Do Air Purifiers Help with Dust Allergies and Asthma?


Air purifiers are very effective at removing particles from the air including dust and allergens, so they do help with dust allergies and can reduce the risk of asthma attacks. However, dust and allergens collect on surfaces and those surfaces cannot be cleaned by an air purifier.

Air purifiers are only effective at removing dust and allergens that are suspended in the air, their effectiveness does not extend to dust that is on bedding, furniture, or carpet. As such, they can help with dust allergies, but they don’t replace the need to clean house.

So, I guess that’s bad news, you can’t get away with not cleaning your home just because you have an air purifier.

But it’s also good news because we’ve all cleaned house and ended up sneezing because we kicked up a little too much dust in the process. A good air purifier can capture that dust that we kick up as we clean and it’ll sequester it in its filters.

What’s more, that same air purifier will capture all the other dust that you kick up in your normal day-to-day life. If you’re like me, you’ll notice that there’s less dust to clean up in the rooms that you have air purifiers in simply because the air purifier is so effective.

But, no matter how much dust and allergens that an air purifier collects, there will still be dust. It’s basically impossible to avoid dust entirely in our lives, but every little bit that we can remove can help. An air purifier is just a piece of the puzzle of allergen removal/reduction in your home.

Before I go on any further, I’m going to answer a question that I’m sure you’re thinking of right now. And, if you aren’t then you will once you read it!

Is an Air Purifier Worth Buying to Help With My Dust Allergy?

If you’ve got allergies, particularly dust allergies, then an air purifier is worth buying. They don’t replace the need to clean house, but the results of cleaner air can be quickly felt by any allergy sufferer.

And, if nothing else, the cost of an air purifier isn’t actually that high. You can get a great air purifier for your bedroom that’ll do the job for under fifty dollars. If you don’t notice a change, then you can return it (at least with most stores). There’s basically no risk there.

But let me add this really quick: if you really want the air in your home to be as dust-free as it can possibly be, then you need to get air purifiers in all the rooms that you spend a good amount of time in. Just putting an air purifier in one room is good, but the best effects will come when you have an air purifier in every room.

And surprisingly enough, it won’t cost that much to do, especially when you compare it to whole-home air purifier systems. I ran the numbers a few weeks back and found that it would cost, on average, $650 to put an air purifier in every room of the average American home. You can read a little more about that in this article that I wrote: How Much Does it Cost to Get Air Purifiers for Every Room of My Whole House? That article is a super helpful resource for people who are just beginning to look at getting air purifiers for their homes and I make three recommendations for air purifiers that I actually own and use daily.

Air purifiers with really good True HEPA filters can effectively capture over 99% of the particles in the air, particles as small as .1 micron (but most True HEPA filters are just rated to capture particles.3 microns and larger, which is still really stinking small!). Larger particles like dust are even easier for these air purifiers to capture and their pre-filters usually end up capturing these larger particles. Dust, for reference, is usually about 10 to 25 microns, that’s between 100 and 250 times larger than the smallest particles that HEPA filters can catch–that means that they’ll be able to catch dust with ease.

Other allergens in the air that can cause asthma attacks and other allergic reactions like dander and pollen are also very large (when compared to .1 microns). That means that all those allergens won’t be able to make it through your air purifier.

What Kind of Air Purifier Should I Buy to Get Rid of Dust?

There are several different kinds of air purifiers out there, so it can be easy to get a little confused or lost.

The best kind of air purifier to remove dust from the air is either a mechanical air purifier or an electrostatic air purifier. Mechanical air purifiers are generally cheaper, but electrostatic air purifiers can capture smaller particles.

In this little section, I outline three air purifier types that I recommend, but there are others. These other kinds of air purifiers include ionic air purifiers (which are a lot like electrostatic air purifiers). The reason why I am not including these other air purifier types is because of how well they fight dust. They just don’t cut it, in my book. In addition to that, they aren’t worth the cost for how well (or how poorly) they work.

Now, these other air purifier types can be great additions when they’re built into your air purifier (lots of air purifiers use several systems to clean the air), but they don’t work well enough to be listed on their own.

Below, I’ve listed the three air purifier types that I recommend for those who suffer from allergies in general, but especially for people who are allergic to dust. The overall best air purifier type that I recommend is a “mechanical” air purifier that uses actual filters. These filters should be True HEPA filters or Medical Grade HEPA filters to get you the best results.

Water-Based Air Purifier

A third kind of air purifier that is effective at removing dust is a water-based air purifier that uses water to remove particles from the air. They use water and nothing else. If your dust allergy isn’t severe, this air purifier type could be worthwhile, however, waiter-based air purifiers aren’t nearly as effective at removing particles from the air as the other two types of air purifiers that I previously mentioned.

Honestly, I’d describe a water-based air purifier as more of a “helpful novelty” than anything. I love mine, it’s nifty, and it does work, but I must admit that it is not as effective as the costlier air purifiers I have.

But now that I mention that, I will add that water-based air purifiers can be really cheap.

(That orb thing that I have a picture of on the paper with the dust is a water-based air purifier. Again, I think they’re pretty cool, hence why I’ve got the pictures of them on this article today.)

If you’d like to learn more about water-based air purifiers, you can check out the articles here to read later: What is a Water Based Air Purifier? | The Pros & Cons of Water Air Revitalizers. Otherwise, keep reading below.

Mechanical Air Purifier

This kind of air purifier is probably my favorite because it does an amazing job at cleaning the air and it is affordable. In fact, its price is usually comparable to a water-based air purifier, believe it or not.

But what is a mechanical air purifier?

A mechanical air purifier is an air purifier that uses systems like filters to clean the air. The best of these are air purifiers with HEPA filters–True HEPA filters and Medical Grade HEPA filters in particular. These air purifiers can cleanse the air of particles larger than .3 microns with ease (as I said before), and some can go as small as .1 microns.

The downside to mechanical air purifiers is that their filters need replaced or cleaned every so often (usually around every 6 months).

Mechanical air purifiers are the most common on the market and, again, they’re incredibly affordable.

But let’s cut to the chase, is a mechanical air purifier good enough for someone with a dust allergy? Will it make the cut?

Mechanical air purifiers are more than enough to help anyone with a dust allergy. Even if you’ve got it pretty bad, air purifiers with HEPA filters will be able to help you. If you’d like to check out what air purifiers I recommend and how they can help you clean the air in your home, both of those answers are in my article here: How to Clean My Home’s Air

Electrostatic Air Purifier

Electrostatic air purifiers are the most effective air purifier on this little list, but they’re also the costliest. Something that I also feel compelled to point out is that a lot of higher-end mechanical air purifiers utilize this method of filtration in addition to traditional filters, which is immensely helpful.

While electrostatic air purifiers can work amazingly on their own, I love the thought of utilizing two of the most effective air filtration systems we’ve got.

But, again, they’re expensive. I usually find that air purifiers that use electrostatic plates are at least two times more money than air purifiers that use traditional filters. Sure, these can be better, but the right HEPA filter can give it a run for its money.

Which leads me to the most important part of this little bit on electrostatic air purifiers–they don’t really help you that much more than mechanical air purifiers. Allergens, dust in particular, are a whole lot larger than the .1 microns that these air purifiers are made to clean. Electrostatic air purifiers are better for people who are concerned about germs and whatnot (stuff that’s really, really small).

Your casual family won’t be able to really benefit from the increased abilities of this air purifier, which means that it’s really not worth the cost.

So, while these air purifiers are the coolest technologically speaking, they’re not the most practical if you’re trying to cleanse the air of dust.

What Else Can I Do to Get Rid of Dust in My Home?

In addition to buying an air purifier, a consistent weekly house cleaning schedule is recommended for people who are worried about dust and other pollutants in their homes.

As I’ve said many times on this site, air purifiers are amazing because they can clean the actual air in your home. They don’t convert up smells like air fresheners. They don’t try to distract you with pleasant smells like oil diffusers. Air purifiers cut straight to the problem and they clean the air.

But that’s not always enough.

In fact, it’s seldom enough.

red and brown brush on white wooden table

If you’re worried about the air quality in your home, then you need to clean your home. All of the furniture and carpets that you’ve got are big-time dust collectors. When you sit on them they kick up dust. Your hardwood floors and other solid surfaces also collect dust, but usually not nearly as much as more porous surfaces.

Sweeping, dusting, and vacuuming are a must if you want to keep up on dust. I know it sounds like a bunch of work, but let’s face it, it has to be done. As I said earlier, this should be done weekly if you want cleaner air.

And something nifty is that you might notice that you’re collecting less dust when you clean your home if you’ve got an air purifier going. That’s because the air purifier is capturing some of the dust in the air and preventing it from accumulating elsewhere.

If you’d like to learn more about how air purifiers affect dust and housecleaning, you can check out these articles: Do Air Purifiers Get Rid of Dust? | Do I Need to Dust if I Have an Air Purifier? and Do Air Purifiers Reduce Dust? You might want to check out this article I just wrote as well: How to Clean Indoor Air – 14 Simple Ways to Clean Up the Air in your Home

And finally, here’s one last article recommendation: Can Air Purifiers Help With Dander? Don’t ask me why, but it seems like some people who are allergic to one thing end up being allergic to a dozen or more other things. I guess the old saying is true, “When it rains, it pours.” This article on air purifiers and dander is a good one for people who’ve got pets. Even if you aren’t allergic to your pet, your furry friend can kick up dust and bring it into your home as well. In that article, I have additional air purifier recommendations. (Spoiler alert, those air purifiers work great at capturing dust too!)

Anyhow, that’s all I got for today, and I hope it was really helpful! If you’ve still got questions, feel free to poke around my site and learn even more about air purifiers! You can also find all the air purifiers that I recommend there too.

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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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