You only have one chance to give a first impression of your family home!
Our house is like a snapshot of our lives to new visitors, and I’ve become more aware that I want it to smell nice. When you first open up the front door to a home, you are often greeted with a variety of smells. Sometimes, for good or bad, you simply can’t remove all traces of the smell from last night’s dinner from the air!
In this article, I will be looking into how any of us can take simple steps to improve the air quality in the house itself, and in turn reduce any unwanted smells. I will also be looking at how that possibly just having a few plants in your home can help improve the quality of air, as well as adding style to your home.
What is in the Air we Breathe?
The term Indoor Air Pollution has me instantly opening up the bifold doors! Can we really have air pollution at home? Well yes is the short answer! This document makes for interesting reading; Parliament UK Document.
Since having major building work during the house renovation project last year, I have become more aware of the materials used in building and furnishing a house. Almost everything about the house was taken back to it’s “bare bones” and reboarded, re-plastered, painted etc. As well as that, we have new carpets and tiled floors which would have been coated with sealants and other chemicals. I would imagine that we have quite a few toxins are lurking about in our house!
This bothers me as of course I want us to have a Healthy Home!! I have had asthma and hay fever most of my life, and our children are showing signs of hay fever already. Ben seems to have developed some allergies in the last few years, which are aggravated by the poor air quality he breathes on work days in central London. I want to make sure we are doing what we can to have good air quality in the house.
I am mindful of using more natural based cleaning products where I can in order to limit the irritants that we are breathing in, but I am interested to know what else can be done do improve the air quality in our house.
I was really excited to learn that there are a number of indoor plants that are proven to help purify the air. Maybe I have heard this before, but now, with a family to look after and a house to finish decorating, I am ready to find out how plants can improve our home!
Best Indoor Plants for Air Purification
After a quick search, I discovered that there are quite a few plants thought to help purify the air, and I’m surprised to realise some are plants we see all the time. Here are a few examples;
But the really interesting news is that there is research about this done by NASA!
Have a look at the research here.
I love this paragraph in the NASA paper:
“Since man’s existence on Earth depends upon a life support system involving an intricate relationship with plants and their associated microorganisms, it should be obvious that when he attempts to isolate himself in tightly sealed buildings away from this ecological system, problems will arise.”
We really are supposed to be “at one with nature!”
They conclude the research with this:
“Low-light-requiring houseplants, along with activated carbon plant filters, have demonstrated the potential for improving indoor air quality by removing trace organic pollutants from the air in energy-efficient buildings. This plant system is one of the most promising means of alleviating the sick building syndrome associated with many new, energy- efficient buildings. The plant root-soil zone appears to be the most effective area for removing volatile organic chemicals. Therefore, maximizing air exposure to the plant root-soil area should be considered when placing plants in buildings for best air filtration.
Activated carbon filters containing fans have the capacity for rapidly filtering large volumes of polluted air and should be considered an integral part of any plan using houseplants for solving indoor air pollution problems.”
If you are not sure which plants to choose, have a look in your local garden centre. The indoor plant section is bound to have a few of the best air filtering plants as there are lots of us cottoning on to this fact! This is a shot from my local shop.
There’s also a fantastic graphical chart, here by LovetheGarden.com depicting a lot of information from the NASA study, to help you decipher the best plants to choose for their specific air filtering qualities.
How Can House Plants Improve your Home?
I looked into buying or hiring a kit for testing the air quality at home, so that I could have a “before and after” adding house plants to our home, and I eventually decided against it. The tests need decifering and I am not exactly a trained chemist! Also, some of the interesting qualities that I read about from the NASA tests, do not seem to be available with a simple air testing kit bought online! I’m guessing they need lab conditions, and more extensive kit for that.
One of our ensuite bathrooms smells particularly bad! It’s a drainy kind of smell. If I run the shower, the taps and give the entire bathroom a spritz and clean, it seems better for a day or two. Partly because of the smell of cleaning products I suspect! Anyway, this seems like a great place to try out some plants for air purification!
Not enough light!
Well a few weeks after adding a plant to the room, the bathroom still smells “yucky” and I don’t need an expert or an air-testing kit to tell me that. I’m not sure one tiny ivy plant can cope! As you can see in the picture, it is very dark and with no natural light most of the time, the plant is struggling. I am looking into plant grow lights for this as I really want to help the plants work their magic!! I think there is already an improvement in the smell, and I am not deterred! Because by doing this for our air quality, I have realised that house plants bring something else…. STYLE!
I put two plants in the adjoining bedroom, and it looks instantly more homely, and finished. I also like that my Utility room is becoming multi-purpose as I am gathering items needed to look after plants.
Since the initial purchase for the bathroom and bedroom, I bought three small plants for the lounge, and everyone who went in there afterwards said “what a lovely room this is” having never said so before! They thought that we must have bought new sofas and side tables, but in fact the only change was adding a couple of plants to the room! I wonder if there is something about having some plants, the greenery reminds us of being outside in nature, and makes us “feel” a little better?!
I will most definitely be buying more indoor plants, and I have my eye on some really beautiful planters and pot stands. I would love to get a big “cheese plant” or Yukka, and several medium sized plants for the kitchen/ diner and entrance. I am thinking about getting some succulents in cute little pots for the children’s bedrooms, but I need to look into that incase there are any toxic plants that are risky for a children’s room.
What else can I do to improve air quality at home?
Well I can tell you one thing, I will most certainly be damp-dusting and opening the windows in our bedrooms far more regularly after reading the UK Parliament article! I’m ashamed to say that I really don’t dust as often as I should, especially upstairs! I have been thinking as I write this article, that the time we spend literally lying in our beds breathing the enclosed air, it’s really quite important to make sure it’s as high quality as we can.
I’m thinking of looking into a carbon activated air filter as well, and I will definitely by buying some Snake Plants for upstairs too! For now, I’m going to be busy with my new watering can and following my mum’s advice to “talk to my plants!” Well, maybe!
How good is your air quality at home? Leave a comment below if you know of any other tips and hints, and I’d love to hear if you have any favourite house plant pots too.