What Does an Air Purifier Do? Benefits of Air Purifiers for Home

Fact checked by Olga Sadouskaya, MD
Clinical Pharmacologist, Chief Medical Officer

Air purifiers have become more popular in recent years as people become aware of the adverse side effects of breathing in polluted air. Eating food with no artificial additives and drinking water free of chemicals is vital for staying healthy, so why not give the same attention to the air you breathe 24/7?

What is an air purifier? 

While filters solely remove particles from the air, air purifiers can have anti-bacterial properties as well! Air purifiers are advanced filtration machines that identify and get rid of harmful particles in the air, including toxins, allergens, and pollutants. These unwanted particles can be caused by various things in your home, despite how clean you keep it.

Where you live and constant weather changes can also cause an influx of harmful particles and allergens.

Suppose you live in a city with smog and a high amount of pollutants in the air. In that case, it is ideal for you to choose an efficient air purifier with a superior High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. These purifiers can trap and purify even the tiniest airborne particles that may be drifting through your home.

While air purifiers are great for cleaning the air in your home, they cannot access any particles on surfaces such as your couch cushions, kitchen counters, and walls. Therefore, it is vital to clean all your surfaces in combination with utilizing the air purifier to truly clean the air you constantly breathe at home.

Benefits of an air purifier at home

More likely than not, an air purifier would be a great addition to your home! There are many benefits of utilizing one, including the following:

  • If pet hair and dandruff tend to irritate you or your guests, these are a few of the top things that air purifiers can identify and minimize. Regularly bathing and brushing your pets will also help prevent unpleasant symptoms from arising.
  • In addition to pet hair, purifiers can take care of other allergens, especially pollen. No matter what season gives you the most sniffles, an air purifier can significantly reduce your discomfort.
  • Many gases and emissions are floating in the air outdoors, and a purifier with an activated carbon filter can take care of them as they enter your home through an open door or window.
  • Any smell or odor that may linger in your home can be eliminated by an air purifier that will draw the scent through its filters and emit fresher air. So whether or not you know you have a particular smell in your house, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
  • Whether it is the summer or the winter, a purifier can have your back. In the summer months, they can help remove pesky tiny insects such as mosquitoes. During the winter, germs and bacteria can be better eliminated. It is very easy to get sick when it is cold outside due to constantly breathing indoor air with many contaminants. Taking any measures you can to prevent getting sick is always a great idea!
  • If you have asthma or other respiratory issues, an air purifier will help eliminate anything that may irritate you. Whether it be pollen, dust, or pet dander, most of these irritants will be filtered and purified, leaving you with clean air to breathe. As long as the filters are consistently replaced when dirty, your symptoms could be significantly reduced over time.

FAQs about air purifiers

Do air purifiers really work?

The short answer is that it depends on the air purifier! While most air purifiers on the market will undoubtedly clean your air, they may not clean it to your desired extent.

The efficiency of an air purifier does appear to reflect how much you spend on it.

It is important to note that while air purifiers filter out particles, they cannot catch gases such as radon that comes from cleaning products and paints. They also will not clear out the particles attached to surfaces because they are not suspended in the air.

If you choose to purchase an air purifier with a HEPA filter and one that has been reviewed as an efficient tool to add to your home, it could be beneficial. If you are someone suffering from allergies or asthma, purchasing an air purifier could help alleviate some of your common symptoms.

Can an air purifier make you sick?

Because air purifiers help get rid of particles that make you sick, the purifier itself should not. It takes allergens such as pet dander and pollen out of the air and germs and bacteria that cause various sicknesses. You may be inside more often during the winter and have greater exposure to bacteria than you otherwise would. This usually would lead to you catching a cold or getting a fever; air purifiers are a tool that can prevent that from happening.

An air purifier in the bedroom

Does using an air purifier improve sleep?

Just as you can inhale particles during the day, you also will while you are sleeping. Air purifiers can get rid of harmful particles that make it difficult for you to fall and stay asleep. Many purifiers have sleep modes that serve a purpose similar to a white noise machine. Soothing sounds can be emitted both while you are initially falling asleep and to keep you in a deep sleep throughout the night.

Do air purifiers help against Covid-19?

While air purifiers cannot eliminate your possibility of getting the coronavirus, they can help reduce your chances. Because Covid-19 is an airborne virus, it should be filtered and purified just like any other airborne germ, bacteria, or allergen. It can make a difference in keeping you safe, but it is still crucial that you utilize practices such as wearing masks, social distancing, and vaccinations to help increase your chances of staying healthy.

What to look for when buying a home air purifier?

Multiple brands carry different types of air purifiers, and it can be overwhelming! While many people just go with the cheapest option, thorough research must be done on an air purifier, as some can cause problems. Make sure not to buy a purifier that emits negative ions or ozone into the air, as this is bad for both the environment and your health. Regular exposure to ozone emissions can result in health issues such as worsened asthma symptoms, lung tissue inflammation, and chest pain.

Finding an air purifier that uses HEPA filters is also ideal because they are the most effective for purifying even the smallest of particles. If you can find an air purifier with both a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter, you have hit the jackpot! While activated carbon filters do not help with particles, they can filter many gases. This is not the ability of normal filters, as they either trap the particles or trap and neutralize them with no attention paid to any gases.

A close-up of a white air purifier

Another thing to consider is how ample the space is that you need to be filtered. If you have a smaller apartment, you may only need one smaller purifier. If you live in a house, you will need a larger system or multiple small ones distributed throughout the rooms. Look into tests and studies done of an air purifier that you are considering buying before making the purchase!

Other ways to keep your air clean

While purchasing an air purifier is an excellent step to keeping your air as clean as possible, there are other things you can do to minimize the chances of you breathing in unhealthy particles. As mentioned before, particles that are sticking to surfaces cannot be taken care of by a purifier, so other actions need to be taken. 

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Regularly dust and clean carpeting, rugs, and furniture at least once a week, as well as wash bedding in hot water. When cleaning, try and use non-toxic cleaning products that will not further add to the toxins and gases that may already be present in your home. In addition, bathe and brush your pets often to minimize dander and fur in the air. It is also important to never smoke in your home and try to change out your HVAC filters every one to three months.

Final thoughts

As long as you purchase the right air purifier, your health and home can greatly benefit from it. Whether you want to eliminate odors or reduce asthma symptoms, a beneficial air purifier belongs in your home. Purchasing one in combination with cleaning your home properly can help you rest assured that you are breathing in clean air that improves your health!

January 13, 2023