Are Air Purifiers a Waste of Money? | The Worth of a Good Air Purifier


If you’ve come this far, then odds are that you’re in the market for an air purifier. That, or you’re hearing stories about what they can (or can’t) do and you’ve got some questions.

Either way, you’re in the right place.

Before I go on too long, let me just tell you outright that air purifiers are very much worth it–and I’ll explain why.

Air purifiers can remove allergens, dust, toxins, and even germs from the air you’re breathing. The net result of that is healthier air for you and your family. Health is priceless and air purifiers can do a lot to improve your household’s health.

However, there are some people who outright lie about what air purifiers can do, or they lie about what their air purifiers, in particular, can do, so you have to be careful if you’re in the market for an air purifier.

And that’s where I come into all of this; I’m here to guide you through all of this and tell you what to look out for.

Why Are Air Purifiers Important?

If the air around you is dirty, then you’re breathing it in. There’s no way around that. (Except for really nice masks, maybe.)

But, let’s face it, almost no one wants to wear a mask all day and all night. They get old.

That’s where air purifiers come into play–they clean the air around you before you breathe.

Air purifiers, depending on the type of filters and systems they have, can cleanse the air of bacteria, viruses, allergens, dust, VOCs, odors, and a whole lot more. That’s important for people like us who spend most of our time indoors. Why? Well, indoor air is known to be several times dirtier than the air outside. That means that you’re probably breathing in a whole lot more junk than you should be!

Of course, there are a lot of ways to clean the air in your home other than just using an air purifier, but an air purifier is a very good place to start for a lot of us. If you’d like to check out some other ways to clean the air in your home, then check out this article: How to Clean Indoor Air – 14 Simple Ways to Clean Up the Air in Your Home. Some of the methods are easier than others, so it’s worth checking them all out.

How Do Air Purifiers Work?

Alright, so I told you what air purifiers do, now I have to tell you how they do it. After all, I can say they do whatever I want, telling you how they do it is where the rubber meets the road.

Just about all the air purifiers that you’ll find on a quick search will utilize things called “mechanical filters” which means that it’s a solid filter that will capture stuff as air is drawn through your air purifier. There are other ways that air purifiers work. but this is the main one that you’ll see.

The way that these filters work is that they have microscopic holes and pores in them that allow air through, but not larger things. In the case of HEPA filters, which are some of the best air filters on the market, they are capable of capturing 99.7% of particles that try passing through them all the way down to .3 microns.

.3 microns, I might add, is the size of some of the larger viruses out there. That’s how small we’re talking here.

However, there are other ways that air purifiers clean the air, and that included cool things like air sanitizers that kill germs and activated carbon filters that captures odors, VOCs, and even radon.

But there is an issue with air purifiers that must be mentioned, they can’t capture everything that’s in the air. On top of that, it takes time for them to filter through the air in your home (good air purifiers will take about 15 minutes to cycle the air in a room once).

All that is to say that they’re not foolproof and they don’t replace the need for you to be mindful about what you send out into the air in your home. You also have to be sure to clean your home regularly, if you want the cleanest possible air.

What Are the Benefits of Using an Air Purifier?

Alright, so I just took some of the wind out of your sails by telling you that air purifiers won’t clean 110% of the air in your home and that’s a bummer. But that’s not the end of the story, air purifiers can still do a whole lot for you!

Here Are 7 Things an Air Purifier Can Help You With

  1. Less allergens in the air.
  2. Less dust floating around.
  3. Less lingering odors.
  4. Less VOCs and Radon (which have potentially deadly health risks).
  5. Less germs that can make you sick.
  6. Less risk of mold.
  7. Less dust on stuff! (I don’t have to dust as much since I got an air purifier.)
cleaning dust in house

Of course, there are other things that air purifiers can do, but that’s a nice little list of the things that they can do.

I must note, however, that number 4 is reliant on you getting an air purifier with an activated carbon filter. Just one with a HEPA filter can help a little bit, but activated carbon is the way to go for that.

Additionally, activated carbon filters will take your odor mitigation to the next level as well. An air sanitizer can kill germs better than any HEPA filter could ever dream to too. So, there are extras that you might want to look at, if you’re interested in some of the superpowers that some air purifiers have.

If you’re curious about what air purifiers do and how they do it, check out one (or several) of the articles below that I’ve written. I’d love to dive in a little deeper here, but I need to move on.

Are Air Purifiers a Waste of Money – How and Why Air Purifiers are Worth the Cost

How Do Activated Carbon Filters Work in Air Purifiers? | 3 Things Activated Carbon Filters Clean from the Air to Make it Better for You

Air Purifier Buying Guide: How do I Find an Air Purifier Worth Buying?

Is a HEPA Filter Worth it in My Air Purifier – Why You Should Get an Air Purifier with a HEPA Filter

What Do I Need to Watch Out for When Buying an Air Purifier?

Air purifiers have TONS of amazing things that they can contribute to your home, but the wrong ones can either let you down or be outright hazardous.

I know that all sounds scary, so here’s a list of the air purifiers I know, love, and trust: Air Purifier Essentials Top Picks: Best HEPA Air Purifiers on the Market. But I get it, you might want an air purifier that’s not on my list of vetted sources, so here is a short list of things that you have to watch out for when you’re shopping around.

  • Expensive Replacement Filters. Some air purifiers have replacement filters that cost more than the original unit did! Watch out for that because it can be a real money drain.
  • Fake HEPA Filters. Some air purifiers use “HEPA Type” filters, or they don’t even say what they use to filter the air with. Don’t buy those! They won’t clean the air as well as a “True HEPA Filter” or “Medical Grade HEPA Filter”. (But there are some other filter systems out there that do work well.)
  • Ozone Generating Air Purifiers. I’ve gone over these in the past, but I’ll always mention how dangerous ozone can be. While I personally own an ozone-generating air purifier, it’s not recommended and they can be dangerous. Some air purifiers that have built-in air ionizers create ozone, so try to find one of those that create minimal or no ozone, if you’re buying an ionizer.
  • Crazy Expensive Air Purifiers. Name brand air purifiers aren’t always worth their price. Shop around, consult reviews, and use your head when you’re buying an air purifier.

Of course, there are other things you should probably watch out for, but this is a good list to start with!

I might add that some people recommend getting “whole house air purifiers” or stuff like that, but I’d caution against that. Most (if not all) the people I see recommending those are the installers for those systems. As such, they do have a vested interest in selling you on them.

I’ve run the numbers a hundred time and I can say that it can actually be cheaper to buy a separate air purifier for every individual room in your home than installing a whole home air purification system, so be wary of that. It isn’t always the case, but it sure can be. (I’d also point out that you might not need an air purifier in every room of your house too–try starting with just one in your living room and bedroom.)

Just know that whatever you do, you don’t have to break the bank. There are great air purifiers out there for less than the cost of dinner for two. (Sometimes even less than the cost of dinner for one, but be wary if you’re going too cheap!)

Now, I’m going to end this post here, but that’s not saying that your journey has to end here! Check out any of the articles below, or browse my site for something that interests you.

How Much Does it Cost to Get Air Purifiers for Every Room of My Whole House?

Do I Need an Air Purifier in My Bedroom?

What Are Air Purifiers For?

How to Clean My Home’s Air

Can I Use Essential Oils in My Air Purifier?

Jonathon Silva

Jonathan Silva is our longtime Air Purifier Essentials author. He has been writing on air purification technologies for his entire professional career.

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