DIY Air Purifier: How to Make an Air Purifier

Updated on September 23, 2022 by Joseph D. Nielson

Table of Contents

Woman wearing protective glasses, holding drill and paper instructions after a DIY project

If you spend most of your time inside your home or office, it might be time to address indoor air pollution concerns. Indoor pollutants can result in both minor health problems, such as eye or nose irritation, and severe issues, such as ​​heart or respiratory diseases. The concentrations of some pollutants are often two to fives times higher indoors than outdoors.

Sometimes it can be challenging to tackle health problems as they escalate, so the best way to reduce the risks is by taking action beforehand. This could include purchasing an air purifier and humidifier combo to boost indoor air quality for some people. But if you’re skeptical about store-bought products or your preferred one is sold out, you can take on a do-it-yourself (DIY) project and build an air purifier by yourself in the comfort of your home.

Building an air purifier might sound like a daunting task and make you wonder if you’ve got the skills for it. Fortunately, you don’t need a fancy degree or years of experience in building machines to take on this home project. Here’s everything you need to know to get started on your DIY air purifier!

Store-Bought Air Purifier Vs. DIY Air Purifier


A range of store-bought air purifiers works efficiently to improve air quality in a home. Here are some pros and cons of purchasing a built and ready-to-use air purifier.


  • It saves time as most air purifiers are easy to assemble and ready to use
  • A group of experts have more knowledge and resources to craft the perfect product
  • Many store-bought air purifiers come with advanced features
  • Reduced risk of injuries when building due to safety conditions at the workplace


  • A good unit could be costly
  • No way to know if the product includes the parts its claims to
  • It might be challenging to trust its ability to clean the air
Air cleaner humidifier turned on and placed on the table


Learning how to make an air purifier can be a great way to remove airborne particles from the air in your home. Here are some pros and cons of building your own air purifier. 


  • Materials cost less than purchasing a built air purifier
  • No doubts about the materials used as you will build it yourself
  • You can test out different methods at a low cost, but purchasing multiple air purifiers can be expensive
  • Many resources available online to help you with the process


  • Lack of expertise might increase the risk of injuries
  • It can be difficult to create the perfect product if materials are unavailable
  • You may find a more efficient store-bought air purifier for large rooms

Four Types of DIY Air Purifiers

1. Plastic Bucket Air Purifier

Many DIY enthusiasts wonder how to make an air purifier with a 5-gallon bucket. The plastic bucket air purifier is the most feasible option for those trying to stick to a budget. You can find the materials required to put this machine together in many hardware stores. 

Materials Required

  • A round 2-gallon or 5-gallon plastic bucket with a cover
  • Small portable fan
  • Heavy-duty drill 
  • Filter fabric
  • Sandpaper 
  • Cutter/utility knife
  • Battery/plug/sonar panel
Man using a drill with headphones on

Step by Step Process

1. Take measurements: Measure the fan’s head diameter and accurately draw the shape of the fan on the bucket’s lid.

2. Cut the lid: Use a cutter to make a hole inside the bucket’s plastic lid big enough to fit the fan’s head.

3. Start drilling: Drill one-to-two-inch diameter holes around the bucket and make vertical rows of four orifices each.

4. Use sand: Sand down the holes to clean the holes you created with the drill.

5. Cut and place the filter: Start cutting the filter fabric to fit the bucket’s height and place it inside the bucket, following the perimeter.

6. Create an opening: Make a small opening towards the top of the bucket to make space for the fan’s wire.

7. Secure the lid: Cover the fan by closing the bucket lid.

8. Plug in your air purifier: You can power your unit with batteries, a plug, or solar panels, depending on what you find most convenient. 

2. Wooden Air Purifier

If you’re not a fan of using plastic at home, you could also use wood to opt for a DIY air purifier box fan. But this one might be a little more challenging than the plastic, but the results are worth it. Knowing how to make an air purifier with a box fan can enhance your skillset.

Materials Required

  • Piece of old wooden furniture or plywood
  • Air filters
  • Heavy-duty drill
  • Motorized fan
  • Screws and screwdriver 
  • Saw (if you use plywood)

Step by Step Process

1. Prepare the wood: If you’re using a piece of old furniture, such as a bedside table, remove three of the four side panels. If you’re using plywood to make the box, use a saw to cut about three-quarter inches of plywood and create four pieces of the same size. If you use plywood, you have to use smaller pieces of wood to create blind rabbet joints. Depending on how crafty you are, you could create enclaves to slide the filters if you’re up for the challenge.

2. Set the filters: Cut air filters into the same size as the wood and screw them onto the wood. If you’re using plywood, you may need to use a test-cut a piece of wood to make sure everything lines up. 

3. Install the air vent: Cute a small opening on the remaining wood panel or one side of the plywood barrier to create a small air vent. This is where the air will exit.

4. Drill a hole: Use a drill to make a small hole in the wooden panel to create room for a wire to run through.

5. Place the motorized fan: Put the fan inside the wooden box, and your air purifier is ready to start cleaning the air.

Man cutting wood by himself

3. HEPA Filters Air Purifier

Air purifiers with HEPA filters are designed to trap at least 99.97 percent of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and airborne particles. Although units with HEPA filters are one of the most efficient at cleaning the air, it is the simplest DIY air purifier to make.

Materials Required

  • A fan with an even back
  • HEPA filter
  • Zip ties
  • Screwdriver

Step by Step Process

1. Make holes in the filter: Use a screwdriver to make four holes in the filter fabric towards each corner, but not on the frame.

2. Place the filter: Make sure to use a HEPA filter that matches the fan’s dimensions and position the filter on the back of your fan. The filter frame should consist of an arrow displaying the airflow direction.

3. Insert the zip ties: Put four zip ties through the holes you made in the corner of the fabric and attach them to the fan. Make sure the zip ties are secured tightly to the filter. The best fan for this job is a square or one with an even back.

4. Water-Based Air Purifier

Another popular unit is a homemade air purifier using water. This natural air purifier DIY method might come in handy when finding an efficient way to improve indoor air quality.

Materials Required

  • PC fan
  • Small bowl
  • Silicone tube
  • Epoxy or other durable glue
  • Power supply

Step by Step Process

1. Prepare the fan: Remove the PC fan from its packaging. Use epoxy or any other durable glue to attach the silicone tube to the PC fan. Make sure both sides of the silicone tube segment are open to allow airflow.

2. Fill water bowl: Use a bowl that can sit on the fan without tipping over. Fill up half of that bowl with clean water. Place the fan over the bowl with the silicone tube side facing the water.

3. Plug-in power source: Plug the fan into the power source and let the fan spin and pull air towards the water bowl. When you notice it working, place the fan over the bowl and turn it on.

Close up of running steel fan

Air Filtration System Options

When taking on an air purifier DIY project, understanding the different filtration system options can help determine which filter is best suited for your unit.


Minimal Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) is a value that measures a filter’s ability to capture larger particles between 0.3 and 10 microns (µm). This rating makes it simpler to compare the performance of different filters. 

A filter with a high MERV rating means that the filter is more effective at trapping specific types of particles. 


A HEPA filter is a high-efficiency particulate air that works hard to remove at least 99.97 percent of dust, pollen, mold, and other harmful airborne particles. Using the best HEPA air filters will ensure that your air purifier does an excellent job cleaning the air in your home or office.


UV air purifiers use short-wave ultraviolet light (UV-C light) to inactivate airborne pathogens and microorganisms like mold, bacteria and viruses to reduce indoor pollutants.

Although this technology is very effective, it might be challenging to use it for your air purifier DIY project. However, you could look into the process and attempt to use the technology if you consider yourself handy. 

Benefits of Making Your Own Air Purifier

Boosts Indoor Air Quality

An air purifier allows you to improve your home’s indoor air quality by removing pollutants from the air. When you make your air purifier, you can choose the type of filter and fan you want to use. 

One common concern that arises among many individuals looking to create their own air purifier is how much does it cost to make an air purifier? Fortunately, the cost depends on the materials you use. If you want to stick to a feasible budget, choose cheaper filters or old fans to make the most of the project without breaking the bank.

Along with creating the perfect product, it is also essential to be cautious of where to put your air purifier for the best results. The placement of your unit plays a critical role in its effectiveness and ability to improve indoor air quality.

Woman meditating and inhaling fresh air

Stops Furnace Filters from Getting Clogged

When airborne particles enter your home and don’t make their way out, your furnace filter sucks in the pollutants, increasing the risk of clogged filters. Creating an air purifier reduces the risk as it allows the unit to clear the air before it makes its way to the furnace filter.

It is generally less expensive to take on a DIY air purifier project than to replace your furnace filters. Dirty furnace filters pose health risks to all household members and create an unhealthy living environment.

Reduces Indoor Air Pollution

A DIY air purifier smoke remover tackles pollutants in the air to reduce pollution levels and circulate clean air in your home. The filtering process in an air purifier reduces indoor air pollution, such as dust, pollen, smoke, and other airborne particles. It also reduces wildfire smoke that may enter the home if an unfortunate event occurs.

A common question after creating your unit is, how long does it take an air purifier to work? The exact time depends on the power of your air purifier and your room size. It generally takes approximately 30 minutes for a unit to clean the air, but it could take longer for a bigger room. It may be best to keep your air purifier on to maintain healthy air at all times. It is safe to run your unit 24/7, but use it for at least 12 hours every day if you’re not comfortable with that.

Cost of Materials is Lower than An Air Purifier

The first thing that may come to your mind when deciding whether or not to take on this DIY project is how much does it cost to make an air purifier? The answer depends on whether you’re trying to figure out how to make an ionic air purifier, HEPA purifier, or another type.

An ionic air purifier emits electrically charged molecules called ions into the air and does not use filters like most air purifiers. They are generally cost-efficient and quiet but might be more challenging to create as it requires more advanced materials.

You can repurpose certain household products to create your own air purifier, which is generally cheaper than purchasing a unit from the store. You may have to buy the materials for some DIY methods, but they are generally more affordable than a brand-new unit.

Woman at store reaching out for product in hardware aisle

FAQ About DIY Air Purifiers

Do Homemade Air Purifiers Work?

You may be skeptical about using a natural air purifier DIY method to improve indoor air quality. To understand the efficiency of a unit you created, use one of the best air quality monitors available on the market to determine the cleanliness of the air. 

Homemade air purifiers can help remove indoor air pollution and allow you to breathe in the fresh air. If you follow the proper steps when creating an air purifier, your unit will likely be efficient and save you the cost of purchasing a store-bought unit device.

Can DIY Air Purifiers Help with Allergies?

A homemade air purifier can filter out allergens in your home to help household members with allergies. A house with too many indoor pollutants and airborne particles can trigger allergies and other health issues among household members. An air purifier can clean the air to improve the health of all residents of the home.

What is a DIY Air Cleaner and Dust Filter?

An air purifier is essentially a combination of an air cleaner and dust filter. The two functions together enhance the quality of the unit and tackle indoor pollution, reducing the risk of health and other problems. 

Whether you’re making an air purifier for your home or workplace, the device can effectively clean the air if you use an efficient filter. 

Do DIY Air Purifiers Work on Smoke?

A DIY air purifier smoke cleaning features abilities depends on how well you create the unit. If you use good quality filters and a working fan, the air purifier will work on smoke and reduce the risks of inhaling unclean air.
Your DIY air purifier can remove smoke particles from wildfires and everyday pollutants as long as you keep it on for a sufficient amount of time. Unfortunately, smoking is one of the leading causes of indoor air pollution. Scientific evidence indicates that smoking combined with radon is a severe health risk. Although it is best to quit the habit of smoking indoors, if you’re unable to, make sure to use an air purifier all the time to reduce its impact on yourself and other household members.

Is it Possible to Make a DIY Air Purifier with a Tower Fan?

A DIY air purifier box fan is the most common method of creating the unit at home. It may be challenging to make an air purifier with a tower fan as the dimensions of the fan might not be appropriate when placing filters around the device. 

Avoid using a tower fan when creating an air purifier at home for best results. The best option is to use a box fan to ensure that the device works effectively.

Can DIY Purifiers Help with COVID?

Although there are several factors to consider, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shares that DIY air cleaners provide some benefits for reducing concentrations of viruses and other indoor air pollutants.

A DIY air purifier can lower the chances of COVID germs spreading fast in your home. However, an air purifier alone cannot fight the virus. Make sure to follow all other safety procedures, such as wearing a mask outdoors, social distancing, and frequently sanitizing your hands to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. 


There are different levels of complexity when creating an air purifier. A HEPA filter or water air purifier is simpler to make, whereas the plastic bucket and wooden units might be more challenging. The method you choose should depend on your level of comfort and familiarity with DIY projects. 

Do your research and make safety a priority when building any units. Your air purifier won’t disappoint you if you follow the proper steps and use high-quality materials.

Joseph and Family
About Joseph D. Nielson

Former journalist and editor for various press groups, I now dedicate my time to reviewing products for the home and family life. When I get time to myself, I enjoy rock climbing, taking my dirt bike for a rip, and most importantly providing my family with the best home possible!