Do Air Purifiers Work?

Last updated on Jan 4, 2022 FEATURED
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Many people are stuck with questions of whether air purifiers really work. As indoor pollution is becoming a major concern, we are looking at air purifiers as a solution. Well, before spending on such a device, it is good to know its worth. This does not only help you ensure clean air, but also guides you to know which air purifier is good for you.

If you are a first-time user or buyer, we will help you understand more about air purifiers. Air purifiers are designed to remove airborne pollutants. However, there may be some drawbacks that may hinder their performance.

In this article, we are discussing how air purifiers work, what they do, why they fail, and our verdict to the question.

How Air Purifiers Work

An image showing an air purifier working
An air purifier purifying air

Air purifiers use different mechanisms to remove airborne impurities. It is the type of mechanisms air purifiers use that make them different from each other. Below we discuss the mechanisms and how are they used to cleanse the air.

Air purifiers are designed with filters as part of the purification stages. Depending on the model, air purifiers come with 1-3 filters. These filters include pre-filter, carbon filter, and HEPA filter. These liaise to remove different types of air pollutants.

  • Pre-filter. This type of filter is the first stage of purification. It removes larger particles that could potentially damage other filters. Some particles removed by pre-filters include hair, insects, and fibers that are suspended in the air.
  • HEPA filter. This filter is so essential in modern-day air purification. These remove small particles of up to 0.3 microns in size.  Such particles include pollen, dust, mold, bacteria, and some viruses.
  • Carbon filter. These filters are responsible for removing smoke, odors, chemical vapor, and some gases.

These filters are designed using tinny glass fibers. They are arranged randomly and folded into pleats. These remove the airborne pollutants that are passing through the air purifiers.

The pollutants are not just grabbed from the air but are rather pulled into the air purifier using fans. These fans suck in the air around them and pass that air through the filters. The filters remove impurities before the air is blown back into circulation.

Some air purifiers do not only use filters to remove contaminants. They also use mechanisms such as ultraviolet (UV) light and ionizers. Those using UV-light use it to kill microorganisms such as bacteria and mold. For air purifiers with UV-light, air coming from filters is passed through a small chamber containing UV light. The UV-light kills the bacteria and some viruses in the air, making it more pure.

Some air purifiers also use ionizers to work. Ionizers are negatively charged ions that are released into indoor air circulation. These get attached to small particles that are suspended in the air. When they get attached on them, the particles become heavier, eventually falling to a nearby surface. Generally, ionizers remove some pollutants before they get to the air purifier.

Air purifiers that come with all these mechanisms are more effective. Others may lack a few of them, but it does not mean they are ineffective. They can do good work, but not to the same extent.  

What Air Purifiers Do

  • Alleviate Asthma and Allergies

If you are battling asthma and allergies, air purifiers are good for you. They remove allergens from the air. These allergens are known for triggering asthma and allergy conditions. So, air purifiers help you not to inhale impurities that trigger or worsen respiratory complications.

  • Remove tiny airborne pollutants

Air purifiers have the ability to remove indoor air pollutants by 99%. Air purifiers with a true HEPA filter have been proved to remove up to 99.97% of pollutants down to 0.3 microns. If you have one at home or office, you are 99% certain of breathing clean air.

  • Remove Pet Dander

For those living with pets, air purifiers can help remove the shaded hair and dander. As pets are playing around, they release dander, which may find its way into the air. When inhaled, your health might be affected. So, air purifiers remove pet dander, which prevents you and your family from breathing air filled with pet related particulates.

  • Improve Sleep

Here is an image showing a girl sleeping
A girl sleeping comfortably

Air purifiers remove irritants such as molds, odors, and dust, which can prevent you from sleeping comfortably. When inhaled, these pollutants irritate your airways. This causes itching eyes, stuffy nose, and cough. These can make your sleep so uncomfortable. However, air purifiers can save you from this problem as it can remove all these impurities. Additionally, some air purifiers generate white noise. This also helps light sleepers sleep better.

  • Protect You From Outdoor Pollution

Air purifiers with HEPA filters can reduce outside air pollutants that come into homes. A study by indicates that HEPA filters can reduce outside particulate pollution in houses by 23%. Some of these outside pollutants include carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and others. This protects you against related diseases such as respiratory and heart problems.

  • Reduce Odors

Here is an image showing fried food
Fried food

Air purifiers can help you deal with kitchen and fart smells. Most air purifiers can swiftly remove odors from the kitchen and other sources. Air purifiers with carbon filters can neutralize the common indoor odors. This leaves your room smelling fresh. 

  • Reduce Bacteria in the Air

Most air purifiers come with ultraviolet light. This traps and kills microorganisms in the air. So, this can help you deal with the risk of airborne sickness.

What Makes Air Purifiers Fail to Work?

  • Lack of Filters

Filters play a significant role to ensure your air is purified. Air purifiers without filters may fail to effectively cleanse the air. Besides, filter-less air purifiers take a long time to cleanse the air. This can make you prone to diseases as some pollutants remain indoors.

  • Room Size

The size of the room should match the coverage capacity of an air purifier. It does not make sense to have an air purifier with a 300 square feet capacity in a 700 square feet room. This makes an air purifier ineffective despite having the capacity to purify the air. 

  • Unclean filters

Air purifiers can clean the air by 99%. However, this is impossible with unclean filters. Dirty filters cannot remove pollutants from the air. Instead, it will harbor bacteria, mold, dust, and other allergens. These can find their way back into your indoor air space. You need to frequently replace the filters or wash them as instructed by the manufacturer.

Our Verdict

Upon reading to this stage, you definitely understand the potential of air purifiers, and how they work. Following the above breakdown, we can affirm that air purifiers do really work. They can help you get rid of air pollutants such as dust, dust mites, smoke, odors, bacteria, and some viruses.

If you have respiratory problems, air purifiers can significantly help you. They can remove pollutants that commonly trigger or worsen allergies or asthma. They can improve your indoor air quality. Even if you are a smoker, or hate various odors, air purifiers can effectively help you out. Air purifiers can neutralize indoor smoke and smells.

However, they may fail to serve according to your expectations. For instance, air purifiers may fail to reduce air contaminants. Such failures can always be linked to poor maintenance or the type of air purifier. To avoid these problems, you need to take caution and ensure that you acquire and maintain the right air purifier. Other than that, air purifiers do have a benefit and can be worth your money.

What to Consider When Buying a Good Air Purifier 

  • CADR Rating

To acquire an effective air purifier, you need to consider its CADR rating. CADR, which stands for Clean Air Delivery Rate, is very important for any air purifier. A good CADR rating shows how effective or swift an air purifier can be in removing pollutants. A CADR rating of at least two-thirds of the total area coverage capacity of an air purifier is deemed to be good. In this regard, if an air purifier has the capacity to purify a space of 150 square feet, the CADR should be at least 100 CFM.

  • Type of Air Pollutants to Be Filtered

No air purifier is best for all air pollutants. For this reason, you need to determine your common indoor contaminants and what air purifier features best suites you. This will help ensure an air purifier makes a difference when used.

  • Area Coverage

Most people fail to notice changes after using an air purifier. This might be caused by an air purifier failing to match the room size. This allows air impurities to continue lingering around as the air purifier cannot reach every corner. So, when buying an air purifier, ensure the room size you intend to use the air purifier matches the device’s capacity. An air purifier with the capacity to clean spaces of 300 square feet will not make much of a difference in a room of 700 square feet.

  • Filtration Levels

You need to choose an air purifier with at least 3 levels of filtration. These may include pre-filter, HEPA filter, and carbon filter. Short of that, an air purifier may not work as expected. Therefore, the more the filtration levels, the better the performance.


In summary, air purifiers do work. They are capable of cleansing the air to protect you from several diseases. However, air purifiers may be compromised by a few issues and fail to work as expected. Therefore, if you own an air purifier ensure that you understand what you need to do to keep it effective.

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