Air sterilizer vs air purifier

People are often confused between an air sterilizer and an air purifier. Typically both of them are effective in cleaning the surrounding air. However, the main difference is in their cleaning mode and depth of sanitization. For instance, air purifiers can clear the air of dust and other larger particles. On the contrary, air sterilizers perform a more in-depth cleaning by using HEPA filtration and UV air sanitizer technology.

Depth of cleaning:

Firstly the main difference between an air sanitizer vs. an air purifier is the level of cleaning each can perform. The air purifiers are based on analog porous filters made of fiber material. These filters can catch all the dust and larger particles such as hairs or pollen. However, these machines fail to clear the smaller particles from the air. Moreover, the air filters are disposable and last only a few weeks. However, in some cases, the air filters include small pieces of charcoal to clean further the air passing through it. These charcoal filters can accomplish a higher level of filtration than the others.

On the other hand, an air sterilizer is based on advanced technology. It performs a micro-level of air purification before letting it out. The air sanitizer machines include advanced HEPA filters along with active carbon filters and UV ionizer filters. These filters work systematically to perform an in-depth purification and leave the air fresh and free of toxins. Although both air ionizers vs. air purifiers effectively clean the air, air sterilizers can only be accomplished by air sterilizers.

Mode of operation:

In most cases, both air purifiers vs. air filters are similar in their mode of operation. However, the levels of filtration that the air passes are different for both machines.

In the case of air filters, the air is sucked in through the intake ducts. These ducts are often located at the top or at the back of the machine. This air is then transferred to the cleaning filter. This air filter is made of fiber material with a porous surface. Dust and other particles get caught in these small pores while the purified air is transferred to the output chamber. The air is further cleaned using means of charcoal in the premium air filters. Finally, this filtered air is released back into the room.

However, this filtered air still contains microparticles such as molds, mycotoxins, bacteria, etc. The UV air sanitizer takes care of those micro toxins. First of all, the air is sucked in through the input ducts present at either the top or back of the machine. This air instantly passes through a pre-filter which is very similar to an air filter. This pre-filter removes any dust and other large particles from the air/ Next. The air passes through an active carbon filter. It clears any remaining large particles, odors, and molds from the air. Finally, this air passes through the HEPA filter.  The word HEPA stands for “high-efficiency particulate air [filter].” It is a mechanical type of filter made up of glass fibers. The mesh diameter is so small that particles larger than 0.3 microns get filtered out very easily. HEPA filters are one of the most efficient air filters in the world, with an efficiency of 99.97%. Therefore, along with everyday household dust, HEPA filters trap smoke, dust mites, molds, bacteria, pollen & even air-born virus.

Some air purifiers release the air back into the room at this point. However, modern air purifiers and sanitizers are more effective than that. This filtered and odorless air is then transferred to the UV chamber. The air is ionized, and any mycotoxins, pollutants, molds, airborne virus, bacteria are destroyed in the process. Finally, the filtered and purified air is released back through the output ducts. This air is suitable for breathing for even newborn babies.

Filter replacement:

filter replacement

The filter replacement process is included in the maintenance of the air purification machine. It is a regular process mandatory to keep the machine in optimum working conditions. The maintenance of air purifiers vs. air filters is a similar process; however, the duration and cost vary from machine to machine.

The air filters are less effective machines and only clear the dust and larger particles from the air. Moreover, the air filters are disposable and only last a few weeks before requiring replacement. On average, the air filters last for 14-21 days before getting clogged. A clogged air filter only consumes a large amount of electricity and starts releasing the clogging particles back into the air. Therefore, an air cleaner with a clogged filter is hazardous for people with allergies.


On the contrary, air sterilizers include different filters at the stages of air purification. Therefore, each maintenance requires you to change at least 3 different types of costly filters. However, these filters are often washable and need replacement only after at least 6 months-12 months. Furthermore, the pre-filters are permanent and can be washed every 3-4 months. You don’t need to change these filters. The HEPA filters can last for up to 8500 working hours before requiring a replacement. On average, the HEPA filter will last anywhere between six months to 2 years.

The active carbon filters are also very durable as compared to the air filters. An average carbon filter can last for 3-4 months without requiring any maintenance. Finally, UV filters are highly durable and very expensive. A standard UV filter chamber can last for up to five years on a single replacement. In some cases, the UV filters are lifetime and will last as long as the air sterilizer itself. In short, in the battle of air purifiers vs. air cleaners, the air purifier gets the upper hand in every comparison.



Many people get confused when purchasing an air purifier for their homes or offices. They don’t know the basic difference between these two machines and often end up buying the wrong product. In this article, I have included all the information you need to distinguish between an air purifier and vs. air cleaner.

What is an air purifier and how to choose one” if you have this question in mind do check out this article.



I'm Julia, an air purification expert and certified Indoor Air Quality Professional. With a Master's in Environmental Science and a decade of research at the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, I've dedicated myself to understanding air pollutants and their health impacts. At 'PureAirly', my mission is to leverage my expertise in air purifiers and guide you towards cleaner, healthier air.

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