Do Air Purifiers Work For Mold - Can They Prevent It?

May 7, 2021

Will An Air Purifier Help Get Rid Of Mold In My Home?

Mould can grow inside of our homes without us knowing and tend to grow awful mould spores in dark and damp places around our home, whether a leaky roof or your kitchen sink, these mould particles float around the air you breathe in and cause some serious side effects to your health. 

It is studied that mould spores account for the majority presence of mould in a house and exposure to the mold spores in the air can cause an allergic reaction to some people who have mold allergies, which is why awful mold spores should be tackled straight away before they continue to grow.

Air purifiers can help with the filtration of mold spores from the air you breathe in with a long-life true HEPA filter to trap the fungi particles in the air, however, even though air purifiers might tackle the mold air quality issue, steps should be taken to prevent the actual growth. 

That's why we have put together an extensive guide below that will give you all the knowledge you need for tackling a mold infestation in your household so as you can use an air purifier to breathe in the highest quality air possible with no spores present. 

What Is Mould & Mildew? 

Before we can get into the nitty-gritty details about how to air purifiers for mould work, you need to understand more about the mould which is in your household, how it grows and the type of mould you have, as well as why you need to get rid of it. 

Mould and mildew tend to be used interchangeably but refer to a different type of mold. Mildew tends to be visible mold growth which can appear on surfaces that get damp such as cloths and fabrics, this can be wiped off easily and the source of mold will disappear. 

Mold itself is a fungus that comes in green or black patches a grows beneath the surface of a certain material, this mold is less visible and grows inside walls, for example, it is much harder to get rid of than mildew too and is responsible for the majority of mold spores in the air.

We have listed out the common types of household mold you might come across below which can affect indoor air quality, most of these mold types can be split up into three categories; toxigenic, pathogenic and allergenic.

  • Stachybotrys - Stachybotrys mold has a black colour and can cause serious negative respiratory symptoms in people, it often appears on wood or rotting leaves and can cause a large mold buildup if left to grow.
  • Mucormycetes - This kind of mold is what you see on fruits when they go bad, it has a white fuzzy appearance and can trigger allergic reactions in some people, it also likes to live with moisture in places like air conditioning units.
  • Alternaria - Alternaria mold likes to live around sinks and showers, it can cause asthma-like symptoms in people and often appears as if it has brown hairs.
  • Chaetomium - This type of mold loves humidities and has negative health effects such as allergic reactions, it also thrives in places with a lot of moisture.
  • Penicillium - Penicillium comes from a blue/green mold and is often found in a small size after there has been water damage and there is leftover moisture in your home, this can often cause allergies and sinus symptoms in people.
  • Trichoderma - Trichoderma mould happens around window sills in your home and damp areas such as a shower base, it can cause bronchitis infections and also cause wood near to rot if left untreated. 

How Does Mold Grow? 

Now you know more about mold and the types you will likely come across in the humid climate of your home, it's worth taking some time to understand how these levels of mold grow and why they can cause mold allergies in the air. 

Mold reproduces through a term for mold called mold spores, which thrive on moisture and warm places, these mold particles are not visible in the air, which is why they are so dangerous if we inhale them over and over again. 

Mold spores are always in the air and can't be prevented, but active mold growth will only happen if there are ideal conditions for it lives inside of your home in places such as our bathrooms are in our air conditioning units where it is always damp and contained. 

A mold spore count will be higher too if there is food for it to digest where it is growing, whether this wooden places or other materials it can break down and eat, mold may go unnoticed for a long time if you experience effects of mold such as allergies or smell.

Signs You Have Mold In Your Home 

As mold coverage in your home is not always visible and the spores are airborne particles that you can't see, you might need to study your household for some common signs which indicate you have mold spores in your home. 

We have bullet pointed some typical signs of mold growth in your home to look out for below - 

  • Shower tiles grout - Dark grout in between your shower tiles can show mold is present, however, this type is not dangerous when inhaled.
  • The air conditioning smell - Air conditioners are the most perfect place for a mold issues, as they stay damp and dark when leftover winter, inviting mold odours to develop and airborne particles to develop.
  • Constant cold - Feeling as if you are constantly tired or unwell can show there is a mould issue unknown in your house. Runny noses or feeling unwell after being in a certain room of your house can be a great indicator.
  • The wallpaper is peeling - Unusual peeling or cracking of wallpaper in your home can indicate a mold issue due to moisture buildup.
  • Your allergies get worse when you are home - If you are wondering why your asthma or allergies tend to worsen when your home, then you might be having mold allergies from your house.
  • Dark patches on the wall - Some mold and mildew can appear on your wall in patches of different colours and textures.
  • Musty odour - Mold troubles can also bring mold odors, this smell is almost stale, so if you have it in one area of your home, you know where to search for a mold buildup.
  • You have had flooding - Any flooding that has happened in your home or leaky pipes and baths can bring the possibility of mold and will need to be tackled straight away to dry out your home.
  • There is a humidifier - Although humidifiers have some great health benefits and add moisture into the air, they make a great breeding ground for mold to develop.

How Does Mold Effect Your Health?

So surely if mold is all around our house and airborne particles are containing it, the majority of mold is not dangerous, right? 

Well, no, some people might be fine with mold spores in the air, while in others it can cause serious mold allergies and breathing issues over time. 

We have listed out a few of the most common side effects people with mold sensitivity can have below. 

  • Breathing issues - General breathing issues and skin irritation can be caused by airborne spores of mold in the air for people who don't even have allergies.
  • Allergies - An itchy throat or nose might indicate you have an allergy to the mold coverage in the air, in some people it can even lead to an asthma attack.
  • Aspergillosis - One kind of common household mold is aspergillus, people with a weak immune system can get aspergillosis if they are exposed to mold.
  • Bronchitis infections - The mold present in a house from airborne mold spores can trigger bronchitis infections in some people as an inflammatory response to exposure to mold.

All these negative health effects of mold are dependent on factors such as how much mold buildup is present in your home and how strong the persons immune system is.

Can An Air Purifier Help Remove Mold? 

Now we know all about mold and mildew in your home and how to spot it, let's look into how to clean the mold allergens from the air around us, as this is what causes breathing issues in the majority of people. 

An air purifier can help you with mold prevention in the air as it traps particles as low as 0.3 microns in size, it does this through its HEPA filter, then blows clean air back into the room after it has been filtered from fungi particles and general bad air contaminants. 

Although a HEPA air purifier can help you remove airborne chemicals and mold from the air, they do not stop mold growth itself, so this would need to be tackled first if you want to stop the reproduction of spores after you filter the air.

HEPA filters can remove 99.97% of bad particles such as mold in the air and the average size of mold fungi particles tend to be around five microns in size, which is big enough for an air purifier to catch and remove. 

To help remove mold from the air with your air purifier you can place in areas where mold is likely to be present such as in your kitchen or bathroom where a lot of moisture is around and mold is common to settle.

How Do Air Purifiers For Mold Work?

A HEPA air purifier for mold will trap the microscopic fungi spores in the air through their net, they will never be able to get rid of all mold spores in the air but can keep numbers low to stop side effects of mold being present. 

Your air purifier works best after you have done an initial cleanup of mold in your house as this is when more mold spores will be floating around the air ready to be caught, once your HEPA filter is full it will need to be changed however for it to keep working effectively and trapping mold spores. 

What Type Of Filter Should I Use In An Air Purifier To Remove Mold? 

Levoit Air Purifier, LV-Pur131 Review

As we mentioned above, you should use a HEPA filter to trap mold spores in the air, but you can also find some great air purifier add ons that will give you complete air purification technology of mold.

  • HEPA with a UV-C light - Rather than just use a HEPA filter to catch mold spores in the air you can also use one to kill mold spores if it has a UV-C light, however, there is the danger that this UV-C light can release ozone into the air which is dangerous for people to inhale.
  • HEPA with a carbon filter - An added carbon filter with a HEPA filter can help remove mold odour from the air and reduce the musty smell which is present, this filter is not effective at trapping mold spores, however. 
  • HEPA with ionizers - Ionizers make it easier for spores to stick to a filter via electrical charge, however, once again, there is always the risk of ozone being emitted when it makes the air 'fresher'.

What Else Can An Air Purifier Remove? 

You might be wondering if an air purifier with a HEPA filter can only remove mold spores in the air, and the answer to that is no, having a HEPA filter can remove a lot of other bad chemicals in the air which you might not have considered, we have listed a few below. 

  • Pet dander. 
  • Dust mites. 
  • Pollen. 
  • Viruses. 
  • Bacteria. 

How To Prevent Mold From Growing In Your Home

As said earlier in our article, mold can be removed from the air by your air purifier, but the growth cannot be stopped until you clean the mold issue itself and spores will continue to reproduce and circulate through the air. 

Do Air Purifiers Actively Remove Dust

Luckily, there are some ways and tips you can implement to prevent mold from growing in your home in the first place which can improve the air quality of your house too. 

  • Use a dehumidifier - The growth of mold excels in areas of high humidity, due to the large moisture count in the air, one way to lower the moisture in your home and make mold less likely to grow is by installing a dehumidifier. 
  • Check for leaks - Excess moisture can come into your home if your shower faucet is leaking or pipes under your kitchen sink, repairing these leaks quickly can stop mold from getting worse. 
  • Open windows - Ventilation should not be underestimated if your want to protect your home from mold, when cooking or showering, dampness and humidity can grow in the room, so opening a window when doing these activities can make it less inviting for colonies of mold.
  • Clean carpets - Mold can form under carpets in your home without you noticing until you spot a musty smell developing in your living room, by vacuuming regularly you can stop mold from growing.
  • Shut doors - Leaving the door open in your bathroom or kitchen can spread steam around your home causing more microscopic mold spores to develop and take hold of your house. 
  • Clean cupboards - Clutter in cupboards of your home makes these tight spaces lose air circulation and can encourage mold growth on your belongings, never fill a cupboard too tightly and give your house a good old clear out!
  • Clean fans and filters - Air conditioner fans and even air purifier filters will attract mold eventually if they are not cleaned well and make the air quality unbearable with a musty odor if used when they haven't been cleaned/changed.
  • Dry clothes outside - Moisture can transfer from the wet clothes you are drying inside on to the ceiling as walls of your home, you should always use a tumble dryer, dry them outside or ventilate your home as much as you can if you have to dry your clothes inside.

Frequently Asked Questions About Air Purifiers & Mold 

How long will mold spores stay in the air after cleaning? 

Mold spores will remain more active in the air 24-48 hours after cleaning, this is the best time to use your air purifier to trap the spores floating around in the air, you should also ensure that the house is ventilated well after cleaning too.

Can mold dry out if there is no moisture? 

Mold will dry out and become inactive over time if there is no moisture, but this does mean the mold is gone entirley and can become reactivated and grow again if the area where it is becomes moist once more.

Is it possible for mold in walls to make you sick? 

Yes, even if you do not have allergies to mold then the mold in the walls around you have the potential to give you allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, a runny nose and consistent coughing. 

If you have a musty smell in the air around your home or you notice that your allergies are worse when you spend time inside, then you could well have mold behind your walls which you don't know about, look for signs of discolouration to be sure. 

Can black mold kill you? 

Black mold is unlikely to kill you but can cause serious respiratory problems in people after being exposed, especially in younger children or adults. Some common symptoms of black mould exposure could be itchy eyes and coughing.

Are dehumidifiers better for mold than air purifiers? 

Dehumidifiers are great for getting rid of mold as they make the environment less pleasant for it, however, they do not remove mold spores from the air like purifiers, so both can be used together to fight mold after initial removal. 

Should I wear a mask when cleaning mold? 

You should always wear a mask if you are doing a deep cleaning of mold to prevent inhaling it and causing respiratory issues, it's a good idea to wear gloves too when touching mould to prevent skin irritation from occurring.

Final Words

Overall, air purifiers work for mold removal in the air if you get a purifier that has a HEPA filter to trap the spores and stop them from reproducing, you can use this in conjunction with a carbon filter to remove the mold musty smell from your household too. 

It should be noted, however, that HEPA air purifiers alone will not be successful in removing mold altogether, you should get to the source of the mold first, whether it is a leak or behind your wall and deal it will before using a purifier to help control the spores in the air which could be making you sick, you can use a humidifier too so as you can dry out the air and make it less habitual for mold to thrive.

Kirsten Carter
Kirsten Carter is a freelance content writer who specialises in writing about travel, technology and health. When she's not traveling between her home of Tanzania and England, she writes for her blog Rightminded Travelling and features on a variety of different travel and technology sites.

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