If you are shopping around for something to freshen the air inside of your car, you may be wondering can a car air purifier work, how do they work, and, more importantly, how do I know if I have the best air purifier?. We have got you covered.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Car air purifiers are typically ionic in design and considered to be functional.
  • These purifiers do release a fair amount of ozone into the atmosphere, which is something to consider.
  • A good option for the removal of bacteria in a car is a UV air purifier, which uses highly-concentrated beams of ultraviolet light.

How do Car Purifiers Work?

Air purifiers come in many different styles and designs, each with its own general function. However, there are some commonalities between every air purifier. Modern air purifiers start working by using a series of fans to draw in air from its immediate surroundings. This air is then run through a series of filters or filtration mechanisms, where it is then released back into the atmosphere via another series of fans. The same can be said for car air purifiers, though they tend to be ionic in design.

Do Air Purifiers Work?

Yes, air purifiers work. There have been numerous studies as to the efficacy of air purifiers. They are not miracle workers, but they do purify and freshen the air inside of the home.

Different Types of Air Purifiers

There are a number of different types of air purifiers, each with its own best use case scenario and unique benefits.

HEPA Air Purifiers

The most commonly found type of air purifier is one that has been equipped with a genuine HEPA filter. These HEPA filters are made with a wide range of materials that are layered so as to feature maximum filtration. HEPA-equipped air purifiers are great for removing allergens from the air, as well as cutting down on foul odors. As a note, HEPA filters merely capture and trap offending particles. HEPA filters are not designed to be cleaned and must be replaced every six months to one year. These filters can be expensive so always consider the cost of a year’s worth of filters as you go about pricing out your options.

Insider Tip

HEPA-equipped air purifiers are great for removing allergens from the air, as well as cutting down on foul odors.

Activated Carbon Air Purifiers

Activated carbon air filters predate nearly every other kind of air filter out there in the market. They are absolutely fantastic for reducing foul odors and for combatting volatile organic compounds, otherwise known as VOCs. These compounds are derived from commonly found household cleaning agents, paints, and crafting supplies. Activated carbon filters can also be a good choice for removing the smell of smoke, mold, and mildew.

Ionic Air Purifiers

An ionic air purifier is sometimes referred to as an ionizer, ion generator, or even an ozone generator. These purifiers work by emitting electrically charged molecules into the air, which are called ions. Charged ions will attach themselves to airborne pollutants, neutralizing them or weighing them down so they fall to the ground. Ionic air purifiers are a good choice for removing common allergens from the home and for combatting virus particles and bacteria. These ionizers do produce a significant amount of ozone during use, and ozone ingestion has been linked to several health ailments. This is the type of air purifier you will regularly find for use inside of a car.

Electrostatic Air Purifiers

Electrostatic air purifiers work by releasing electrically charged particles in the air which interact with allergens, chemical particles, and other undesirable elements, rendering them neutral in the process. Airborne pollutants are dragged via the charged electron into the electrostatic filter, where they are trapped or destroyed. One cool thing about electrostatic air purifiers is that the integrated electrostatic filters will not have to be replaced like a HEPA filter. You can simply remove them once every month and give the electrostatic filters a good cleaning.

Personal Air Purifiers

Personal air purifiers are a rapidly expanding category. These air purifiers are often worn on a person’s body and they work to purify the air immediately surrounding that person. These personal purifiers are often worn on a person’s neck via a loop design. Personal air purifiers tend to use ionization technology, similar to what is found with an ionic purifier, to complete their task. These air purifiers are fairly efficient at removing smoke, dust, pollen, and related allergens. Just make sure you are cleaning your air purifier and maintaining it properly.

UV Air Purifiers

These air purifiers use highly-concentrated beams of ultraviolet light to eliminate potentially harmful air particles from your home. They are a great choice for the removal of bacteria particles, virus particles, and germs.

F.A.Q.

Can HEPA air purifiers capture the coronavirus?

This depends. Coronavirus particles tend to vary in size. If they are large enough to be trapped by the HEPA filter, they will be, though smaller particles could slip through. However, COVID-19 particles do tend to attach themselves to larger particles in the air, which could also help trap them.


Do ionizer air purifiers remove odors?

Ionizer air purifiers are fairly effective at removing odors, though perhaps not as good at the task as HEPA filters.


Are car air purifiers safe?

Air purifiers for a car are almost always ionic in design. In other words, they release copious ozone particles into the air, which can be dangerous in the long term.



STAT: An air purifier with a HEPA filter can remove up to 99 percent of ambient dust and debris, including pollen, pet dander, and hair. (source)

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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