You want to make sure that the air inside your house is clean, so you use an air purifier. They do a really good job and don’t appear to cost too much at first, but, as time goes by, they often turn out to be more expensive than you thought.
The majority of air purifiers contain HEPA and activated carbon filters and these need to be replaced regularly which becomes expensive quite quickly. So, what is the solution? The answer to your air filter problems is a permanent filter that can be washed and reused, and you won’t need to keep paying out on new ones.
Are they worth trying, though? Let’s see.
Why should you use reusable, washable filters?
An air purifier is not usually going to be the cheapest item you will ever buy for your household. There is a range of different types available and the cost varies according to the type of filter you buy, the make of it and how effective it is. It is the running of the filter that causes the costs to rise, though.
Here we describe some of the other advantages and disadvantages to using reusable filters, apart from the obvious savings made on buying replacements:
Saving money: Air purifiers seem quite inexpensive to buy, but the costs soon mount up. Filters need replacing frequently, some as often as three-monthly and some as little as twelve-monthly. The replacements also tend to be expensive.
Removal of everyday pollutants: The reusable type of filters are typically HEPA filters or iFD filters that can be washed. Either of these filters is very effective, differing by just 0.2%, so both are equally safe to use. They are also both excellent at removing all the common, everyday pollutants like dust, pollen and plant spores.
Can be cleaned any time: Replaceable filters only last for a certain amount of time, but washable ones can be cleaned whenever necessary. Simply check the filters if you think the purifier is not working as efficiently as usual. In fact, the more a filter is cleaned, the more efficient it will be.
Easy to maintain: Cleaning the replaceable filters is really quick and easy. Some of them just need to be vacuumed and others just need a quick rinse or even put through the dishwasher.
Less effective: The reusable filters do not work as effectively as True HEPA filters. The reusable ones usually only catch particles of at least 2 microns in size, whereas True HEPA filters catch particles of as little as 0.3 microns in size.
Only good for small places: Many manufacturers will tell you that their product will clean big rooms, but this is not always true. Most of them will purify a space of 250 square feet, which sounds ok, but not nearly as good as 1,000 square feet. So, if you do decide to use one in a large space, don’t expect miracles.
Not many features: Purifiers, particularly the ones with permanent filters, tend to be quite simple so they don’t have much in the way of settings or special features. If you do find any with different features, they will probably just be adjustable fan speed, sleep mode or an ionizer.
Is there a difference between washable and permanent?
If you’re looking for an air purifier that has a reusable filter, you will probably come across both permanent ones and washable ones. Be careful! They are both reusable but are not the same.
The only difference is how you clean them. It seems obvious really, but the ‘washable’ filters are easily washed using soap and water and some can even be put into the dishwasher, which makes life even easier, doesn’t it?
Washing the filter means that you get rid of all the pollutants and nasty contaminants. This may take a few minutes and, if they are really dirty, you might need to soak them before agitating the dirt and rinsing with water.
Washable filters will work much more efficiently if you wash them frequently. Not only that, they will actually become easier to keep clean, as the dirt is not allowed to build up and become difficult to remove.
Permanent filters could be damaged if they come into contact with water, so avoid using soap and water on them. The best way to clean these is to use the vacuum on them frequently.
What do I need to consider when buying an air purifier?
You obviously want to buy the best air purifier to suit your particular house and family, so there are a few things that you need to consider before deciding which air purifier is the best one for you.
Types of Filter
Much like ordinary air purifiers, these have filters inside, too. Many of them have a pre-filter to catch bigger particles like pollen and hair. Other ones contain HEPA filters to catch the smaller particles.
Unfortunately, not all of them work as effectively. Most of the washable HEPA filters are of the HEPA-type, which means that they are only similar to a real HEPA.
There are also units that contain a filter for removing odors. These could be foam filters or activated carbon filters. The activated carbon filter is a better filter to get as it is able to absorb both volatile organic compounds and cigarette smoke.
Sometimes pre-filters are present to capture the larger particles which helps the other filter to last longer. These pre-filters can usually be washed and are easy to look after. It is possible to find units that contain many pre-filters.
How much space will it cover?
This is among the really important things to consider when buying an air purifier. You need to know where the unit will be used so that you can work out the coverage needed. For example, if it is going to be used in the bedroom, you will need to choose one that covers between 100 to 250 square feet.
If it’s going to be used in a much larger space, you will need to get a unit that covers up to at least 500 square feet. Don’t be surprised if you buy a purifier that has low room coverage and you find it doesn’t work satisfactorily in your living room.
On the other hand, if you use a big unit in a small area, you could be wasting energy. Bigger units are often louder, too, so they could turn out to be very noisy if used in a smaller room.
CADR stands for ‘clean air delivery rate,’ which indicates the amount of air that is being filtered at any time. The CADR number usually measures smoke, dust, and pollen, and varies in rating from 10 to up to 450.
To make sure your purifier is as efficient as possible, it’s a good idea to buy a unit that has a CADR rating between 100 and 150. Anything below 100 will not be effective enough.
What are the Top Air Purifiers of 2021 that have Permanent or Washable Filters?
We’ve researched the best air purifiers with permanent or washable filters out there to choose from, using reviews left by real customers. We looked at how easy they are to use and how effective they are and we think these five are the best:
Hamilton Beach TrueAir Permanent HEPA Filter
The Hamilton Beach TrueAir is a really versatile, compact unit that has coverage space of up to 160 square feet.
This unit can be put anywhere, which gives it such great versatility. Usually, air purifiers need to be kept vertical, but this one is great because it also works horizontally.
It contains a HEPA-grade filter that catches up to 99% of particles sized 3 microns in the air. Although this doesn’t have quite the same effectiveness as the True HEPA filter, it does still mean that the air gets a fairly thorough cleaning.
The unit’s fan has three speeds that can be used with varying degrees of air pollution. The TrueAir is an excellent choice for your bedroom as it is very quiet and won’t disturb you.
Why do we like it?
We think this air purifier is ideal for using in any office, bedroom or nursery due to its compact size. It can be used vertically or horizontally depending on where it is going to be used and it has four anti-slip feet that means it won’t move when put on top of a desk.
This unit is quite small, so it won’t be suitable for cleaning large spaces. It works best in areas up to 160 square feet.
Easy to Maintain
You know it’s time to clean your air purifier when it’s not working quite as efficiently as usual. Fortunately, this unit is really easy to clean. Simply open the cover on the back and use your vacuum to get rid of all the dirt from the HEPA filter. If you want the best results, use the soft brush or upholstery attachments on your vacuum.
The HEPA filter must be kept clean to ensure it works properly at all times. It’s great for capturing a range of pollutants, including dust, mold, pollen and animal dander.
Three Speed Settings
This may only be a small, compact unit, but it gives you a choice of three different fan speeds. This means that if you feel the air is really polluted, you can turn up the speed to get a really good, fast clean or keep it at a lower speed during more quiet times.
Things to Consider
Less Thorough than Others
This particular purifier does its job, but not quite as effectively as some others. This is because of the inclusion of a HEPA-grade filter that isn’t quite as effective at capturing as much dirt as a True HEPA filter.
Honeywell Washable Filters
This is a really efficient air purifier on account of its special tower-like construction. It is able to draw in a vast amount of air and it contains a system for three levels of cleaning. It contains a permanent pre-filter as well as a True HEPA filter that catches up to 99% of pollutants in the air.
This purifier is ideal if you want to save some money on your energy bills. Not only does it use very little electricity, it is also rated by Energy Star. This unit is able to clean an area of 170 square feet five times an hour very effectively.
Why do we like it?
These filters don’t need to be replaced. All you need to do is take them out and then you can either vacuum them or give them a wash to get them clean. This saves money in the long term and will allow you to keep your air purifier for much longer.
Perfect for Rooms of a Medium Size
This unit works really well in rooms that cover an area of up to 300 square feet and is especially efficient in rooms that are smaller than this as it cleans up to 10 times per hour.
True HEPA Filter
Units with replaceable filters usually contain True HEPA filters. This means that you can save money whilst enjoying pollutant-free air as you won’t need to keep replacing the filters. This unit captures up to 99.97% of pollutant particles as small as 0.3 microns, including animal dander and particles of smoke.
Indicator for Cleaning the Filter
This unit is so clever it reminds you when the filter needs cleaning. Whenever a wash is needed, a light located on the display panel will flash.
Filter for Reducing Odors
This purifier is excellent for dealing with all those nasty smells in your house like pets or various other things. Not only does it have filters that you can wash, it contains an odor-reducing filter that is replaceable, too. It works by absorbing all the nasty odors and gases and will even capture any VOCs in the atmosphere.
Things to Consider
Not Suitable with Allergens
Although this unit captures many of the different pollutants from the air, there have been reports from a few customers that they didn’t notice much difference with the capture of very fine dust, which doesn’t make it very good for anyone with allergies.
Airdog X5 Air Purifier with Washable Filter
The Airdog X5 is the ideal air purifier for rooms and spaces that are much bigger. It has a five-stage filtration system with an ionizer that works with it to eliminate even more pollutants from the air.
The filters it contains can easily be washed, in fact they can even be put into the dishwasher, making this unit really convenient for the modern family. This unit does not contain HEPA filters, like most of the others, but has an ionizer, a pre-filter, collecting plates and ozone generator.
This unit combines a modern design with smart features – for instance, it has an app-control. When it’s running at a low speed, it’s also very quiet, making it ideal for use at night.
Why do we like it?
This unit’s unique five-stage filtration system captures a large number of air pollutants very effectively and the pre-filter takes care of all the bigger particles like hair and pet dander. As well as this, there are emitter wires that dissolve electrons into the air, thus killing bacteria.
Airdog claims that it has a secret weapon in this purifier. Negatively charged ions are produced by an ionic field and these bond with positively charged particles, such as smoke and dust. This makes the particles much heavier and unable to float in the air. The bonded, heavier particles then collect on special plates. This is said to be considerably more efficient than HEPA filters.
Finally, the ozone generator generates safe amounts of ozone (0.01 parts per million) over a whole 24 hours.
Easy to Maintain
The pre-filter can be hand washed very easily or simply put into the dishwasher making life much easier for today’s busy parents. All you need to do is wait for the filter to be completely dry and then safely put it back into the purifier.
Easy to Operate
It’s so easy to operate this unit — you just need to press one button and off you go. That makes this unit one of the quickest and easiest to learn how to use. It can be connected to the Airdog Smart App, too, which means that you can control it from wherever you are. All you need to do is set the right mode, select the child lock and you will be able to keep an eye on the air quality every minute of the day.
Things to Consider
Production of Ozone
The ozone generator is obviously an important feature of this unit, but it still could cause some concern. Only small levels of ozone are produced and this needs to be taken into consideration if you’re thinking of buying one of these units.
Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier with Washable Filter
The Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier is our favorite air purifier for both day and night use. Of the four available fan speeds, high and turbo are the most effective speeds and work really efficiently during the daytime. They are slightly noisier, but the air is purified much more quickly and effectively.
Low and medium settings are ideal for using at night, as they are almost silent. As well as this, there are sleep mode sensors that react to the amount of light in a room, so the unit will automatically switch to the lower speed settings for nighttime. This also means that you don’t have to remember to do this yourself. The speed of the fan is adjusted, the indicator light is dimmed and the unit carries on cleaning, but much quieter. Brilliant for nighttime when you really don’t want to be disturbed by your air purifier.
Why do we like it?
This unit removes 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns in size, including dust, pollen, smoke, bacteria, spores of mold, hair, dander and VOCs. These are all types of things that will decrease air quality in the home. The Winix, though, guarantees to capture most of these pollutants to ensure that your air is as clean and healthy as possible.
The inclusion of smart sensors in this unit means that the air inside your house is automatically monitored. The unit indicates the quality of the air and shows a scale from good to poor. When it shows blue, the quality is good, if it’s amber it’s okay, but red means the air quality is poor, so there’s no need to guess anymore! If the quality of the air changes, the speed of the fan automatically adjusts to start cleaning the air more effectively. Of course, this also saves on the amount of energy being used, as turbo speed is only used when absolutely necessary.
3 Stage Purification System
The air purifier system in this unit comprises three stages.
Firstly, all those nasty household odors, like those you get from cooking, smoke or your pets, are eliminated by an advanced odor control. This also catches any airborne particles inside which helps keep the HEPA Filter lasting much longer.
Secondly, 99.97% of airborne particles are captured by the True HEPA filter. Another good feature here is an indicator light that shows you when the filter needs replacing.
Lastly, the use of PlasmaWave Technology means that the captured particles are safely broken down and won’t emit any harmful by-products or ozone. However, it is possible to turn off this particular function if you don’t need it.
Things to consider
Filter Replacements are Expensive
The filter replacements for this particular unit are quite expensive, which is definitely something to think about before you consider buying it. Just one filter is roughly ⅓ of the cost of the purifier itself. The positive here, though, is that it’s only the HEPA filter that will ever need to be replaced, as the PlasmaWave filter is a permanent feature and the carbon filter can be washed.
What’s The Verdict?
If you choose an air purifier containing a reusable filter, you will certainly be saving yourself both time and money in the long term. On the downside, though, the reusable filters are slightly less effective than the replaceable ones due to the fact that the quality is lower.
It is also a really good idea to think about the room coverage whenever you are looking for an air purifier. A good CADR rating will ensure maximum effectiveness from your new air purifier, too.