6 Products That Can Help Improve Your Home's Air Quality

Guardian Technologies/Homasy/Amazon
Guardian Technologies/Homasy/Amazon

Chances are you’ve spent a lot more time than usual inside lately. And if you’ve noticed that the air in your home has started to feel a little mustier thanks to your constant presence, you might need to do a bit more than just crack a window. From air purifiers designed to filter out germs to all-natural surface cleaners that help you avoid harsh chemicals, we’ve compiled some essential products that will help improve your indoor air quality.

1. Vacuums with HEPA filters

Shark/Homasy/Amazon

Carpets and rugs are bound to absorb pollutants like dust and dirt that can keep the air in your home a little less than fresh and agitate your allergies. Research suggests that a vacuum equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter helps reduce surface contamination, and for the best results, the universal rule of thumb is to run a vacuum over the floors at least once a week. We recommend this upright vacuum from Shark ($170), which includes a lift-away feature so you can clean harder-to-reach locations. If you need a duster to complement your Shark, go with the Swiffer ($13); it's a simple design that can easily get around corners and fit under furniture, where colonies of dust tend to hang out.

If you're looking for a more hands-off approach to cleaning, Homasy's line of robot vacuums can be programmed to clean your floors right from a remote. The 1500PA ($166) model has a 4.4-star Amazon rating, features four cleaning modes (auto, wall, small-room, and suction cleaning), and sports a HEPA filter.

2. air purifiers

Guardian Technologies/Amazon

According to Good Housekeeping, you should look for an air purifier that’s verified by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) and uses the aforementioned HEPA-certified filters, which can catch about 99.97 percent of the smallest particles that cause allergies and other issues (be wary of brands selling "near-HEPA" products, though). For the best results, just make sure to replace the filter every three months.

This air purifier from Guardian Technologies ($97) has a built-in UV light that helps kill germs and a true HEPA filter that works to reduce odors. The company also offers a smart model ($148) that can be scheduled to go on and off through an app and is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.

3. humidifiers

Honeywell/Amazon

Being stuck at home as the temperatures rise inevitably means your air conditioner will soon be working overtime. To combat the dry air that accompanies AC units, think about picking up a humidifier to add some much-needed moisture to your home. The Honeywell HCM-350 Germ-Free Cool Mist Humidifier ($64) comes with plenty of acclaim and is the perfect size for the bedroom or living room. It runs quietly, only needs a gallon of water, and can help bring some life to your home's stagnant, dry air. If you're not looking to make as big of an investment, there are personal humidifiers ($20) that can simply be dropped into a cup of water.

4. An air-quality monitor

Awair/Amazon

Keep on top of your indoor air quality by purchasing a monitor that tracks humidity, temperature, and the presence of particulate matter. This monitor from Awair ($69) plugs into an outlet and sends you real-time updates through a connected app. You can even plug another device into it—like a humidifier—and the monitor will automatically turn it on if air quality dips at all.

5. All-natural cleaning products

Puracy/Amazon

Many cleaning products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which drastically impact indoor air quality and may produce negative health effects. Switch to all-natural cleaning products to avoid potentially toxic byproducts, especially when dealing with rooms that have poor ventilation. We recommend this plant-based, all-purpose spray from Puracy ($12), along with the company's line of carpet shampoo ($15) or the full-on cleaning set ($40) of all their major products.

6. Replacement air filters

Filtrete/Amazon

Your home’s air filters will be most effective provided they’re cleaned or replaced on a regular schedule. Depending on where you live, how often you use your HVAC system, and the type of filter you use, you should aim to replace your filters every two to three months, according to The Spruce. However, you can change them every month to six weeks if you have issues like allergies and asthma.

This air filter from Filtrete ($32) contains an activated carbon layer designed to trap odors and particulate matter and is built to last for three months. The benefits of charcoal as an odor eater don't have to come at a high cost, either. You can grab some tiny air-purifying charcoal bags ($20) to throw into a car or shoe closet to help filter those unpleasant smells that you're probably tired of dealing with.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

Amazon
Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Google Is Tracking Everything You Do With Its ‘Smart’ Features—Here’s How to Make That Stop

Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Taryn Elliott, Pexels

Since we don’t all have personal assistants to draft emails and update our calendars, Google has tried to fill the void with ‘smart’ features across Gmail, Google Chat, and Google Meet. These automatic processes cover everything from email filtering and predictive text to notifications about upcoming bills and travel itineraries. But such personalized assistance requires a certain amount of personal data.

For example, to suggest email replies that match what you’d choose to write on your own—or remind you about important emails you’ve yet to reply to—Google needs to know quite a bit about how you write and what you consider important. And that involves tracking your actions when using Google services.

For some people, Google’s helpful hints might save enough time and energy to justify giving up full privacy. If you’re not one of them, here’s how to disable the ‘smart’ features.

As Simplemost explains, first open Gmail and click the gear icon (settings) in the upper right corner of the page. Select ‘See all settings,’ which should default to the ‘General’ tab. Next to ‘Smart Compose,’ ‘Smart Compose personalization,’ and ‘Smart Reply,’ choose the ‘Off’ options. Next to ‘Nudges,’ uncheck both boxes (which will stop suggestions about what emails you should answer or follow up on). Then, switch from the ‘General’ tab to ‘Inbox’ and scroll down to ‘Importance markers.’ Choose ‘No markers’ and ‘Don’t use my past actions to predict which messages are important.’

Seeing these settings might make you wonder what other information you’ve unwittingly given Google access to. Fortunately, there’s a pretty easy way to customize it. If you open the ‘Accounts’ tab (beside ‘Inbox’) and choose ‘Google Account settings,’ there’s an option to ‘Take the Privacy Checkup.’ That service will walk you through all the privacy settings, including activity tracking on Google sites, ad personalization, and more.

[h/t Simplemost]