People who suffer from allergies or breathing conditions tend to focus on keeping pollutants outside the home from making their way in. However, you may be surprised to learn that your home's indoor air quality can also be negatively impacted by your furniture. Here's why and what you can do about it.
Off-Gassing and Trapped Pollutants
There are two ways your furniture can hurt the indoor air quality of your house: off-gassing and trapped pollutants. Most furniture pieces are made using cloth materials that capture and hold on to dirt, dust, and allergens. Although they may not always be visible, these pollutants can be distributed in the air whenever someone plops down on the couch, chair, or otherwise use the piece. The issue is much worse for pet owners as animal hair and dander can also get caught in places that may not be easily reached or removed with regular cleaning tools.
Off-gassing refers to the issue of furniture, building materials, and other items in the home emitting volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Unfortunately, it's not unusual for furniture to be made with materials that have been chemically treated. For instance, formaldehyde is often used on composite wood furniture. Foam cushions are typically treated with flame retardants. As the furniture is used and deteriorates, these chemicals break down and are released into the air.
Long-term exposure to these gasses can lead to a number of problems, including aggravation of allergies and breathing conditions to cancer.
Improving Air Quality
One way to minimize the impact pollutants in your furniture affect the air quality in your home is to have the pieces professionally cleaned on a regular basis. The frequency will typically depend on the piece. For example, couches should be cleaned every 6 to 12 months, and probably closer to the low end if you have pets or children. Not only will this remove dirt and dust, it will help prolong the life of your furniture by removing debris that may damage the fibers.
As far as off-gassing is concerned, you'll need to do some research and replace your current pieces with natural alternative that aren't made using harmful chemicals. For instance, instead of getting bookcases made from particleboard or medium-density fiberboard, get one made from real wood. When shopping, look for items labeled low VOCs or that don't have formaldehyde or other well-known problematic chemicals.
For more tips on keeping your furniture clean and allergen free, contact a local upholstery cleaner.