Are Air Purifiers Bad For Houseplants?

Room full of plants

Are air purifiers bad for houseplants?

One of the questions that is often asked by those preparing to purchase a home air purifier is “are air purifiers bad for houseplants?”

No, air purifiers are not bad for house plants. You home air purifier simply removes particulate matter and other contaminates from the air. House plants use a process call photosynthesis to turn Carbon Dioxide and water vapor in your home’s air into Oxygen and other useful compounds. The two processes are not related and thus an air purifier will not affect house plants in any way.

The question is often asked because the type of person concerned enough about their home air quality to consider an air purifier will usually have several plants sitting around their home’s interior.

Why do we say this? Consider why you are here right now. I imagine you are worried about the air quality in your home and are contemplating purchasing a home air purifier, or you have already purchase one.

I also imagine there are a number of plants in your home right now because you have heard that house plants can improve your home’s air quality.

There is a common misconception that house plants aid in purifying your home’s air. While there are many reasons why one may have indoor house plants that are all perfectly valid, the idea that house plants aid in home air purification is somewhat misguided.  

We will delve further into the discussion of indoor house plants and their ability to clean your home’s air in another article but for now just know that their effect on air quality remains somewhat in question.

Are house plants bad for air purifiers?

Based on what we have discussed so far, it seems the answer to the question of whether house plants are bad for air purifiers or not is pretty clear-cut. But, as is so often the case, the answer is not as straight forward as you may think.

House plants could possibly negatively affect the performance of some air purifiers. Indoor plants are known to raise humidity levels in buildings. A significant number of plants could possibly raise the humidity quite a bit and in some instances, high enough to affect HEPA filter efficiency.

HEPA filters are found on most popular air purifier models. HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air. Basically, these are mechanical filters with an ultra-fine mesh that traps airborne contaminates such as dust, pollen, smoke, and pet dander when room air is forced through them.

Consider this. As this particulate matter builds up on the surfaces of the filter, they begin to create a film. A large portion of this film consists of dust particles. Studies have shown that large spikes in a room’s humidity level can cause these dust particles to absorb some of this moisture. As they absorb moisture, these dust particles can grow in size, greatly decreasing the filter’s effectiveness.

The bottom line is that a large number of indoor plants can affect filter life and thus raise the cost of ownership of the air purifier overall while lowering its cleaning efficiency.

Leafy green house plant

Conclusion

Having indoor plants creates a comforting home atmosphere for some folks and plants do manage to provide some air purification benefits as well. Just keep in mind that, like all good things, there is a point when too much of a good thing starts to become an issue.

Are air purifiers bad for houseplants? Not likely, home air purifiers have no effect on house plants but having too many house plants can have an effect on your air purifier. Too many indoor plants can raise humidity and that can affect your HEPA filters.

Keeping humidity levels relatively stable is key to maintaining high air quality in your home. We will discuss further the effects of humidity in your home and the use of humidifiers and de-humidifiers to control your humidity level in separate article.

We encourage homeowners to invest in a good indoor humidity monitor, called a hygrometer, to help them keep track of humidity levels in their home.

Here are some other great ways to measure indoor air quality.

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