Maintenance 101: How to Clean An Air Purifier

Christine Herrington

Christine is our Chief Editor and a contributing writer to the site.

Last Updated on June 8, 2021

Air purifiers allow you to maintain high-quality clean air in your home. These systems share similarities to vacuums, using a fan to extract the air and pass it through a filter. They trap any large particles such as irritants, allergens, and dust, enabling you to breathe in fresh and healthy air.

But to keep the air clean, the purifier needs to be clean, too. They can’t do their job correctly if they’re clogged with dust and dirt. So, if you want to enjoy fresh air daily, it’s time to learn the ins and outs of purifier maintenance. Once you know how to clean an air purifier, you’ll be breathing pure indoor air all year round.

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Table of Contents

How Does an Air Purifier Work?

Allergens such as mold, pollen, smoke, bacteria, viruses, pet spores, and other pollutants are capable of damaging the lungs and immune system. Since most pollutants and irritants are invisible to the naked eye, air purifiers filter out these allergens from the air and make it safer and cleaner to breathe.

So how do air purifiers perform this incredible function? They remove harmful irritants by using filters and electrical attraction. Air purifiers utilize fine sieves that don’t allow these invisible particles circulating indoors to pass through. The finer the sieve inside the unit, the smaller the particles it can trap when the air flows into the purifier system.  

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How Often Should You Clean an Air Purifier?

Before you begin the cleaning process, it’s a good idea to know how often you should clean your system. This all depends on how often you’re using it. If your purifier is running all day, every day, it needs more frequent cleaning than a system that is used bi-weekly.

Many air purifier manufacturers recommend cleaning or changing the filter every three to six months. This ensures you reap all the benefits of your system, along with it enjoying a long lifespan.

If you use your air purifier to combat allergies, clean it more frequently to prevent buildup. Every one to two months will do the trick.

Should You Clean or Replace the Filter?

This step depends on the type of air purifier you have. Some are designed to be cleaned a few times and replaced at specific periods in the purifier’s life, while others can be reused after cleaning throughout the air purifier’s life.

When determining which option suits your purifier, you should consult your manufacturer’s guide or look up your product online. When researching online, you’ll need to find out if your filter is washable. This is because non-washable filters will sustain damage if you attempt to clean and reuse them, decreasing the purifier’s efficacy.

You may also find that your purifier has special washing instructions, with some filters requiring you to wash only specific components.

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Which Components Need Cleaning?

When it comes to cleaning an air purifier, some essential components requiring the most attention are:

  • The filter
  • The inlet (These components purify the air before it is dispersed through the system)
  • The outlet (This is the component where the purified air is distributed into the home)
  • The motor
  • The housing

When cleaning your air purifier, ensure you do so in a well-ventilated area. You should also wear protective gloves and a face mask, especially if you suffer from severe allergies or if your purifier is catching strong irritants and pollutants. You should also always turn off and unplug the system before cleaning too.

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Steps for Cleaning an Air Purifier

Before you begin, put on your safety equipment. Also, make sure anyone who suffers from severe allergies vacates the room. This is because extra debris has the potential to be released when cleaning each component. You also don’t want people becoming engulfed in dust and dirt unnecessarily.

Once you’ve unplugged the air purifier unit, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe down the entire surface of the system’s exterior. It’s essential not to neglect the exterior and only focus on the interior. This is because dust and dirt residues can build up on the surface, potentially seeping inside the components and compromising the system’s inner workings.

Set your vacuum attachment to a low setting and clean out the inlet of the purifier. Next, remove the rest of the interior parts, as well as the filter. Depending on the type of system you have, either vacuum or wash the interior components. You should be gentle during this process, as the components of an air purifier are very delicate. If you know your filter is non-washable, leave this component alone.

If your filter is washable, know that it can be easily damaged through reckless cleaning. Many filters are made from a fragile mesh, so taking a soft approach will ensure the continued proper functioning of the system.

If you washed the filter, ensure that it is completely dry before reinstalling. Leave this component to dry in a clean space in your home, somewhere free from dust and grime. A damp filter can compromise the system’s efficiency, also having the potential to grow mold.

The final step is to reinstall the filter. Once this last component is back in its place, you can plug the system back in and revel in the fresh, clean air your purifier provides.

Improve Your Indoor Air Quality With an Air Purifier

Clean air is an essential part of an enjoyable, healthy lifestyle. Many people live in massive cities that are rife with air pollution, and when there’s no coastal or countryside escape, a solution for clean air must be found.

While your countryside location may feel refreshing, your indoor air is potentially full of invisible pollutants. These particles come from bookshelves, carpets, curtains, and other household items susceptible to dust and can cause unpleasant health issues.

With purifiers reducing the concentrations of these pollutants and refreshing stale air, they keep the body healthy and free from harmful particles. These systems are effective as long as you clean them regularly. By learning how to clean an air purifier, you will maximize your indoor air quality, allowing you and your family to breathe with ease.

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