What is an Air Purifier and What Do Air Purifiers Do?

What is an Air Purifier and What Do Air Purifiers Do?

several air purifiers

Air quality is a buzzword these days, and people are worried about the air they are breathing. Air purifiers help to put those worries to rest as they, simply put, purify the air. These remarkable machines use different means to achieve the same end; air that we can finally breathe easy with.

An air purifier is a machine that takes air in, and processes your room’s ambient air, cleansing it of potentially harmful particles. By doing this, the purifier is countering the pollution in your home around the clock.

Sound wispy and unlikely? That’s ok, so is gravity and wind, but the effects are still very real and can be felt. In all seriousness, however, the science and technology behind air purifiers can actually be very interesting. And, speaking from experience, you can see and smell the difference.

Hand Sanitizer For The Air We Breathe

what do air purifiers do

These remarkable air cleaning machines can be thought of as hand sanitizer for the air you breathe. They take in the dirty air you are currently breathing, run it through a series of filters, ultraviolet sterilizer, and heat, and more.

Air purifiers usually are equipped with removable filters, which may be able to be washed, or will need to be replaced every so often. HEPA air filters are very popular because of how efficiently they clean the air that passes through them, hence their name: High Efficiency Particulate Arresting. These HEPA filters are great for people who have allergies, but they commonly cost more than their less efficient counterparts.

UV Radiation

Air cleaning machines that use UV Radiation commonly have filters in addition to their UV since the UV light simply serves as a means to kill airborne pathogens which would have been inhaled without an air purifier. This type of purifier is also great because it actually eliminates germs, rather than collecting them within the cleaning unit. But you can rest easy, as the UV light is contained within the purifying unit, and can’t harm you. The drawback to this system, however, is that they are not always as effective as one may hope, and therefore should only be used in addition to other systems.

Finally, air purifiers that utilize heat serve as a means to bake airborne pathogens and allergens as they pass through the system. These systems are remarkably effective, and sterilize more than 99% of the air that passes through the unit. Don’t worry though, the units cool the air back down before releasing it back into your home so you won’t be baked alive like the germs.

Some purifiers even use static electricity to clean the air that passes through them, which means that the force of evil that makes saltine cracker wrappers stick to you is finally being used to help us all!


Yes, in fact, they work very well! You may not be able to always see what they are doing, but they definitely do work. Air purifiers snatch particulates that are much smaller than anyone can see, and they lock them away, commonly in filters. With time, these purifiers end up looking much like the lint tray in your dryer, as particulates accumulate within your air purifier, rather than inside of your body. The result? Healthier lungs, and healthier living.

Air purifiers do a whole lot to cleanse the air of things that we can, and cannot see. They wipe away allergens and odors, leaving you with cleaner air. Visit our article that answers the question of if air purifiers really work. In this article, we explain how air purifiers work by telling you what they actually do, which sheds a lot of light on countless questions that arise around air purification technology.

When we set up an air purifier in a room that seemingly always needed to be dusted in our home, we quickly found a massive decline in dust accumulation. In fact, rather than dust the room once a week, we only had to dust a few times a year, which truly was a great reprieve for us. In addition to lacking dust accumulation, we also found that people who couldn’t otherwise enter the room due to their dust sensitivity were now able to do so hassle-free. After this discovery, we seldom do construction and renovation projects without our air purifiers.

Don’t just take our word for it, just look at the countless reviews out there of people who have quite literally had their lives transformed with clean air. Also, feel free to check out our article that answers the question you may be asking yourself, “Do I Need an Air Purifier?”



YES! The fact that air cleaners in your home and office help eliminate allergens is exactly why so many people buy them. Why suffer through your hay fever, when you can kill off everything that makes your life miserable? Pollen, dust, and pet dander stand no match against the proper air purifiers. HEPA filters take the air cleaning one step further and make your life a breeze. No more runny noses, itchy eyes, coughs or sneezes when you’ve got an air purifier on the job!

To keep on top of your allergies throughout the year, you will need to change your air purifier’s filters. These filters are your lifeline to clean air, and they need to be kept clean themselves! If your air purifier’s filters get clogged up, they won’t be able to clean the air effectively, and if it is bad enough, they won’t be able to clean your home’s air at all! Check out our article on the importance of air filters here for more info!

With the proper air purifying device, you won’t need to take countless decongestants to make it through the night, just get an air purifier in your bedroom! All of the dust, pollen, and dander that is tracked in and kicked up in your house are commonly trapped within the walls of your home, which means that your home is actually collecting everything that makes you miserable. An air purifier will change that, and make your home livable again by sifting through all of your home’s air and taking out the particulates.

Air purifiers can even help people with asthma! In fact, the most common form of asthma is called allergic asthma, and it is caused by allergens in the air. Because air purifiers are so effective at removing allergens, they can greatly reduce the chance of you suffering an asthma attack around your home! If you having asthma isn’t bad enough, even babies can suffer from asthma. However, baby with asthma can also benefit from having an air purifier as well, which can be a literal lifesaver! Check out our post on air purifiers for babies with asthma for more information!


Yes, and yes. Both of these banes to society are no match to the proper air purifiers.

Despite the fact that smoking is still harmful to those around, the correct air purifiers can help to minimize the damage secondhand smoke causes. Air purifiers that are made to combat smoke can also eliminate much of the odors and soot which would otherwise waft through your home.

Mold has met its match when you get the right equipment to fight it off. Air purifiers capture mold spores in the air, limiting the risk of inhaling these potentially dangerous particulates. If you have mold sensitivities, we recommend investing into a dehumidifier and air purifier.  And/or an ozone generating air purifier.

However, ozone can be dangerous, so do not leave these units running. Especially when you are in the same room as them. Ozone generators are basically the equivalent to fumigating your home for insects, save the fact that it targets mold.

Mold is a very complex organism to fight off, like other moisture related issues. Whether you have mold, fungus, or mildew issues in your home, moisture is likely the root cause to all of your problems. Keeping your home’s humidity between 30 and 50 percent is a must for comfortable air to breathe that doesn’t encourage these moisture-related issues to take hold. Check out our post on the best air purifiers for mold and fungus here for more information on the issue!


It is very much worth it. Depending on your ailments that the air around you causes, an air purifier can actually save you money in the long run. Think of it as preventative maintenance for your car. On the one hand, you can just fill up your gas tank, and never change your car’s oil. That can be cheap right now. But you will run your car into the ground, and face all sorts of issues down the road. Your body is the same way, take care of yourself now. You’ll thank yourself later, and you’ll save on countless tissue boxes and decongestants too!

There are many potential savings in buying an air purifier now, see our other article “Are Air Purifiers Worth Buying” for more information!

And, in case you are wondering if air purifiers even work, we’ve got a post for you too! Check out our article “Do Air Purifiers Really Work” to see how they work, and why they work. This will shed some light on the mysteries of air purifiers, and cast your doubts aside!

 If cost is your primary constraint, then there are plenty of low cost air purifiers on the market! Keep in mind that these cheaper air purifiers are seldom as good as their costlier counterparts, but they still can do a great job at cleaning the air. Low cost options include water-based air purifiers, which we are very fond of, check out our post “What is a Water-Based Air Purifier” for more details on those systems. And, if those systems don’t catch your fancy, then we have another post that directly addresses the issue of finding a low cost air purifier worth buying!

And, if you’re wondering how you might get the most out of your air purifier, we encourage you to ask yourself the question, “Where do I spend most of my time?” Odds are, you actually spend at least a third of your day (or 8 hours) in your bedroom, fast asleep. The benefits of an air purifier are best felt when you breathe the air they clean for longer periods of time, so your bedroom is likely your best choice. Check out our articles covering both the benefits of having an air purifier in your bedroom, and the top seven reasons to have an air purifier in your bedroom for more details!

Want to see a list of my top-picks for air purifiers? Check it out here: Air Purifier Essentials Top Picks: Best HEPA Air Purifiers on the Market

If you’d like to read some more on air purifiers, then I’ve got quite a few other articles that you can check out!

What Does a Water Air Purifier Do? | The Surprising Benefits of Using Water as an Air Filter

What are VOCs? Can Air Purifiers Help with VOCs?

What Are the Top 7 Proven Reasons Have an Air Purifier in my Bedroom?

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I get an Air Purifier?

Air purifiers are sold worldwide. All you have to do is look online, or go to a local home improvement store or department store. We recommend looking online so you can find the largest selection of machines, and also compare prices much easier.

What is an Ozone Generating Air Purifier?

These machines work like normal air purifiers, by with one major caveat, they also release a gas known as ozone. Small amounts of ozone are not dangerous. In fact, that clean smell you smell during a lightning storm is actually ozone! Air cleaners with ozone generators are great for sterilizing a room, but you had best keep the room vacated.

What is Ozone?

Ozone is a gas that is comprised of 3 oxygen atoms. The air we normally breathe just has 2 atoms. It is created when an electric current is passed through oxygen. Ozone is an effective tool for sterilizing areas, and it also protects our planet from solar radiation.

Do Air Purifiers Help Me with My Asthma?

Asthma attacks are commonly caused by dust and other particulates in the air. Particulates enter an asthmatic person’s lungs, air purifiers remove these invisible hazards. By removing the microscopic matter from the air, the cleaners keep it out of one’s lungs. This effectively stops future asthma attacks. Air purifiers are commonly bought by people with any breathing difficulties to ensure easy breathing into the future. We also have an article about air purifiers for babies with asthma.

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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