Do air purifiers work?

While your traditional HVAC system can filter out dust, pollen, and other airborne particles, sometimes it’s not enough to keep your air as clean as you’d like. This is where air purifiers come in handy, as these secondary devices can be placed anywhere around your home to provide additional cleaning power.

They can also be incredibly helpful during the cold winter months when windows and doors remain closed – preventing you from inhaling all the allergens floating around your home.

But do air purifiers work, and are they worth the huge upfront investment? Here’s a closer look at air purifiers to help you decide whether you should install one in your home.

How do air purifiers work?

Shark Air Purifier Max lifestyle image with boy and dog.
Image used with permission of the copyright holder

There are many different types of air purifiers available in 2023, but they all follow the same basic principle. Air purifiers are designed to pull air, trap any particles in the air, then pump the clean air back into your home. Many products use a combination of a prefilter and HEPA filter to accomplish this task.

The prefilter is typically a permanent fixture of the air purifier that is designed to capture large airborne items (such as pet fur) and can be washed when dirty. HEPA filters should be replaced periodically, but are specifically designed to capture smaller particles like dust, dander, and pollen.

Some air purifiers use ionization technology, which creates an electrical charge to remove airborne contaminants. However, the research on this process is mixed, so your best bet is to stick with tried-and-trusted HEPA models.

What can air purifiers eliminate?

Dyson TP7A AutoReact Air Purifier at Walmart.
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Air purifiers can eliminate a lot of airborne particles from your home. Performance varies by product, but here are some common contaminants targeted by air purifiers:

  • dust
  • Pollen
  • smoke
  • virus
  • pet dander
  • bacteria

Keep in mind that air purifiers are often rated for a certain size room. Placing them in a larger room than intended will result in less than optimal cleaning, allowing some of the above contaminants to remain in your home. Make sure you only use an air purifier that’s rated for your room – otherwise, it won’t work as expected and could leave you exposed to dirty airborne substances.

Additionally, many air purifiers are now designed to work with multiple types of filters. This includes manufacturer-made filters and third-party replicas. Do your research before making a purchase, as some unofficial products may have quality issues or are not designed to filter out the same contaminants. When in doubt, use a filter sold by the manufacturer of your air purifier.

Is it worth installing an air purifier in your home?

Shark Air Purifier 4 in Bedroom
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Most homes will find that air purifiers are worth the investment. This is especially true if anyone in your home has seasonal allergies or if you have furry friends roaming around your home. They are especially great in winter as a source of air circulation, allowing you to breathe fresh air without having to open the window to let in the cold air outside. A reliable air purifier can be found for less than $250, with annual filter costs coming in under $100 for most brands.

To function properly, they require regular maintenance – such as cleaning the prefilter and replacing the HEPA filter. If you don’t do this, they will not work as expected. You’ll also want to make sure you’re regularly changing your furnace filters and scheduling duct cleaning as needed, as the air purifier isn’t the only thing in your home responsible for your air quality.

Wildfire season is an especially important time to keep an eye on your air purifier. The smoke will likely force you to replace your HEPA filter more often than usual, so be sure to have a few extras on hand in case you need it. Prefilter changes should also be done more frequently.

If you need help starting your search, check out our list of the best air purifiers.






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