A person can go three weeks without food, about three days without water and three minutes without air. With those numbers in mind, air quality both outdoors and in our homes, should be a top health consideration, as chemicals can be absorbed easily through the lungs.  

While we can’t control which pollutants we breathe in the outside air and although a blue face mask can look very hip on some, there are many cost-effective solutions we can use to purify the air in our homes. Here are two that can make a huge difference in your home air quality. 

Plants are my first and favorite suggestion, as most people are not aware that some houseplants can actually purify air.  This clean-air solution is both completely natural and adds beauty to a home at the same time. It’s a win-win!

Consider that NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America studied the effectiveness of certain houseplants at filtering air in facilities in space. The 1980s-era study revealed several plants that filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 

Since then, further studies have revealed which specific plants are most effective at filtering certain chemicals, especially indoors, which usually is polluted even more than outdoor air. As a mom, I will list below the plants that are safe around kids, resilient (anyone else have a “brown” thumb?!) and easy to maintain. 

Aloe Vera – serves as a burn soother too. 

Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) – very resilient and produces runners (smaller plants) that can be transplanted. 

Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’) – good for filtering out formaldehyde, (common in cleaning products, toilet paper, tissues and personal care products). Recommended for bathrooms, as it thrives in low light and steamy, humid conditions while filtering out air pollutants. 

Christmas Cactus – cleans the air well and it is colorful. 

Boston Fern – easy to grow, good at filtering the air and resilient. 

My second suggestion is baking soda air freshener. 

Have you ever spent time in the air freshener section at a store and felt a little sick or maybe even developed a slight headache? Perfumed air fresheners contain loads of chemicals that cover up odors in your home, but do so by adding cheap chemicals to your air, making it more toxic.

Home-made baking soda air freshener requires only a small glass jar, baking soda, a piece of cloth to cover the jar (allows the scent but not the contents to escape the jar), and essential oils of your choice. 

After you have your items, add half of a cup of baking soda and 15-25 drops of essential oil to the jar and stir. Place the cloth or paper cover over the top and secure with a rubber band. Voila, it’s done! This homemade air freshener is great since it constantly emits a light scent while the baking soda works to absorb any unwanted scents. When you need more scent, just give it a little shake.

Perfect in bathrooms, bedrooms and even in closets or near stinky shoes. Speaking of shoes, you can also use the same steps to make your own “sachet” to put into shoes. Substitute cornstarch or arrowroot powder for the essential oil and combine equal parts with the baking soda, carefully place into a piece of fabric, gather and tie at the top with string! 

— Sara Lemons Vaules is the founder of Lemon and Light, which offers consulting, products and strategies for moving with ease into an organic, chemical-free lifestyle.