Can an air purifier help with a mold or mildew problem in your home?

Learn how to effectively use your air purifier if you find mold and mildew in your home

A bedroom in a bright loft conversion
(Image credit: Future / Adam Carter Photography)

Mold can create challenges for homeowners and prospective buyers alike. That musty smell and those unsightly splotches aren't just unpleasant—they can pose legitimate health risks if left unchecked.

Dealing with mold or mildew in your home can be challenging and potentially hazardous to your health. Air purifiers can manage these issues, although they are part of a broader strategy.

Below is a detailed guide on how air purifiers can help get rid of mold and mildew, and other essential methods to eliminate these problems.

Can an air purifier help with mold and mildew?

Our experts understand the critical role air quality management plays in tackling mold and mildew. Here's how an air purifier can help, along with other essential steps for thorough mold removal.

Understanding Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are both types of fungi that thrive in moist, warm environments. They can grow on a variety of surfaces, from wallpaper to tiles and fabrics.

Health issues related to mold and mildew include allergies, respiratory problems, and other serious health risks, especially for those with compromised immune systems or asthma.

How An Air Purifier Works

Molekule air purifiers, the Air Pro and the Air Mini+

(Image credit: Molekule)

Air purifiers work by pulling air from the room into the unit, filtering it through various filters, and then releasing the clean air back into the room.

‘The key component for dealing with mold issues is a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter, which can eliminate 99.97% of particles as tiny as 0.3 microns,’ says Josh Mitchell, HVAC technician and owner of Air Conditioner Lab. ‘This means they’re really effective at trapping mold spores, which range from 1 to 30 microns, and stop them from floating around in the air.’

HEPA filters can significantly cut down on the number of mold spores in the air, which in turn lowers the chances of mold popping up in your home. Some air purifiers also contain an activated carbon filter. These are like odor and chemical sponges soaking up all those smells and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that mold and mildew produce. VOCs can make breathing a bit of a challenge, so these filters pitch in by reducing them too.

Air purifiers such as the Medify MA-40 UV Light Air Purifier from Amazon also have UV-C light technology. UV-C light distorts the DNA of mold and microorganisms, making them harmless and unable to multiply. This method is often used with HEPA filters to make air purification even better. The big benefit here is that it adds extra protection by getting rid of mold spores that get past the filter.

Air purifiers like the Molekule Air Pro actually destroy organic matter at the molecular level. While most air purifiers typically have two layers of filtration, mechanical filters for particles and carbon filters for gases/odors, Molekule's air purifiers use PECO technology to destroy the matter itself.

When choosing which air purifier to buy, Josh states that you should consider it’s Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). An air purifier’s CADR measures how much air an air purifier can clean in a minute. The higher the CADR, the better the purifier is at filtering the air quickly and efficiently. So look for one with a high CADR for dust and pollen. Your air will get cleaned up fast, reducing the amount of mold spores floating around.

Josh Mitchell
Josh Mitchell

Josh Mitchell is a plumbing expert and HVAC technician and the owner of Air Conditioner Lab and Plumbing Lab.

The Limitations of Air Purifiers

While air purifiers can capture airborne mold spores, they do not address the source of mold growth. If the conditions that allowed mold to grow in the first place—such as high humidity or water leaks—are not corrected, mold will continue to grow and produce new spores.

Air purifiers cannot remove mold that is already growing on surfaces. Physical cleaning and removal of mold growth are necessary.

Additional Methods to Remove Mold and Mildew

Whilst air purifiers can help with mold and mildew, they work most effectively when part of a comprehensive strategy. According to Asif Bux, Owner & Service Manager at Comfort Union, a HVAC & plumbing company, there are other methods you should try in conjunction with your air purifier to prevent mold from forming.

Control Humidity: The best dehumidifiers can keep indoor humidity levels between 30% and 50%.

Fix Leaks: Address any plumbing leaks or water issues promptly to prevent moist conditions in which mold thrives.

Proper Ventilation: Use exhaust fans in high-moisture areas like bathrooms and kitchens. Ensure that clothes dryers and stoves are properly vented outdoors.

Regular Cleaning: Use commercial mold cleaners such as MOLD ARMOR Mold and Mildew Killer from Walmart or a mixture of water and bleach to remove mold (1 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water). Ensure proper ventilation when cleaning to avoid inhaling toxic mold spores. Run your air purifier afterward to capture any disturbed spores.

Remove Infested Materials: Sometimes, mold-infested materials like carpeting, wallpaper, or ceiling tiles need to be completely removed and replaced.

Regularly maintain your air purifiers: In addition to regularly cleaning your air purifier, check and replace the filters, as a clogged filter can reduce its effectiveness. Keep an eye on areas where you have had mold problems, as these could likely develop new growth if not properly managed.

Asif Bux
Asif Bux

Asif Bux proudly leads Comfort Union, a licensed HVAC, Plumbing and Electrical company in Calgary, Alberta. He is a licensed gas fitter with an eclectic background in Chemical Engineering and Business.

While air purifiers equipped with HEPA filters can capture airborne mold spores and help reduce their spread, they are just one part of a comprehensive approach to mold and mildew control. The most important steps are addressing moisture issues and actively removing existing mold growth. Combining these strategies with the use of an air purifier can help you maintain a healthier indoor environment.

Seraphina Di Mizzurati
Contributing Editor

Seraphina is a contributing editor at Homes & Gardens, writing Solved features on organizing and storage. She loves to decorate and also grow her own produce from her home in London. Her previous experience includes working at Women's Health and Fabulous Magazine.