Spring is the season of renewal, rebirth and regrowth. The weather shifts as snow melts, temperatures grow warmer, flowers and plants bloom, and humidity and precipitation levels increase. This switch from winter to spring is also marked by spring cleaning. A widely recognized phenomenon practiced by many, it provides an opportunity to focus on your home’s spring indoor air quality.
Spring Season and IAQ
The spring season is a difficult period for indoor air quality because of environmental shifts as well as the changes we make in our own home and living habits. It’s important to maintain good indoor air quality or improve it during this transition period.
Spring looks a bit different for everyone depending on where you live and the local climate. Regardless of specific plants, grasses and flowers in your area, one thing is true–pollen levels are up! Pollen is the number one spring season allergen. And outdoor allergens impact indoor air quality. They enter the home through open windows and doors or are brought in on clothes and shoes. Because spring is such a tumultuous time for outdoor air–it’s crucial to both monitor indoor air quality and intervene in your space.
Spring Cleaning Tips
Spring cleaning is an incredibly helpful process. It even benefits your home’s indoor air quality. That is, so long as you are aware of the many ways spring and spring cleaning impacts indoor air and careful during the process. A deep spring clean done well removes dust and particles from your living spaces and airs out damp winter areas without worsening air quality. Consider these seven spring cleaning tips that keep indoor air quality in mind!
1. Keep Allergens Out of the Home
Hay fever, or seasonal allergies, are a common springtime affliction. Asthma and allergy sufferers certainly understand the difficulties of increased allergens in the air. Even if you don’t have allergies, increased outdoor pollutants lowers overall air quality.
Keeping allergens and air pollutants out of the home in the first place is ideal. Especially when spring cleaning means airing out damp and dusty spots of the home and moving things around–adding dust and indoor air pollutants to the space. A helpful fix? When outside pollen or allergen levels are high, stay indoors with windows and doors closed as often as possible. Also, make sure to remove shoes and outer jackets before entering the home.
2. Ventilate When Cleaning
Spring cleaning can include cleaning out closets, washing stuffy clothes or linens and decluttering. It also likely includes a literal deep home clean. That means a multitude of cleaning products throughout the home. Common household cleaning products and materials are actually a common source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). When possible, choose less toxic household products to reduce the amount of VOCs. Also, make sure to use products only as directed and be careful of chemical combinations.
When cleaning a specific area, it can be helpful to ventilate the space. Try to naturally ventilate the room (AKA opening windows and doors) only when pollen levels are low. Or, consider investing in a whole-home mechanical ventilation system that increases the amount of incoming fresh air and improves air circulation without risking air quality.
3. Clean the A/C Unit
Don’t overlook the HVAC system condenser! It’s helpful to clean the outdoor A/C unit before returning to relying on it on a daily basis. Especially because it has likely laid dormant for months. Clear the unit of any leftover leaves or debris. Also, consider seasonal or regular preventative HVAC maintenance which helps prolong the home’s system.
4. Change Air Filters
Changing air filters is a huge spring indoor air quality tip! It’s smart and useful to get into the habit of checking or changing air filters regularly. If you’re not currently on a routine, the spring months are an ideal time to start. Healthy, clean, unclogged filters are an easy indoor air quality improvement.
Not only do new air filters improve air quality, they help the HVAC system work properly. After all, dirty and clogged air filters put a strain on the system. And because the HVAC system depends on air filters, using top filters and getting into a routine in turn saves you money on utility bills. (It’s both a springtime and energy-efficiency tip!)
There are tons of different home air filters available. The filter quality or rating affects how frequently it should be changed. Cheaper filters, also the lower-rated filters, should be checked every month. Then, change accordingly. Higher-rated filters, such as the MERV-13, can go three to six months in between changes. Upgrading air filters is a helpful air quality tip to consider!
5. Use an Air Purifier
Air purifiers are a helpful springtime indoor air quality solution. Purification reduces harmful and hazardous indoor air pollutants. This includes common allergens and springtime pollutants. Whole-home air purification systems are especially beneficial to allergy and asthma sufferers. And, air purifiers work to your benefit as spring cleaning can increase pollutant levels.
6. Consider a Whole-Home Dehumidifier
Humidity control is often the forgotten-about air quality factor. And yet, indoor relative humidity levels have a huge impact on both air quality and occupant health. Household allergens like mold and dust mites thrive in high humidity conditions. The shift from winter to spring brings warmer, damper weather resulting in higher moisture levels indoors and out. This results in a more hospitable environment for these allergens. A whole-home dehumidifier drastically helps improve spring indoor air quality and reduces the growth of living organisms and common allergy triggers.
7. Run HVAC Fan After Cleaning
After the big initial spring clean, it’s important to stay on top of your healthy indoor environment. To combat poor air quality and spring weather changes, clean regularly! Frequent vacuuming, washing bedsheets, towels and clothes, cleaning surfaces, etc. All of it helps remove allergens and indoor pollutants.
Also, we suggest to run the HVAC system fan immediately after cleaning. Cleaning of course removes pollutants, but can also further circulate dust and particles. It’s difficult to remove every particle regardless of how in-depth your cleaning style is. Running the HVAC fan provides a chance for dust and pollutants to run through the system air filters before settling back on surfaces.
Healthy Springtime Home
Creating and maintaining a healthy indoor environment during the spring season is possible. Choose to focus on prioritizing spring cleaning processes and products that keep good indoor air quality in mind. Also consider pursuing indoor air quality upgrades to benefit your home in the spring and throughout the year!