How Do Air Purifiers Work? A Complete Guide

Updated on September 21, 2022 by Joseph D. Nielson

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The quality of air in your home is more important than we may often realize. The reality is that if your home’s air quality is at risk, there are numerous health risks that could potentially follow. As technology evolves, compact air purifiers have become essential for many households across the country. Air purifiers are designed to provide a safe and convenient way for households to clean stale air and remove harmful pollutants.

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the purpose of an air purifier and understand how well do air purifiers work so that you can make an informed decision and the right purchase for your home.

What Do Air Purifiers Do?

The first question to ask ourselves is what is an air purifier and what is its purpose? An air purifier is an electronic device that filters and cleanses the air inside any indoor space. Its purpose is to improve the air quality inside a home or office which, ultimately, can help improve the health and well-being of those indoors.

How Well Do Air Purifiers Work?

When it comes to improving the air quality of a room in your home, it’s important to consider how well do air purifiers work and are they worth the investment?

The answer often lies in the equipment itself and since there are a variety of models on the market, each offering a range of unique features and amenities. Understanding the types of air purifiers and the important factors to consider, including how long does it take an air purifier to work, before purchasing can help you make a well-rounded decision that makes sense for your home and budget.

Type of Air Purifiers

Ionic Air Purifier

If you’ve never heard of an ionic air purifier, you’re likely wondering how do ionic air purifiers work and are they right for my home?

An ionic air purifier — also known as an ionizer — uses a higher voltage to produce an electric charge to the molecules in the air or the particles moving through the device. The charged particles then attach themselves to pet dander, dust particles, mold spores or other pollutants in the air.

Ionic air purifiers are often used for smaller rooms since most models are compact in size and can be easily transported from one area to another.

HEPA Air Purifier

Hepa filters — High-Efficiency Particulate Air — are designed to remove up to 99.95 percent of bacteria, dust mites, mold spores, and additional airborne pollutants.

But exactly how do HEPA air purifiers work? A HEPA air purifier uses these innovative filters to trap and conceal the most bacteria and airborne pollutants from any indoor space, allowing for the space to welcome clean air back into the room. Since they don’t generate unwanted air pollutants, they can help ensure your family’s health isn’t at risk even if you have pets in the home.

What to Consider When Buying an Air Purifier

Air Quality

The current quality of air in your home is one of the key factors to consider when choosing an air purifier. If you’re struggling with pet dander, human hair, and dust mites in a single or multiple rooms in your household, you’ll likely want to invest in a top-line product that can effectively remove these elements from the air and protect those indoors.

Square Footage

The size of the room is an important consideration when deciding where to put your air purifier. Certain models are designed for small, compact spaces and are less effective in larger rooms while others air purifiers are known for their ability to produce clean air in areas with greater square footage. Knowing which room in your home needs an air purifier the most will help you search for devices that are specifically marketed to your needs.


You may be asking yourself, are air purifiers a waste of money? The reality is that there are various models on the market ranging from cost-effective to more luxurious options. In most cases, the best air purifiers range in price from 200 to 300 dollars, though there are budget-friendly options available.

Another important cost factor to consider is your utility costs. To keep your monthly expenses at a minimum, look for energy-efficient air purifiers that won’t run up your bill without sacrificing the benefits of a quality device.

Customer Reviews

Whenever you’re buying something for the home, customer reviews are one of the simplest tools at your disposal and can help you narrow down your choices and avoid overwhelm. Reviews help answer specific questions you may have, including how long do air purifiers take to work or should I choose an ionic or HEPA air purifier? When choosing one of these devices for your home, read through as many reviews as possible and weigh the pros and cons before making your decision.

Why You May Need an Air Purifier

Air purifiers offer an innovative way for homeowners to rid specific rooms in their homes of harmful airborne pollutants and bacteria. If you’re looking to prioritize your health and your family’s health indoors, there are several reasons why an air purifier may be the right purchase for your home.

Air Pollution

We often think of pollution as strictly outdoors, especially in metropolitan cities, but we often forget that our indoor air can also be susceptible to harmful pollutants. Air purifiers directly filter these pollutants and trap them inside the device, producing clean air back into the room so you can feel good about the quality of air in your home.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are often so small that we don’t see just how many are inside our homes. An air purifier is a simplified way to eliminate these allergy-inducing pollutants and protect you and your family from developing asthma and other allergies.

Mold Spores

Mold can be a stubborn problem in any home, particularly in your bathrooms, basements, and kitchens. Adding an air purifier to any of these rooms can significantly help you reduce stubborn mold spores and improve air quality in your household.

Pet Dander

Pets are a wonderful addition to any family dynamic but their fur can trigger allergies if left unattended. While vacuuming can do the trick for hair that’s stuck on carpets or hardwood floors, there are plenty of hairs floating in the air as your pet moves and plays indoors. Air purifiers are designed to eliminate allergens from the air and are a compact and convenient way to protect everyone indoors from allergy flare-ups.

dog lies legs owner man pink shirt his beloved woman admire their white pet

Frequently Asked Questions About Air Purifiers

How well do air purifiers work?

Authentic HEPA air filters are known to eliminate approximately 99.97 percent of harmful pollutants and airborne particles indoors. Using a compact fan, the air is directed into the device where the filters trap and lock dust, allergens, and pollutants and clean air is produced back into the room.

How does an air purifier necklace work?

As consumers look for more convenient, and individualized ways to protect their health, air purifier necklaces have become a popular request. These compact devices hang around the buyer’s neck and often use ionizers and ionization technology to eliminate harmful pollutants in the air you’re breathing.

Air purifier vs. air cleaner

Understanding how to compare the differences between an air cleaner vs air purifier can help you make the right decision for your home.

An air purifier is an electronic device that removes and traps harmful allergens and pollutants indoors using a filtration system. There are a variety of sizes available ranging from small devices for compact rooms to larger units. The standard types of air purifiers include ionizing purifiers, UV light purifiers, and adsorbent purifiers.

An air cleaner is a mechanical or electrical device that cleans the air in a room through the removal of dust, pollen, and additional allergens. Some devices are small and can sit on the floor of a room, while others can be mounted on a wall or window. A mechanical air cleaner uses a fan to push the air through the device while an electronic cleaner uses UV light to kill bacteria.

Air purifier vs. humidifier

Air purifiers collect and trap dust and allergens through a filtration system, which then circulates and produces clean air back into the room. They are designed to improve indoor air quality and protect those indoors from harmful airborne pollutants.

Humidifiers, on the other hand, control the humidity levels of a room and are not responsible for improving air quality or collecting indoor pollutants or allergens.

In some cases, there are dual air purifier and humidifier combo reviews that combine the benefits of both devices for one compact indoor solution.

Do air purifiers help with dust?

Much like you would ask our professional home guide, can vacuum cleaners clean dusty air? You’ve likely had a similar thought about the air purifier you’ve considered purchasing for your home.

HEPA air purifiers can eliminate up to 99.97 percent of dust particles and other harmful pollutants in the home, giving you peace of mind and protecting everyone indoors from allergy flare-ups.

Do air purifiers help with smell?

Air purifiers are designed to remove dust and allergens which can sometimes remove attached odors, although they are not specifically designed for odor control. A true HEPA air purifier can remove up to 99.97 percent of toxins from the air, which produces cleaner air in its designated room. With this device, there is a greater chance any lingering odors will be eliminated alongside the toxins.

Do air purifiers work for allergies?

Absolutely! Air purifiers are designed to trap and lock away allergens from any room in your home. As allergens are collected and stored inside the device’s filter, clean air is produced and emitted back into the room, allowing everyone to breathe fresher air and protect themselves from harmful pollutants.

Do air purifiers work for COVID-19?

While they are designed to eliminate harmful airborne pollutants and allergens, air purifiers alone may not be enough to protect you from the COVID-19 virus although they can drastically help improve air quality and circulation, which have been known to reduce the chances of the virus from lingering in the air. By adding an air filter and adhering to CDC guidelines, air purifiers are a worthwhile investment in protecting your respiratory health.


When it comes to protecting your household from harmful allergens and germs, trust our best air quality monitor reviews and reviews of the best air purifiers for large rooms to help you make informed decisions that prioritize your health.

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!