As the trees begin to drop their leaves and the weather turns cooler, we start closing the windows and opt to stay bundled up indoors. Without the fresh outdoor breeze, the air inside can get stagnant and even breed germs, mold, bacteria and viruses. There are a few things we can do to improve the air quality in our homes and make it an environment to fight germs and stay healthy.

Plants

Even without a green thumb, consider having indoor plants in as many rooms as possible. The health benefits are amazing. Plants add humidity to the air while also removing pollutants and airborne contaminants like VOC’s. Plants can even reduce drowsiness due to the lower levels of carbon dioxide in a plant-filled home.

Houseplants can make a house look cozy and are said to speed healing. Headaches sufferers often get less headaches from the improvement of air quality.

Some plants are particularly good at cleaning the air, like P lilies, English ivy, snake plants, Chinese evergreen, pothos, palms, spider plants, Boston ferns and aloe. It’s recommended to have 1 plant for every 100 square feet which would mean 15 on the main level of a 1500 square foot ranch like mine. But even half that amount can make a huge difference in indoor air quality. They also make great gifts – a beautiful plant with all those added health benefits can’t be beat!

Humidifiers

Keeping the indoor humidity level at as close to constant as possible is key. Germs thrive in dry air. If possible, run a humidifier in the main area of the house and in each bedroom when it’s the dry time of winter with the heat running all day. If you only have a small humidifier, keep it on in the main area by day and then refill and carry to a bedroom for night. You will want the humidity level to be  30-50%, no more or less. Buying a small inexpensive hydrometer will measure that for you. When air is too dry, we can suffer from dry skin, chapped lips and dry mucous membranes. And if someone already has a dry cough or a cold, using a humidifier can ease symptoms. However, scrupulous care must be taken to ensure the water holding area is cleaned every few days as to not send mold and micro-bacteria contaminants into the air.

Essential Oils

Some essential oils are known to purify the air. The mist particles remain in the air for a while, reducing mold, bacteria and odors. Many people recommend putting 3-6 drops of peppermint essential oil right in your humidifier’s water. Or you can use a simple diffuser or combine the oils and water in a spray bottle to spray rooms as needed.  Other essential oil’s to consider are lavender, frankincense, lemon, pine, sage, sweet orange, rosemary , eucalyptus and myrrh. (Do not diffuse cinnamon or clove).