Healthy Clean Air | Family |

Non-Toxic DIY Fabric Softener

2 minute read

It might surprise you, but fabric softener is the number one cause of indoor air pollution. Never fear though, this DIY fabric softener is easy to make and VOC-free. But first, what’s a VOC? A VOC is a Volatile Organic Compound. They’re typically airborne, taking the form of various chemicals used in a variety of products. These VOCs can impact the air quality of your home, which can impact your family’s respiratory wellness.

It’s true, whenever you smell that “laundry smell,” you’re inhaling VOCs including, but not limited to, Ethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Linalool, Phthalates, and more. Through the simple two-ingredient DIY fabric softener below, you’ll still be able to soften your clothes while saving a few bucks in the process. Just mix them together and voila! you’ve got super soft clothes without sacrificing your health.

DIY Fabric Softener Materials Needed

  • White Vinegar
  • 100% Pure Essential Oils
  • Spray Bottle
  • Measuring Cups

DIY-Fabric-Softener-Materials

DIY Fabric Softener Instructions

Step One: To start, pour out one cup of white vinegar into your measuring cup.

DIY-Fabric-Softener-Step-One

Step Two: Carefully, gently squeeze 30 drops of your 100% pure essential oil into your cup of vinegar. Stir the mixture together.

DIY-Fabric-Softener-Step-Two

Step Three: Pour your DIY fabric softener mixture into your spray bottle and simply screw the spray nozzle on.

DIY-Fabric-Softener-Step-ThreeAnd there you have it! Easy, right? To stay organized, label your new, VOC-free DIY fabric softener and place it with your laundry essentials. When you go to use it, be sure to shake well and spray the solution over wet clothes in the dryer 10-15 times before drying. One thing to note, there’s no need to go overboard with your fabric softener. Any more than 15 sprays and you risk your clothes smelling more like vinegar than essential oils. Now if that’s the odor you’re looking for then spray away!

Healthy airline travel

Healthy Air | Wellness |

Stay Healthy and Hydrated During Airplane Travel

2 minute read

Dry winter air is a problem. It leads to dry skin, irritated sinuses, and can increase your susceptibility to illness. It’s somewhat simple to combat dry air in your home or office using a humidifier. But it’s not so easy during airplane travel, where humidity levels can drop as low as 10-20%. Those are not good numbers when for healthy airplane travel. (For comparison, the Sahara has an average humidity level of 25%.)

This is true for airplanes any time of year, not just the winter. And the unpleasant environment is caused, in part, by the airplane’s air filtration system. To replace the carbon dioxide created by the passengers, crew, and machinery, the plane cycles in air from outside the plane.

At high altitudes, the air is very thin and very dry. So that means the oxygen coming into the plane to keep the air breathable is also causing your sinuses and skin to dry up. (It’s a fair trade-off, true, but that doesn’t mean the dry skin isn’t annoying.)

To compound the issue of healthy airplane travel, airplanes are an easy place to get sick, especially during the winter. Hundreds of people sitting elbow-to-elbow, fresh off of trips to the mall and time spent with sniffling family members.

Getting sick on the plane is the last thing you want. So let’s talk solutions. Try some of these simple tips for healthy airline travel and avoid the pain of dry air inside the cabin and give yourself a fighting chance against the illness-spreading plane environment.

Drink Water

Here’s one you know: drink water to stay hydrated. If you didn’t bring your own bottle, make sure to order a water when the beverage cart comes by. Often times, the flight crew will make a trip through the cabin with glasses of water about halfway through the flight, so don’t pass up that chance for hydration.

Worried about going to the bathroom too often? Don’t be. A trip to the bathroom is a good sign of hydration, and it gives you a chance to stretch out and get your blood flowing on long flights.

Avoid Salty Snacks and Alcohol

On the same carts where you’ll find the good stuff (water), you’ll also have the temptations of salt and booze. The free pretzels and peanuts are loaded with salt that can further dehydrate you. And even if the beer or mixer makes the cramped flight a little easier to manage, it also sets you up for a dry nose and throat. If you can, avoid these. (And skip the sugary soda, too.)

Carry On Lotion

After hydrating your insides with water, you can also add some moisture to the outside with lotions and lip balms. Just make sure the bottles are under 3.4 ounces. Anything larger will be taken by airport security.

Nasal Spray

A dry nose is irritating wherever you are, and a bloody nose is definitely not ideal on an airplane. If this is a concern for you, consider a saline nasal spray. They’re available over-the-counter and are formulated to mimic the natural moisture that’s created by your body. As a courtesy to your fellow passengers, it’s a smart idea to do this in the bathroom after the captain turns off the fasten seat belt sign.

Healthy Air | Wellness |

Is Air Quality Worse in the Winter?

2 minute read

Ever notice how car exhaust is much more visible in the cold winter months? The level of pollution emitted from things like cars and factories remains somewhat constant throughout the year. But it’s no coincidence that it’s easier to see that pollution in the winter. Cold temperatures in the winter can lead to worsened air quality. That means you should be vigilant about creating a Healthy Home environment during the winter months.

The EPA has some useful tips for improving the quality of air in your home. These are good practice any time of year, but especially when the temperatures drop.

So, why exactly is air quality worse in the winter? Let’s take a look at some of the factors involved.

Increased Pollution

No one likes a cold car, and it’s common to see lots of idling cars in the winter as people wait for them to warm up before driving off. That leads to a slight uptick in vehicle emissions.

Staying warm is true for indoor environments as well, so fireplaces, furnaces, and wood-burning stoves are hard at work all winter long. Beyond individual home usage, energy production (often in the form of coal-burning) and consumption skyrocket during the winter in large factories and businesses.

More Time Indoors

It can be hard to leave your warm bed on a cold morning, and just as difficult to walk outside into frigid temperatures. It’s no secret that we all spend more time indoors during the winter, and that can make us more susceptible to the effects of poor ventilation and increased carbon dioxide levels.

Even things that are positive for efficiently heating homes can lead to air quality concerns for the people inside. Layers of insulation and tight seals on doors and windows can prevent fresh outdoor air from circulating indoors. For that reason, consider ways to increase the distribution of fresh air in your home using things like whole-home ventilation systems and air purifiers.

Temperature Inversion

Cold temperatures can trap pollutants near the ground through a process called “temperature inversion.”

This happens when a layer of warmer air sits above the colder air at the surface, acting like a cap that traps in pollution and allergens. This is especially common in areas where wood-burning is common practice during the winter.

This is how things like smog, smoke, and carbon dioxide can stay around for long periods of time, and they usually don’t get broken up until a weather event (wind, rain, snow) comes through the area.

Diagram courtesy of the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association website.

Healthy Humidity | Wellness |

5 Reasons You Need More Water in the Winter

2 minute read

We all know the causes and signs of dehydration in the summer; we work up a sweat in the hot sun and suddenly our whole body is screaming for a glass of water. But what about winter? Winter dehydration is much harder to spot than its summer counterpart.

How to Avoid Winter Dehydration

Winter dries out your skin, even if you’re drinking enough water

Dry air, especially in a heated home during winter sucks the moisture out of your skin. The obvious solution is to moisturize, but even that takes a few pointers. No hot showers, as long, piping hot showers actually contribute to dry skin by washing away needed oils that keep skin healthy. Take warm, shorter showers. Moisturize right away when you’re done bathing. Moisturizing is not very effective if you’ve already dried off. Some dermatologists recommend putting on the moisturizer while you still in the shower to lock in that hydration!

Hydration helps with weight loss

With Thanksgiving, Christmas, parties, and cold weather outside, it’s easier to put on the pounds during winter. Winter dehydration can cause us to snack when a calorie-free glass of water would’ve done the trick! When you feel hungry, try some liquids first. Unsweetened hot tea or room temperature water are the best choices if you’re trying to watch your weight. Cold drinks could make you shiver!

Hydration keeps you warmer

Winter dehydration makes its more difficult for your body to regulate temperature. The double whammy comes when your air is also dry – because dry air feels colder than properly humidified air. If you’re thirsty in a home that’s too dry, it’s not going to be a comfortable! A whole-home humidifier can help maintain proper humidity levels and operates in conjunction with the heating system. You’ll find yourself feeling warmer at cooler temperatures in the home which saves money – BONUS!

Hydration can boost immunity

A hydrated body is a healthier body, so making sure you’re drinking plenty of liquids provides an immune boost. Dry air also causes dryness of the nasal passages and mucus membranes, which makes a person more likely to contract cold and flu viruses. An itchy or even bloody nose is a sign that nasal passages are too dry! Consider humidification in your bedroom or better yet your whole home.

Water helps your style in the winter

Because moisture is an essential component to glowing skin and frizz-free hair, keeping your body and home’s air properly hydrated in the winter will maintain your style regardless of the conditions outdoors. Even if you don’t normally use a conditioner, everyone should in the winter. And of course, get out your moisturizers and humidifier.

Healthy Humidity | Wellness |

Ask Nurse Kate: Shedding Light on Winter Wellness

3 minute read

What’s the best way to maintain winter wellness? Curb the effects of dry winter air, of course.

Dry winter air can have a profound affect on your family’s health. Achieving proper humidity levels in your home should help prevent irritating winter conditions such as influenza, bronchitis, sinusitis, asthma, and dry skin.

To drive this home, we asked our resident health expert, Nurse Kate, to answer some key questions that should help you and your family understand and maintain wellness this winter.

Question One: Does the flu virus really thrive in low humidity? How?

Good question! Research has shown that the influenza virus thrives in cold, dry air typical to our winter season¹. The likely reason for this relates back to how the virus is transmitted from person to person. Influenza spreads through tiny respiratory droplets that stay suspended in the air after someone coughs or sneezes. Low humidity allows these droplets to stay in the air longer, which in turn increases the likelihood of transmission¹.

¹Lowen AC., Steel J. 2014. Roles of humidity and temperature in shaping influenza seasonality. July 2014 vol. 88 no. 147692-7695

Question Two: What about dry winter air causes people’s sinuses to act up?

Low humidity is a trademark of winter air, which can lead to irritated sinuses. Our nasal passages need a certain level of moisture to fend off the nasty bacteria, viruses, and allergens that cause our sinuses to act up. Because winter air is so dry, it often robs our sinuses of needed moisture, leaving our nasal passages dry, irritated, and less able to fight off wintertime illness.

Question Three: Does dry winter air affect children and adults differently? How?

Dry winter air can be problematic for children and adults alike. However, kids can be more susceptible to wintertime colds and illnesses due to increased exposure and an immune system that is still developing. As noted above, proper humidification can be key in stopping the spread of illness and helping you and your little ones stay healthy all winter long.

Question Four: How can we protect ourselves from dry winter air at home?

Staying hydrated inside and out! Drinking plenty of water helps our bodies maintain hydration from the inside. Combating dry air through home humidification helps our bodies stay hydrated from the outside. Various methods of increasing humidification in your home include taking hot showers with the door cracked to let the steam circulate, utilizing a portable humidifier in the most used rooms of your home, and installing a whole-home humidification system.

Question Five: What about when we’re not home? Do you have any tips for maintaining winter wellness at work or in the car?

It certainly can be challenging to control your environment when traveling or when at work. The following tactics can help you and your family stay well when on-the-go this winter:

Proper hand washing: Washing your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds can prevent the spread of so many illnesses. The CDC has a great website for more information on the do’s and dont’s of proper hand washing.

Limit sharing: Germs do a great job of getting around, so limit your exposure to them by keeping your food, drink and other items to yourself as much as possible this winter.

Eat well, sleep soundly, and don’t forget to exercise: Your body needs to be taken care of so it can properly take care of you! Make sure to give it all it needs this winter by eating nutritious food, getting a good night’s rest, and staying physically active.

Stay hydrated: Getting 8-10 cups of water in per day makes such a difference in keeping your body healthy and well, particularly during the dry winter months. If you find that you are having a hard time drinking water throughout the day, try bringing a refillable water bottle with you wherever you go. Adding in healthy options to your water such as mint, lemon, or cucumber not only makes your water taste more interesting, but adds a nutritional boost to your beverage as well!

Ideally, you should aim for 30-50% humidity in your home year-round. In the wintertime, a trusted humidifier can help you prevent these winter conditions and help you hydrate your home.

Disclaimer:

The information contained on the Aprilaire website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment in any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition. All information is for informational and educational purposes only and any use thereof is solely at your own risk.

 

Family |

Spruce Things Up with This DIY Christmas Card Holder

3 minute read

Picture this. It’s Christmastime and all of your friends and family are sending you cute holiday cards. You want to display them all, but the sheer number of cards this year has you a bit overwhelmed. That’s okay, just build your own DIY Christmas card holder using an Aprilaire water panel!

DIY Christmas Card Holder Materials Needed

1 Aprilaire Water Panel
Stainless Steel Card Holders
Hot Glue
Scissors
Ribbon
Bow

DIY Christmas Card Holder Instructions

Step One: Gather all of the items you need from the materials list above to assemble your DIY Christmas card holder.

DIY-Chrismtas-Card-Holder-Materials

Step Two: Remove the water panel from its casing. If you’re recycling a used water panel (which we recommend to avoid creating waste) be sure to rinse it off and let it dry first.

DIY-Christmas-Card-Holder-Aprilaire-Water-Panel

Step Three: Wrap a strand of ribbon horizontally around your water panel, hot gluing each end in the center. You’ll eventually hot glue a bow overtop these connecting points, so it’s wise to ensure the area you’re hot gluing meets in the center of the water panel.

DIY-Christmas-Card-Holder-Step-Three

Step Four: Repeat step three, this time wrapping a strand of ribbon vertically around the water panel. Again, be sure that the two ends of the ribbon are hot glued in the center. You can use the previous, horizontal connecting point as a guide.

DIY-Christmas-Card-Holder-Step-Four

Step Five: Hot glue your bow above the center connecting points where the horizontal and vertical ribbons intersect. What you have now should resemble a Christmas present.

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Step Six: Stick your stainless steel card holders into the top of the water panel present you’ve created.

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And voila! As you collect cards and photos from loved ones this holiday season, you’ll be able to proudly display them at home with a one-of-a-kind card holder you built yourself. Happy holidays!

DIY-Christmas-Card-Holder-Finshed-Product

 

Archive |

Home (And Healthy) For The Holidays

2 minute read

During the holidays, you don’t have time to be sick. Whether you’re traveling long distances or preparing your home for parties and guests, the cold or flu can be a real Scrooge on your holiday fun. This year we can help you make it a healthy holiday!

You’ll want to do all the wellness basics: wash your hands often, get plenty of sleep, and eat right. And here we’ve put together some specific places where you’ll want to be extra diligent about maintaining a healthy holiday season.

Healthy Holiday Tips

  • On An Airplane

You never know who was in your seat before you. It could’ve been your long-lost pen pal from grade school, a voice actor from your favorite animated holiday movie, or someone who was feeling under the weather and spreading their germs all over the armrests, tray table, and seat belt.

Unfortunately, that last option is the most likely, and that means you need to take precautions. Pack along some disinfecting wipes and give everything in your area a quick wipe down. Then let it air dry and enjoy your flight with peace of mind while daydreaming about that old pen pal of yours. (I wonder if she ever became an astronaut…)

  • At The Mall

Holiday shopping can be a marathon. This bodes well for burning calories as you pound laps around the mall, but it can also expose you to a gauntlet of germs and unhealthy foods.

Take control over the food you’re eating. Avoid the blood sugar hit that comes from that oversized latte or cinnamon roll. Pack along healthy snack options like dried fruit and nuts, and bring a water bottle that you can refill as you go along.

You know the mall is filled with germs. They’re basically the only things you can get there for free. Pack along some alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands after you touch things like toy shelves, escalator rails, and credit card machines. A more thorough cleaning is a good idea before you eat.

  •  At The Office

Germs and viruses aren’t the only threat to your healthy holiday season. Stress plays a huge role in the function of your immune system and your overall happiness. This is especially true around the holidays when you’re trying to balance work deadlines with family time.

So give yourself a break! Take off early for a relaxing massage or fit a stress-busting walk into your afternoon routine. You know the best ways to relieve your stress, and it’s essential that you sprinkle them in while fulfilling your work and home obligations. The holidays should be a happy time, so don’t let stress or sickness steal your festive cheer!