Do Air Purifiers Help With Dust?

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Written By Jamila W.

Do Air purifiers help with dust? The short answer is yes. Getting a high-quality air purifier can be the smart thing to do if you suffer from dust-induced respiratory issues.

Not to mention, dust follows us everywhere. In homes, in cars, in offices, there’s just no escape from it! Household dust not only accumulates over the years but also carries harmful substances and carcinogenic particles that affect our health negatively.


But ridding the indoor air of dust is not as simple as getting an air purifier and calling it a day. It comes down to whether you have the right kind of air purifier or not.

Therefore, in this article, I will use my experience with air purifiers and knowledge of air filtration systems to answer some frequently asked questions. 

We will discuss topics such as:

  • Composition of household dust
  • Why is dust harmful to health
  • How do air purifiers work
  • Do air purifiers help with dust
  • And how to choose the right air purifier for cleaning dust

Let’s dive right in!

What is Dust Made of 

There is no specific definition of the word ‘dust.’ It simply refers to a solid broken down into fine particles. These particles can vary in size, but the smaller they are, the more risk they pose to people’s respiratory systems. 

The constituents of indoor dust vary depending on different factors, such as the location of the house, the outdoor environment, people’s dietary habits, and the presence of pets. 

Dust Particles Composition

Generally speaking, house dust is a mixture of dead skin cells, hair, soil particles, pollen, clothing fibers, pet dander, dust mites, and parts of dead bugs. 

cleaning a dust

Dust also comprises outside contaminants and harmful substances that enter our homes through our shoes. This can include metals, organic pollutants, endocrine disruptors, and even cancer-causing particles.

Dust Accumulation

Apart from its constituents, dust is dangerous because it keeps accumulating more harmful particles over time. As the dust in your house gets disturbed and resuspended, it accumulates newer particles and settles down again. 

This issue can persist in closed environments like houses, even if you clean regularly. These dust particles will get stuck into corners, carpets, and crevices. It is found that the dust in old houses can contain pollutants that were banned 50 years ago, such as DDT


What Makes Dust Harmful to Human Health

Our respiratory system gets affected depending on where the dust particles settle in it. For example, people may experience rhinitis if these particles settle in the nose. 

Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, as these particles can and do settle much deeper in your body. 

Particle Size

Essentially, it comes down to the size of the dust particles. Most serious respiratory or pulmonary illnesses occur because some particles are too minute and make it past your nasal passages. The estimated size of these particles is less than 2.5 micrometers, which allows them to easily get past your nose and settle deep in your lungs or air sacs called alveoli.

Non-Dissolvable Dust Particles

These dust particles are also non-dissolvable and are difficult to filter out by the body through your bloodstream. Because of this, they’re one of the leading causes of respiratory problems, lung diseases, allergies, and even cancer sometimes. 

Harmful Contents of Dust

But the question remains, what exactly is in these dust particles that causes our health to deteriorate in the first place? Well, a couple of things, including:

Dust Mites

According to the American Lung Association, Dust Mites are one of the primary triggers for people suffering from asthma. Research indicates that these pesky creatures can worsen the health of asthma patients and those who are allergic to them. 

These mites live in the household dust and feed on dead skin and dander. Their fecal matter, urine, or decomposing bodies contain substances that can trigger allergies in people. 

The allergic responses can vary from mild to severe. For example, a mild allergic reaction might give you a runny nose or watery eyes. On the other hand, severe allergic reactions can give you ongoing health conditions such as persistent coughing, congestion, sneezing, or more severe asthma attacks. 

Industrial Chemicals 

Another study confirmed the long-held notion that industrial chemicals with carcinogenic properties might break down and enter homes in the form of dust. 

This study revealed through chemical analysis that indoor dust contains particles from plastic additives(phthalates), disinfectants(phenols), fragrance compounds, and other harmful industrial byproducts. 

building with smoke

Even though not all these substances are equally dangerous, most are known to contain carcinogens(cancer-causing substances). People exposed to these substances for long periods are at a greater risk of developing cancer. 

The Role of Air Purifiers

All these statistics indicate that letting the dust settle in your home and not cleaning it proactively, efficiently, and consistently has dangerous consequences. For this reason, many people have started turning towards air purifiers as their best bet for cleaning dust particles and improving indoor air quality

But can air purifiers take on this mighty challenge? To answer this question, we must first understand how an air purifier works

How Do Air Purifiers Work?

The basic operation of an air cleaner or purifier works with two parts; a fan and a filtering material. The fan draws in the dirty air and circulates it through the filters to capture airborne particles to then throw the clean air out. 

Some filters are good at capturing odors, while others are good at cleaning out dust particles, pollen, or bacteria. Some purifiers even combine different types of filters to provide a range of functions. 

Do Air Purifiers Help With Dust?

The short answer is yes; air purifiers filter dust. But is this answer precise? Not really. Whether air purifiers help with dust or not comes down to their type. 

Different Types of Air Purifiers

Now that we’ve established that air purifiers can remove dust, you’d be tempted to buy one for your home. But, once you start looking around, you’ll come across terms like activated carbon, ionizing, UV, and HEPA filters. What do any of these mean?

Well, to summarize, these are the many types of filters that remove different substances from the air. Activated carbon filters, for example, are best for removing odors, while UV purifiers are known for zapping bacteria and viruses.

Among these, HEPA air filters are the ones that actively remove dust. Here’s how:

HEPA Air Purifiers

HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter. It is a pleated mechanical filter that can remove 99.97% of all airborne particles with a size of 0.3 micrometers. This makes HEPA filters highly efficient at cleaning out particles like dander, mold, pollen, dust, and dust mites. Why?

Figures indicate that the most common culprits, such as dust mites, 100-300 micrometers in size, which is way higher than the worst-case efficiency of a HEPA filter. Worst-case efficiency means that a HEPA filter can clean out bigger or smaller particles than 0.3 micrometers with greater efficiency. 

Based on these findings and my personal experience, a HEPA filter performs best when your goal is to clean out the dust in your home. 

How to Tell if an Air Purifier is Helping With Dust?

Even if you have chosen the right type of filter for cleaning dust in the air, it can be difficult to measure the difference your air purifier is really making. While the air purifier is working at full efficiency, it may still feel like nothing is happening. 

Here are two ways to determine whether your air purifier is helping clean and rid your air of dust or not.

Take Notes

One of my personal favorite ways to gauge the difference air purifiers make is to see how you’re reacting before and after using it. 

taking notes

Before buying the purifiers

If, like me, you suffer from allergy symptoms such as an itchy or runny nose, sneezing, or congestion, you may want to note down your symptoms and how often they get triggered before buying an air purifier.

After buying the purifiers

Once you purchase an air purifier and start actively using it, note the difference in the frequency of your symptoms. This will make it clear whether your air purifier is helpful in treating dust mite allergies. 

Check the CADR

Another way to ensure whether your air purifier is making a difference is to check out its “Clean Air Delivery Rate” (CADR). Simply put, CADR measures how much clean air your purifier can put out in a certain period. 

To truly reap the benefits of an air purifier, its CADR should be at least two-thirds of the room’s area. For example, if the area of your room is 150 square feet, the CADR of your air purifier should at least be 100. The right CADR will help clean the dust more efficiently, and you will see a noticeable difference. 

Other Ways To Reduce Household Dust

While a quality air purifier with HEPA filters is one of the best methods of eliminating dust, it is far from your only option. Here are a few more ways to control dust buildup in your home:

Keep Your Windows Open

Unless you live in a very dusty area, we recommend keeping your windows open whenever possible. This allow the breeze to carry some of the dust outside. This will be especially effective if you can open two windows on the opposite sides of a room creating a cross breeze.

Vacuum Instead of Dusting

When you dust your furniture with a dry cloth, most of the dust is not removed. It just gets suspended in the air and then settles back down after a while. The best way to avoid this is to use a vacuum cleaner around the house.

Keep Your Pets Well-Groomed

Pet fur and dander can be a major contributor to dust. So, make sure to give your pets a bath and brush their fur outside on a regular basis.

Final Words

There you have it. The definitive answer to your question. The best air purifiers do remove dust if you take the time to research and choose the right one! This article will guide you on the harms of these airborne particles, their composition, and how to pick the right air purifier to deal with this issue. 

With consistent use, the HEPA-fitted air purifier has proven useful in dust-related household allergens, such as dust mites and pet dander. 

So, if you’re worried about dust — and its many health risks — rightfully so. Check out the best HEPA air purifiers to increase the indoor air quality of your home.