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.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

More Than 38,000 Pounds of Ground Beef Has Been Recalled

Beef-ware.
Beef-ware.
Angele J, Pexels

Your lettuce-based summer salads are safe for the moment, but there are other products you should be careful about using these days: Certain brands of hand sanitizer, for example, have been recalled for containing methanol. And as Real Simple reports, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) recently recalled 38,406 pounds of ground beef.

When JBS Food Canada ULC shipped the beef over the border from its plant in Alberta, Canada, it somehow skirted the import reinspection process, so FSIS never verified that it met U.S. food safety standards. In other words, we don’t know if there’s anything wrong with it—and no reports of illness have been tied to it so far—but eating unapproved beef is simply not worth the risk.

The beef entered the country on July 13 as raw, frozen, boneless head meat products, and Balter Meat Company processed it into 80-pound boxes of ground beef. It was sent to holding locations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina before heading to retailers that may not be specific to those four states. According to a press release, FSIS will post the list of retailers on its website after it confirms them.

In the meantime, it’s up to consumers to toss any ground beef with labels that match those here [PDF]. Keep an eye out for lot codes 2020A and 2030A, establishment number 11126, and use-or-freeze-by dates August 9 and August 10.

[h/t Real Simple]