Clean Up Indoor Air Pollution

Exposure to air pollution – whether indoors or out – harms children’s cognitive development. Specifically, it reduces intelligence.” – Sandra Steingraber, biologist, author, advocate

We’ve found that toxic chemicals are ending up in our homes and work environments. Since we spend most of our time indoors, it’s important to take a few simple steps to help clean up and “detox” your indoor air quality. These simple steps will go a long way to protect your health!

indoor air pollution

A little context to start: Toxic chemicals are legal to be used in the products we bring into our homes. Due to our weak federal law on toxic chemicals, a variety of toxic chemicals are lurking in our household products. Toxic flame retardants linked to cancer are in 85% of couches in the U.S., hormone-disrupting chemicals are found in scented products, household cleaners and vinyl flooring. The list goes on.

While we should take the steps listed below, we also need to tell Congress that we’re tired of having to worry about toxic chemicals. The time has come for strong laws on toxic chemicals that would ensure chemicals are safe before they end up in our homes and environment.

Reduce toxic indoor air pollution

1- Dust

Use a microfiber cloth and dust at least once a week. Electronics, couches and building materials can leach toxic chemicals that end up in household dust. Cleaning up the dust means you and your family or roommates will inhale less toxic chemicals. (See #5 about why we should take dust seriously).

2- Choose safer household cleaners

A variety of toxic chemicals are found in the products we use to clean our home (how ironic). Women’s Voices for the Earth found chemicals linked to hormone-disruption, asthma, respiratory problems among other problems in their report Dirty Secrets. I use a variety of household cleaners including white vinegar (for sinks, floors, toilets) which kills over 95% of germs and viruses. Bon Ami and baking soda make great shower and sink scrubbers. Easy and cheap!

My favorite non-toxic cleaners HERE

3- Vacuum with a HEPA filter

Don’t worry all the tips don’t have to do with cleaning! A HEPA filter is the best kind of filter you can buy for your vacuuming needs. Scientists recommend using a HEPA filter to suck up toxic chemicals found in our carpets and dust.

4- Change your furnace filters at least once a month

A simple way to clean up the indoor air quality in your home or apartment.

5- Leave your shoes at the front door

A lot of heavy metals and pesticides are tracked into our homes on our shoes. So in addition to keeping gross germs off your floors, drop your feet at the front door.

6- Mop with hot water, vinegar and essential oils

Cleaning your floors (after dusting) will help mop up additional dust that you may not have gotten while dusting. The major pathway for toxic chemical exposure in our homes is through household dust. Studies have shown that the same levels of flame retardants that the average American inhales from their home, is the same level that have shown harm in laboratory studies. In short, take dust serious as a route of exposure!

7- Use plants to filter toxic chemicals

Various plants are known to be great at filtering toxic chemicals from our indoor air. Lori Alper, green lifestyle blogger at Groovy Green Livin wrote about the best plants for filtering indoor air (as recommended by the EPA). Peace lily’s (pictured right) are on the list of top ten plants for filtering toxics!

8- Open up your windows at least once a week

Even in the winter, it’s a good practice to open up your windows after you do a little cleaning. This freshens up the air and cleans out toxic chemicals in the air. If you live in a warmer climate, try opening the windows for a few minutes each day.

9- Avoid fragrance and scented candles

I love candles, but the majority of them contain harmful chemicals especially the ones with heavy fragrance. Skip the plug-ins, air fresheners and scented candles which have been found to contain: hormone-disrupting chemicals, allergens, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and cancer causing chemicals like benzene and formaldehyde. If you want a safer option go for beeswax candles. My favorite can be found here.

Many people are attached to their perfume or cologne (I understand, I reluctantly gave up my perfume when starting this job). Musks, perfumes and colognes are chalk full of toxic chemicals. I cringe when I think about putting musk on my neck everyday during my formative teen and young adult years!

10- Skip the fabric softener

Here’s an interesting study that found phthalates in ants (from the indoor air), which underscores the importance of cleaning up our homes. Fabric softener or scented laundry detergents may contain harmful chemicals or skin and respiratory allergens. Even if you’re not sensitive to the scented products, many people are and you’ll be doing your community and co-workers a favor!

Never miss a post and join my mailing list!

You may also like:

, , , ,

22 Responses to Clean Up Indoor Air Pollution

  1. KThiruselvam February 26, 2014 at 2:42 am #

    Good article. Shared in

    • Lindsay Dahl February 26, 2014 at 9:59 am #

      Thank you!

  2. Leah Lambart November 3, 2014 at 9:05 am #

    This post is very helpful! I’ve been reading more about how fragrances are harmful. Personally I’m very sensitive to them and am hopeful more people will stop wearing perfume.

  3. Sandy March 5, 2016 at 2:35 pm #

    Synthetic fragrances definitely do not support our health. I now use only therapeutic grade essential oils for both their wonderful aroma and health supporting benefits. However, I use only essential oils by a company that has been around for 20 years and has over a dozen of their own organic farms globally. They are the only farming essential oil company and have complete control over their oils so I don’t have to be concerned about the quality and purity. I’ve become very picky in my old age and have suffered for decades from the synthetic chemicals that so many wear as fragrance. This is a great article and I learned some things that I am definitely going to implement in my life!


  1. Toxic chemicals are in your consumer products, here's why - March 12, 2014

    […] time to time about things we can do as individuals to protect ourselves from toxic chemicals, like tackling toxic dust in our homes or avoiding fragrance. But while we do these small steps at home, we must all get […]

  2. Why toxic chemicals are ending up in our products. - myEARTH360 (the blog) - March 19, 2014

    […] time to time about things we can do as individuals to protect ourselves from toxic chemicals, like tackling toxic dust in our homes or avoiding fragrance. But while we do these small steps at home, we must all get […]

  3. Protect fire fighters #GiveToxicsTheBoot! - March 20, 2014

    […] migrate from products like our couches, chairs, electronics and building materials enter into household dust and end up in our […]

  4. Spring Cleaning: 6 Green Tips to Organize and Simplify Your Home | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building - March 26, 2014

    […] Indoor air pollution is a real problem in a world where chemicals abound. Blogger Lindsay Dahl has 10 tips for cleaning up indoor air, like changing your furnace filters and skipping the fabric […]

  5. DIY non-toxic household cleaner - May 5, 2014

    […] Clean up Indoor Air Pollution […]

  6. non toxic household cleaner - May 5, 2014

    […] Lindsay Dahl’s post on Cleaning Up Air Pollution: […]

  7. B. Butter – 100% natural and organic triple-use moisturizer | Running on Good - May 5, 2014

    […] Clean Up Indoor Air Pollution by Lindsay Dahl […]

  8. Avoid chemicals in cosmetics when - May 8, 2014

    […] Clean up toxic chemicals found in indoor air pollution […]

  9. Quick tips for reducing your exposure to toxic chemicals - - July 24, 2014

    […] clean and a bit safer. One of the best tips to reduce toxic chemical exposure in your home is to dust frequently and vacuum with a HEPA filter. Check out more ways to improve your indoor air quality […]

  10. Flame retardants enter waterways via household laundry - - September 18, 2014

    […] the brain. One of our biggest routes of exposure in our homes is through the seemingly innocuous household dust, couches and children’s […]

  11. Goodbye flame retardants: New law moves the market - - October 1, 2014

    […] chemicals creep into household dust, end up in the air, in our bodies and on the hands of our toddlers. According to data from the CDC, […]

  12. 13 simple ways to avoid toxic chemicals - - October 8, 2014

    […] (I like the New Hampshire based E-Cloth company) and vacuuming with a HEPA filter. More about indoor air pollution and cleaning […]

  13. Toxic flea treatment still allowed on U.S. market - - November 12, 2014

    […] air pollution is another unexpected and important exposure route. If your pet is walking around your home with at toxic flea treatment, NRDC found that the […]

  14. RSVP to watch the powerful HBO documentary Toxic Hot Seat - November 26, 2014

    […] retardants in our bodies, we’re widely exposed through the furniture in our home, electronics, household dust and now even our waterways. They’re linked to a host of harmful health effects like […]

  15. Furniture giant moves away from flame retardant chemicals - - January 28, 2015

    […] and vacuum frequently to reduce exposure to toxic flame retardants in your […]

  16. B. Butter – 100% natural and organic triple-use moisturizer – Kim Carolan, HHC - March 26, 2016

    […] Clean Up Indoor Air Pollution by Lindsay Dahl […]

  17. toxic chemicals ending products | - June 17, 2016

    […] time to time about things we can do as individuals to protect ourselves from toxic chemicals, liketackling toxic dust in our homes or avoiding fragrance. But while we do these small steps at home, we must all get […]

  18. B. Butter – 100% natural and organic triple-use moisturizer – Balance by Kim - August 9, 2016

    […] Clean Up Indoor Air Pollution by Lindsay Dahl […]

Leave a Reply