living room window seat with open window
Photo: Nathan Kirkman
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Living Room

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18. Ban smoking. It's a fast, effective way to cut indoor air pollution.

19. Open a window (unless you're fighting pollen). Indoor air can contain two to five times more chemical pollutants than air outdoors.

20. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. High-efficiency particulate air filters are best for sucking up dust, dust mites (and their allergy-aggravating droppings), animal dander, and fleas. Use a crevice tool on upholstery and a brush attachment on dust-catching curtains and lamp shades.

21. Pot up a plant or two. Spider plants, peace lilies, philodendrons, and aloe vera can help neutralize formaldehyde (found in furniture) and benzene (found in car fumes and paint supplies). Snake plants, English ivy, Boston and asparagus ferns, and Areca and bamboo palms are good neutralizers too.

22. Clean hardwood floors often using a mild vinegar-and-water or lemon-oil-and-water solution. Avoid chemical-based cleansers and floor waxes that can be high in lung-irritating VOCs.

23. Sanitize handheld devices. Cordless phones, TV remotes—even computer keyboards—may harbor more bacteria than a toilet seat.

24. Hire a chimney sweep, today. Regular fireplace and chimney maintenance helps lower airborne particulates and carbon-monoxide emissions. Before sweeping up yourself, dampen ashes so that they won't fly around the room.
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