Do air purifiers help with mold? With an overall increase in respiratory diseases within the population, air purifiers might be seen as an effective solution to rid the air in your home of irritants and pollutants. But just how effective are they? And do air purifiers help with mold, damp and condensation?
What we get up to in our homes, the condition of home ventilation, and even outdoor pollution sources infiltrating our homes all contribute to the quality of the air we breathe. The World Health Organization carried out an investigation on the impact of dampness and mold on indoor air quality, and found that the presence of mold exacerbated symptoms of asthma and other respiratory conditions.
We’ll look at how the best air purifiers can help to eradicate mold in your home, and ask the experts for tips on reducing dampness to stop the mold from coming back. If you’re ready to invest, you can also check out air purifiers on sale for some great deals.
Do air purifiers help with mold?
Air purifiers have been shown to capture some mold spores - these are the airborne ‘seeds’ that mold fungi produce in order to spread. By trapping these spores, air purifiers help with mold prevention within the home. While they will not help with mildew or mold already living on your walls, air purifiers can help to prevent it spreading to other surfaces and, as part of an effective cleaning routine, be a vital component in an overall system to remove mold from your home.
Lynsey Crombie, author and cleaning expert, also says that air purifiers are great to use in your home to keep the air clean. “Indoor clean air keeps allergens at bay, like dust and pollen, and maintains a healthy environment,” she says.
You will need to clean any existing mold with a bleach solution, or remove the affected area if it is growing on carpet or a soft surface like a sofa. You will also need to remove the source of the moisture that attracted the mold in the first place in order to prevent the problem from recurring. Your air purifier can then get on with the process of cleaning your air and keeping it free of spores, hopefully preventing the mold from cropping up elsewhere.
“Use mold busting products such as white vinegar or citric acid or use a specialist shop bought mold cleaner,” Crombie says.
How do air purifiers help with mold?
Air purifiers help with mold because the best ones usually contain one or more HEPA filters, which the air in your home is sucked through in order to remove indoor pollutants such as mold spores, dust, pollen and other allergens. The cleaned air is then cycled back into the room, free of debris and potential respiratory triggers. The filters on these machines are generally made from paper, fiberglass, or a thin mesh that traps mold spores and prevents them from landing on surfaces where they may grow or spread further.
HEPA filters are required by the US Department of Energy to stop 99.97% of all particles 0.3 microns in size or larger from passing through them. Research suggests that mold spores can be as tiny as four microns, which means that having an air humidifier with HEPA filters in your home should reduce the amount of mold spores in the air. If you are using an air purifier in a large room, they may be less effective, as all the air has to pass through the filter in order to clean it. However, most air purifiers come with recommendations for the size of room they are best suited for.
- Related: How do air purifiers work?
Do air purifiers help to reduce damp?
Air purifiers can help with damp by preventing the spread of mold spores, but you would be better using one of the best dehumidifiers. Dehumidifiers bring down the level of humidity in the home, sucking moisture from the air, as opposed to filtering it, which makes them a better choice when dealing with a damp problem. Air purifiers are better for general air cleaning, as they don’t just target moisture in the air, but allergens and pollutants like pollen, mold spores, or smoke. A dehumidifier doesn’t remove these irritants, but it does make the indoor environment less friendly for mold and mildew to grow, and can help with damp problems.
Crombie recommends keeping your home as dry as possible to reduce damp and mold. “Keep your bathrooms and wet areas like around the kitchen sink clean and dry,” she says. “If you struggle with window condensation, ensure you dry your windows well every day using a good-quality towel or microfiber cloth to soak up the water.”
How will you know if an air purifier is helping with mold?
There are several ways you will be able to tell if your air purifier is helping with mold.
- Smell - Mold and mildew generally give your home a ‘musty’ smell. Within a couple of days of using your air purifier, this smell should dissipate, leaving your home smelling cleaner.
- Air test kits - You can purchase a single-use home test kit to see how well your air purifier is working. Each one works slightly differently so make sure to follow the instructions.
- Has the mold come back? - If you have taken every measure to eliminate the mold by removing as much of it as you can and fixing the original cause of the damp, you should find that the air purifier prevents spores from repopulating your home and causing more mold to grow.
- Digital air quality monitors - If you want to consistently keep track of your air quality, you may want to purchase a digital air quality monitor, which can detect most particles in the air and record these. This can also help you to monitor when it is time to change the filter in your air purifier.
Li CH, Cervantes M, Springer DJ, Boekhout T, Ruiz-Vazquez RM, et al. (2011) Sporangiospore Size Dimorphism Is Linked to Virulence of Mucor circinelloides. PLOS Pathogens 7(6): e1002086. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1002086
Niemeier, R. T., Sivasubramani, S. K., Reponen, T., & Grinshpun, S. A. (2006). Assessment of fungal contamination in moldy homes: comparison of different methods. Journal of occupational and environmental hygiene, 3(5), 262–273. https://doi.org/10.1080/15459620600637333
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Lou Mudge is a health writer based in Bath, United Kingdom for Future PLC. She holds an undergraduate degree in creative writing from Bath Spa University, and her work has appeared in Live Science, Tom's Guide, Fit & Well, Coach, T3, and Tech Radar, among others. She regularly writes about health and fitness-related topics such as air quality, gut health, diet and nutrition and the impacts these things have on our lives.
She has worked for the University of Bath on a chemistry research project and produced a short book in collaboration with the department of education at Bath Spa University.