Improving the quality of the air you breathe at home begins, like most things, with common sense. Avoid bringing contaminant sources into the home and, when you must, store them outside the home.
One of the easiest things to do to improve indoor air quality is to remove your shoes at the door. Shoes can track in contaminants like lead, dust, asbestos fibers, and pesticides, as well as plain old dirt. Adopt a shoes-off policy for visitors as well, and have a supply of slippers or sandals that visitors can slip on when they enter the front door.
Buy plant-based, perfume-free cleaning products instead of conventional cleaning products. Once difficult to find, many supermarkets and home centers now offer them for sale. Conventional detergents, such as dishwashing liquids and dishwasher detergents, contain petroleum and release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as they are being used. Avoid them in favor of more environmentally safe products.
Recommended brands include: Ecover, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, Seventh Generation, Earth Friendly, Green Works (Clorox), Method, and Dr. Bonner’s. Or, make your own cleansers. White vinegar works fine for light cleaning jobs and kills bacteria. Pastes made from baking soda are useful as well.
Store paints, solvents, and pesticides, outside the home, ideally in a shed or detached garage. If that’s not possible, an attached garage is the next best storage place. Avoid storing abovementioned items in basements or crawlspaces because gases that escape from loosely closed bottles and containers can find their way into your living space.
Always seal containers tightly, and donate or properly dispose of supplies you no longer need. When buying new supplies, purchase only what you need for the job, and opt for products that release little or no VOCs. Some major paint manufacturers, including Sherwin-Williams, Olympic, and Benjamin Moore, now offer zero-VOC products.