Cleaning, Organizing, & Eco

Breathe Easy

We already shared how house plants can keep your indoor air quality up to snuff. And we recently went on a clean-air mission, first snagging a few English Ivy plants of our own (to add to our Boston Fern and Burro Tail riddled home). Needless to say it felt pretty good introducing an army of air purifiers, and we didn’t stop there.

We also replaced the air filters for our heating and cooling system. This is something you should try to do every three months. We used to be lucky if we remembered to change them once in the winter and once in the summer, but thanks to our new programmable thermostat, we got a reminder this time (it actually allows us to record the date that we change our filters so it can gently prod us to do it again three months later). Smart little machine we got there.

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We also seized the day and picked up a second carbon monoxide detector/fire alarm (it’s great that they make them multitask these days) to install near our gas fireplace in the den- one of the major carbon monoxide danger zones in any house (other scary sources: gas stoves, wood burning stoves, and gas heaters).

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Carbon monoxide is no laughing matter (in fact we recently heard a bone chilling tale about a mother and her son slipping off to sleep and narrowly cheating death when the mother awoke disoriented and scared but had enough sense to run out of the house with her baby). Yup, another carbon monoxide detector (now we have one in the bedroom and one on the other end of the house in the den) is definitely worth a little peace of mind. And we’re even more confident that the air we breathe is so fresh and so clean.

What about you guys? Do you have other means to keep the air clean? Or other ways to remember when it’s time to replace those filters? Dish the air cleaning dirt. And for more general cleaning tips check out these streamlined strategies from Real Simple (who knew 4pm was the best time to clean?).

Images courtesy of amazon.com

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Power Plant

Back in 1980 NASA started investigating ways to provide clean air in enclosed spaces. And after years of research they confirmed that house plants improve air quality in a variety of ways. It’s pretty amazing to think that you can actually grow fresh air. And knowing that house plants can do everything from aiding with depression and removing harmful VOCs from the air to alleviating seasonal allergies and ridding the air of volatile substances like formaldehyde, benzene and ammonia means they’re definitely worth the three minutes a week of watering that they require.

Many people are shocked to learn that the air inside their home can be anywhere from 3 to 10 times more polluted than the air outside- even in a big city! And seemingly innocuous things like carpets, cleaning products and nail polish remover give off vapors that contribute to some seriously polluted indoor air. Of course we do our best to bring natural (and chemical free) jute rugs into our home, use eco-friendly green cleaning products, and I’ve actually sworn off nail polish for the past few months (and maybe forever)- but we’d be fools not to recognize that plants can clean things up even more around the house, especially since the NASA geniuses say so.

And although any kind of plant is beneficial to the air you breathe, those NASA brainiacs actually pinpointed the most effective air-cleansing plants out there. So if you’re in the market for some nice fresh air, try picking up these especially purifying varieties.

  1. Bamboo Palm
  2. Rubber Plant
  3. Spider Plant
  4. English Ivy (one of our favs)
  5. Janet Craig Dracaena
  6. Dwarf Date
  7. Boston Fern (another one of our favorites)
  8. Peace Lily
  9. Corn Plant
  10. Schefflera

They’re all super hardy plants, so you don’t have to worry about having a black thumb with these guys. And you don’t have to pop a plant in every spare inch of your home, two or three per room is plenty. Placing them beside your bed, on your desk, or anywhere else you spend a lot of time (near the TV!) helps you fully reap their air-cleansing benefits. Oh and if you have a puppy who likes to dig, we’ve found that a layer of river rocks atop the soil in each planter is an effective (and attractive) way to keep puppy pawing to a minimum.

What about you guys? Do you have any house plants that make your day (bonus if they’re impossible to kill)? Any other tips for cleaner indoor air and happier lungs? Do tell.

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