If you suffer from allergies, it can be hard to keep your home clean enough to manage your symptoms well. Even if you’ve got the best vacuum cleaner around and actually use it every day (and let’s face it, most of us are proud of ourselves when we vacuum once a week), allergens will still be floating in the air. After all, vacuum cleaners are designed to clean floors and other surfaces that collect the dust, pet hair, and other allergens that settle on those surfaces. An air purifier, as the name implies, is designed to remove allergens and other impurities from the air. Good air purifiers will also be great at removing odors such as those from pets and cigarettes. Many people (based partly on inflated claims by some manufacturers) expect air purifiers to be able to clean the entire house, but expecting an air purifier to keep all surfaces clean is as unrealistic as expecting a vacuum cleaner to clean the air. A quality air purifier will help keep some of the dust from finding its way to surfaces, but they’ll never be able to keep Fido’s fur from collecting in his favorite sleeping spot. Finding the best air purifier for your space and your needs can be a little easier if you understand their basic functionality and what to look for when shopping.
Air purifiers pull in air from your home through an intake port or vent. Next, the air is pulled through the machine and a filtration system. One or more filters trap dust, pet hair, and other “stuff,” sending the clean air out through an exhaust port. The best models are also designed to remove VOCs, volatile organic compounds, which include odors and other trace chemicals.
When it comes to choosing an air purifier, the most powerful motors will pull in the most air. Models with the strongest motors will usually be more expensive and at least a little louder than less powerful models. Don’t be in a hurry to find the most powerful motor and call it a day, though. An air purifiers filtration system is at least as important as its motor.
The simplest filters will remove larger particles from the air, but won’t get all of the finest dust or the VOCs that cause odors. A HEPA filter, which is present in most air purifier models, traps nearly all of the allergens in the air that passes through the filter. If you suffer from allergies, a HEPA filter is a must. For even deeper cleaning of the air, look for a model that offers multiple filtration levels, including one that’s rated to remove VOCs. In addition to odors, including those caused by smoking, VOCs include molecular chemical particles that can affect air quality. VOCs can contribute to allergy and asthma symptoms. Often these filters are carbon activated and labeled as a pre-filter or second (or third) filter. For maximum air cleaning, you need to find a unit that has a HEPA filter and removes VOCs. No matter how many filters a model claims to have, if it doesn’t offer HEPA and VOC filtration, it isn’t worth your money.
How much air a machine can effectively clean will be measured in square feet. Your best bet is to know how big the individual rooms in your home are. Air purifiers tucked into corners of bedrooms might be capable of cleaning a larger room’s air, but not necessarily great at pulling air in from around the corner and down the hall. This could actually save you a little by allowing you to buy less powerful units for smaller rooms.
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