In this article, we’re going to answer two of the most common questions people have about air purifiers:

  • “What Does a Air Purifier Do?”
  • “How Do Air Purifiers Work?”

We’ll explain everything you need to know about what is an air purifier machine and what types of contaminants they can get rid of inside your home.

If you want to see what the best air purifiers are, then you can check out our top 10 air purifiers for the best-rated choices.

We also have a best air purifier with washable filter page that shows you the top models that are the cheapest to use over the long-term.

What is an Air Purifier?

Photo of an Air Purifier

At its core, an air purifier is not that complicated to understand.

In simple terms, these devices remove pollutants and allergens from the air so you don’t breathe them into your lungs.

The benefits of having an air purifier are two-fold:

  • it helps you breathe better
  • it keeps you healthier by getting rid of harmful airborne toxins

The truth is that there are millions of microscopic particles floating in the air around you.

Some of these particles include outdoor air pollution while others are produced by indoor products.

With every inhale of your breath, you pull some of those harmful particles into your lungs.

If you have asthma or allergies, then you undoubtedly notice the negative side effects of breathing in bad particles faster than someone who doesn’t have these conditions.

Shortness of breath, a stuffy nose, and wheezing are sure signs that contaminants have been inhaled.

For the rest of us, we don’t necessarily notice the impacts of air pollutants until we’ve had long-term exposure to them.

Cancer, heart disease, and brain damage are some of the worse case scenarios while headaches, poor sleep, and congestion are common daily conditions.

>> See all of Amazon's Best Selling Air Purifiers <<

Doesn’t Routine Cleaning Purify the Air?

Unfortunately, no amount of dusting, vacuuming, or cleaning can ultimately fix the problem of airborne pollutants.

In fact, those actions can actually make the problem worse by stirring up the harmful particles and pushing them back into the air.

Plus, many cleaning agents contain volatile organic compounds that lower the quality of air even more.

You Can’t Beat the Power of an Air Purifier

By adding an air purifier to your home, you can ensure that pollutants that cause breathing issues and health problems are eliminated from the airspace around you.

What you’ll notice after using an air cleaner inside your house is that you’ll have an improved immune system, deeper sleep, and an overall better feeling of health. 

If you suffer from asthma or allergies, you should also notice significantly lesser respiratory and nasal issues, making your quality of life much better.

And these days, there are now automatic air purifier units that detect the air quality inside a room and automatically adjust themselves to remove pollutants at the fastest rate. Many of these air purifiers are also Wi-Fi enabled and can be controlled by your smartphone.

So, How Do Air Purifiers Work?

Photo of an Ionic Air Purifier

Now that you know what does a air purifier do, the next question you probably have is, “How does an air purifier work?”

This question is a little bit more complicated to answer because some air purifiers use more than one type of technology to clean the air.

The four major types of air filtration you’ll find on air purifiers include:

  • HEPA filter
  • Activated Carbon filter
  • Ionic generator
  • Ultra Violet lighting

If an air purifier is built with a HEPA filter, it operates by pulling air into a dense, paper filter and trapping the particles within it so they can’t float back into the air.

HEPA filters are used in the best air purifier for asthma because they can capture up to 99.97% of particles that irritate these issues from the air.

An Activated Carbon filter works by collecting pollutants that create smells and odors inside your home.

A HEPA filter cannot do this.

If you want a fresh-smelling home, getting an air purifier that includes an Activated Carbon filter is the best choice.

An ionic generator is another type of technology that air purifiers may or may not use.

This feature works by sending out ions into the air that latch onto harmful particles.

This causes the pollutants to become very heavy and can’t remain in the air.

These particles then fall to the ground or become trapped in a collection plate that is on the device.

A room ionizer air purifier is the most affordable type of air purifying device you can buy.

Ultra Violet lighting is the final type of air filtration you’ll find on an air purifier.

This non-lethal radiation is emitted from the device and attacks bacteria and viruses that pass through the system.

It works by breaking apart the molecular structure of these contaminants, which then renders them harmless to your health.

This sums up the various methods of how do air purifiers work.

As we mentioned above, some products include one or more of these features to strip harmful particles from the air.

Depending on how you want the product to operate will determine which options you should look for in a device.

Choosing an Air Purifier

Now that you know what is an air purifier machine and how air purifiers work, the next step is finding the right one for your home.

We have a large number of free buyer guides and resources to help you choose the best air purifier for your needs.

As mentioned previously, you can check out our top 10 air purifiers for the best-rated choices.

We also have a best air purifier with washable filter page that shows you the top models that are very inexpensive to own.

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About David Morrison

David is an Air Quality & Comfort Technician. He has expert knowledge on the technology and design of air purification, air conditioning, and heating systems. His main role is to write content that helps people get the most value out of their air purifiers, air conditioners, and heating units. (See Full Bio)