How to Clean Indoor Air – 14 Simple Ways to Clean Up the Air in Your Home

The other day, I was surfing the interweb (internet for those of you who like using the mainstream phrase), and I stumbled across something. I stumbled across a bunch of ways that you can clean the air in your home.

I am personally a big fan of super clean air, and I don’t even live in the dirtier downtown cities where visibility is low due to pollution and whatever kinds of cooties might be floating around. I live in the suburbs. I live in Oregon. I have a greenspace by my house. All that is to say that my home’s air is probably a whole lot cleaner than most people’s to begin with.

living room

But what if you’re not blessed with clean air where you live? What if you know that there’s a whole host of pollutants and odors in your house?

Well, I compiled a list of my personal favorite fixes for air quality and several fixes that I have heard of that work great. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’ll give you a good launching point.

Before I dive in, however, let me say that I think air purifiers are the all-around best option for cleaning the air in your home directly. There are methods I outline that are important to limit how much dust and how many pollutants get tracked into your home and kicked up, but as far as cleaning the air itself, nothing’s better than an air purifier. So, I’m starting the list with that.

The 14 Ways to Ensure That You’ve Got Clean Air in Your Home

  1. Use an Air Purifier
    Once again, this is my favorite method. Air purifiers are made to capture particles out of the air, and those particles are all the things that you don’t want to be breathing. I’m talking germs, allergens, dust, and so much more. Some air purifiers can even capture or eliminate toxic gasses like VOCs, radon, and that one relative’s farts that smell exceedingly bad.
    And do you want to know the best part?
    You can buy and use an air purifier for a whole lot less than some of the other options that I’ll list later.
    Now, some of the ideas I give you on getting and keeping your home’s air clean will be easy and cheap, but their long-term impact is minimal. You’ll have to keep doing them constantly. An air purifier can run constantly, helping to keep your home’s air clean long-term while also helping to keep your house itself cleaner!
    Check out this article if you’d like to learn a little more about how an air purifier can help your home stay cleaner: How Can I Clean My Home’s Air? – Will Air Purifiers Help Me Clean House? or check out this one: Do Air Purifiers Get Rid of Dust? | Do I Need to Dust if I Have an Air Purifier?
    Now, I’ve got so much more to say on air purifiers, but I’ll let you check out my website for more info on them if you’re interested. Everyone else can continue with this list!
  2. Use an Air Ionizer
    Air ionizers are their own beast, even though some air purifiers come with built-in ionizers.
    So, what’s an ionizer?
    Ionizers are little devices that ionize the air (surprise, surprise). Those ionized particles then attract the various particulates in the air, like pollen and dust, and they make them fall to the ground and/or to the nearest surface. That means that you might have to dust your home a little bit more, but at least that stuff isn’t in your air.
    For that reason, I think just getting an air purifier is more worth your money, especially when some ionizers are the same cost as an air purifier.
  3. Use an Air Dehumidifier
    Believe it or not, but a dehumidifier can actually help you to have cleaner air in your home.
    Before I go on, let me refresh you on what a dehumidifier is: they are machines that can pull moisture (humidity) out of the air. That will leave you with drier air.
    The EPA recommends in this article that you keep indoor humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent. Anything above 60% can be a real big issue.
    Issues that can arise when you have too much humidity in your home is that you’ll be susceptible to having bugs like gnats, spiders, fleas, and dust mites. Dust mites are the real reason why most people are allergic to dust. Besides that, high humidity encourages mold spores and allergens to take to the air, so keeping your home’s humidity in the 30% to 50% range is ideal.
    If you want to test your home’s air quality and check for your home’s humidity, pick up an air sensor from AirThings here. Be sure to use the code ape10-10off to get an additional 10% discount off your order. I’ve been working with AirThings for a while and can say they’ve got some of the best air quality sensors out there by far.
  4. Check for Mold and Fungus
    Mold and fungus are no fun when they’re in places that they shouldn’t be. One such place is inside of your home.
    If you’re thinking about the air quality in your home, be sure to check for any mold and fungus. If you live somewhere that gets really wet any part of the year, then you might have some. You might even get mold in your bathroom! (I had mold in my bathroom, that was horrible to clean up.)
    If you need to check for mold, or if you need to clean some mold up, then be sure to check out my article on it! How Can I Check My House for Mold? | How Can I Clean Mold?
  5. Use an Oil Diffuser
    A lot of people like to use oil diffusers in an effort to clean the air in their home. I personally don’t like to use oil diffusers to “clean” the air, since they add the oil into the air and they don’t take stuff out of it. However, I do like oil diffusers because I like essential oils and their health benefits. They smell really good too.
    If you are wanting to clean the air in your home while diffusing oils, then there are air purifiers that can actually do that. If you’d like to check out my article on that, you can do so here: Can I Use Essential Oils in My Air Purifier?
  6. House Plants
    House plants can be a great way to improve the air quality in your home, I have them and love them, but there are a couple of drawbacks to them.
    For one, house plants can cost a bit, and if you’re getting plants for every room in your home, it could actually be cheaper to get air purifiers instead. If you’re buying house plants for the purpose of cleaning the air, then you’re better off buying an air purifier (or a few). If you’re wondering how much it might cost to buy air purifiers for your whole house, then check out this article, How Much Does it Cost to Get Air Purifiers for Every Room of My Whole House?
    Another downside of having houseplants is that they can greatly increase the humidity in your home. If you live somewhere dry, that can be beneficial, but if you live in a humid or temperate region, then it can create some really big problems. These humidity-related problems include allergens, mold, and insects. Gnats are usually a really good indicator of higher than average humidity in oyur home, if you’ve got gnats, then you need a dehumidifier.
    If you’d like to see if you need a dehumidifier, then you can check out this article I wrote: How Do I Know if I Need a Dehumidifier or a Humidifier? | What’s the Right Humidity for My Home?
  7. Open a Window
    Hey, it’s simple and easy, but it works! Indoor air is a whole lot dirtier than the air outside. In fact, it’s 2 to 5 times dirtier according to the EPA! By opening a window, you allow air flow that will carry out all those pesky germs, allergens, and other pollutants out of your home and you can greatly reduce the amount of junk floating in the air you’re breathing.
    Alas, this method comes with a slight drawback. You can’t do it year-round. Maybe it’s spring or fall and there are tons of allergens and there’s tons of dust floating around. Opening a window would be a bad call. If it’s winter, you’re just letting all that cold air in. If it’s the height of summer, then you’re letting in the heat. Long story short, this method isn’t foolproof and it isn’t always the smartest call.
  8. Vacuum, Sweep, and Dust
    Cleaning the various surfaces that collect dust in your home can be an effective way to improve your home’s air quality. On the one hand, cleaning removes the dust that could otherwise get kicked back up into the air. On the other hand, vacuuming actually clears out the largest air filter in your house: your carpet.
    A good vacuuming regime can ensure that your carpet can collect a few more of the pollutants and dust that are in your home’s air. No, your carpet doesn’t clean all the stuff out of the air, far from it, but it does have a positive impact.
  9. Give Your Pets a Bath/Limit How Many Rooms Your Pets Can Go In
    Pets get stinky, let’s just accept that fact. All that stinkiness is microscopic particles that your pet is releasing into the air you are breathing. On top of that, pets like tracking things into our homes, maybe it’s mud on their paws, maybe it’s fleas, maybe it’s a chipmunk that your cat is trying to kill (that just happened to me today).
    Pets get dirty, and that dirtiness gets into the air.
    So, what can you do to take care of that?
    Well, you’ve got two options (however it’s best to do both). You can either wash your pet (maybe don’t try that with a cat! Hahaha) and you can limit how many rooms your pet can go into. Sure, everyone loves their pets, but their fur has a tendency to track in a ton of dust and other pllutants that might not be the best for your to breathe. On top of that, tons of people are allergic to your furry friends and they might not want to come back if you’ve got too much dander in the air.
    By washing your pet and by keeping them to a certain room, you ensure that all the stuff they track into your house and all their dander remain contained.
    But you might want to go a little further and get an air purifier to further reduce how much your pet pollutes the air in your home, I bought one to help with mine and now I don’t have people telling me that my house smells like animals (I guess I went “nose blind” and didn’t realize it). Despite my best efforts and constant baths for my dog, the house still stank (and I even had her outside most of the day and I kept her in just one room!), and an air purifier let me finally get on top of it. If you’d like to read up on air purifiers for pets, check out this article I wrote: What’s the Best Air Purifier for Someone with Pets?
  10. Take Off Your Shoes
    Just like how your pets can track in stuff on their feet, you track things in as well. All of that dust, dirt, and mud from the outside world clings to your shoes and clothes. Simply taking off your shoes when you get inside can reduce how much stuff you track into your home. It’ll also keep your floors cleaner and it might just make your flooring and carpet last longer too!
  11. Use Your AC/Clean Your AC
    Air conditioners have filters built into them that do a pretty good job at cleaning the air. No, they’re not as effective at cleaning the air as air purifiers, but they do do a pretty good job. You’ll notice a difference.
    Alas, this works best if you have a central cooling/HVAC system in your home, the ACs that you put in your windows pull in air from the outside world and filter that before they shoot it into your home, which doesn’t reduce the amount of stuff in your air. So, this option isn’t made for everyone.
    On top of that, you can’t run the AC year-round. It’s expensive to run 24/7 and there’s no point in having your AC going when it’s already cold inside or outside. As such, this is mostly just an option when it’s how out. So, once again, air purifiers are your best call. If you’d like to check out an air purifier that uses water as its filter, you can check it out here, What is a Water Based Air Purifier? | The Pros & Cons of Water Air Revitalizers, I like water-based air purifiers because the air they put off is a wee bit cooler thanks to how they work. It’s like a miniature swamp cooler that can clean the air!
  12. Change Your Cleaning Products
    A lot of cleaning products out there utilize harsh chemicals and they release things called VOCs. VOCs are hazardous to your health, and they are released by a lot of cleaning products (and even other products). All of those VOCs are released into the air, and they are known to cause various types of cancers adn organ failures.
    So yeah, they’re not something you should be spending a whole lot of time around.
    VOCs are invisible and you can’t alwasy smell them (although you can smell a lot of them). Since you can’t see or smell so many of the VOCs out there, it could be worth investing into cleaning supplies that doesn’t release VOCs and it could be worth buying an air monitor that can check for them. If you’d like to pick up one of those air monitors, you can pick it up today from one of our partners, AirThings. Click here to check out the air monitor and use the code ape10-10off to get an additional 10% off your order.
  13. Don’t Smoke Inside, Don’t Let Your Car Idle in Your Garage, and Don’t Burn Your Food!
    Smoke is no good, a lot of it is toxic. Between carbon monoxide and all the other things that are released by combustion, I can assure you that the less time you spend in smoke the better.
    Smoking indoors is dangerous to the smoker and everyone else who is inside (they can get second-hand smoke). Letting your car idle in your garage is hazardous, especially due to carbon monoxide, but it releases other things as well. Finally burning your food isn’t good too! Believe it or not, a lot of the foods that we eat can release carcinogenic (cancer-causing) smoke when it’s burned. As such, it’s best to use cooking oils that have a high smoke point.
    For smokers, smoke outside or (better yet) quit. We need you alive, here on Earth. 🙂
    For those of you who like letting your car idle, do it outside, or save some gas and don’t let it idle as long.
    And finally, for those of us who burn food, turn on your range hood or fan to pull that smoke out, and consider getting an air purifier with activated carbon filters to help clear away that smoke faster.
  14. Check for and Fix Leaks
    Leaks from pipes, your roof, or from any other spot can cause mold, mildew, and fungus to take root in your home. It can also encourage a whole host of other undesirable things to take root in your home. Wherever you live, be sure to keep an eye out for possible leaks. So many of the things that grow because of leaks release things that aren’t good for you to breathe, so checking for them is important for your health. It’s also important to make sure that your home stays standing for years to come.

How Can I Know if I Need to Clean My Home’s Air?

white and black electric device mounted on white wall

If you’ve lived in the same home for several years, then odds are that you’re totally used to the air in your home. You’re used to the smells, humidity, and whatever else that’s in there. You probably won’t know if your air is clean or dirty.

The best way to check to see if your home’s air is clean or not is to purchase air quality sensors. These sensors include things like radon detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, VOC monitors, humidity sensors, and particle sensors. Every one of these sensor types checks the air for things that aren’t good for your health. Some of these things (like carbon monoxide) can kill you right away. Others, like VOCs and radon, can kill you over the long term. Humidity, on its own, isn’t hazardous to your health, but it is best to keep humidity between 30 and 50% to ensure mold, fungus, and bugs don’t take over your home.

So, what can you do?

Well, you can buy one of each type of sensor, which can cost a ton, especially when you get one for each room in your home. Or, if you’re a little thrifty like I like to be, you can find a few sensors that can do it all.

But I’ve got bad news.

Despite my countless hours of searching, I’ve yet to find an air sensor that can do it all. I’ve found several that do a lot, but not any that do everything. It’s a bummer, I know, but they might make us one eventually.

The most capable air sensor that I’ve found to date is made by a company called AirThings and their sensor checks for radon, VOCs, and humidity (among other things). If you’d like to buy that sensor, you can get it from their site here, which will be a bit cheaper than the other places you might find it on the internet. If you use the code ape10-10off you can get an additional 10 percent off on top of those savings!

So, that air sensor takes care of three of the things we’re looking for, where can you get one to take care of the others?

Well, that’s easy! Here are some links to the other air sensors on Amazon, I found the cheapest units that were good for you guys: carbon monoxide detector and particle sensor.

Now, before you buy anything, let me just say that the particle sensor is the least necessary of all the sensors. It’s also pretty expensive. While the EPA recommends that you keep particle counts in your home below 35 ug/m3 over a 24 hour period (for PM 2.5) and states that values higher than that can kill you, I would recommend you just go and purchase an air purifier (or preferably a few) instead of the sensor. Air purifiers aren’t too terribly expensive, and purchasing one, or a few, can cost less than buying the particle sensor.

Of course, it would be prudent to get the particle sensor to be sure, but an air purifier will most likely deal with the problem and, if you had a problem, you would end up buying an air purifier anyways. I have air purifiers in my home and my average PM 2.5 level is around 6, which is a whole lot lower than the EPA’s recommendation.

The AirThings sensor and the carbon monoxide detector are super important and I highly recommend picking them up as soon as possible. The stuff they check for can kill you and harm your health, and that’s no fun. So, please pick them up today and take control of your home’s air quality!

Jonathon Silva

Jonathan Silva is our longtime Air Purifier Essentials author. He has been writing on air purification technologies for his entire professional career.

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