Where should you place your air purifier?

To get the most benefit from your air purifier, you have to know where to put it.
By
Updated on April 15, 2024
Written by
Jeff Somers
Jeff has been writing for HouseFresh since 2023. He lives in Hoboken, NJ with his wife and their cats, and has published nine novels and more than fifty short stories. In addition to writing for HouseFresh, Jeff also covers topics connected to home ownership for Lifehacker,
TL;DR

Air purifiers make our living spaces more comfortable and healthier. But to make the most out of your machine, you’ll need to know where to put it.

A few things to keep in mind include: keeping intake and outflow vents clear, keeping the purifier away from heat and moisture, elevating it so it’s on the same plane as your breathing, and placing it close to sources of smells or pollutants.

Sometimes, opening windows can help freshen up the air in your room, provided the outside air isn’t polluted. If it is polluted, you’ll just allow more contaminants into your room, crippling your air purifier’s performance. Limit the time you leave windows open to 20 minutes maximum.

While general guidelines can be helpful, the specifics of each room will dictate placement.

 If the air quality in your home isn’t ideal, an air purifier is essential. Not only do they remove airborne allergens that can make us (and our pets) miserable, but they also make our homes more comfortable and pleasant. They can even improve our health and sleep quality.

Like anything else, the effectiveness of your air purifier depends on if you’re using it properly. And one of the most important considerations is its placement. Having your air purifier in the wrong spot can significantly reduce its effectiveness and longevity.

Factors to keep in mind when placing an air purifier

You put a lot of research and thought into choosing an air purifier. The top considerations are usually the filter type and the size of your room. You should apply the same consideration when choosing a place for it, as putting an air purifier in the wrong spot can reduce its effectiveness. 

Here are a few factors to consider:

1. Keep intake and outflow vents clear

Air purifiers work by drawing in your room’s air, filtering it to remove contaminants, and then blowing the purified air back out to circulate. For an air purifier to work properly, keep it away from walls or furniture so its intake and outflow vents aren’t blocked. 

Obstructed vents will not only degrade performance but can damage the unit. Ideally, you should have a minimum of 2 in (around 5 cm) of clear space around the unit.

Tip

Although maximizing airflow for your air purifier will help it operate at peak efficiency, limit the amount of time you leave windows open in the room. Leaving them open for more than 20 minutes increases the amount of pollutants coming in.

2. Consider how high you put it

When placing an air purifier, elevate it so it’s about 4-5 feet off the ground in rooms where you primarily stand (like the kitchen), and 2-3 feet off the ground in rooms where you primarily sit or sleep (your bedroom). Keeping your air purifier at around the same height as your nose will maximize its effectiveness.

3. Keep away from heat and moisture

Like any other motorized device, excessive heat or moisture can damage the inner mechanisms of your air purifier and reduce its effectiveness. Or worse, cause it to malfunction. Avoid placing your purifier near heat sources or damp, humid areas.

Tip

Remember that other electronic devices can produce heat. Keep your air purifier away from televisions, computers, and other devices that can run hot.

4. Place near sources of smells and pollutants

Let’s say you have a conjoined kitchen and living room and also have a gas stove. You’ll want to place your air purifier somewhere in the kitchen and close to the gas source so that it can filter out pollutants immediately. 

The closer you place your air purifier to the source, the more impact it has.

Tip

If there’s air pollution outside the house (e.g., wildfire smoke), it’s a good idea to switch your air conditioning unit to “recirculate mode” combined with your air purifier. 

This mode stops taking in air from outside and reuses the purified air inside your home instead, reducing the contaminants that need to be removed.

What’s the advice from air purifier manufacturers?

It’s always wise to follow the advice of air purifier manufacturers, as they have a vested interest in helping you place your device properly.

“For purifiers to work best, it needs enough space to draw in and circulate air throughout the room. If it’s backed up against the wall, it can’t take in as much air and limit its airflow.”

“Place the air purifier in a strategically functional place. Preferably somewhere where airflow is already present.”
Winix

“We recommend a placement close to the middle of where you want clean air, like in between the living room and kitchen, for maximum performance.”
Coway

“If you’ve bought your first air purifier, put it in the bedroom. You spend a significant amount of time in your bedroom, so purifying your air there will have the biggest “bang for the buck.”
Alen

“Place the air purifier closest to the source. The closer the air purifier is to the contaminant, the faster it will trap the particles that are giving you grief.”

In general terms, manufacturers advise to maximize airflow around the purifier and to think about the specific dimensions of the space where it’ll be used.

The companies that build air purifiers conduct a lot of research, test diligently, and make constant improvements to their products. They know what they’re talking about.

Wrapping up: The do’s and don’ts of air purifier placement

An air purifier can be a hefty investment, and if it’s not working as intended, then you’re wasting money.

These general guidelines can help you get the most bang for your buck:

What you should do

Leave at least 12 in of space around your air purifier
Place your air purifier higher in rooms where you stand and lower in rooms where you sit or sleep
Target contaminants by placing your air purifier as near to the source as you can
Keep windows closed or open for up to 20 minutes
Keep your air purifier cool and dry

What you shouldn’t do

Block the intake and outflow vents by placing the air purifier against walls or near furniture
Place your air purifier on the floor, where it won’t have much impact on the air you’re actually breathing
Place your air purifier in out-of-the-way areas where it will have a limited impact on the overall air quality
Leave windows open for more than 20 minutes at a time
Place your air purifier near heat sources, including other electronics, or in moist or humid areas

Like any other device, an air purifier will be most effective if you put a little strategic thought into its placement. The closer it is to the source of problems and the air you’re breathing while using the room, the more benefit you’ll get from the device.

  • Kitchen: Target the middle of the room, and place it up on a counter. An island is the ideal spot. Don’t place it right next to any ventilation, like a hood vent, that can interfere with the purifier.

  • Living room: If there’s a specific source of air pollution, place as close to it as possible (e.g. near a dog bed). Otherwise, place it as close to the middle of the room as possible, and elevate it so it’s at head level when people sit.

  • Bedroom: Place your air purifier near your bed and at the same level as your mattress to ensure you breathe purified air all night.

  • Home office: Place as near your workspace as possible. Elevate to match the position of your head (e.g. if you use a standing desk, raise the purifier to match).

  • Basement: Basements tend to be damp and are often breeding grounds for mold. Target areas where there are signs of excess moisture —  but keep in mind that an air purifier cannot eliminate mold. Mold will still need to be addressed separately.

SOURCES

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About the author

Jeff Somers

Jeff has been writing for HouseFresh since 2023. He lives in Hoboken, NJ with his wife and their cats, and has published nine novels and more than fifty short stories. In addition to writing for HouseFresh, Jeff also covers topics connected to home ownership for Lifehacker,

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