Jun 26, 2023

How To Keep Your Indoor Air Clean (Even When The AQI Is High)

Considering that the average individual takes 20,000 breaths a day and spends around 90% of their time indoors, it’s easy to see why our homes play a major role in our well-being.

The American Lung Association explains that inhaling contaminated indoor air can have wide-ranging effects on our health. Fine particles or other airborne contaminants can impact our respiratory system and lead to coughing, watery eyes, scratchy throat, a runny nose, and more symptoms.

We need to prioritize the quality of air within our indoor spaces, particularly when outdoor air quality is poor (as it has been across the country for much of this summer). The pollution from outside can infiltrate our homes and pose a significant risk to indoor air, particularly if it already contains elevated levels of contaminants.

So, how can you protect your indoor air when outdoor air is compromised? Here's a quick checklist.

When outdoor air quality is poor, keeping windows and doors closed can help minimize outdoor air infiltration. However, you can’t exactly put a bubble around your house, so particles like smoke, dust, allergens, mold spores, and mycotoxins will inevitably blow inside from the outdoors. It’s up to us to actively work to keep particle levels low. Set up a daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal cleaning schedule to keep your air quality as healthy as possible.

Building the right cleaning product arsenal is also a key piece of the home health puzzle. You want to make sure that the tools in your toolkit are up to the task of actually removing contaminants. Otherwise, you’ll be spending all of that time and effort cleaning but not improving your air.

A few great options to get you started include:

Running air purifiers is a phenomenal way to reduce airborne pollutants in a home. These powerful machines help to remove contaminants so that they’re not circulating through our indoor spaces and making their way into our bodies. Not all air purifiers are built the same, though. You want to go with a unit that removes the maximum number of contaminants possible all of the time, not just some of the time.

The best option is to invest in a whole-home air purifier. These systems are installed at the home’s point of entry and will effectively remove contaminants from the air so that the HVAC system can run efficiently. This filters out particles for the entire home, eliminating the space requirements that smaller units have. As a bonus, they also offer a layer of protection for the HVAC itself by eliminating contaminants before they enter the system.

I'd also recommend avoiding burning candles or using aerosols at home when outdoor air quality is poor, as they can introduce additional pollutants.

RELATED READ: The 6 Best Air Purifiers Of 2023 To Help You Tackle Germs, Dust, Smoke, Mold & Pet Dander

Air filters are the first line of defense for the HVAC system and indoor air. They help eliminate dust and contaminants so they don’t continue circulating throughout your indoor space. If they’re past their time to be replaced, chances are that they’re packed full of all sorts of particles. This will affect their ability to filter, leading to lower indoor air quality. It can also put a strain on the HVAC system as it works overtime to pull air through the clogged filters. Changing them on time will help avoid this situation and ensure as much dust and particulate matter is removed as possible.

Before changing them out, make sure that they’re the highest-rated MERV filters possible for the specific HVAC system. You want filters with the technology to eliminate contaminants like mold spores from the air. Otherwise, they’ll circulate straight back into the home, creating a dirtier environment.

RELATED READ: The 7 Best Air Purifiers For Smoke + Signs Of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Mold can grow in as little as 24 to 48 hours on a wet surface. Working to eliminate as much moisture as possible is a key aspect of preventing microbial growth.

This can include:

The HVAC acts as the lungs of the home. Improper maintenance can affect the system’s ability to cleanse your air. I'd recommend calling a professional to service your HVAC system bi-annually. They'll also test for mold to ensure that when you switch your unit, you’re not blowing moldy particles throughout your home. (Condensation can build up in the unit with the temperature change, allowing hidden mold to begin growing.) The technician should also clean the coil, make sure the blower, furnace, and cabinets are clean, and ensure everything is operating correctly.

When your home's humidity is too high, it can cause microbial growth, poor indoor air quality, and even structural issues. Humidity that is too low can cause respiratory irritation. The ideal humidity level in a home should be between 35 and 50 percent. Here are a few safe ways to balance the humidity in your home.

The more belongings you have, the more surfaces there are for dust to collect, and the harder it is to clean a home properly. Every year, you should evaluate your belongings and ask yourself if you truly use each item before deciding whether to keep it.

RELATED READ: This 5-Step Home Cleanse Will Get You Decluttered In Just An Afternoon

Thanks to their porosity, carpets are more difficult to clean, allowing particles like dust to build up and lower your indoor air quality. If you have a room with rugs or carpeting, vacuum it often with a HEPA vacuum cleaner to reduce dust and other microscopic particles as much as possible.

Working to improve our indoor air quality, even when the AQI outdoors is high, is paramount for our health. The fewer particles and contaminants we breathe in, the healthier and happier our bodies will be. Adding the steps above to your home maintenance plan is a phenomenal way to take care of your health. And you don't need to jump in all at once: Every new change is a huge step towards better air quality at home.

Michael Rubino is a mold and air quality expert and founder of HomeCleanse, a revolutionary company with the vision to end the worldwide health epidemic caused by poor air quality and toxic indoor environments.

As President of HomeCleanse, Rubino specializes in working with people who are immunocompromised or have acute and sustained reactions to mold exposure. He works closely with the company's advisory team, which includes global well-being trailblazers Deepak Chopra’s The Chopra Foundation and Gwyneth Paltrow, to achieve the company's mission to improve the quality of life for 100 million people each year by 2030. Rubino is also the founder of Change the Air Foundation, a nonprofit committed to empowering the world to achieve better health by establishing safer and healthier indoor environments.

Through collaboration with over 100 doctors globally, Rubino strives to not only raise awareness globally but also provide solutions to correctly identify and remove the pollutants causing this worldwide health crisis. Rubino specializes in working with people who are immunocompromised or have acute and sustained reactions to mold exposure and has helped heal over 1,000 families so far—including celebrities and athletes. He is a council-certified Mold Remediation Supervisor by ACACa nd IICRC and is a contributing member, sponsor, and speaker for the Indoor Air Quality Association.

Connect with Michael Rubino on Facebook @HomeCleanseCo, Instagram @TheMichaelRubino and TikTok @HomeCleanse, and visit

RELATED READ: The 6 Best Air Purifiers Of 2023 To Help You Tackle Germs, Dust, Smoke, Mold & Pet DanderRELATED READ: The 7 Best Air Purifiers For Smoke + Signs Of Poor Indoor Air QualityRELATED READ: This 5-Step Home Cleanse Will Get You Decluttered In Just An Afternoon