Now that we spend most of our day indoors, we’ve become interested in having air purifying devices at home. But do air purifiers work? And can they improve indoor air quality?

The short answer to these questions would be yes, to some extent. But there are factors to understand and consider.

You see, our homes have varying levels of pollution exposure, depending on our location. People in our household also have different health risks.

Moreover, air purifiers in the market differ in size, design and features to match our specific needs. Read on this guide to learn more. It might help you decide if air cleaners can benefit your family.

How Do Air Purifiers Work?

Essential oil diffusers and humidifiers add particles to the air. On the other hand, air purifying devices aim to remove or reduce airborne particles.

How they work depends on the air purifier model. And there are two types.

Filtering Air Purifier

This type has a built-in fan that draws air inside, directing it towards its filtration system. The level of filtration depends on your air purifier model.

Some devices, for example, have high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. These can catch airborne pollutants as tiny as 0.3 microns. Others come with pre-filters, which can capture larger particles like pet hair.

Some models have activated carbon filters, too. These can catch harmful pollutants like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), gases, fumes and odours.

Ionising Air Purifier

Unlike the filter-type, this one emits electrically charged ions into the air. These ions will then cling to the harmful particulate matter and weigh it down to a nearby surface.

Some ionisers come with a collecting plate that attracts these charged particles. Models without this feature would let particles settle on furniture or floor, making clean-up more time-consuming.

Ionisers also generate a harmful by-product called ozone. This lung irritant can trigger asthma attacks and other health concerns like headaches, coughs and nausea.

Simply Mumma_How Do Air Purifiers Work

What Particles can Air Purifiers Filter Out?

Do air purifiers work on dust, smoke and similar indoor pollutants? Yes, for as long as they stay airborne.

You see, air cleaners cannot capture particulates on the ground or your furniture. You will have to clean these by wiping, disinfecting and vacuuming.

Also, as I’ve described earlier, the ability of air purifiers relies on their filter type and mechanism. But to help you decide whether an air purifier suits your home, here are some particles that it can generally catch.


These include pet dander, pollen and dust mites. Airborne allergens can induce adverse immune responses through asthma attacks or allergic reactions.

Devices with pre-filters and HEPA filters are best for homes exposed to these pollutant particles.

Indoor VOCs

Some household or personal care products release harmful gases that linger in the air. You can verify these by reading the labels of cleaning products. Look for those with no to low VOCs.

Items worth checking are bleach, aerosol cleaners, fragrance sprays, carpet fresheners, furniture polish and detergents. If you’re using these products, having an air purifier with a carbon filter can reduce indoor toxins.

Mould spores

Mould growth is typical in wet areas around your home, like the kitchen, bathroom and garbage bin. Inhaling the spores can be dangerous for people with respiratory conditions like asthma.

In this case, an air purifier with a HEPA filter is ideal. If you’re in a humid region, it’s also best to apply ways to reduce humidity levels indoors.


Bushfires and tobacco smoke are usual sources of this air pollutant. Aside from soot, the smoke gives off an odour that makes breathing difficult.

You can control this by having an air purifier with HEPA and activated carbon filters. The device can reduce the smell as well as catch smoke particles.

Simply Mumma_Do Air Purifiers Work at Home

Are Air Purifiers Effective?

So, do air purifiers work? Yes! And now, we also know that not all air purifiers are the same.

Some devices work well on allergens because of their built-in air filter. Others are more efficient in eliminating gases and smells.

But aside from the types of air purifier, other things affect the efficacy of your device:

  • Maintenance. Some units have a washable filter or require replacement filters every three months or more. That’s because filters can become saturated over time. Without regular maintenance, your air purifier may not work as it should be.
  • Location. Read your manual to ensure that you’re installing your air purifier at the right spot. This factor likely depends on the size of your appliance and space.

Also, remember that manufacturers test air purifiers in controlled environments. And so, their effectiveness can vary once used in an actual indoor setting.

Are Air Purifiers Worth It?

Studies show that air purifiers help in reducing airborne pollution in indoor spaces. Still, users of these devices need to pair them with proper usage, maintenance and manual cleaning to ensure benefits.

Air purifiers are not a cure-all for sure. However, some individuals will find these devices worth having. Asking yourself these questions can help with your buying decision:

  • Do you have people with asthma or allergies at home? Air purifiers can remove allergens to lessen triggers or attacks.
  • Do you have babies or children in the house? Air purifiers with physical filters can protect your kids’ health and lessen their risk of developing a respiratory disease.
  • Do you live in the city or along a busy road? Air purifiers can reduce air particles that come from car or factory emissions.
  • Do you have pets at home? Air purifiers with HEPA filters can capture fur or dander that often trigger allergies or asthma symptoms. Look for one with a carbon filter, too, to solve your pet odour problem.

Check out my air purifier buying guide to pick up more points about this appliance!