Air Purifiers: Top 5 Myths vs. Realities

We know what air purifiers do, but what about what they don't do? See the top 5 air purifier myths so you can get your facts straight.

Most people have a basic idea of what an air purifier does. It is meant to cleanse the air of the bad stuff. Seems pretty self-explanatory, right? Yes and no. While they do clean the air, there are still plenty of air purifier myths floating around that need to be debunked.

Before you leap choosing the best air purifier for your home, know the common expectations vs. realities.

Do Air Purifiers Actually Work?

Yes, they do.

Air purifiers are useful and powerful devices that can significantly improve the air quality in your home. However, there can be conflicting information on whether or not they are effective. On top of that, there are hundreds of brands and types of purifiers with so many different features. So, how do you know if they work?

Believe it or not, air purifiers have been around for over a century. They were first introduced during the Industrial Revolution and were later developed for home use. Since then, air purification technology and product design have rapidly evolved. Now, you’re looking at hundreds of manufacturers offering a miracle device that can work wonders.

Instead of getting bogged down with all of the advertisements, a quick list of what to look for is one with:

  • Activated carbon filter
  • Good, efficient design
  • True HEPA filter

Air purifiers work by using HEPA and other filters to suck in the air and flesh out the impurities. If you have issues with allergies, odor, or poor air quality, you will notice a difference. If you want proof that it is working, try pulling out the filter to see the residue.

Here are some of the biggest air purifier myths out there.

5.) My House Is Clean. I Don’t Need an Air Purifier

mom and daughter cleaning home

Yuganov Konstantin/Shutterstock

You could have the cleanest house on the block with impeccable shine, but that doesn’t mean the air in your home is clean. Being a clean freak doesn’t ensure that your air is free of allergens and mold spores. You won’t be able to fight the microscopic particles in the air.

The truth is that indoor air can be as, if not more polluted, than outdoor air. Unfortunately, cleaning your home regularly doesn’t guarantee clean air.

Good air purifiers cleanse the air of particles that aren’t visible. The types of harmful particles like mold spores and allergens are so tiny that they are easily inhaled. Breathing them in can cause recurring allergy symptoms and even longterm respiratory issues. So, your daily dusting won’t do much to combat the microscopic impurities that are naturally found inside homes.

On the other hand, having an air purifier doesn’t excuse you from cleaning altogether. Some people believe that running an air purifier in their home is enough to keep it clean.

Air purifiers are not vacuum cleaners or mops. An air purifier’s function is to clean the air. Your furniture, floors, and surfaces will still accumulate dust and dirt if you don’t clean them regularly.

It is also important to note that if you don’t clean regularly, it will be twice as hard to have clean air. Dust, hair, and dirt will create a home with more allergens. If you run your air purifier day and night without doing your part, you’d essentially be defeating the purpose.

The best way to think of this device is that it works in conjunction with your home maintenance.

Read more about how air purifiers can make your home cleaner.

4.) All Air Purifiers Are the Same

best air purifiers for mold

Just like all technological devices, not all designs are created equally. The world of air purifiers is no different. You’ve got the good, just okay, and you’ve got the bad.

As we mentioned above, there are some keys features to look out for to make sure your device will clean the air. Here are some things to look at in the model you’re interested in:

  • Coverage Space: The amount of space it can cover is extremely important. If you want a purifier for a bedroom or a bathroom, a smaller air purifier will do. Larger spaces like kitchens and living rooms will need a purifier with more power. Your air purifier will be useless if you run it in an area that is too big for it to reach.
  • HEPA filter: This feature is tricky because almost all purifiers will list “HEPA filter” on their product page. The problem with this is that these filters have different qualities. Some devices have a HEPA sheet on the filter, which can cause a lot of leaking. That means that the advertised 99.97% of the allergens it’s removing is much lower. A good rule of thumb is to look for a purifier with a True HEPA filter.
  • Noise Level: Pay attention to what the manufacturer says about the sound. While most advertising will claim things like “quiet,” the user reviews always tell the true story. No device is completely quiet, especially when you’re dealing with filtration systems. There are, however, devices that are quieter than others. Also, don’t make the mistake of running your purifier on the lowest setting to avoid the sound. The fan speed correlates to how hard the device is working, and you don’t want to leave behind too much gunk in the air.

There are also lots of extra features available, like Smart sensors, timers, and air quality indicators that set air purifiers apart.

Make sure that you don’t confuse air purifiers vs. dehumidifiers. They are similar but have different functions to keep your home healthy.

3.) Air Conditioners Do the Same Thing

air purifier vs dehumidifier clean home


Air conditioners and air purifiers serve different purposes. AC’s are great for creating an ambient, cool atmosphere in your home. They work by circulating the air in your home over cooled metal coils, then blowing out the cool, conditioned air. Conditioned does not mean clean. Air conditioners do little to get rid of the bad air in your home.

Some experts claim that rooms and homes with air conditioners need air purifiers even more than others. Circulating bad air will not do your allergies or asthma any good. If you live in a home with pet dander, smoke, or a mold problem, this could even make it worse. You need an air purifier to effectively clean the air so that your AC doesn’t recycle the bad stuff.

2.) Air Purifiers Work Best in Small, Enclosed Rooms

air purifier in room

Chayatorn Laorattanavech/ Shutterstock

While this may have been true when personal air purifiers first came out, thanks to technology, it no longer is. There are two reasons why this isn’t true:

  1. Air purifiers work well/better in rooms with air flow.
  2. You can find air purifiers with various coverage ranges.

You should always properly ventilate your home. This means that when the weather permits, have your windows open to let outside air inside. Like we mentioned, inside air is more polluted than outside, so that breeze will help push out some of the bad odors and allergens you’re trying to get rid of.

Technology has produced models with more than enough coverage space to choose from. From the industrial to the tiny ones. You can get a purifier for any space.

1.) All Air Purifiers Are Safe to Use

kid and air purifier

Hung Chung Chih/ Shutterstock

This is a common and crucial myth to debunk surrounding air purifiers. While air purifiers work well to sanitize and get rid of the bad particles in the air, some of them are created with technology that could be harmful. Particularly those with ionizing filters or UV lights because of their production of ozone.

Air Ionizers

Many manufacturers will tout their fancy air purification systems with things like “Ionizing filter.” Air ionizers are said to be great for eliminating the negative ions in the atmosphere. While this sounds great, it does not effectively get rid of pollutants in the air. Instead, air ions cause negative ions to stick to surfaces instead of floating in the air. This means you can still breathe in harmful bacteria.

Air ionizers can also create a substance called ozone. Ozone, or O3, is known to be extremely harmful when it is confined to one space. Even the smallest amount of ozone can be harmful to humans, but especially children and animals.

UV Light Purification

This is another common feature that air purifier manufacturers will tout. UV light technology is responsible for removing the bacteria and viruses from the air. This can help to stop the spread of germs, which means less doctor’s visits, right?

The truth about UV lights is that it may help to kill airborne bacteria, but it can also generate high levels of ozone. Exposure to ozone over time can lead to extreme lung problems, growth defects in children, and other severe health problems. UV lights also may not remove all of the bacteria and viruses from your home.

It’s safe to say that you should be cautious when it comes to buying an air purifier with these two features. Do your research to make sure they don’t produce ozone. Even some of the fanciest brands have UV lights or air ionizers, so choose wisely. On the other hand, some manufacturers have developed other pollutant-killing technology like the Winnix’s PlasmWave, which doesn’t emit ozone.

Read Reviews of the Best Air Purifiers

Now that you know the myths about air purifiers, click next to read about how air purifiers and dehumidifiers are different.

air purifiers - top 5 myths vs. realities