Can Air Purifiers Eliminate Coronavirus in the Air?
Spoiler Alert: The Answer is YES
By Becky Dotson
12 min read
Is it a Good Idea to Buy an Air Purifier?
It’s essential to do whatever we can to reduce the risk and spread of COVID-19. Especially during the cold months when most of us stay inside more. We know wearing masks, keeping a physical distance and washing hands are the best defenses in the fight against the virus. It’s too cold in most of the U.S. during the winter months to keep the windows open and let fresh air flow into our homes, so using an air purifier may add another layer of protection for you and your family. It’s a relatively easy way to clean air into space where you are close to others.
What Does an Air Purifier Do?
Air purifiers are designed to filter airborne allergens and particles out of the air. They come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges and cover small, medium, and large spaces. Most air purifiers use HEPA filters, which are incredibly effective at capturing 99.97% of particles in the air. Air purifiers can rid the air in your home of everything from mold spores to pet dander to unpleasant odors.
When is an Air Purifier Effective in Eliminating the Coronavirus?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says small, virus-loaded respiratory droplets that come from coughing, sneezing, laughing, or talking can spread through the air and be breathed in, especially if you are in close contact with an infected person. So, can an air purifier could help cut down the spread? There isn’t a definite yes or no answer to that question – it’s more like it depends. But there are a few instances where an air purifier may be beneficial in fighting the virus:
The benefits of adding an air purifier in your home are likely worth the investment if you have a family member living in your home, frequent visits from someone who works in an environment with a significant risk of exposure, or your grandchildren visit and attend school in person. You’ll want to put the air purifier in the shared living space you will use for your visits. If family members stay with you for some time, you may want to consider putting air purifiers in all the bedrooms or sleeping areas if you can afford it.
The benefits of adding an air purifier in your home are likely worth the investment…
If someone in your home is sick with COVID-19, an air purifier may help protect you or other family members from contracting the virus. Running an air purifier in the room where you or your sick loved one is quarantined can reduce the air’s virus load. It’s best to run the air purifier on the highest speed you can handle, 24 hours a day, and within three feet of the infected person for the quietest and best result. The air purifier shouldn’t be behind curtains, furniture, or any other kind of obstruction for maximum benefits, and the door to the quarantined room should stay closed.
If you or someone who lives in your home is a healthcare worker, an air purifier may reduce the risk of contamination in your home during the pandemic. You should follow the same guidelines for placement and use of the purifier as you would if the person was infected and quarantined.
Should I Clean My Air Purifier?
It’s essential to keep your air purifier as clean as possible. But you should take extra precautions in cleaning it if you’re using it to help reduce the spread of COVID. The virus can live on surfaces for up to three days, so don’t touch the air purifier while it’s in use or with your bare hands.
Put on gloves and a mask when it’s time to change the filter. Take your air purifier outside and clean and disinfect the outside of the machine. Use either soap and water or disinfecting wipes to wipe down the outside surfaces thoroughly. Next, take the old filter out, put it in a sealed bag, and throw it away. Once you’ve tossed the old filter, install the new one being careful not to let any cross-contamination happen between the two. Some air purifiers have fabric filters, and if that is the type you have, wash it based on the cleaning instructions that come with the purifier.
What Kind of Air Purifier Should I Look For?
For an air purifier to be the most effective in taking virus droplets out of the air, make sure you buy one that uses a HEPA filter. Most air purifiers are equipped with them, but you’ll want to double-check the packaging to be sure. As mentioned, HEPA filters are highly effective in taking nearly all the irritants in your home out of the air.
You’ll also want to look for one that has a high clean air delivery rate (CADR). That information can usually be found on the packaging, as well. The CADR is how much clean air an air purifier produces when it’s at its highest speed setting. Consumer Reports recommends looking for an air purifier that has a CADR of 240 or more, which means it exchanges the air in your home five times an hour.
What to keep in mind:
- Air purifiers don’t replace other virus risk-reducing measures
- Air purifiers need to be used in conjunction with masks, physical distancing, good hygiene, and regular in-home disinfecting
- Air purifiers are helpful if someone in your home has the virus or you will have company
- For the best results, look for an air purifier with a HEPA filter and a high clean air delivery rate (CADR)
As we know, nothing can eliminate the threat of the virus completely. But if you are looking into an air purifier to help reduce coronavirus risk in your home, you can find our best recommendations here.