Indoor Air Purifiers: Life-Enhancing or Bogus?

Kenneth Wilson

Now more than ever, homeowners everywhere have turned their focus to their indoor air quality. With airborne illnesses, pollutants, and more on the rise, it's easy to see why indoor air quality can often be worse than the air we find outdoors. Additionally, since the beginning of the pandemic, people have spent more time in their homes than ever before, meaning these indoor particles and pollutants can aggravate your lungs, especially if you have allergies!

Many are turning to air purifiers as a way to improve their quality of life and protect their families from airborne pollutants such as mold, pet dander, and other allergens. But do air purifiers really work? Can a good air purifier enhance your life, or is it just another sales gimmick? Let’s take a closer look and see what we can find out.

How Air Purifiers Work

Typically, air purifiers are made up of one or more filters and a fan that takes in the “bad” air and circulates out the cleaned or “good” air. As air moves through the filters via the fan, the filters remove micro particles and pollutants. Filters come in a wide variety of materials and can be made of anything from paper, fiber, mesh, or fiberglass and will need to be replaced regularly in order to keep your air in tip-top shape.

Types of Air Purifiers

Filtered Purifiers

By far, the most popular style of air purifier is the filtered air purifier. In fact, you've most likely heard about the increased use of the HEPA-style filters, which are designed to capture 99.97% of airborne pollutants at the size of 0.3 microns. This filter style is what many businesses started putting in their work spaces to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Filtered air purifiers are also often designed with a pre-filter consisting of activated carbon that is there to filter the larger particle out of the air first, including pet dander, hair, and larger dust particles in the air. This active carbon filter is also generally what assists with taking the odors out of the air that may be on particles too big for a HEPA filter to manage by itself.

Ionizer Purifiers

The other main style of air purifier is called Ionizers. Instead of drawing in air to filter it, these ionizers send out electrically charged ions. These ions are meant to cling onto dust, allergens, and mold in the air and weigh them down.

Most ionizers use a type of "collecting plate" that attracts these ions; however, if you decide on an ionizer purifier without one, you'll be spending more time cleaning up the pollutants off your floor manually.

Are Air Purifiers Worth It?

Okay, so you are interested in purchasing an air purifier but is the cost worth the outcome? When you factor in initial price, maintenance costs, filter replacements, and more, how can you be sure your investment is really going to make a difference for your health and the health of your family?

First, let's look at some of the pros and cons of air purifiers.

Pros of Air Purifiers

  1. 1
    Air Purifiers can keep your kids healthier. Your little ones can be far more sensitive when it comes to toxic particles in the air. If you have a newborn, keeping the air clean can be one of the easiest ways to keep them healthy and protected from allergens and other atmospheric contaminants. Place a small purifier near their crib to lower the rest of asthma and allergy symptoms.
  2. 2
    Air Purifiers can help eliminate pet odors and dander. Any pet owner knows their pets are like family. However, they do bring lots of air contaminants with them in the form of fur shedding, dander, and odors (think wet pups and litter box smells!). The truth is, if you have an indoor pet, you can benefit from adding an air purifier to your home. Choose a true HEPA filter to help eliminate unwanted odors and capture pet dander!
  3. 3
    Air Purifiers can help rid your home of allergens and smoke. Many adults struggle with seasonal allergies every year. If you or someone in your family suffers from allergies or asthma, it may be worth looking into purchasing an air purifier. A true HEPA filter captures all those tiny allergy-inducing particles that aggravate your allergies and can make it easier to breathe. What about smoke caused by cooking or tobacco? Yes, air purifiers can help remove that, too!

Cons of Air Purifiers

  1. 1
    Air Purifiers require regular maintenance. In addition to the initial investment of purchasing your air purifier, there are also maintenance costs involved. To keep it in tip-top shape, you have to stay up to date on air purifier maintenance. Filters often need to be cleaned and/or replaced regularly. Alternately, if you have an ionizer-style purifier, you will need to keep up on deep cleaning to eliminate the particles that fall to the ground during purification.
  2. 2
    Air Purifiers can be noisy. Some homeowners find the noise from their purifiers can be surprisingly loud, even on the lowest setting. It’s something to take into consideration when purchasing a purifier.
  3. 3
    Air Purifiers range widely in effectiveness. When manufacturers test the efficiency of their purifiers, they usually do so in highly controlled conditions and always on the highest settings. Unfortunately, in real-world conditions, you may not be using the purifier on high all the time, meaning your purifier may not be as effective as you think.

Benefits of Air Purifiers

Although it is not a cure-all, the right air purifier can help mitigate a multitude of issues. For example, if you or one of your loved ones have asthma or allergies, you could greatly benefit from a purifier with a HEPA filter. (Related: Do Air Purifiers Help With Mold?)

Alternately, if you are in a metropolitan area where you experience a lot of road dust and car emissions, an air purifier can help reduce those particles within your home. Perhaps someone in your life is immuno-compromise? Certain air purifiers, especially those with HEPA filters, can help reduce the number of airborne viruses and bacteria.


Air purifiers are worth it if you can find something that works within your budget and have someone in your house struggling with allergies or asthma. Before purchasing a unit, you want to consider the time and cost of regular maintenance and the actual effectiveness you will receive. Before purchasing, do your research, weigh your options, and consider why you want a purifier in the first place so you can determine which one is right for you!  

Kenneth Wilson
August 27, 2021

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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