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Air purifier vs. dehumidifier

What’s the difference between an air purifier and a dehumidifier?

All of us struggle at times to maintain the perfect level of comfort within our own homes. If your home gets too humid and stuffy or starts to form a slight odor, it might be time to think about investing in a solution. 

While air purifiers and dehumidifiers can achieve a few of the same goals, primarily for those who suffer from allergies, there are some critical differences between the two products. Purifiers filter the air and remove any harmful or irritating particles, while dehumidifiers essentially suck moisture from the air, decreasing overall humidity levels. By comparing the functions of each, you can make a more informed decision for your personal needs.

Why choose an air purifier?

As clean air initiatives become more prevalent regarding the environment, having clean and fresh air inside your home is also essential. Air purifiers filter out both large and small particles, many of which can cause allergic reactions, irritation and other health issues. 

As we learn more about how air purification and circulation play a significant role in the way harmful aerosols and other particles are spread, having a quality air purifier helps make indoor spaces safer and more comfortable for everyone. 

What you’ll love about air purifiers 

  • Portability: There are many small and highly portable personal air purifiers available today. These models can easily be moved from room to room depending on where and when they’re needed. 
  • Filter options: Always look for an air purifier that features a HEPA filter, as it can filter out the smallest airborne particles. Some models may even feature one or two pre-filters designed to capture larger particles before they even reach the primary HEPA filter. 
  • Good for allergies: Anyone who suffers from seasonal allergies caused by pollen, allergies from dust and pet dander or sensitivity to smoke will benefit from using an air purifier. By reducing the overall amount of irritants in your home’s air, you’ll be able to breathe more easily. 
  • Reduces odors: Air purifiers that utilize more than one filter are good at helping to minimize odors caused by smoke, pets, food and other sources. 
  • Helps eliminate viruses: Different air filters will have size ratings that show the smallest-sized particles they can filter out. Even if they don’t completely remove every virus, they can get rid of larger particles that aid in viral transportation. Many air purifiers will also contain UV lights designed to kill harmful viruses. 

What you should consider about air purifiers

  • Room size: Before purchasing an air filter, you’ll want to make sure you choose a model that can filter the entirety of your desired space. Rooms with large square footage may need more powerful air purifiers than smaller bedrooms or offices. 
  • Price: Air purifiers aren’t always the most affordable product for those on tight budgets, but you can find quality options that range from approximately $100-$1000 or more. You’ll also want to consider the cost of replacement filters.
  • Noise: In general, many modern air purifiers tend to be quiet, but some produce more noise than some people prefer. Check the decibel rating if fan noise is an issue. 

Top air purifiers

Germ Guardian True HEPA Filter Air Purifier

Using a HEPA filter and UV-C light, this air purifier traps dust and kills harmful viruses quickly and quietly.

Sold by Amazon 

Blueair Blue Pure 411+ Air Purifier

This energy-efficient model can filter up to 185 square feet every 12 minutes, while the activated carbon is perfect for removing odors.

Sold by Amazon

Winix AM90 Wi-Fi Air Purifier

A technologically advanced option, this purifier works remotely through the Winix Smart App or by using Alexa voice commands.

Sold by Amazon 

Why choose a dehumidifier?

Though they don’t usually filter your air, dehumidifiers have unique benefits that can improve your health and quality of life. By removing the excess moisture from the air, dehumidifiers can help you keep indoor humidity at a stable and desirable level, leading to a more comfortable home.

People with asthma can also benefit from using a dehumidifier, as too high of a humidity level can make breathing more difficult.

What you’ll love about dehumidifiers

  • Reduces mold, mildew and dust mites: When using dehumidifiers regularly in homes with high moisture levels, you won't have to worry about the growth of mold, mildew and dust mites which can lead to allergy attacks. 
  • Helps food stay fresh: Many types of dried foods and grains are best when kept in areas of low humidity. 
  • Minimizes odor: By using a dehumidifier to help reduce overly damp or moist areas in your home, you can alleviate unwanted stale and musty scents. 
  • Easy-to-use controls: Dehumidifiers tend to have simple controls and may even feature convenient preset options. 

What you should consider about dehumidifiers

  • Noise level: Similar to purifiers, dehumidifiers can sometimes create background noise. Choose a silent option if you plan on using one in your bedroom overnight. 
  • Tank size: The water removed from the air stores in a removable tank. People who live in humid climates may want to opt for a model with a larger tank size so you won’t have to empty it as often. 
  • Price: Your overall budget will play a large role, as the total cost can range from $30 for mini-capacity models and up to $300 for large-capacity models. 

Top dehumidifiers

Pure Enrichment PureDry Deluxe Dehumidifier

This dehumidifier is great for small to medium-sized rooms with two speed levels, convenient auto-timer and whisper-quiet operation.

Sold by Amazon

Honeywell Energy Star Dehumidifier

Available in three different sizes, this model uses less energy than its competitors and even displays room temperature and humidity levels.

Sold by Amazon 

Frigidaire 22-Pint Dehumidifier

This highly portable option features three fan speeds and alerts you when the tank is full, so you can keep it operating without delay.

Sold by Amazon

Should you buy an air purifier or dehumidifier?

Considering that these two helpful products perform different tasks, the answer ultimately comes down to your needs. If you’re hoping to reduce mold, mildew and moisture, a dehumidifier is your best choice. However, if allergy control and air quality are top priorities, a convenient air purifier is undoubtedly the way to go. You may even want to consider using both products in conjunction with each other to create an ideal home atmosphere. 


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Matthew Young writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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