Something being asked about for months now in the community is air filters. From wanting healthy air to breathe during the horrific bushfires through to living through a pandemic, clean air is sometimes a privilege in our modern world and for those who have access to it, a filter is a smart move for your home space for when the unexpected pops up – in addition to the families that do well to have one with family members who have allergies or where there might be mould or building material off gassing. To that end, we’ve popped together a post to help you navigate air filter options
Do I need an air purifier/filter?
Indoor air quality is important – after all, we’re spending enormous amounts of time inside our homes often with others, although only with our immediate bubbles most of us right now, breathing the same air. While it’s easy to assume that pollution is an outdoor problem, this is simply not the case! Outdoor air containing traces of vehicle exhaust, airborne dust and pollen, smoke and other pollutants comes into our homes every single day through windows, and internal air pollutants such a mould, pet dander, household dust, cigarette smoke and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (emitted from paint, building materials and the foam inside sofas and mattresses) can linger or build up as they have less chance to blow away. All of these pollutants are potential irritants to the eyes, body, lungs and skin. When they say get out into deep nature as often as you can, it’s with good reason. These built environments just don’t cut it, when it comes to optimising our health. So, inside, it’s about a mitigation strategy – when we’re inside, how clean can I get my air to be so that being inside doesn’t harm me or my family?
While I acknowledge it is an incredible luxury to be able to fork out for a high-quality air purifier, there are payment plans often available these days. If you or someone in your family struggles with breathing difficulties, asthma, you’re trying to reduce the incidence of airborne viral spores, you’re living in a location eg; rural Australia that experiences bushfires or you’re living with the elderly it is worth seeing if you can stretch the budget to get one.
But I can’t afford an air purifier right now…
If an air purifier is out of your budget right now you can address most of these problems with regular vacuuming, mopping, meticulous surface hygiene as we talk about over in this post and airing your home when the outside air is clear. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to make sure you aren’t just blowing dust and other particles back into the room as you vacuum. A HEPA filter will ensure you clean the air at the same time. We have an excellent BOSCH one and there are a few good brands out there. Regular mopping of hard floors is a good way to remove dust and pollutants and try to keep excess furniture and ‘stuff’ to a minimum to reduce places and crevices for dust to settle in. If you’re not on a major road, open those windows and let cross-ventilation bring the outside IN as often as possible.
What to look for when purchasing an air purifier/filter
So you’re thinking about taking the leap and buying an air filter, but where to even start!? Here’s a little list of some key things to look out for. If you can find an air purifier/filter that has these features and is within your price range than snap it up.
Sensors and Timers
It’s handy to purchase an air purifier that can monitor the level of indoor air pollution and display this information to you. Sophisticated machines can even be set to activate themselves automatically once pollution reaches a certain level. This is ideal from an eco and cost perspective as you can maintain good air quality without the need to keep the machine running 24/7.
Built-In Fan Mode
It’s important to have good air circulation while your air purifier is running; otherwise, it can end up just cleaning the air around the machine, leaving pollutants in other parts of the room. Ideally, you want a machine with varying fan speeds and intensity. An oscillating fan movement is useful for covering more of the room in one go. Varying fan speeds also allows you to create a more powerful airflow when you need to purify a room’s air quickly, but a gentle airflow for use at night in a bedroom or as you’re winding down.
A quick tip: If your air purifier doesn’t have a good range of fan speeds (or no fan at all) then a simple fan in the same room will do the trick.
There’s no doubt about it… air purifiers are not discreet and they’re often very heavy! So, if you plan to move the unit between rooms, ensure it has wheels attached or you can physically lift it safely.
Has it got the CADR rating?
The Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) is an industry-standard measure of the volume of air that the air purifier can clean. It’s expressed in cubic metres per hour (or cubic feet per second). The bigger the number, the better the machine. Something important to note – the CADR test doesn’t measure the removal of other pollutants such as VOCs and very fine particles so it’s not the only way to test the efficacy of the unit, but it’s a good start.
Make sure the filters are top-notch
- HEPA filtration: HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. It’s a very powerful filter that traps microscopic particles. Generally, HEPA filters can trap at least 99.95% of dust, smoke, mould and other particles in the air, down to a tiny 0.3 microns in size. You definitely want a machine with this filter if you’re investing your hard-earned cash into an air purifier.
- Carbon or charcoal filtration: This is a great filter option to have if you can find it. It’s used for trapping odours and VOCs such as formaldehyde.
Filters to be wary of
- Ozone filters: While they’re said to be good for removing odours, at low levels they’ve been shown to be ineffective at removing air pollution, and at high levels they can cause breathing irritation. Don’t buy into the hype.
- Ionic or ionisation: Again, considered good for removing fine particles such as dust and smoke however, ionisation of air can produce similar effects to ozone filters.
Filter cleaning and replacement
An air purifier may have multiple filters and these will need regular cleaning or replacement to ensure their longevity. Most pre-filters and carbon filters can be washed and replaced but HEPA filters are not usually washable and you’ll need to factor in buying replacements for these. Maintaining the upkeep of these filters is key to avoiding mould spores and dust to build up.
A quick tip: a good air purifier will have a warning indicator to let you know when it’s time to clean or replace the filters. Alternatively, you may just need to replace the filters after a certain period of time, such as every six months. Mark these dates on your calendar so you never forget to change or clean the filters.
Top Air Purifiers On the Market
I personally use the Innovaair air purifier and we’ve seen a huge difference in air quality since using it. Having mold susceptibility I didn’t muck around and got the “DE20 Plus”.
The AusClimate Air Purifer is another super high-quality option. It’s a hospital-grade purifier with a five-stage process that eliminates airborne pollutants and allergens including dust, pollen, pet dander, smoke, mould spores, VOCs, odours, bacteria and viruses. It’s a great option for asthma and hay fever sufferers, it’s also perfect if you have pets cooped up indoors with you.
This is my favourite dehumidifier/purifier in one. If you are struggling with rising damp or living in a moldy home a 2-in 1 machine like this is going to give you the most bang for your buck. The machine will provide optimal humidity levels, eliminate musty odours and prevent the growth of mould or mildew. The digital humidity sensor gives accurate and real-time feedback on humidity, then the compressor and fan work accordingly based on this information for effective results.
The Wynd purifiers has a medical-grade electrostatic air filter. The beauty of this machine is it’s the size of a water bottle and can monitors your environment to clean it as needed. It’s energy-efficient, compact and perfect for a small office space/desk or a smaller apartment. It’s also significantly cheaper than the larger units above.
Have you got an air purifier you love? It’d be great to get some overseas recommendations from international low toxers so that we can share those too. I know of the wonderful Hypoair in California and IQAir across the US both widely recommended by prominent doctors over there. If you know of any reputable ones that you love, go for it and share below in the comments.
Hope this is helpful to get your search started if you feel you might need one in your home.
Low Tox. Happy Bodies. Happy Planet.
p.s None of the above links are sponsored or affiliate links. Just genuinely excellent products and brands.