Do Air Purifiers Really Work?

Do Air Purifiers Really Work?

The idea of one machine that can cleanse your home’s air is an interesting one, to say the least. Some may even think the idea is too good to be true. But, an air purifier is the fix, and they really do work. 

Yes, air purifiers really work, and they work very well! Air purifiers capture allergens, dust, pathogens, and so much more that is floating in the air we breathe. 

Do Air Purifiers Really Work

Whether you are on the prowl for something to clear the dust out of your home’s air, or searching for something to help you with your allergies, an air purifier is your best bet. Air purifiers work to clear a whole array of contaminants from the air you and your family breathe, and they can do it around the clock.

We Breathe = Dust, Pets, Pollen, Dander, Smoke, Mold

Think of all of the pollen, dust, pet hair, dander, and even smoke and mold spores that are in the air you breathe every day. All of those allergens and other irritants just floating around, unimpeded by just about anything you’ve tried in an effort to rein them in. Even all of those lingering odors and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that stick in your home’s air, despite your best efforts. 

Although not everything in the above paragraph applies to you (at least we’d hope you aren’t suffering from exposure to all of those), odds are that you have at least a couple of issues with your home’s air. Even if it is as simple as that annoying bit of dust that just keeps floating despite your countless days of cleaning. 

If dust is your primary concern, check out our post that answers the question “Do Air Purifiers Reduce Dust?” Spoiler Alert: They do! This post will tell you what kind of system you will need, and it will also give you several different options you can choose from as well, depending upon your needs!

Regardless of your specific mix of these banes to indoor air, an air purifier can be your fix. However, depending upon your specific mix, you’ll need different kinds of air purifiers. Read on to see what’s your best fix! 

For many people, an air purifier with a HEPA filter will take care of most of their air woes. A HEPA filter will knock out all of those pesky particles in the air ranging from things as large as pet hair and dust all the way down to some viruses and bacteria! In fact, a lot of people even purchase air purifiers with HEPA filters because they also reduce the number of odors in the area surrounding the air purifier unit. 

But, if you really want to crack down on these odors, nothing does as well as an activated charcoal filter. Activated charcoal, quite plainly, is charcoal that has been treated with steam. Because of this steam treatment, the filter can absorb a whole lot, which just serves to benefit you. Carbon filters can capture odors, including odors that are brought about by gasses (rather than solid particles, which a HEPA filter is directed at). 

Check out our post on the importance of air purifier filters to learn more about them! Each filter comes with its own set of pros and cons, so what works for you may not be what’s best for someone else! There’s a lot to know about air filters, and we’ve compiled all we think is actually useful to you!

What kind of gasses does a carbon filter clear the air of for you? It cleans up everything from cooking odors and smoke, all the way to VOCs and even radon! While cooking odors and smoke can be annoying, VOCs and radon are known to be quite harmful. 

VOCs are released by a huge array of common household items, ranging from cleaning solutions and aerosols, all the way to your home’s paint! VOCs are known to cause countless ailments later in life, especially after increased levels of exposure. This includes liver and kidney damage, and even cancer! 

radon gas in home air purifier

Radon, on the other hand, can actually be released from the ground your home is built on! Radon is radioactive and can cause lung cancer. The US EPA recommends having no radon in your home whatsoever because of how damaging it can be. Of course, this goal can be rather hard to achieve, especially considering the fact that it can come up from the ground. That being said, an activated carbon filter can help to mitigate your radon exposure. 

We strongly recommend checking out the EPA website to see if you are in an area with radon issues. In addition to this, it would be wise to get your own radon test kit, in order to test your home’s air for the dangerous gas. A carbon filter can help to mitigate your radon issue, but your best bet would likely be to contact a local professional on the issue. 

Check out our post on the best air purifiers for radon gas if you’d like to learn more! Radon is a very dangerous gas, so you should deal with it sooner rather than later! 

Air purifiers work, and they work very well. That being said you will need to buy an air purifier that is actually built to address your specific issues. Too many people purchase a low-end cheap machine that claims to be an air purifier, and then complain that no air purifier works, just because they were too cheap. This is your home’s air, and this is the air your family is breathing. The health of you and your family is too valuable to deal with lightly!


There are several costs one has to consider before purchasing an air purifier, as this can literally make or break the deal for you. These costs cover more than just the initial cost of your air purifier! You need to keep in mind the cost of replacing filters and the annual energy cost as well! Check out our article with all the equations you will need when purchasing an air purifier here , as we don’t want to overfill this particular post with all the calculations. 

Once you purchase your air purifier, you’ll have to plug it in and turn it on. This may be obvious, but a lot of other sites fail to mention the cost of electricity over a whole year that your unit will be using. Again, see our article on the calculations if you want to calculate the cost of your specific unit, since this response is aimed to give more of an overview.  

Do Air Purifiers Really Work? 1

Electricity costs, as you will soon see, will be relatively small. Even if you live in places where electricity costs are a lot higher than the US average of 12 cents per kWh, these costs will likely not be too burdensome.  

To operate an air purifier that uses 60 watts an hour nonstop for a full year in New York, New York, one would end up paying a whopping $110.38. This may be above what some people can afford, but note that the energy cost in New York is a lot higher than the average in the US. In fact, if this example was in Louisville, Kentucky (where electricity is 8 cents a kWh), the annual cost would only be 42 dollars and 5 cents! That’s less than half of what it was in New York!

As you can see, you’ll need to do a little bit of research before you hop right into calculating your unit’s annual energy cost. That being said, $110.38 a year only equates to less than 10 dollars a month of energy costs, which is very affordable. That is literally less than two fancy coffees from your local coffee shop. 

In the end, the cost of electricity is actually rather negligible to most households, and can be absorbed into their budgets without any pain. However, for some, this could be a deal-breaker. Our goal is to always lay all the cards on the table, so you can make the wisest decision possible. 

Next up is the cost of replacement filters. This expense really seems to be the kicker for some people, because some air purifiers require a lot more replacement filters than others. In addition to this, some air filters are a lot more expensive than others, which varies between brands and filter types. 

To calculate the annual cost of your air purifier’s replacement filters, check out our above-mentioned calculation page. Some air purifier main filters can last for several years, provided you purchase a unit that has a pre-filter, and this proves to be a great cost-savings technique. 

We find that a lot of air purifier replacement HEPA filters are in the realm of about 10 dollars, and many air purifiers need a new filter once every three months. This boils down to about 40 dollars per year in air purifier filters. This, like the energy cost, may not be considered a lot to some households. That being said, some air filters are a lot costlier than the 10 dollar price point we found, and some may need to be replaced more or less often. 

But, not all air purifiers require replacement filters. Some air purifiers are even water-based, which means they use water as their main filter, rather than a traditional solid filter. This can be a nice alternative to a traditional filter, but water is less effective at cleaning the air than HEPA filters are. Feel free to check out our article on water-based air purifiers if you are interested in such a system.

Other air purifiers utilize other kinds of air filters to clean the air they process. These are usually less effective than high-quality HEPA filters, but there are also a few gems that we recommend, if you aren’t interested in the super-clean air a HEPA filter provides. One such recommended filter is a static electricity collection plate. These collection plates can really do wonders for cleaning your home’s air of all sorts of debris. The downside to some of these systems, however, is that they can create a harmful gas called ozone, so check out our article on air purifiers with built-in ionizers before you purchase such a unit.

In the end, the price of operating an air purifier really ranges a lot between the many systems out there. There are just so many sizes and options that there isn’t a cut and dry answer, other than having you do the math yourself. By our calculations, your monthly expense of operating an air purifier ought to be in the realm of maybe 12 dollars per month. Once again, this can vary, as some air purifiers are a lot more energy-intensive than others, so just be sure to check that out!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Air Purifiers a Waste of Money?

Not at all, unless you’re lucky enough to be living somewhere without any pollution. Air purifiers are a great investment! If you have any allergies, or even just dust in your home that you wish would just go away, and air purifier can solve your problems.

Why Don’t Normal Air Purifiers Capture VOCs?


VOCs are gasses, which means they are a lot smaller than the particles that even a HEPA filter can capture. VOCs have to be captured with impregnated carbon filters, which have special chemicals embedded into their structure so that they can deal specifically with VOCs. 

Are Water-Based Air Revitalizers Good at Cleaning the Air?

Water-based air revitalizers are good at cleansing the air in your home of dust, and other larger particulates, but they are not designed to take care of some of the smallest particles out there. If clean air is your primary concern, then a traditional air purifier with a HEPA filter is a good starting point for you. 

How Do I Select the Best Air Purifier System?

The best air purifier for your specific needs will likely be different than someone else. The best air purifier for you will have to address what you need out of the machine! Keep in mind what it does for you (manage dust, allergens, odors), and how much you can afford!

Do Air Purifiers Help with Allergies?

YES! Many people who buy air purifiers do so simply to fight off their allergies. These miraculous little machines grant people who are plagued with allergies a place of refuge where they can finally recuperate after particularly nasty times. It is recommended that you pay a little extra and buy an air purifier with a HEPA filter if you are buying one to combat your allergies. 

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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