Greener Choices to Prevent Indoor Air Pollution

In the midst of a hot Ontario summer, many of us are inclined to shut the doors and windows and crank up the air conditioner. While the cool air offers some relief from the stifling heat, a hidden danger lurks in many homes: indoor pollution. 

One common cause of indoor pollution are the same products we use to clean our homes.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air quality has been declining in recent decades and commercial cleaning products are a significant contributing factor. Many popular commercial products release high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that may irritate the eyes, nose and throat and sometimes cause headaches or dizziness. In extreme cases, long-term and extended exposure to VOCs may lead to respiratory disease, heart disease, or cancer.

Among the worst offenders are heavily-fragranced laundry detergents and dryer sheets.

Dryer sheets are designed to prevent static cling and to leave a lasting fragrance on fabric. Unfortunately, they also spew VOCs throughout the home and are released outdoors through the vents. According to a University of Washington study, dryer sheets may release as many as 25 different VOCs and seven air pollutants, two of which are classified as carcinogenic by the EPA (acetaldehyde and benzene). 

Wool Dryer Ball

Greener options are available that are both low cost and low maintenance. Adding half a cup of vinegar during the washing machine’s rinse cycle will leave clothes soft and static free. Adding a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil will leave clothes smelling fresh. If you missed the rinse cycle, another static-fighting option is to toss three or more wool dryer balls into the dryer with the clothes. The dryer balls fluff your towels and reduce drying time by absorbing humidity. Adding a few drops of a fresh essential oil will give clothes that satisfying, just-washed scent. Every few months, recharge the dryer balls by washing them in hot water on the gentle cycle and drying on high heat.

Enjoy static-free and fresh smelling clothes without adding to your home’s indoor air pollution.