(Last Updated On: June 15, 2021)

Differences Between an Air Purifier and an Air Cleaner

Learn the Differences Between Air Purifiers and Air Cleaners

air filter for pet allergies from dogs

By Denny Bulcao

12 min read

air purifiers for pets and family

If you’re concerned about air quality in your home or want to live a healthier life, you should consider purchasing either an air purifier or an air cleaner. 

Which will be best for you and your home? It’ll take a bit of research, but the time you spend reading up on the differences will be well worth your time.

Before beginning, try to narrow down the specific need. You are probably concerned about clearing the air of viruses and bacteria, mold, allergens, smoke, odors, and even volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including chemicals and gases.

You can also narrow it down to where you will be using the unit, such as at your office or in your home, and even then, you can look for specific models that work best in the bedroom, living room, or even in a child’s room.

Air cleaners clean the air using a system known as HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters. In contrast, air purifiers sanitize the air by emitting negative ions or ozone or using heat with UV or UVC lamps.

Air Cleaner Specifics

Air cleaners are best at filtering the air and separating dust, particularly larger particles such as dead skin and pet dander.

One of the drawbacks is that they use a fan that can make a lot of noise when it’s on the high setting. Be sure to look for a unit that can be set to a lower setting at night when you’re trying to get restful sleep. Another negative aspect is that replacement filters can be expensive, so know going into your purchase how often you’ll need to change them and how much that will cost over time. Some systems use relatively cheap replacement filters, but others can be pretty pricey.

You must follow strict maintenance scheduled to protect your health and get the best value out of your investment.

Air Purifier Specifics

Air purifiers kill airborne pathogens that cause illnesses and allergies. Many air purifiers operate silently, making them perfect for use in your bedroom because you’ll get solid sleep while breathing healthy air. They are also cheaper to operate than air cleaners.

There are some drawbacks, including the fact that air purifiers perform little or no dust removal, and some of them can only purify the air in certain portions of a room.

air purifiers for pets and family

Shopping Tips

When shopping for an air cleaner, look for the CADR (clean air delivery rate) number or the number of times the unit turns over the air per hour. CADR tests for larger particles of pollen and dust bigger than 0.3 microns and can cause allergies. However, they do not work for viruses, mold, mildew, bacteria, VOCs, chemicals, or smoke. Be sure to check carefully for what the unit will be cleaning and how it applies to your specific situation.

As their name implies, air purifiers sanitize or purify the air of odors and other contaminants that can make you sick. They do this by the use of heat, UV, negative ions, or ozone. Ozone generators are often sold as air purifiers by direct marketers. It would help if you were careful about how much ozone a unit uses. If it’s a small quantity, that’s fine. But more significant amounts can be hard on your lungs.

One use for ozone units is for shock treatments in empty rooms. If you smoke, it’s best to use a UV unit.

Among the top-rated units available are ones that combine air purifying and air cleaning technologies to tackle challenging indoor air quality issues such as dust and odors. For instance, you can purchase units that use multiple UV lamps and medical-grade HEPA filters to give you the healthiest air to breathe.

When shopping for a unit with a filtration system, make sure it has a HEPA filtration system such as a True HEPA. Do not settle for a system that is labeled “HEPA-like.” HEPA filters contain highly absorbent material that captures air particles as small as 0.3 microns in diameter, giving them a high-efficiency level.