As we’re moving towards a world where many of us are vaccinated against COVID-19, we’re all excitedly looking forward to getting out of our houses and doing things again. What things? Literally any of them as long as they aren’t inside of our homes.
Despite that, the coronavirus-related dangers are not yet past, AND it’s allergy season. So today, we’re going to talk about portable air purifiers, because who doesn’t want to breathe the cleanest possible air?
What Is an Air Purifier?
Air purifiers are portable devices that can range from tabletop-sized to “takes up a dedicated corner of the room”-sized. Their job is to filter out particles in the air that can aggravate our lungs and potentially make conditions like allergies and asthma worse. They’re basically like air sanitizers because they are supposed to remove bad things from indoor air.
Air purifiers filter out particles in the air that can aggravate our lungs and potentially make conditions like allergies and asthma worse.
Okay, Sounds Like I Need One! But Do They Work?
Cleaner air always sounds better, so the idea of an air purifier is enticing. If you’re a skeptic like me, you’re probably wondering if they actually work, or if they’re just another gadget being marketed to gullible people.
The short answer is yes, they work. The more nuanced answer is that they work, but they’re not a cure-all or a magical fix. While the best air purifiers can filter out a majority of particles like dust, dander, pollen, and other airborne allergens, they can’t do things like eliminate particles that have settled onto carpeting, walls, or furniture.
They also can’t completely neutralize mold, smoke, or gases. This means that it’s best to use them in conjunction with other methods of keeping your air clean and your space healthy. It’s also important to choose the right model for your needs.
Sidebar: Air Purifiers and COVID-19
I noticed that there was a huge uptick in people buying air purifiers when the pandemic first really kicked off about a year ago and everyone was panic-buying whatever they could.
According to the EPA, air purifiers by themselves aren’t enough to protect you or anyone in your home from contracting coronavirus. However, if guests and people in the house follow CDC guidelines, using an air purifier can help reduce the risk of contamination even further.
If you have indoor visits with people who haven’t been vaccinated, are high-risk, or have been vaccinated but haven’t yet had enough time to build up antibodies, it’s still best to keep the visits short and ventilate the rooms as best as you can.
What You Should Look For in an Air Purifier
So, now that you know what air purifiers can do and how they can help you, let’s talk about how to choose one. I don’t recommend just searching Amazon or Google for “home air purifier” because you’ll get about a million results that all claim to be the best.
Instead, start by making a list of the features that you want, and then use that to narrow your search.
Size is really important! All good air purifiers will list the maximum area that they can operate in (generally, smaller ones work best in small spaces and larger ones in large spaces).
Experts say that it’s best to get a model that can service a slightly larger area than the one you’ll be using it in because you can run it on a lower setting. This means less energy consumption and quieter operation since it won’t be running at full capacity.
2. HEPA Filtration
HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are the gold standard of air filters. They’re the best at trapping both big and small airborne particles, so you should look for an air purifier that uses HEPA filtration.
Sidenote: Some models will say things like, “HEPA-type” or “HEPA-like” filter, but that … isn’t a real thing. It’s a marketing trap. It should just say “HEPA filter” or “true HEPA filter.”
3. CADR Rating
CADR means “clean air delivery rate,” and it’s a measurement of how quickly the air purifier can remove particles from the air. In general, a minimum of 300 is best, and anything above 350 is fantastic.
Help Your Air Purifier Do Its Job
If you can, open the windows in your home to allow outdoor air to cycle through. (Maybe don’t do that if the pollen count is as high at your house as it currently is at mine, though.)
It’s also helpful to minimize the amount of carpeting in your house, and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter built in at least once a week to help eliminate the allergens and particles that have settled onto floors and furniture. Don’t forget to switch out the air filters in your HVAC system at least every few months, too!
Some people might also find that switching to less harsh cleaning products can help improve their indoor air quality.
Do you use an air purifier? Tell me why you love it in the comments!