The Scary Thing Thanksgiving Dinner Does to Your Home’s Air

October 25, 2017

Thanksgiving means cooking—and lots of it.

Unfortunately, cooking can produce hazardous levels of indoor pollutants, including dangerous gases like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. And sometimes these levels of pollution can even exceed the outdoor air quality standards for these pollutants.

“What’s so bad about having those chemicals in the air?”

Well, they cause symptoms like…

  • Itchy eyes
  • Irritated throat
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • And more

So, what can be done?

Well the answer isn’t to stop cooking (who would suggest that on Thanksgiving?), but rather to practice “air-safe” cooking.

In this article, we’ll share how you can keep your kitchen’s air clean this Thanksgiving...

How to prevent indoor air pollution while cooking Thanksgiving dinner

Follow these 5 easy tips to avoid unnecessary air pollution while cooking:

Tip #1: Open windows

This one’s the easiest to do: open your kitchen windows while you cook. This allows dangerous air contaminants to escape your home.

Tip #2: Use your kitchen hood

Your kitchen’s hood (also called the exhaust fan/vent) sucks up chemicals released from cooking and moves them outside.

Follow these tips when you use your kitchen hood:

  • Always turn on the hood while you cook
  • Use the highest fan setting
  • Try cooking on the back burners (this will make the kitchen hood twice as effective at removing pollutants from the air)
  • Your hood uses vents to carry dangerous fumes/gases outdoors. If the outside vent cover is blocked, all of those gases will stay in your home. So, make sure nothing’s blocking the cover on the outside wall, or the covering on the roof.

Tip #3: Bring in some green

Let plants clean the air for you! As part of their natural “eating” cycle, plants absorb airborne toxins through their leaves and roots. 

According to NASA, some plants are ideal for removing indoor toxins. Some of these helpful houseplants include:

  1. Dracaena, aka “Janet Craig”
  2. Lady palm
  3. Areca indoor palm
  4. Peace lily
  5. Bamboo palm

Plus, plants look great in a room, so you’ll get natural decor and healthier air at once.

Tip #4: Avoid strong cleaners & aerosol sprays

Using aerosol sprays or strong cleaners actually add more pollution to the air. 

In fact, these common kitchen cleaners are filled with dangerous chemicals such as:

Read our related article, “Why Most Air Fresheners Aren’t a Good Idea for Your Home”.

So, instead of using aerosol sprays or harsh cleaners, try these cleaning tips:

  • Use sliced lemons and baking soda to get rid of a nasty smell in the kitchen
  • Use paper towels and water to clean up any spills. If the spills are severe, you can use white vinegar or unscented soap

Tip #5: Get a better air filter

Upgrading to a filter with a MERV of 13 to 16 will help keep your air a lot cleaner.

You see, an air filter’s quality is measured by MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value). The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the particles/pollutants it can capture.

Spoiler alert: Most homeowners use the typical fiberglass air filter, which has a MERV rating of only 8. These filters CAN’T capture small contaminants such as:

  • Pollutants caused by cooking
  • Bacteria
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Humidifier dust
dirty air filter vs. clean air filter

What a typical low-MERV fiberglass filter looks like (dirty vs clean).

Bottom line? Upgrade to a filter with a MERV of 13 to 16 but remember to check it frequently to make sure it’s clean. A dirty air filter won’t be very effective at removing pollutants from your home’s air.

For more information about air filters, check out our article, “Home Air Filters: A Simple Buyer’s Guide.”

Need help getting a new air filter?

Contact Santa Fe Air. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have or send one of our techs over to help you replace and upgrade your air filter.


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