If you’ve heard about air purifiers and everything that they do, then odds are you’ve wondered about putting one in your bathroom.
And then you realized that air purifiers can be big, bulky, and expensive.
But that’s not the case with all air purifiers–especially not the ones that I’d recommend you get for your bathroom (more on that later).
Before I dive straight on into things, though, let’s answer the question: do you even need an air purifier in your bathroom?
Air purifiers are a great addition to any bathroom, and they can replace your need for costlier air fresheners that may need replaced constantly since air purifiers can cleanse the air of bad smells and more. Additionally, air purifiers remove dangerous chemicals from the air called VOCs which are released by tons of household goods and cleaning products, many of which you use in your bathroom.
So, Why Exactly are Air Purifiers a Must for Bathrooms?
No bathroom is complete without soap and a faucet so you can wash your hands after doing your business.
But tell me this, what’s cleaning the air?
If you’ve ever popped into a bathroom after someone had a really bad bout against food poisoning, then odds are you’ve wanted to do something to clean the air.
If you’re like most people, then you might have emptied a few cans of your favorite air freshener, but let me tell you right here right now that that might be the worst thing you can do.
Why Are Air Fresheners a Bad Call for Bathrooms?
Well, most air fresheners on the market have at least one of the following drawbacks:
- They only mask odors they don’t actually elminate/capture them.
- They end up releasing harmful gasses called VOCs.
- It’s WAY too easy to overspray and the air freshener becomes super overwhelming.
Now, I understand that the third issue is easy to address by just being more conservative in your use of the air freshener, but the other two are a little harder.
On the one hand, you can shop around for a while and find some VOC-free air fresheners that also capture or eliminate odors. The problem with that is that you might end up spending a bunch of money on that option. I ran a quick check for air fresheners like this and found options ranging well past a hundred dollars. (But there were quite a few cheaper ones too!)
A lot of these air fresheners ended up landing in the twenty dollar zone, which I’ll get back to in a few shakes.
The other thing that you can do to cut down on the VOCs whatnot is doing what people have done for decades: let the bathroom air out for an hour.
But let’s face it, when you got to go, you got to go.
And we can probably agree that neither option that I could come up with was very good for dealing with bathroom odors with air fresheners.
Which is where air purifiers come into play.
Air purifiers, for those of you know don’t know, are machines that filter the air in a room and take out things like dust, allergens, mold spores, germs, and (possibly most importantly) ODORS!
Why Are Air Purifiers Better for Bathrooms Than Air Fresheners?
Air purifiers work around the clock to clean the air in your bathroom. The right air purifier can kill germs, mold spores, and get rid of dust and odors all the while. Most air fresheners simply mask odors while they simultaneously add dangerous chemicals known as VOCs to the air.
Interestingly enough, the right air purifiers can capture VOCs and neutralize them, so that means that air purifiers are everything that air fresheners can never be.
But let’s get into the science-y nitty gritties a bit (you can skip ahead to the next section: “Air Purifiers Do a Better Job Than Air Fresheners for the Same Price” if you don’t care about the technicals).
First off, what are VOCs?
So, VOCs are a huge group of chemicals known as “Volatile Organic Compounds” (VOCs for short). The EPA defines it like this:
“Volatile organic compounds (VOC) means any compound of carbon, excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides or carbonates and ammonium carbonate, which participates in atmospheric photochemical reactions, except those designated by EPA as having negligible photochemical reactivity2.
Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs are organic chemical compounds whose composition makes it possible for them to evaporate under normal indoor atmospheric conditions of temperature and pressure3. This is the general definition of VOCs that is used in the scientific literature, and is consistent with the definition used for indoor air quality. Since the volatility4 of a compound is generally higher the lower its boiling point temperature, the volatility of organic compounds are sometimes defined and classified by their boiling points.”Circa the EPA website: EPA.gov
I know that’s a lot of big, weird words, but it basically boils down to this (although this is a big oversimplification):
“VOCs encompass a lot of different compounds and they evaporate in normal indoor environments.”
Now, that doesn’t sound very threatening, right?
Well, you’re right. That’s not too terrible on surface level, that’s why you’ve always got to dig deeper.
There are tons of different types of VOCs out there, and most household cleaning chemicals are full of them. In small doses, VOCs aren’t usually lethal, but prolonged exposure is known to cause adverse health effects. Long term exposure is known to cause a slew of illnesses later in life, but that all depends on the particular VOC.
Some VOCs like formaldehyde are well-known threats that people know to keep an eye out for. However, there are lots of lesser-known ones that we don’t all know about, so it’s usually best to limit your exposure to VOCs. The EPA lays out a list of things you can do to limit your exposure to VOCs, and I’ve adapted it to suit our bathroom needs for today:
- When using chemicals, ensure there’s plenty of air flow. Open a door or window and be sure to have the bathroom fan on. Don’t spend too long in the room once you finish. Allow it to air out.
- If a chemical has a warning label, do what is says to do and then some. You can’t be too careful! 🙂
- Don’t store opened containters of chemicals and paints indoors and in your main living spaces (bathrooms included).
- VOCs like Formaldehyde can be tested for, but not all VOCs can be. Run a test, find out what’s releasing the VOC, and get rid of it if you can! (If you can’t, use a sealant on the exposed surfaces to seal the VOCs in.)
- “Use integrated pest management techniques to reduce the need for pesticides.”
- Don’t use any chemicals or products outside of what the manufacture says. Mixing things and using them improperly can be dangerous.
- Try to only buy enough chemicals and products to do what you need to do in order to limit VOC exposure. Storing these chemicals isn’t always safe.
- Keep products and chemicals out of reach of kids, pets, and others who shouldn’t be entrusted with them.
- Don’t mix chemicals unless their labels explicitly tell you to! Doing so can result in toxic chemicals that can kill you.
Please note that the items that have quotation marks around them are taken directly from the EPA site–I didn’t do any rewording to them like I did for the others. You might want to check out the EPA site to see the original list as well. And, again, this was just a rehashing of the EPA rules with a slight bathroom focus. Check out their site if you want the official list.
I hope I’ve outlined the dangers and prevalence of VOCs to you here. I know it’s all a bit much, but I didn’t want to leave you with too many questions there. Again, most air fresheners release VOCs when you use them, but air purifiers (and good ventilation) can limit your exposure to them.
Next up, odor control!
Air fresheners are the go-to choice for a lot of people who want to deal with bad smells.
Problem is, a lot of air fresheners don’t actually eliminate the smells from the air, they just mask them with an overwhelming flower scent (or something else). Scented candles do the same sort of thing.
That doesn’t seem too bad, right?
Well, it’s not but…
I guess I have bad news for you.
Smells that your nose picks up on are actually microscopic particles that are in the air. They’re really, really small, hence how they can float. Some of these smells are solid particles and others are gasses.
Long story short, that means that if you’re smelling poop, you’re actually inhaling tiny poop particles.
Yep. Gross. (Sorry I had to go there.)
So, back to air fresheners. Let me ask you again, is masking odors bad?
Odds are you’ll say yes now, because a masked odor isn’t an eliminated odor. It’s still there, it’s just harder to notice.
And that’s where air purifiers come into play. Air purifiers, unlike so many air fresheners, actively capture and neutralize odors–both gas and solid. This is achieved by a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter. Air fresheners just can’t cut it.
Dust and Allergen Removal
I’ve yet to find an air freshener that removes dust and allergens from the air effectively. However, I’ve found thousands of air purifiers that do just that! (Spoiler alert, every single one that has a HEPA filter can do it and HEPA filters are super common.)
Now, I know I’m hitting air fresheners for something they aren’t made to do, but you have to admit that it’d be cool if they could.
But back to air purifiers.
So, remember how I mentioned that air purifiers capture those tiny airborne poop molecules that you’d be breathing otherwise? Well, they capture a lot more than that. Air purifiers are super effective at cutting down on dust and allergens that are floating around in the air.
If you have a family member who has allergies or asthma, then this is especially important for you, and it’s for two reasons! For one, dust and allergens can trigger asthma attacks, so an air purifier can reduce the risk of one. The second reason is because some people are allergic to air fresheners and/or the VOCs can make it hard for them to breathe.
Air purifiers don’t have that problem–they aren’t putting anything in the air, they’re just taking it out.
Mold and Germ Killing
Finally, we have something that I find super interesting.
Even the most basic air purifier with a HEPA filter can kill mold and germs. How? Well, they capture the mold spores and the germs (they can’t catch all viruses, but they’re great at catching bacteria). Once those things are captured, they die because they dry out.
Now, I wouldn’t depend on this cool little fact alone if I was worried about germs. If I was worried about them, I’d invest in an air purifier that has a built-in sanitizer that is a lot more effective at killing germs and spores.
Alas, air fresheners don’t usually kill germs or mold. Sure, there are chemicals you can use that do the trick, but by that point, you’ve probably spend a hundred bucks getting chemicals and air fresheners that cover all the bases.
Which leads me to my main point.
Air Purifiers Do a Better Job Than Air Fresheners for the Same Price.
Your average bottle of air freshener costs a few bucks. Nothing too exciting, I know.
Conversely, air purifiers can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.
So, how can I say that air purifiers do a better job for the same price?
Well, that might be a little clickbaity, but bear with me!
My all-time favorite air purifier for bathrooms cost me like 19.99 when I bought it. It’s made for smaller rooms and it has a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter. Those two things together work wonders at keeping the air in that bathroom a million times cleaner. (Alright, that’s an exaggeration. It actually only keeps it about 12 times cleaner according to the actual measurements I took of airborne particles.) But here’s the thing: air fresheners don’t reduce the overall number of particles in the air, they increase the overall particle count, so they make the air dirtier in that regard.
On top of the particles issue, I want to remind you of what I said earlier about germs, allergens, dust, and mold. Air fresheners don’t work at reducing or removing those, air purifiers do.
And I remind you of the odor issue, air purifiers capture the odors and remove them from the air, air fresheners usually just mask them, which means you’re still breathing in all that poop air.
And then there’s the VOC issue. A lot of air fresheners release tons of VOCs into the air, and VOCs aren’t good for you. Air purifiers with activated carbon filters remove VOCs.
Long story short, air purifiers are a whole lot better, even though one air purifier costs a few times more than the cheapest air freshener out there. They are able to do a whole lot more, and they clean the air, rather than just making things smell nice.
Now, if you’d like to join me in the truly clean air revolution, I’d invite you to start small and start with the same air purifier I did. It’s a little more money today than when I bought it a few years ago, but it still works just as well!
You can check its current price on Amazon here.
This particular air purifier is all sorts of easy to use, and its price puts it right in the price range that most everyone can afford to get it.
If you’d like to check out some other air purifiers, you can check out my personal list of my top picks here. However, if you’re looking for a bathroom air purifier, I seriously can’t recommend the one I already mentioned enough. It really is an amazing choice for bathrooms. 🙂 (But the Levoit one in my top pick post is a better unit–only problem is that it’s a lot bigger.)
How Long Does it Take an Air Purifier to Clean the Air in a Bathroom?
Air purifiers can take between five minutes and thirty minutes to clean the air in a bathroom, depending on the bathroom’s size and the air purifier. Air purifiers clean the air in bathrooms a lot faster than simply “airing out” the bathroom on its own would take.
After someone goes number two, I find that the air in my bathroom gets cleaned easily ten times faster than how long it takes the air in my other bathroom that doesn’t have an air purifier. It legitimately takes all of five minutes and the smells are gone. Conversely, the bathroom without the air purifier can stink for hours afterward.
Air fresheners are a lot faster than air purifiers in that regard, but it’s really easy to overspray and make it so you don’t want to go into the bathroom afterward. Additionally, I personally hate the smell of most every air freshener, so I don’t like going into rooms until a long while has passed since they were used. As such, air purifiers were the obvious choice for me.
What are the Top Six Reasons to Get an Air Purifier for My Bathroom?
I know this list might seem like a second thought or like its own post, but I think it fits well with this post. (Besides, it’s basically just a summary of what I already went over!)
Let’s cut straight to the chase, here. Bathrooms stink. Between what you do on the porcelain throne and just the fact that the humidity from the shower can cause mildew and musty smells, bathrooms can stink. Air purifiers, particularly those with activated carbon filters, do wonders at mitigating and eliminating the odors in your bathroom.
And on the topic of shower humidity causing mildew, air purifiers can help there too! So, mildew is a type of mold, and air purifiers are great at stopping or slowing the spread of mold. Why? Well, mold sends out spores in order to spread. Those spores are captured in an air purifier’s HEPA filters and that’s where they can dry out and die. However, I must point out that there’s a chance your air purifier could end up spreading mold if you’re not careful and it gets wet and stays wet. Always be sure to treat your air purifier well and check on it from time to time!
As is the case with air purifiers helping with mold, they do the same for germs. Germs that get caught in your air purifier’s HEPA filter can dry out and die, effectively eliminating them from the air that you’re breathing. Again, be sure that your air purifier doesn’t get wet though, or you might have a problem.
Another thing I must point out is that your standard HEPA filter can’t capture every germ in the air. While they can catch all bacteria, they can’t get every single virus since viruses are so small. However, viruses usually hitch rides on larger particles in the air–particles that your air purifier can capture.
Air Flow & Ventilation
Opening a door and leaving a window open are two ways to air out your bathroom and help cut down on smells. Installing a fan is another (although most bathrooms should already have a fan). But, if that’s not enough, air purifiers can help to increase the air flow in your bathroom and help with the room’s ventilation to keep the air moving and filter it at the same time.
Most people end up buying air purifiers just to deal with dust. They do this because that’s the thing that they notice and hate. It’s only after they buy an air purifier that they begin to learn all the other things that air purifiers can do.
But besides that, I have a personal thing for this reason to get an air purifier in your bathroom.
Dusting your bathroom is absolutely miserable. Anyone who’s had to dust a bathroom knows that it’s a lot harder to do. Why? Well, the moisture in the air gets on the dust and then the dust ends up getting caked onto stuff. When that happens, the only way to get it off is scrubbing.
I hate scrubbing stuff. It’s so much work.
Since I got the air purifier in my bathroom, I haven’t dusted once. It’s SO MUCH cleaner in there. It’s actually a little crazy.
This final perk of getting an air purifier in your bathroom is sort of a culmination of the previous five.
Air purifiers do so well at cleaning the air that the air always seems (and feels) fresher. It’s sort of like fresh laundry, it’s just so much cleaner and it makes me happy.
Having been in some nasty bathrooms over my life, I have come to appreciate clean ones a lot more, and an air purifier is just one tool that I have to ensure my bathroom feels and smells as clean as it can be.
Thanks for reading this post! Again, if you’re in the market for air purifiers, please be sure to check out my personal list of top picks. Why are they my top picks? Because I actually have experience with them! I didn’t just go grab a bunch of random units off the internet to sell, I’m recommending the machines I use and my family and friends use. ]
Want to keep reading? Check out some of my other odor-related articles!