Figuring out how an air cleaner vs purifier stacks up means getting deep into research. Luckily, we did the most complex parts for you. Everybody who worries about their health should invest in an air purification or cleaning system, preferably with a HEPA filter. As it turns out, almost all the best air purifiers have HEPA filters.


  • An air cleaner generally refers to a whole-house system installed right into your air duct behind your air conditioning unit or furnace.
  • Air purification models come in all shapes and sizes, with HEPA models being backed by organizations like the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
  • Running both systems in tandem is the best way to improve health markers, temper pollutant sources, and lower overall indoor pollution.

The Difference Between an Air Cleaner and Purifier

The showdown of an air cleaner vs a purifier is the topic of the day. Both systems are fantastic for keeping your health issues to a minimum. However, there are apparent differences between both in how they remove indoor pollution and hazardous particles. One of the most significant ways they differ is the filters they use. For a better look into how filters make a difference, check out our article on an activated carbon filter vs a HEPA filter.

What are Residential Air Cleaners?

Residential air cleaners are installed directly into your HVAC system. This system uses a permanent filter that is capable of processing tremendous amounts of indoor air pollution. For a deeper look into different designs, the battle of air ionizer vs air purifier is well worth reading.

How Air Cleaners Work

Air cleaners are installed between your air return duct and either furnace or air conditioner. This ensures that all air that enters your house will be immediately cleaned. This dramatically improves cleaning speed so that you can receive clean air more quickly.

The Benefits of Air Cleaners

You’ll enjoy a whole host of benefits with air cleaning systems:

  • There aren’t any disposable filters to maintain or replace
  • A better whole-house air cleaning performance
  • Improved indoor air quality through the removal of gaseous pollutants

What is an Air Purifier?

An air purifier refers to multiple different types of air cleaning methods. Here are a few of the different types:

  • Ionic Air Purifiers
  • Portable Air Cleaner
  • Ozone Generators

Insider Tip

Keep your windows shut when you want to truly purify the air in your house since air purifiers work more effectively in closed spaces.

How an Air Purifier Works

That depends on what type of air purifier you have. The difference between air purifiers and in-duct cleaning systems is that air purifier styles are more diverse. No matter what type of air filters or technologies you’re using, the primary purpose is to improve indoor air quality.

For some in-depth info on units, check out our air sanitizer vs air purifier effectiveness on mold and our GermGuardian GG1000 UV-C air sanitizer reviews.

The Benefits of Air Purifiers

An air purifier has multiple benefits to offer:

  • Removal of larger particles such as mold spores
  • Advanced air cleaning technologies like HEPA air purifiers
  • Significant lowering of indoor pollutants

Deciding Between the Two Options

Choosing between the two systems is sometimes super easy. For example, if you rent your apartment or home, you probably can’t install a whole-house air cleaning system. It’s generally better for homeowners to have a portable air purifier and something installed in their ducts to improve health markers the most. If you have to choose between the two, go for an air purifier appropriately sized for your house by looking into Clean Air Delivery Rates (CADR).


An air purifier by itself might not be enough to remove microscopic particles from the air without a suitable filter for your lifestyle.


How do air purifiers and humidifiers impact your health?

Effective air purifiers will remove dirty particles from the air that present a hazard to your health. Humidifiers help by increasing the humidity level in your house.

Do humidifiers or air purifiers help clean dust out of your air?

Air purifiers are the best bet for removing airborne particles like dust. Using HEPA or carbon filters can drastically reduce levels of dust and dirt particles.

What do air purifiers filter?

There are a few different organic compounds and airborne pollutants that air purifiers help with:

  • Mold Spores
  • Larger Dust Particles
  • Pet Hair

Which filter is better for asthma symptoms?

HEPA filters are the best defense against asthma attacks at home. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has repeatedly praised HEPA air purifiers for their ability to improve respiratory conditions.

STAT: The sales of air cleaners in the US have increased steadily over the last ten or so years, rising to over 780 million in 2019. (source)

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