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Ventilation for Your Laundry Room? YES!

The laundry room can sometimes be a forgotten area of the home when it comes to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Most of the IAQ focus when it comes to ventilation is on the kitchen and bathrooms and rightfully so. However, the laundry room can be a large source of contaminants in your home. Let’s take a closer look at the laundry room.

If we are calling it a laundry room, then by name laundry is being done there which means there is a washer and in most cases a dryer. That means there are chemicals in the room. Off-gassing of cleaning detergents have a negative effect on your IAQ. Have you ever gone into the laundry room and had a smell of chemicals. They might even smell somewhat good – like flowers. Unless you are also growing flowers in your laundry room, that smell is the off-gassing of the cleaning detergents. Then there are the machines themselves. With higher rate spin cycle washers and especially with dryers, their normal operation is going to produce heat and humidity. This can lead to an uncomfortable area to be in temperature-wise and the extra humidity in the room can lead to mold and mildew growth.

So far we have only talked about the washer and dryer in the room. In many homes, the laundry room doubles as a storage room for other cleaners. Many also have a utility sink for cleaning up things like paint, grease and other items that you don’t want to risk damaging the kitchen sink to clean. These just add to the amount of off-gassing happening. Another issue is that typically the laundry room is a smaller room so all these factors are concentrated in a small space.

After all that I am sure you are excitingly looking forward to the next time you need to do the laundry or even just walking through the room. Okay, maybe not. The good news is there are some things you can do to lessen your exposure to these contaminants.

  1. Install and utilize a ventilation fan. This is your best option. This will take contaminates and remove them from the home. You may want to consider a two-speed fan. Two-speed fans run continuously at a very low speed, then at a higher speed when the room is occupied. The low speed would help eliminate any off-gassing from chemicals being stored in the room then the high speed would take care of when laundry is actually being done. You can also look at models that have motion sensors that switch from low to high automatically based on if the room is being used or not. If a two-speed fan is a bit much for you, even a small inexpensive single speed fan will make a world of difference in eliminating contaminates.
  2. Open a window or an outside door. This can also be effective but has its limitations. An open door or window will help when the room is being used but unless you keep it open all the time, any off-gassing will stay in the room until the next time the door or window is opened. This is also not an ideal solution if you live in areas of extreme heat or cold.
  3. Keep the door to the laundry room open. This is the least effective method but is better than nothing – maybe. By keeping the laundry room door open to the rest of the home it will disperse the contaminates. The issue, however, is that it is dispersing them into possibly your main living area, which is not a good situation. If the rest of your home is properly ventilated, it will lessen the effects.
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