It seems like dealing with household dust is a never-ending task. You spend seemingly countless hours mopping, vacuuming and cleaning, but it still seems like you can’t get rid of it all.
Beyond being just inconvenient and messy, dust can contain toxic substances, even some that are decades old, and it can trigger or worsen allergy symptoms and asthma. So, clearly, getting rid of dust is an important part of maintaining the indoor air quality of your house.
One way to cut down on dust levels is to use an air purifier. Air purifiers can remove dust from the air (although you will still have to vacuum dust from furniture and floors). But not every air purifier is equipped for optimal dust removal. We will take a look at several different air purifiers and determine which ones are the best for dust removal in your home.
What is dust?
Dust is a fairly complex substance, made up of a variety of particles. Some dust enters your house from outdoors, tracked in on your shoes or blowing in on air currents when the door is open. This outdoor dust is mostly soil and other tiny particles, like small bits of asphalt or concrete or pollen that stick to your clothing.
Other parts of dust are generated inside your house. Tiny bits of fibers that wear off of clothes, furniture and carpets, plus pet hair, combine to make a sort of “fluffy” dust, which you may find as “dust bunnies” when the dust clumps together under furniture or in corners. The living things in your house create some dust as well. Skin flakes from you and your pets also make up a portion of household dust. And some dust is actually the feces of cockroaches or dust mites, tiny creatures that feed on the organic materials in dust.
These organic materials in dust, which include dust mite feces, flakes of skin from pets (known as pet dander) and pollen, are allergens. The inorganic materials found in dust, such as soil from outside or tiny bits of fabric from a carpet, might contain or carry toxic substances. For instance, if the carpet was made from a plastic that contains toxic chemicals, flakes of the plastic could be harmful if inhaled. A 2009 study also found that modern dust contained traces of DDT, a toxic pesticide that was banned in 1972. Other toxins from the environment can persist in soil dust that enters your home. While much of this dust settles on floors and furniture, tiny particles can remain suspended in the air, or stirred back into the air, where they can be inhaled.
The best purifiers (and others that work) for pet hair, dust particles and dust mites
- Filtration technology: Pre-Filter and proprietary PECO technology that destroys pollutants at a molecular level.
- Cleans the air in a 600 sq. ft. room.
- Portable and convenient.
Molekule’s pre-filter traps larger dust particles and pet hair, while the PECO-Filter destroys organic particles. Some of the smallest dust particles are allergy triggers, and Molekule destroys them instead of simply trapping them on a filter surface.
Alen Breathesmart 45i
- Covers up to 1,300 sq. ft.
- 3-stage filtration: True HEPA, antimicrobial layer and carbon filter.
- Lifetime guarantee.
A HEPA filter can be an effective choice for dealing with particulate pollutants like dust, as it will trap 99.97 percent of particles down to 0.3 microns in size. This purifier allows you to choose from four different True HEPA filters, each treated with an anti-microbial coating to combat specific pollutants like mold or bacteria. However, the anti-microbial filters are expensive to replace, costing between $99 and $139 each. A HEPA filter will also eventually become clogged with the dust that it traps and need to be replaced on a consistent basis.
- Pre-Filter and “medical grade” HyperHEPA filter.
- Weighs just 26 lbs.
- Smallest of the 3 HealthPro products.
The suggested filter life of the pre-filter in the HealthPro Compact is 18 months and the HEPA filter is four years, which is a longer time between filter replacement compared to most air purifiers. It is likely prudent to change the filter on a regular basis in lieu of the recommended 18 months and 4 year time-frame suggested. The manufacturer states that their HyperHEPA technology filters ultrafine particles (down to 0.003 microns), but there is no industry standard to test for “HyperHEPA” effectiveness, so this claim is difficult to verify.
Air Pura V600
- Contains pre-filter and True HEPA.
- 18 lb. of enhanced carbon filter for chemical odors and VOCs.
- Covers up to 2,000 sq. ft.
The HEPA filter in this air purifier will be effective at removing dust, but carbon filters only remove gaseous pollutants, not particles. If your primary concern is dust, then you will be paying for a carbon filter stage that would not be at all effective against pet hair, dust particles and dust mites. On the plus side, this purifier does cover a massive area, which makes it suitable for large rooms or an entire floor of a house.
Adequate air purifiers for removing dust
- Covers up to 400 sq. ft.
- 3-stage filtration: Pre-filter, HEPA filter, carbon filter.
- MERV16 rating.
This air purifier is relatively cost-effective, and a MERV16 rating has been found to be preferable to HEPA in high dust environments [Cecala et al., 2016]. However it only covers a relatively small area.
Whirlpool Pro 200
- Covers up to 508 sq. ft.
- True HEPA, carbon filter.
- Sleep mode.
A True HEPA filter is suitable for removing dust from the air, and this air purifier has decent reviews on consumer sites. The unit is also ozone free. But users noted it is loud when not in sleep mode and does not perform as well as expected given the price.
Avoid these air purifiers (that will not remove dust at all)
Sharper Image Filterless Silent UV Air Purifier
- Uses AHPCO technology (advanced hydration photo-catalytic oxidation).
- No filters, but you must replace the AHPCO cell about every three years.
- Fits on a countertop, uses less energy than a 45W bulb, claims to clean the air in rooms up to 1,000 sq. ft.
Sharper Image was forced to discontinue an earlier product with similar technology because consumer magazines found that they were not effective. A fanless air purifier like this model is not likely to clean a significant volume of air of dust or any other pollutants.
- Cleans rooms up to 3,000 sq. ft.
- Powerful ozone generator.
- Vacate during treatment.
High concentrations of ozone can be used to remove odors and even kill microbes. However, ozone generators are usually used by professional cleaners because ozone is a toxin that can cause lung irritation or even damage—you would have to vacate your home while using an ozone generator like this one. Moreover, ozone will not get rid of dust (although it might kill some dust mites [Abidin & Ming, 2012]), because of these considerations, an ozone generator is not really a practical way to reduce dust in your home.
How to reduce dust in your home immediately
When it comes to cutting down on household dust, there aren’t many shortcuts. Regular dusting and vacuuming are the best ways to get dust out of the house. A vacuum with a HEPA filter will do a better job because it prevents the vacuum motor from blowing dust back out into the room.
A filter installed on your HVAC system can also remove dust from the air as it flows through the ducts. Remember to change this filter every few months, when it becomes too clogged as it will both affect the performance of your HVAC system along with the quality of your indoor air. You can also place rugs in entrance hallways. When people enter the home, the rugs will trap a lot of dust and debris, which you can later shake out in the yard or driveway.
Finally, bear in mind that an air purifier is an effective way to continually remove dust from the air in your house, but not every air purifier is qualified for the job. A purifier with a HEPA filter will do a solid job, but one that destroys dust and other pollutants instead of trapping it in a filter is the best possible solution for dust problems.