Air purifier maintenance: How to clean, replacement filter cost and other details

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Buying a new air purifier may seem like the easiest thing to eliminate PM2.5 and PM10 particles inside the room. However, before you get carried away by ads online remember that maintaining an air purifier is equally important. Many households in India tend to buy any low-cost air purifier model without considering whether the actual purpose is served or not. Here are some things to consider while choosing an air purifier model.
Cost of replacement filters and availability
More than the air purifier brand or price, you should consider the price of replacement filters. The filters of an air purifier needs to be changed at least every 3 months if you use it constantly. If you don’t change the filter then you are simply wasting electricity. As far as the cost of replacement filters are concerned, these can be as high as Rs 5000 to Rs 6000 for certain brands. On other hand, there are low cost air filters too for around Rs 1000. So, depending on how much money you can spare on buying replacement filters choose an air purifier brand and model accordingly.
Also, ensure that the replacement filters of a certain brand of air purifier is easily available on e-commerce sites like Flipkart or Amazon, etc or in nearby shops.
Opt for a model that comes with a cloth pre-filter
Air purifiers are usually kept on the floor and easily attract a lot of dust. Also, the large particles of dust can easily clog the air filters quickly thus reducing the lifespan of the filter. To prevent this, opt for air purifier models that come with a washable cloth pre-filter. This pre-filter is usually a cloth jacket that covers the vents of the air purifier and prevents dust from getting inside. It helps in extending the life of the air filter which directly lowers cost. The pre-filter also helps in removing pet hair and other large particles from the air purifier at the primary filtration stage.
Types of the air purifier filters
While buying an air purifier ensure that it comes with a filter that can prevent pollen, dust, smoke, odour and other harmful pollutants. There are four types of filter available – HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air), charged media, antibacterial and germicidal, and electrostatic precipitator.
The type of filter makes an air purifier effective. Remember not all filters can take care of all bad air problems. The most common filter type is HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air). Most air purifiers in the market come with HEPA filters. Other types of filters are mostly meant for large rooms and offices with centralised ventilation. Electrostatic precipitator and advanced charged media filters are used in factories and industrial spaces.
For home usage, you will most have to rely on HEPA filters. These can filter most (up to 99.9%) airborne particles of small sizes of up to 0.3 microns. Most air purifiers come with HEPA filters. When it comes to tackling smell, note that HEPA filters alone are ineffective and cannot remove odour on its own.
Some air purifier models provide ultrafine particle filters along with the HEPA filter to trap particles finer than 0.3 microns.
To tackle odour and other types of smell inside a room, go for an activated carbon filter along the HEPA filter. There are different types of activated carbon filters. The mesh carbon filters can take care of cooking or other general household odour. For removing chemical odours, opt for filters with activated carbon pellets.
You kill bacteria and viruses, you can also opt for filters with antibacterial coating. Having said that the most common air filter combination is a HEPA filter with activated carbon.
How to clean the air filter of an air purifier?
If the filter is washable, just soak it in soap water (normal temperature) and gently pour water to clean the filter. Be sure to completely dry the filter before putting it inside the air purifier. Do not use a jet spray to clean the filter. Also, do not rinse it. HEPA filters are delicate, any type of force will make them useless. Cleaning air purifier filters is not the same as cleaning AC filters.
If your air purifier comes with a non-washable filter, then do not use water or any other liquid. Take a cloth and gently rub it to take out the outside layer of dust. Then tap the filter to take out dust from inside. Do not touch the inside part of the filter or poke fingers. You have to be very gentle while cleaning and remember you cannot completely clean the filter ever. At best, you can simply extend the filter lifespan by a month more.
Different brands specify the lifespan of an air filter. If you run the air purifier always, then the filter lasts for a maximum of three months and you can squeeze another extra month by cleaning it once. If you occasionally use the air purifier then you can manage to use a filter for up to six months.

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