Do Air Purifiers Work?

A great air purifier can do wonders for your air quality, significantly reducing indoor toxins, mold spores, and allergens. However, there are some things you need to consider before purchasing one as not all purifiers work in the same way. While some use filters to sanitize air others weigh harmful particles down and cause them to fall to the ground.

Be that as it may, you need to know much more about air purifiers in order to understand whether they work efficiently by themselves or you need to combine some other techniques to keep your air quality enhanced.

How Do Air Purifiers Work?

Air purifiers use filters attached to a fan that sucks in and sanitizes indoor air by trapping particles such as dust mite residues, pet dander, pollen, and everything in between — pushing clean air back out in your home. This is done through a variety of ways as some purifiers utilize one while others have multiple kinds of filters with diverse materials such as paper, fiber (which is more often than not fiberglass), or mesh. Some even implement additional features such as ozone generators, ionizers, or UV lights.

HEPA Technology

HEPA is an acronym for high-efficiency particulate air. A HEPA filter is generally pleated to increase its surface area and is designed to trap 99.97%+ of all particles that are larger than 0.3 microns in order to meet standards. Keep in mind that these particles are not visible to the naked eye as humans can only see particles that are larger than 10 microns.

Your air purifier will have a fan to push or pull air through the filter and clean it, and return that clean air to your room. Bear in mind that as the filter becomes full, it will impede the airflow and you’ll need to replace it for efficient functioning. Your air purifier will likely have a “change filter” warning light that will come on after a certain number of hours of operation.


Unlike HEPA technology, ionizers do not suck in air to pass it through a filter but emit electrically charged molecules in your living space. These molecules are referred to as ions, with those that have lost an electron being called positive while the ones that have gained are negative ions. The negative ions bind with airborne particles by magnetically attracting them and eventually weighing them down. This technology is less effective than HEPA as it does not fully absorb the toxic chemicals but lets them linger on your furniture, walls, or windows.

A large number of ionizing air purifiers will also emit harmful ozone in your room, so we do not recommend them.

Are Air Purifiers Truly Effective?

If you’re looking for a one-word answer — yes. However, while air purifiers indeed filter out the most common household particles, there are some that can remain on your bedding, carpeting, furniture, or even walls. Here are some particles that an air purifier can effectively get rid of:

Some components of Cigarette Smoke

A noteworthy study suggests that high-end air purifiers can reduce aggravating particles that are caused by smoke in the air, including smoke from landscape fires. This suggests that they can improve cardiovascular and respiratory outcomes for nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoking.

Do note, though, that although purifiers can minimize the levels of these airborne particles, they can’t entirely remove the gaseous pollutants that tobacco smoke emits. This is why research proposes smoking cessation over filtering out tobacco smoke.

Mold Spores

Molds blossom where there are moist and dark environments, reproducing by means of tiny, even microscopic spores that easily disperse and travel through the air. As these lightweight reproductive units can range from three to forty microns — they can be literary everywhere.

More than just a cosmetic issue, mold growth can cause coughing, itchy eyes, and other nuisances. Luckily, air purifiers with HEPA filters can trap mold particles in the air and reduce humidity levels in your home. For best results, look for a purifier that uses 99.97% HEPA filtration and can capture particles under one micron in size.


Allergens are substances that can cause an allergic reaction by creating an immune response in our bodies. Some of the most common airborne allergens are dust mites, pollen, and pet dander which can float in the air for up to two hours before settling on the ground. As we breathe, these lightweight particles can easily make their way into our lungs and may cause allergies or asthma symptoms.

This is where air purifiers step in. A high-quality HEPA filter can trap these airborne allergies and thus reduce the chances of an allergic reaction.

Indoor Toxins

According to American Lung Association, cleaning supplies are likely to cause headaches, irritate the eyes or throat, or even cause cancer. This happens as these particles become airborne and enter our bodies through breathing. Even though the best way to completely get rid of these toxins is by minimizing their usage, you can use an air purifier to trap some of these toxins.

Ways to Make Air Purifier More Productive

Even though air purifiers capture harmful particles and clean the air, you should strive to prevent them from existing on surfaces in your home. This way, you can also reduce their presence in the air and minimize asthma and allergy flare-ups. Here are some recommended strategies to achieve this goal:

  • Never smoke or let anyone smoke inside your house.
  • Take off your shoes outside before entering your home as you might bring infectious bacteria or dirt from outside.
  • Vacuum your floor, furniture, mattress, carpeting, rugs, and other surfaces at least once a week using a HEPA filter vacuum.
  • Regularly brush your pets outside to remove excess hair that might eventually turn into dust.
  • Wash bedding regularly to prevent dust mite accumulation.

Things to Consider When Purchasing an Air Purifier

The most important thing to consider when considering buying an air purifier is the size. This is because small purifiers can work ideally for rooms up to 200 square feet while medium ones for living spaces up to 400 square feet. Everything that ranges somewhere between 400 and 1,500 square feet requires a large air purifier.


Air purifiers can truly make a difference when it comes to increasing the air quality in your home. However, although there are as cheap as $50 purifiers, the quality ones start from somewhere around $200 and go way up. Filters also need replacement but some that are high-quality can last up to two years. Another expense that might come as a surprise for you is regular maintenance but our cleaning tips and tricks will help keep your unit operating at its peak for longer.

In Summary

Filtering the air in your living space can indeed remove harmful particles such as dust, mold smoke, and allergens amongst others. However, as these work for airborne particles only, you might want to take special care of your furniture and other surfaces by cleaning them regularly.