide than one that is not properly adjusted. And of course, good ventilation contributes to improving air quality.

Improve indoor air quality

Aside from the obvious solutions (don’t smoke indoors, replace air filters, check for mold, etc), there are three simple ways that you can improve your indoor air quality right now. And they don’t require fancy technology, either. Awesome.

1. Open your windows

Circulating fresh, outdoor air through your home not only removes stale air but it also moves pollutants out. It brings in fresh oxygen and makes your home feel better really fast.

But it’s cold outside!

During the winter months it’s especially important to circulate air. I will open 1 or 2 windows for 10 – 15 minutes once or twice a day. It generally doesn’t affect my heat, but I do notice a difference in the air almost immediately. (I’ll often turn my heater off during that time so that it doesn’t turn on and push money out the window.) You can also choose one room, close the heat vents and open the windows for 20 minutes with the door closed. When you are done, close the windows and then open the door to let that fresh air in throughout the whole house.

Note: If the air outside is really bad you may want to hold off on opening the window. For example, in Utah (the land where I live) we usually get a nasty inversion during January. I will always check the air quality outside before opening my window during those “yucky” days.

Check your outdoor air quality here. (for U.S. Residents)

2. Go green: House plants to the rescue.

In the late ’80s, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America studied houseplants as a way to purify the air in space facilities. Since plants are nature’s lungs, it makes sense that they would be good to have in the home. Best of all, many houseplants not only filter the air but can also absorb air toxins like benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.

According to the NASA study, here are the top plants to improve indoor air quality:

The NASA studies generated the recommendation that you use 15 to 18 good-sized houseplants in 6 to 8-inch diameter containers to improve air quality in an average 1,800 square foot house. The more vigorously they grow, the better job they’ll do for you. (source) But even if you can’t get that many right now, any houseplants are better than none.

3. Ditch the toxic chemicals

The fumes and chemicals from common household cleaning products are big-time offenders of indoor air quality. Ironically, things like commercial “air fresheners” are some of the most toxic stuff around (and often have labels on them informing the use not to inhale… even though the product is designed to be sprayed in the air?)

There are so many basic recipes out there to help you get rid of the toxic stuff for good while improving indoor air quality, too. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider checking out my new ebook: All Natural Living. It’s perfect for those looking to remove harmful toxins for good. You’ll also simplify your life and put a few extra bucks in your pocket to boot.

Tell me, what do you do to improve indoor air quality?


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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie


  1. Louise

    I just read about the benefits of house plants in Mark’s upcoming book, the Primal Connection. I’m thinking about getting a bamboo plant as they’re easy to keep.

    1. Post author

      I’ve heard that, too! I’m so glad my mom is has the world’s greenest thumb. She helped me pick out plant that work with my home’s light situation and that are still easy to keep alive. :)

  2. Matt

    The effects of poor indoor air quality include, throat, nose, and eye irritations, respiratory infections, sinus problems, headaches, asthma, allergies. Through the use of Nano ionic technology, far-infrared rays and a special manufacturing process, a natural (non manufactured) paint additive has been developed that improves indoor air quality and permanently removes odors caused by smoking, pets and bacterial proliferation. Air-ReNu is a safe, effective and permanent solution. Air-ReNu continues to work 7/24/365, eliminating odors and maintaining clean, healthy indoor air.

  3. Beth at Our Front Porch View

    THANK YOU for this! Beautiful blog.
    I read about houseplants several months ago and had planned to do it but never did. We have been STRUGGLING with our dry/gross our house it. Every morning we wake up coughing and congested.

    Off to get plants!

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  7. Kristen

    I was just thinking about getting some house plants so thank you for this list. Unfortunately I’m horrible with plants. Do you know which ones are easy to keep alive? And also which ones are non toxic to cats?

    1. Post author

      Hi Kristen,

      I’m also horrible with plants. As a 30-something I still had to take my mom with me to help me out. :)

      I’ve had good success with my peace lilly and rubber plant. They both grow well and don’t need a ton of light. As far as the cat situation, I’m not sure as I don’t have any pets right now. But I bet a quick google search for “houseplants safe for cats” could help. :)

      1. Roxanne

        The Snake plant or Mother In Law’s Tongue as it’s also known, is very forgiving when neglected. Doesn’t take much water or light. I have a couple pots of this.I move my plants around to different rooms through out the year. I also put it outside in the Spring and Summer so it will grow and multiply.( Free plants :)

    2. Wren

      A lot of common houseplants are toxic to cats – peace lily is one of the worst ones in this regard – I think the ASPCA has a list on their website. That being said, I have three cats and have some houseplants that are considered toxic – but I hang them from the ceiling where they can’t be eaten or knocked over, and all is well in our world. :)

  8. Barbara K.

    I just now purchased your ebook, Toxic Free. Don’t know what I may have done wrong, but I can’t seem to find the option to download it. What can I do to correct this?

  9. Jill

    We love having house plants! My boyfriend already had several when I moved in, and then I brought a bunch more with me when I moved in! We have about 12 green guys living with us in our little 800 square foot house! Another thing I find really helps is that we don’t have any carpet in the house! When my boyfriend bought the place we found there was original hardwood floors under the carpet, so we ripped it all up and refinished the floors! We vacuum frequently, and it’s nice to know that all that dust isn’t getting ground into the carpet!

  10. Adi

    I also find that salt crystal lamps and salt crystal candle holders are great for purifying the air and they look gorgeous too. You can pick them up between $20 (smaller size)-$150 (larger size) online or in store, I but mine from Ishka but I know that Happy High Herbs sells a few here and there : ) but definitely go green, with plants xo

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