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Dehumidifier vs Air Purifier: The Right Device for High-Quality Air

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Dehumidifier in the living room

You don’t need to go on a trip to the mountains – you can breathe fresh, clean air in your home.

Thanks to modern tech, we get to control different parameters that determine indoor air quality. With the right device, you can fine-tune the air in your home for perfect humidity and cleanliness.

If you’re not sure what’s the right choice in the dehumidifier vs air purifier debate, read on! In the following article, we’ll discuss what exactly these devices do for you, how they improve air quality, and how to know which device is better for your home.

Table of Contents

In a Nutshell: Dehumidifiers vs Air Purifiers

The difference between dehumidifiers and air purifiers is quite big. In fact, these two devices are used for completely different purposes.

A dehumidifier keeps indoor air humidity in check. Its job is to remove excess moisture from the air. These simple machines run air through both a warming and a cooling process, which helps remove water from the air through condensation. All you need to do is get rid of the excess water at the end of the day!

Dehumidifier next to a wet wet, moist window

Air purifiers remove harmful particles from the air, but the air humidity remains unchanged. The air runs through super-fine air filters, and in some models, a UV light. Unwanted particles get trapped in the filter and the air coming out of the machine is purified. Air purifiers are effective against plenty of pollutants and allergens like:

  • pollen
  • dust
  • mold spores
  • smog
  • smoke
  • pet dander
  • viruses

As you can see, air purifiers efficiently tackle many airborne contaminants. One thing an air purifier is not good at removing are smells – odor molecules are simply too small. That’s why an air purifier won’t help with paint fumes or pet stain smells.

Do air purifiers dehumidify the air?

Air purifiers ensure the air you breathe is as clean as mountain air, even in the middle of a city. However, air purifiers aren’t able to remove moisture from the air – you need a specific heating and cooling system found in dehumidifiers to achieve that.

If your rooms feel stuffy and you notice mold growth, get yourself a dehumidifier to supplement your air purifier.

Air purifier in a living room

Do dehumidifiers purify the air?

Dehumidifiers are great at controlling humidity, but they also contribute to air purity. As the dehumidifier processes the air in your home, it also runs it through a filter. The filters found in dehumidifiers are not even remotely as fine or intricate as air purifier HEPA filters. So, in addition to moisture control, a dehumidifier will clean your air slightly, but not as efficiently or thoroughly as an air purifier.

Health, Comfort, and Air Quality

Everybody wants to breathe clean air – a wish that’s hard to fulfill considering the high pollution levels we live in, especially in cities. It’s no surprise many families across the US are turning to home air purifiers and humidity control devices.

It could be pollutants like CO2, mold spores, unbalanced humidity levels, and many other issues. The quest for cleaner air starts with defining particular issues of your home’s air quality

Both indoor air humidity and quality depend on the outdoor air in your area. High concentrations of pollen from plants, city smog, vehicle emissions, cold and dry winter air, or humid summers – all play a role in your indoor air quality.
But even in mountain-fresh air, your home will get irritants in the air occasionally. Dander from skin, clothes, and hair, indoor smoking, cooking, and many other factors affect the air quality in your home.

In the winter, when the air is dry as-is, the warmth created by space heaters additionally dries it up. A humidifier is a good way to make the harsh air easier on your airways. 

Modern mountain home under a clear sky

How do I know if my home has high humidity?

If your home feels less comfortable than it should, but you can’t pinpoint the exact reason – excess moisture might be the culprit.

Humidity levels between 30% and 50% feel just right indoors. But go lower or higher than that, and the air in your room starts to feel stuffy or too coarse.

If there’s excess moisture in the air, you’ll likely instinctively know it even before taking any measurements. Summers tend to be the most humid season.

  • Stuffy air and a musty smell are the most obvious signs your home needs a dehumidifier.
  • You may get asthma attacks more often or feel it’s hard to breathe deeply. A dehumidifier might help you breathe easier, but don’t ignore persistent respiratory distress. Ask your GP for professional advice based on your personal circumstances.
  • You may also notice mildew or mold growth on your walls, ceilings, and furniture. Exposure to mold spores can cause further health issues.
  •  If you suspect excess moisture, check your crawl spaces for some of the many kinds of bugs attracted to moist places – including termites, carpenter ants, mold mites, and centipedes.

On the flip side, the air in your home might be too dry. Dry air is common in the winter, or year-round in arid climates far from bodies of water. If the air in your home feels coarse, your nose feels dry, and your indoor plants just can’t seem to get enough water, a humidifier might fix that for you.

A hygrometer on a table

Avoid guesswork by using a hygrometer – the device that measures humidity in the air. Hygrometers are affordable and easy to use.

Measure air humidity in your home over a longer period to get a good picture of humidity fluctuations throughout the year.

How do air purifiers make the air in my home better?

No matter how meticulously you clean your home, household dust seems unbeatable. Anything that may flake off contributes to the chemical cocktail we call dust.

Sun ray hitting dust particles indoors

When a sunbeam hits your window just right, you can witness lively streams of dust particles floating right in front of your nose. Heavier particles like pieces of hair quickly settle on surfaces and in carpets. But smaller particles of dust keep on floating in the air – unless an air purifier catches them with its HEPA filter.   

About 60% of dust particles in our homes come from the outside. Usually, through the windows and doors, or on the soles of your feet.

Most of the outdoor dirt is soil, pieces of decomposing insects and plants – all of which a HEPA filter can remove from your air. An air purifier also effectively eliminates pollen, a common culprit for seasonal allergies.

The other 40% of dust is created indoors. It includes a variety of substances – human and pet dander and hair, lint and fibers from clothes and bedding, food debris, mold spores, dust mites, bacteria, soot and grime, particles created during smoking and cooking, and much more.

An air purifier will help if you’re sensitive to smoke or inhalant allergens. It will remove many of the irritants present in the air you breathe, making it a great investment into your family’s health.

In addition, some air purifiers come equipped with an extra purification measure: a set of UV lights. The ultra-violet light bulbs sanitize air as their rays effectively kill most bacteria and viruses.

Air purifier on a wooden floor

Can you use a dehumidifier and air purifier in the same room?

Yes, there’s no harm in running both an air purifier and a dehumidifier at the same time. Just keep in mind that increased electricity usage will reflect on your utility bill. Some people even use their air conditioner in combination with an air purifier.

What are HEPA filters?

HEPA is a term you’ll frequently come across on the air purifier market (but also when researching HVAC air filters and even some dehumidifier filters).

Filters physically catch any particles that float nearby – making it an effective way to battle allergens and respiratory irritants. And HEPA filters are the most popular, industry-standard air filters.

Air purifiers essentially make air run through a HEPA filter, and occasionally one or two pre-filters for larger particles. It’s said that HEPA filters catch 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, and other airborne contaminants bigger than 0.3 microns.

A person openning the HEPA filter holder

Mold Control: Dehumidifier vs Air Purifier

Both dehumidifiers and air purifiers can aid in your battle against mold.

  • Dehumidifiers help prevent mold growth by not letting moisture build up in the first place.
  • Air purifiers remedy the situation by trapping and containing airborne mold spores.

Inhaling mold and mildew spores can cause irritation. An air purifier can efficiently catch most of them before they reach your nose.
However, a dehumidifier will help you stop mold from developing in your home at all – and prevention is always better than cure.

Make sure to clean any existing mold to help prevent further spreading.

Both dehumidifiers and air purifiers are good tools in the battle against dust mites too.

A moldy wall with a dehumidifier purifier next to it

Take a Deep Breath…

So, before you make your final pick in the dehumidifier vs air purifier battle, consider your unique circumstances. Take a few humidity measurement readings over the span of several days (or months, if you’re able to), and consider the pollutants and irritants that could be present in the air around you.

If your main problem is high air moisture that causes stuffy air, musty smells, and mold – a dehumidifier is the right choice.

People who are sensitive to irritants like smoke, pollen, dust, and dander will benefit from an air purifier.

Over here at The Home Dweller, we realize how much air quality impacts your overall quality of life. If you found our content useful, consider sharing it on social media.

And if you’re ready to invest more into air quality in your home, learn more about air circulation or install fresh AC air filters

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