Are You Wondering – Do Air Purifiers Really Work?

Many consumers ask “do air purifiers really work?” It’s a logical question when you consider you can’t see the results with the naked eye.

Air flowing out of an air purifier looks just the same as the air flowing into the unit. So – do air purifiers really work?

The answer is that some air purifiers work extremely well and some do little to improve air quality in your home. Not surprisingly, some air purifiers that are widely advertised on television and online are stylish designs with fancy sounding features that have little real effect when in use.

 do air purifiers really work

Why the Question “Do Air Purifier Really Work” is Important

HEPA filters were developed in the 1940’s during World War II. The purpose was to create a filter that would keep radiation from escaping from test laboratories. The honeycomb HEPA filter was the result and the technology behind this filter is just as important today as it was in the 40s.

When the HEPA filters were created there was no thought of using them in our homes or to clean the air in our homes. The quality of indoor air was not a topic of discussion at the time.

If there was a smoker in the house – you opened a window to let in fresh air. Air conditioning was not a factor when building or buying a home in the 1940’s and air inside your home was frequently exchanged with outdoor air. Open windows and lack of thick insulation provided air exchange between indoors and outdoors on a regular basis.

That is not the case today as homes are tightly sealed and insulated. Air conditioning systems recycled the same air over and over throughout the home. Windows are seldom opened in residential neighborhoods and in high rise apartments and condominiums windows may not open at all.

It is the changing nature of our homes that has led to the current concern about the quality of air we breathe indoors. Pollutants released into our homes can stay in the air for months and be recycled by our air moving systems from room to room. Cooking odors, second hand smoke and the bacteria or virus of some with a head cold or flu create particulates in the air that can affect everyone in the household.

Our homes are tightly sealed with insulation in every crevice. This is necessary to reduce the costs of heating and cooling our living spaces but does not allow fresher, cleaner air from outside to replace stale indoor air.

It is not surprising that cleaning indoor air has become a concern for consumers. Air purifiers have become best selling consumer items and are often purchased just as commonly as any other home appliance. Unlike other appliances, asking “do air purifiers really work” is a question to answer before a purchase is made.

Choosing Air Purifiers

When an air purifier is working in your room you cannot see whether the air being returned to the room is cleaner than the air being pulled into the air cleaner. Some companies use this to their advantage. They answer the question “do air purifiers really work” by pointing out the features of their product and list the technical aspects or, in some cases, they just talk about fresh air.

Ionizers included in some air purifiers will give the impression of creating fresh air as they reduce odors in the room and replace odors with a smell of freshness that we often associate with outdoor air.

Many consumers prefer air purifiers that use ionizers because they want the fresh smell. However, an air purifier that only utilizes ionization may do little or nothing to clean the air of particulates.

True HEPA filters are amazingly good at removing dust, mold, dander and other particles from the air your family is breathing. There are several types of HEPA filters and they are not equal. Permanent HEPA filters make claims of cost advantages as the filters never have to be replaced. However, filters do fill up with the particles being taken from the air so the permanent filter may lose its air cleaning capacity over time.

HEPA type filters are a less expensive alternative. Replacement costs are lower and for average homes, this might be a good choice for a reasonably priced and reasonably good air purifier.

If someone in your family suffers from asthma or allergies, you need a true HEPA filter than can remove particles as small as 0.3 microns in size. These are the filters that will truly clean the air you breathe. You will need to replace the filter every 6-12 months but you will have cleaner air as a result.

Beyond Filtration

Do air purifiers really work due to filters alone? No, they don’t. The method used to pull air into the air purifier is equally important as only air that passes through the filters can be cleaned.

The best air purifiers have multiple fan speeds and use several filter systems to provide as much air cleaning capacity as possible. Higher priced units may utilize two fans with one fan pulling air through the unit and another dispersing the clean air back into the room. Circulation of the air in the room is necessary so fans must be powerful to accomplish that circulation.


The answer to “do air purifiers really work” is a resounding “yes” if you choose a high quality product for your home. It is not necessary to buy the highest priced air purifier but do the research before you buy.

Consider consumer reviews on the product and the reputation of the manufacturer as well. Understand that many consumer review sites may be thinly disguised sales pages rather than honest reviews.

Once you have chosen a particular brand of air purifier, make certain the replacement filters are affordable and available before making your purchase. The best manufacturers offer a 3 or 5 year guarantee on air purifiers. A short warranty period may indicate a product that will not be reliable or long lived.

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