Homeowner Helpers: Top tips on indoor air quality

The coming winter means we’ll be spending more time inside our homes, and that makes indoor air quality more important than ever. Not only does household air get stale (and even smelly!) but everything from cooking to commercial cleaning products can contribute to deteriorated air quality, a special problem for those with allergies or respiratory ailments like asthma. Here’s how to keep indoor air quality at its best.

Kitchen & bathroom fans

Clean or replace the filter on your range hood as often as your owner’s manual suggests, which could be every three months or even more frequently. Here’s how to do it. Clean your bathroom ceiling fans at least twice a year, a simple DIY task that will improve their performance and lifespan.

Heating system

Maintaining your furnace, HRV (heat recovery ventilator) and built-in humidifier will improve indoor air quality by filtering out airborne particles, bringing warmed, fresh air into your home and adding moisture to dry winter air. Get your furnace inspected yearly and make sure other maintenance is carried out on schedule, including filter replacements. More on how to maintain your heating system.


Carpets & rugs

Carpets and rugs make your home cosier, but, like upholstered furniture, they are also traps for dust, pet hair and other particles that decrease indoor air quality. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter for best results and occasionally shampoo floor coverings and upholstered furniture.

Drapes & bedding

Like carpets and rugs, drapes and beddings trap dust, pollen and other irritants. Washing them regularly in water that’s at least 55 C will keep them fresh and clean. Pillow and mattress covers that are dust and allergen-proof can be a good investment, as can allergen-proof box spring covers. Learn how to wash your pillows.


Daily household routines like showering and cooking can push up humidity levels in your home, encouraging mould and causing window condensation, especially in winter when windows remain closed. Adjustments to your ventilation system may solve the problem (check your owner’s manual). Opening a window also helps by allowing cold, dry air into your home, as does a dehumidifier. If window condensation is an issue, check out these tips.


Indoor plants

Despite their reputation for filtering toxins, houseplants’ ability to improve indoor air quality is a myth. Plants do convert the carbon dioxide we exhale into life-supporting oxygen, but you’d need so many in your home to make a significant difference there’d be little room for you and your family. However, houseplants do bring pleasure to many and they add to the ambience of any room, so they are worth their weight in gold for those reasons alone.

More resources

For more on indoor air quality, check this Canadian government page or this detailed guide from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Originally published October 3, 2021


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