No matter how thoroughly we clean the surfaces within our homes, one fact remains — our most-used spaces are not truly clean until the air we breathe inside them is clean. Air purifiers can make the air in our homes smell better, reduce allergies, and may even help to reduce the circulation of viruses in the air — including the COVID-19 virus. The gold standard for at-home air purifiers has long been the HEPA filter. And while you may have seen the acronym around your favorite cleaning blogs — including this one — you may still not be entirely sure what sets HEPA filters apart.
So, what are HEPA and HEPA-certified filters, how do they work, and how can you use them to make your home truly clean and safe? Let’s explore some of these common FAQs about all things HEPA:
What Are HEPA Filters and How Do They Work?
HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air, a designation used to describe the most efficient and effective air filters.
Time for a crash course in science! Air filter efficiency is measured by the minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV system, which describes the amount of particulate matter a filter can remove from the air.
HEPA filters have the highest MERV ratings, meaning they can trap 99.97 percent of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger. You can ensure you are truly buying a filter that meets this standard by looking for a MERV value of 17 or higher, or by reviewing the test results on the filter itself to ensure the filter is rated to remove 99.7% of particulates.
HEPA filters were first developed by the military in the 1940s, and were actually originally designed to remove radioactive material from the air. HEPA filters are made up of randomly interlaced and tangled glass fibers, creating a maze that traps particles as they work their way through the filter. As tiny particles work their way through the filters, they bounce from fiber to fiber, eventually slowing down the particles’ motion and causing them to stick to the fibers. The filters are folded into pleats to increase their surface area and the amount of air in contact with the filter at any given time.
The Limits Of HEPA Filters
Although HEPA filters are widely used to improve air quality, they do have their limits. While HEPA filters can reduce the particles in the air, giving viruses and bacteria fewer places to cling onto, they do not actually kill viruses or bacteria, nor do they remove gases or volatile organic compounds from the air.
HEPA filters must also be changed regularly to remain effective, and if they are not changed properly, they may potentially do more harm than good in the long run. The filters capture mold spores, but they do not kill them, and mold can grow on the surface of a filter if it is not changed regularly.
What to Know About HEPA Air Purifiers
If your home’s HVAC system does not support HEPA filters, a portable air purifier may be the next best thing. Air purifiers are standalone units that work by forcing air in the room through a HEPA filter. HEPA air purifiers can be useful particularly after dusting or vacuuming, to remove any dust particles, pet hair, or other pollutants that may have been disturbed into the air.
In choosing an air purifier, make sure to select one that is designed for the size of the room you intend to use it in. To do this, you’ll want to look at how much air it moves, which is determined by the size of the unit’s fan. This will be provided by the company as the cubic feet per minute or CFM value. A larger fan will be able to move more air through the filter, thereby cleaning the air of a larger room. To purify the air in more than one room, choose separate purifiers, each rated for the size of the room you would like to clean.
What to Know About HEPA Vacuum Cleaners
Vacuuming can be a tricky proposition for allergy sufferers or anyone concerned about the air quality inside the home. The simple act of vacuuming up dust, pet dander, and other particles from floors and other surfaces can unintentionally stir up some dust particles into the air. HEPA vacuum cleaners are a great way to reduce dust and other particles that can be kicked up by vacuuming.
While adding a HEPA filter to an existing vacuum can sound like a quick and easy way to improve air quality, simply adding a HEPA bag or air filter to your vacuum does not mean you’ll actually get HEPA performance from your machine. HEPA-certified vacuum cleaners are sealed and designed to ensure that the air coming out of the vacuum is HEPA filtered; a traditional vacuum lacks these seals and even a filter with a high MERV rating will not filter all of the air that escapes.
HEPA vacuums can either be bagged or bagless, and are similar in operation, appearance, and cost to standard vacuums. If you have decided to purchase a HEPA vacuum, check out consumer reviews to choose the model that best suits your home and lifestyle.
Have Questions About Vacuums Or Air Purifiers? Sweeping Dimensions Has Answers!
Curious about how you can stock your home with the right cleaning supplies and products? Interested in talking about safe and eco-friendly cleaning methods with pros who have been there? Let the experienced cleaning teams at Sweeping Dimensions help you find the answers you’ve been looking for!
We know that keeping your home clean and functional can quickly start to feel like a full-time job. When you’re ready to call in some backup, Sweeping Dimensions Cleaning Service can help!
Here at SDCS, we always make a sweeping effort to make life less stressful. Whether you’re looking for a deep clean, routine housekeeping, or service for a special event, we can help! With a professionally trained and uniformed staff, all of our cleanings are fully customizable to meet your unique needs. We bring all of the cleaning supplies and equipment needed to clean your home, with a focus on green, environmentally sound cleaning products.
We’re so confident that you’ll love our service, that we offer the Sweeping Dimensions guarantee! If our cleaning services should ever fail to meet your expectations, you can call us within 24 hours of your cleaning and we will send out a supervised crew to correct anything that needs attention.
Ready to check some major cleaning chores off your list? We’re here for you. Get in touch today for your free service estimate!