Air Scrubber 101

Air Scrubber 101

What is an air scrubber and why do you need one?

When you clean your home to remove dust and germs, how often do you think about cleaning the air? Air scrubbers are a new development, but they have quickly built a reputation as the workhorses of air purification for your home.

According to the EPA, the air inside your home could be TWO TO FIVE TIMES MORE CONTAMINATED than outdoor air, improving your indoor air quality should be a priority. Poor air quality can lead to SICK BUILDING SYNDROME (SBS), a condition where you have cold or fever symptoms in a particular building, only for the symptoms to pass as you leave that space. Air scrubbers can help you avoid SBS and other dangerous, unnecessary illnesses.

How does a home air scrubber work?

An air scrubber is an HVAC appliance that purifies the air of contaminants. The breadth of the air scrubber’s germ-killing ability is impressive. This device can kill particulates like dander and pollen, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that create odors like smoke and organisms like mold and viruses.

Air purifier vs. air scrubber

The cleaning scope of an air scrubber also goes beyond the capabilities of competing devices. While an air purifier is limited to airborne particles, some whole-home air scrubbers can kill germs on surfaces like doorknobs or countertops. These air scrubbers release particles that travel through your home, attract the germs off of surfaces and pull them back through the HVAC system to be filtered out of your indoor air.

Types of Air Scrubbers

Air scrubbers come in both whole-house and portable varieties. All air scrubbers work by passing contaminated air through filters, but the specific filters they use can vary slightly by model and brand.

With a whole-house air scrubber, the process starts when air gets pulled through the HVAC system. The air scrubber’s inner chamber has a mosaic of rods that are coated in titanium oxide. Centered within those rods is a germicidal UV light. When the air passes through the air scrubber, titanium rods and UV light alter the air’s DNA and kill the contaminants.

Finally, clean air is transferred out of the HVAC ductwork and back through your home. Some whole-house air scrubbers create negatively charged ions that attract the positively charged contaminants off of surfaces. In simpler terms, the air scrubber creates healthy particles that are sent into your home to grab unhealthy or harmful particles and pull them back into the filtering process.

In a portable model, dirty air gets sucked into the air scrubber and passes through a series of filters. The first filter, or pre-filter, captures large particles like animal fur or lint. Next, the HEPA filter removes smaller airborne pathogens like mold spores and asbestos. Finally, most models have a carbon filter that tackles odors like smoke and mildew. Between the array of filters, up to 99.97% OF POLLUTANTS are killed.

Whole-house vs. Portable Air Scrubbers

Both whole-house and portable air scrubbers deodorize and sanitize the air, but they differ in factors like price and installation method. Let’s break down the differences between the two types of air scrubbers.


  • Attaches directly to HVAC system’s ductwork
  • Permanent fixture
  • Can disinfect both air and surfaces
  • Covers up to 3000 sq. ft.
  • Uses titanium oxide rods and a UV light
  • Ideal for homeowners
  • Must hire HVAC technician to install
  • UV germicidal light should be replaced every 12 months
  • Same-day installation


  • Can be moved, doesn’t attach directly to HVAC system
  • Disinfects air, but not surfaces
  • Covers anywhere from 500-900 sq. ft.
  • Can be daisy chained with other portable air scrubbers
  • Uses a series of 2-4 filters
  • Ideal for construction, homeowners without HVAC ductwork, offices, etc.
  • Can set up and plug in yourself, no extra tools or certifications needed
  • HEPA filter should be changed once yearly, pre-filters changed monthly

To ensure that your air scrubber is cleaning effectively, we recommend getting an AIR QUALITY MONITOR. This device will measure your indoor air quality, then report it back to you.

Are air scrubbers loud?

Many homeowners worry about their HVAC appliances’ noise, and for good reason. Nobody wants loud whirring or ventilation keeping them up at night. Thankfully, both varieties of air scrubbers are relatively quiet. Most whole-house models measure under 20 dB, the approximate volume level of a soft whisper. However, some portable models can get up to 60 dB, about as loud as a restaurant conversation, when running at their highest settings.

Do air scrubbers have filters?

Since portable air scrubbers’ filtration systems vary widely, you may have to change out each filter at different times.

Check your air scrubber’s owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer for the most accurate time estimate. The manufacturer can tell you when to replace your filters and keep your device running at its smoothest.

If you have a whole-house model, the filter is a UV light. To ensure the UV germicidal light is working optimally, replace the bulb every 12 months.

Is an air scrubber right for me?

Poor indoor air quality can pose a threat to you and your family’s well-being. Thankfully, air scrubbers help clean your space so you can breathe, sleep and live easier.

Whether you’re looking for a portable air scrubber or a whole-house model, air scrubbers are an invaluable investment that keep you and your loved ones comfy at home.