How to Freshen Air in a Room

Indoor air quality is an important but often overlooked aspect of our health. The air inside our homes and workplaces can frequently become stale, filled with odors, allergens, and pollutants that can negatively impact our wellbeing. Fortuntely, there are many methods available for freshening the air in any room and creating a healthier indoor environment. This article will provide an in-depth look at techniques for removing foul odors, reducing airborne irritants, and replacing stale air with fresh, clean air.

Why Indoor Air Quality Matters

Spending time in rooms with poor air circulation and quality can lead to various health issues. Stale, stagnant air often contains higher levels of mold, mildew, pet dander, dust mites, and other allergens that can aggravate respiratory conditions like asthma. It may also allow build up of radon, carbon monoxide, and other gases that are dangerous in excess levels.

Beyond affecting our physical health, poor indoor air quality can also influence our mood and cognition. Lingering odors like cigarette smoke, spoiled food trash, litterboxes, and general stuffiness are unappealing and can make us feel depressed. Fresh, clean-smelling air has been shown to improve productivity, energy levels, and overall sense of wellbeing.

Since most people in developed countries spend upwards of 90% of time indoors, it is crucial to learn ways to maximize indoor air quality through proper ventilation, air circulation, and odor removal.

Open Windows Regularly

One of the simplest ways to freshen indoor air is to open windows on a regular basis. Opening windows for just 10-15 minutes daily helps let fresh outdoor air enter while allowing stale indoor air to exit. This exchange of air reduces odors, allergens, and other pollutants that build up inside.

Aim to open windows on at least two different sides of a room or home so that cross-breezes can develop and air can circulate efficiently. In homes with multiple levels, open upper floor windows to take advantage of rising warm air exiting while cooler ground-level air enters below.

If outdoor pollution or allergens are high on a given day, opening windows just a crack to allow some air exchange while minimizing intake of irritants can help. Also consider running window fans on exhaust settings to suck indoor air out efficiently.

Utilize Fans to Keep Air Moving

In addition to drawing fresh air in through windows, using fans indoors helps circulate air within a room. This constant motion prevents stagnant pockets from developing and distributes fresher air around the space.

Box fans placed in open windows and directed to exhaust air out are especially helpful at changing over stale indoor air with new outdoor air. Just be sure to shut windows when fans are not in use to prevent unwanted entry of bugs, dirt, or allergens.

Ceiling fans and pedestal fans also do an excellent job of keeping air mixed within a room. Direct fans upwards for maximum circulation. The right fan on the right speed setting can freshen a space without creating an unpleasant breeze.

Add Air Purifying Houseplants

Certain houseplants excel at removing toxins and pollutants from indoor air through their natural respiration processes. Some great options to try are snake plants, aloe vera, English ivy, peace lilies, and philodendrons.

Plants absorb and digest harmful compounds like formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene that off-gas from building materials, furniture, and cleaning products. They then release purified oxygen back into the surrounding environment.

Place several air purifying plants around rooms where you spend the most time. Avoid over-crowding them to ensure adequate airflow around the plants. Also be vigilant about watering and pruning to maintain their air freshening abilities.

Use Baking Soda to Neutralize Odors

Baking soda is a safe, natural deodorizer that can soak up and neutralize many foul smells. Pour baking soda into shallow dishes or bowls and place them around areas where odors originate. Closets, bathrooms, cat litter boxes, and basements prone to mildew smells benefit from open baking soda containers.

For especially stubborn odors from spills, accidents, or smoking, sprinkle baking soda liberally on carpets, upholstery, mattresses, and other soft surfaces. Let it sit for up to 24 hours to allow full absorption before vacuuming it up. The baking soda will cling to odor molecules and remove them when removed.

Use Essential Oils and Diffusers

Essential oils like lemon, peppermint, eucalyptus, and tea tree introduce fresh, pleasant aromas that mask unpleasant odors in the air. Add a few drops of pure oils into an aromatherapy diffuser and allow the scented vapor to permeate the air for 1-2 hours. Switch up oil scents regularly so they remain effective.

Diluting essential oils in water and putting into a spray bottle is another method for scenting room air. Mist fabrics, curtains, bedding, and furniture with the scent solution, avoiding slick surfaces. The fragrance will linger for many hours.

Take caution with essential oils around those with asthma or scent sensitivities. Diffuse them intermittently rather than continuously. And avoid synthetic fragranced sprays that overload air with chemicals.

Install Air Purifying Filters and Systems

Air purifiers and filters remove substantial amounts of particulates like dust, pet dander, pollen, and smoke that pollute indoor air. They pull contaminated air through filters made of materials like charcoal, carbon, fiberglass, and HEPA to trap particles before returning clean air back to the room.

Portable room air purifiers work well for single rooms up to about 400 square feet. They come in many designs like tower fans, small stands, and tabletop units. For full home coverage, consider installing a whole house air purifying system into existing HVAC ductwork.

Look for high quality filters, monitors for remaining filter life, and adequate CADR ratings when selecting an air purifying system. Replace filters regularly as directed.

Clean Surfaces Thoroughly and Frequently

Dust, pet hair, mold spores, and other allergens and odor sources collect on surfaces like furniture, shelving, carpets, drapes, and electronics. Regularly wiping down and vacuuming these surfaces removes substantial amounts of irritants that get released back into air.

Microfiber cloths attract and cling to dust and dander from surfaces and can be laundered and reused. Disposable electrostatic dusting cloths also work well at trapping particles.

Vacuuming carpets and mopping hard floors with minimal chemical cleaners helps remove allergens without adding to indoor pollution. Empty vacuum bags and canisters after each use.

Take Out the Trash

Rotting food, dirty diapers, and other smelly trash easily creates foul odors when left sitting inside. Make sure to remove garbage from indoor cans frequently, daily if odors are noticeable.

Taking trash outdoors into covered bins eliminates food scraps as an indoor air quality issue. Likewise, composting food waste rather than letting it linger inside removes a major source of unpleasant smells.

Discarding stale pet food, emptying litter boxes, and replacing trash bags containing dirty diapers or other soiled items before odors spread will help keep indoor air fresher.

Fix Moisture Problems Causing Mold and Mildew

Excess moisture allows mold, mildew, and bacteria to thrive and release spores and musty odors into the air. Stopping leaks, repairing water damaged areas, and controlling humidity reduces these problematic microbes.

In bathrooms and basements prone to high humidity, run fans during and after showering or using hot water appliances. Make sure bathroom exhaust fans vent outside, not just back into wall cavities.

Check for plumbing leaks under sinks and fill any longstanding puddles or damp spots that aren't drying. Eliminating liquid water deprives mold and mildew of needed growth conditions.

Ventilate Kitchens and Bathrooms When in Use

Steamy baths, hot showers, boiling water, and cooking all add substantial humidity and odors to indoor air that linger once these appliances shut off. Using overhead ventilation fans when using kitchen and bathrooms removes some of these issue compounds at the source.

Run bathroom exhaust fans for about 20 minutes after showering or bathing to remove excess moisture. When cooking, turn on stove vents, hood fans, or wall fans at least 5 minutes before cooking and until at least 15 minutes after turning off the heat. These best practices significantly cut down on humidity and food odors permeating living spaces.

Maintain Proper Indoor Humidity Levels

Monitoring and regulating indoor relative humidity helps balance comfort and air quality. Levels below 30% dry out nasal passages while levels above 50% encourage mold issues. The ideal target is 30-50% humidity.

Digital hygrometers effectively monitor indoor humidity. During times of year or in homes prone to excess humidity, use dehumidifiers to remove moisture from overly damp air. Choose Energy Star rated models and empty the collection tank regularly.

In arid climates or winter months when humidity plummets with heat use, humidifiers add moisture back to overly dry air which helps limit illness transmission and reduces static electricity, dry skin, and respitory irritation.


Freshening stale indoor air helps create healthier living and working environments. Utilizing several complementary techniques is ideal for keeping air as clean as possible. Strategically opening windows, running fans, using air filters and plants, eliminating odor and allergen sources, and ventilating high-humidity areas cumulatively improve indoor air quality.

Making air quality improvements pays off through enhanced physical health, fewer sick days, and improved sense of wellbeing. We spend too much time indoors to not take measures to maximize the quality of the air we breathe.

Frequently Asked Questions About Freshening Indoor Air

How often should I freshen air in my home?

Aim to exchange stale indoor air with fresh air at least once per day. Open windows for 10 minutes daily as a minimum. Run fans, ventilation systems, and air purifiers continuously during occupied hours for best air freshening results.

What plants work best for purifying indoor air?

Snake plants, aloe vera, English ivy, peace lilies, spider plants, and philodendrons are some of the top air purifying plants according to NASA research. Group at least 2-3 of these plants per 100 square feet in rooms you want to freshen.

What causes bad odors inside and how can I prevent them?

Cooking food, pet waste, mold, stale air, and accumulated dust/dander are common odor sources. Promptly fix leaks, frequently clean litter boxes, ventilate while cooking, take out trash regularly, and dust/vacuum often to prevent odor buildup.

Is it OK to use scented candles/sprays to make rooms smell nicer?

Limit use of scented sprays and synthetic candles. The chemical fragrances irritate airways and mask (not remove) odors. Opt for essential oil diffusers for occasional scenting. Or place bowls of vinegar around as a natural deodorizer.

How can I tell if my home has poor indoor air quality?

Signs of poor indoor air quality include stuffiness, visible dust, lingering odors, allergy/asthma flare ups, headaches/fatigue when at home, condensation collecting on windows, and frequently getting sick. Investing in an indoor air quality monitor also provides useful data.

Nora Johnston
Nora Johnston

Hi, my name is Nora. As a busy working mom, I'm always looking for ways to keep my home clean and fresh smelling. With two kids and a husband who works construction, odors can build up quickly in our house. I've tried many different air fresheners over the years with mixed results. I'm pretty sensitive to strong artificial fragrances, so I have to be careful about choosing scents that won't give me a headache. I prefer fresher, lighter scents rather than heavy florals or perfumes. I've had good luck with some essential oil-based fresheners, but some brands seem to lose their scent too quickly. I want an air freshener that will last a while after spraying and effectively neutralize odors rather than just covering them up. Automatic spray air fresheners are nice for high-traffic areas like the bathrooms. But I worry about all the chemicals being released into the air. Lately I've been experimenting with some natural odor absorbers like baking soda, vinegar and charcoal. But it's hard to keep up with replacing them all the time.