Air Scrubber vs Air Purifier: Which One Is Suitable for Your Needs?

Have you ever found yourself in the air-cleaning aisle, staring at air scrubber vs. air purifier, wondering which one is perfect? Don’t worry! I have got you covered. Being an environmental researcher for more than a decade, I can proudly be your guide to ease your confusion. Let’s explore this comparison guide and find your perfect match.

air scrubber vs air purifier (2)

Quick Comparison

Both air scrubbers and purifiers aim to improve indoor air quality. They share the goal of creating a healthier environment, but the difference is in the details. Both clean air by eliminating pollutants and allergens. But, their approaches differ. Here’s a quick comparison: 

  • Air scrubbers excel in large areas and industrial settings, whereas air purifiers are well-suited for homes.
  • Air scrubbers rely on a combination of mechanical air circulation and sophisticated filtration technologies to effectively purify the air, while their counterpart uses technologies like HEPA filters and UV-C light. 

Well, that’s just a rundown of the duo. There’s more to explore. Continue reading to learn about the positives and negatives of both contenders. Also, I’ll break each from filtration efficiency to coverage in simple terms. So, without any delays, let’s get started!

Air Scrubber vs Air Purifier: Comparison Chart

The table below highlights the differences between both cleaners.


Air Scrubber

Air Purifier

Primary Function

Removes particles, gases, and chemicals

Removes particles and allergens

Technology Used

Uses mechanical processes along with a combination of filters, UV light, and catalytic reactions

Uses filters (HEPA, activated carbon), UV-C light, and ionizers

Coverage Area

Suitable for larger spaces, including industrial settings

Designed for residential and smaller commercial spaces

Noise Level

More noise

Less Noise level




Now that we have gone through the basics, let’s discover the pros and cons of both air cleaners.

Perks And Downsides Of Air Scrubbers

Let’s dive into the pros and cons of air scrubbers: 

  • They use multiple filtration stages, including pre-filters, HEPA filters, and activated carbon filters. 
  • Designed with a powerful motor, they handle high volumes of air pollutants. 
  • Apart from airborne particles, they also capture contaminants that settle on surfaces.
  • Air scrubbers are effective against chemicals, molds, smoke, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 
  • These are usually a hefty investment.

Here are the 3 Best Air Scrubbers to check out:

For more insights, I would recommend you check out this article: Best Air Scrubber for Mold: Top 9 Picks You Can Buy In 2023

Perks And Downsides Of Air Purifiers

Now, let’s head over to their advantages and disadvantages.

  • Air purifiers are more compact and portable than air scrubbers, allowing easy relocation.
  • Many of them come in energy-efficient models, reducing overall energy consumption.
  • They tend to operate more quietly.
  • They come in various ranges, providing flexibility in cost considerations. 
  • They heavily depend on the quality and maintenance of their filters, and low-quality filters can compromise performance. 

You’ll love the given below purifiers. Do check them out:

You can also read my interesting article: Best Air Purifier For Bedroom: 11 Models for Health and Deep Sleep

An Insight Into Working Of Air Scrubbers

Air scrubbers operate to remove contaminants from the air through a multi-step purification process. The primary goal is to make a good indoor air quality by capturing and eliminating particles, gases, and odors.

An Insight Into Working Of Air Scrubbers

Let’s dive into its principle of operation. 

  1. Pre-filtration: The process typically begins with a pre-filter stage to capture larger particles like dust, hair, and debris. This preliminary step prevents these particles from clogging or damaging the subsequent filters.
  2. HEPA Filtration: High-efficiency particulate Air (HEPA) filters are crucial to air scrubbers. These filters trap microscopic particles such as allergens, mold spores, bacteria, and viruses. HEPA filters are known for their high efficiency, typically capturing particles as small as 0.3 microns.
  3. Activated Carbon Filtration: Many air scrubbers incorporate activated carbon filters. Activated carbon is highly porous and can adsorb or chemically bond with gases and odors. This stage is essential for eliminating unwanted smells and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air.
  4. UV-C Light Sterilization: Some advanced air scrubbers feature ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light technology. UV-C light has germicidal properties and can deactivate or destroy microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. This step adds an extra layer of disinfection to the air purification process.
  5. Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO): Certain air scrubbers employ photocatalytic oxidation, which uses UV light and a catalyst (often titanium dioxide) to break down and neutralize airborne contaminants. PCO is effective against various pollutants, including VOCs and biological contaminants.
  6. Final Filtration Stage: In the final stage, the outdoor air goes through additional filters, ensuring that any remaining particles or impurities are captured before the purified air is released back into the environment.

HEPA Filter-Based Media In Air Scrubbers

Achieving fresh air quality involves carefully considering the air purification systems in use. High-efficiency air filters, particularly those employing HEPA filters, excel in trapping fine particles such as mold spores, dust, pollen, and even components of tobacco smoke. However, it’s crucial to note the limitations of the air purification system:

  1. While they effectively capture particulate matter, they fall short as an air-cleaning solution in eliminating associated odors and gases.
  2. The efficiency of an air scrubber, reliant on a bank of filters, encounters a challenge in maintaining adequate airflow due to the increased resistance posed by high-efficiency filters.
Note: When air faces resistance and slows down, it needs a special fan, like the ones in purifiers. Alternatively, an extra motor can be used such as another fan in an HVAC system, to keep things flowing smoothly.

An Insight Into Working Of Air Purifiers

When it comes to the principles of operation for air purifiers, it’s essential to understand the fundamental mechanisms they employ to improve indoor air quality.

An Insight Into Working Of Air Purifiers

Here are some basic principles:

  1. Filtration: They often utilize HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air)filters to trap particles like dust, pollen, pet dander, and mold spores, and activated carbon to capture odors and smells.
  2. Ionization: Some purifiers use ionization technology to charge particles in the air. Charged particles then stick to surfaces or collector plates in the purifier, removing them from the air.
  3. UV-C Light: Ultraviolet (UV-C) light kills or inactivates microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and mold. It disrupts their DNA, preventing them from reproducing.
  4. Ozone Generation: While less common, certain purifiers produce ozone to eliminate odors and kill bacteria. However, caution is needed as excessive ozone can be harmful.
  5. Electrostatic Precipitation: Charged plates attract and collect particles from the air. This is effective for capturing smaller particles that may escape traditional filters.

Differences Between Air Scrubbers & Air Purifiers 

Let’s now have a look at the key differences between the duo dealing with air pollution.

  1. Air scrubbers are designed for extensive areas of 1000 sq ft or more, whereas the other usually covers 100 – 500 sq ft.
  2. The scrubbers are usually large in size and it is difficult to move them from one place to another. Whereas their counterparts are usually lightweight and portable. You can easily move them from room to room without any hassle.
  3. Scrubbers’ noise level can reach up to 90 dB due to their powerful motors which are annoying whereas the purifiers usually lie between 30 -40 dB and maintain a peaceful environment.
  4. The air scrubber lacks child lock safety features; the other has it all.
Differences Between Air Scrubbers & Air Purifiers 

What Sets Commercial Air Scrubbers And Commercial Air Purifiers Apart?

Here’s a chart summarizing the differences between the two commercial air cleaners.


Commercial Air Scrubber

Commercial Air Purifier


Removes construction dust and contaminants

Improves indoor air quality by targeting particles

Usage Environment

Construction sites, renovation areas

Offices, hospitals, commercial buildings


Robust, less portable

Varies in size, designed for both larger and compact settings

Airflow Control

Emphasizes high airflow for large spaces

Adjustable fan speeds, multiple modes for diverse indoor environments

Filtration Efficiency

Specialized for larger particles in industrial settings

Comprehensive pollutant removal in various indoor spaces

Best Products to look out for

To give you more options, I have handpicked a couple of great products. Also, do check them out:

Commercial Air Scrubbers:

Commercial Air Purifiers:

Air Purifier vs Air Scrubber: Which Suits You Best?

Depending on your circumstances, the response to this question could vary. An air purifier could work well or poorly. Similarly, an air scrubber might be unnecessary, even though it might work. So, let’s examine a couple of different situations to know which suits you best. 

Scenario 1: Allergies And Pets In An Apartment; Which One Is Best?

An air purifier is ideal if you have a pet allergy, particularly in a confined space like an apartment with a dog. The microscopic allergens released by your furry friend can linger in the air even after the pet has left the room.

Scenario 1: Allergies And Pets In An Apartment; Which One Is Best?

An air purifier, especially one equipped with a HEPA filter, can effectively capture and remove these airborne pollutants.

Scenario 2: Air Purifier Or Air Scrubber For Tackling Harmful Contaminants?

An air scrubber is the preferred solution for factory owners dealing with harmful contaminants. In an industrial environment, pollutants such as gases, chemicals, mold, smoke, odors, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can pose serious health risks.

Scenario 2: Air Purifier Or Air Scrubber For Tackling Harmful Contaminants?

An air scrubber’s powerful motor draws in air, guiding it through a series of filters that trap airborne contaminants effectively. The purified air is then exhausted outside through ductwork or reintroduced into the same area.

An Overview Of Users’ Experience With Air Scrubbers

Now, I will share the reviews of a couple of users that will give you a better insight about the scrubbers. Let’s check them out:

1. Mr Rizzoa About Airflow

Mr Rizzoa placed his air scrubber close to his chiller AC in his workout hall. He noticed that the airflow of both devices was affected. Later when he placed the scrubber at a respectable distance, his problem was solved.

2. James About Effects On Asthma

When I talked to Mr James, he told me that his son was suffering from asthma. He installed an air scrubber in his 4-bed apartment and soon noticed his condition became a lot better.

User Perspectives On Air Purifiers

Let’s now head over to air purifier reviews.

1. Scott On CFM

Scott bought a purifier from Molekule Air and was not happy. When I inquired about the reason he told me that even in his small 2-bed apartment, he didn’t notice any major differences.

2. Julie About Smoke

Julie was really happy with her purchase. She said that she bought the latest purifier by Winix and her smoke odor was gone in a couple of hours.


Do I need an air scrubber if I have an air purifier?

You don’t need a scrubber if you have a purifier and live in a small apartment or house. However, if you plan to cover larger space, then I would recommend getting portable air scrubbers for yourself as not only do they have greater coverage but also tackle VOCs and gases with ease.

Which is better, an air scrubber or purifier for mold?

The choice between an air scrubber and an air purifier for mold depends on the extent of the issue. Air scrubbers, designed for tasks like mold remediation, excel in pulling contaminants from the air. However, high-quality purifiers with HEPA filters can also effectively address mold spores. 

Who uses less energy – a scrubber or an air purifier?

Air purifiers often have more energy-efficient models available, making them a potentially lower-energy option. Usually, these devices only use 20-50 watts. However, the energy consumption of air scrubbers and air purifiers can vary based on size, air filtration technology, and motor efficiency. On average, they use 350-450 watts of energy.

Read Also:

Best Air Scrubber for Mold: 9 Top-Tier Products of 2024

The 5 Best Air Purifier for Construction Dust in 2024

Best Ionic Air Purifier: Pick from 11 Industry-leading Units

Are Air Purifiers FSA-Eligible: 3 Required Features to Know


Summing up air scrubber vs air purifier, it’s also simple to get confused with the variety of indoor air quality products available. But, with the proper knowledge, you can do so! If you’re after something that cleans the air in your home, purifiers are your perfect match. However, scrubbers are best if you own a business or company and are looking for cleaner air on a large scale. 

Moreover, air scrubbers use a multi-phase purification procedure, including UV-C light sterilization and pre-filtration. On the other hand, purifiers customize their approach to improving indoor air quality by using mechanisms like UV-C light, ionization, and HEPA filtration. 

If you ask about my personal opinion, you don’t need to get yourself a commercial air scrubber as they’d be too much for indoor. I would love to go with purifiers. It is because they are silent and more than enough for a single room. My favorite among the air purifiers is the Coway Mighty AP-1512HH.

Coway Mighty AP-1512HH
It comes with 4-stage filtration that can filter up to 0.1-micron size airborne particles. The Hyperactive system keeps the indoor air clean and fresh. Moreover, It has a decent CADR of around 240 and is quiet while operating.