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Do air purifiers work?

While your traditional HVAC system can filter out dust, pollen, and other airborne particulates, sometimes it simply isn’t enough to keep your air as clean as you’d like. That’s where air purifiers come into play, as these secondary devices can be placed anywhere around your home to provide additional cleaning power.

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

How do air purifiers work?

Shark Air Purifier MAX lifestyle image with boy and dog.

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

Prefilters are typically a permanent fixture of the air purifier designed to catch large airborne objects (such as pet fur) and can be washed when dirty. HEPA filters must be periodically replaced, but are specifically designed to capture tiny particulates such as dust, dander, and pollen.

A few air purifiers use ionizing technology, which creates electrical charges to remove airborne contaminants. The research on this process is mixed, however, so your best bet is to stick with the tried-and-trusted HEPA models.

What can air purifiers eliminate?

Dyson TP7A autoreact air purifier at Walmart.

Air purifiers can eliminate tons of airborne particulates from your home. Performance varies by product, but here are some of the common contaminants targeted by air purifiers:

  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Smoke
  • Viruses
  • Pet Dander
  • Bacteria

Keep in mind that air purifiers are often rated for a certain size room. Putting them in a room larger than intended will result in less-than-optimal cleaning, allowing some of the above contaminants to continue lingering in your home.

Also, many air purifiers are now designed to work with multiple types of filters. This includes filters designed specifically by the manufacturer of the air purifier and third-party reproductions. Be sure to do your research before making a purchase, as some unofficial products may have quality issues or aren’t designed to filter out the same contaminants.

Are air purifiers worth adding to your home?

Shark Air Purifier 4 in bedroom

Most households 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 running around your house. A reliable air purifier can be found for less than $250, with annual filter costs coming in at just under $100 for most brands.

To keep them working properly, be sure to perform routine maintenance — such as cleaning the prefilters and replacing HEPA filters. If you don’t do this, they won’t work as expected. You’ll also want to make sure you’re regularly changing your furnace filters and scheduling duct cleanings as needed, as air purifiers aren’t the only thing in your home responsible for your air quality.

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

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a freelance journalist whose gaming addiction began with the SEGA Genesis. His work has been published on…
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