Your air purifier is not collecting dust, even though you already run it for a long time?
In this article, we’re going to check all the possible causes of this.
And before we take the deep dive: Not all air purifiers have to collect dust. Dust is, in the end, just the particles that are visible to the eye.
Air purifiers filter much smaller particles than that!
Still, after some time, you should see something on the filters. If that’s not the case, today is the day this is going to change.
Here’s my promise:
After reading this article, you’ll know exactly what’s wrong with your air purifier and how to fix it.
There may not even be anything wrong with your air purifier.
Anyways, after this article, you’ll end up with clean and dust-free air. Promised!
Quick answer: Your air purifier might not collect dust due to clogged filters, unsuitable room size, improper placement, or seals on new filters. Place your air purifier in the center of the room, with a proper filter and high fan speed settings.
Summary table: Most likely causes for your air purifier not collecting dust
Let’s first have a look at the most common causes of an air purifier not collecting dust and what you should do.
We will take a closer look at each of the listed causes (and many more).
|Do I Need to Take Action?
|Yes, check/clean/replace the filter.
|Yes, purchase genuine, high-quality filters.
|Incorrect Room Size
|Yes, adjust purifier placement or get an appropriate size purifier.
|Low Fan Speed
|Yes, increase the fan speed.
|Filter Still Sealed from Packaging
|Yes, open the purifier, remove the plastic or seal from the filter, and ensure it’s properly seated before use.
|Location of the Purifier
|Yes, reposition the purifier to a central location.
|Wrong Type of Filter
|Yes, check if the filter type is suitable for dust and replace if necessary.
|Yes, consider adjusting indoor humidity with a humidifier or dehumidifier.
|Competing Air Currents
|Yes, reposition other airflow-altering appliances or the purifier.
|Stale Air Zones
|Potentially, improve room air circulation or move the purifier.
|Yes, ensure the purifier is sealed correctly and the filter is properly seated.
Let’s have a look at all of these potential causes and their fixes in more detail!
Reasons and fixes for your air purifier not collecting dust
Here’s a complete list of all the reasons and fixes for your air purifier not collecting dust. Some of the causes are more obvious than others.
1. Sealed filter in a new air purifier
This one is rather obvious. But it happened to me with my Levoit Core 300 air purifier.
So, I am sure I am not the only one.
On the day I got my air purifier, I turned it on and left it running for a couple of hours. Aside from a mysterious subtle crackling noise, the air purifier did its job just fine.
Or so I thought.
When I checked how to replace filters, I noticed that the filter was still sealed.
Surely this is to ensure the cleanliness and integrity of a new filter. At least I don’t want to buy an air purifier, not knowing if the filter inside has already been used.
If you don’t remove the seal before using your air purifier, it won’t be able to pull air through the filter, effectively making the air purifier useless.
An air purifier with a sealed filter is a simple fan and won’t ever collect dust.
How to fix it
Open your air purifier, take out the sealed filter, and remove the packaging or protective seal from it.
Replace the filter in its slot and close the air purifier again.
By the way: I found a note in the air purifier’s user manual instructing me to remove the filter’s seal.
So, running an air purifier with a sealed filter should be avoidable if you read user manuals. But who does that?
2. Clogged or saturated filter
Filters get clogged over time which reduces their effectiveness. Clogged filters have problems pulling air through.
Saturated filters can pull in air, but they can’t hold on to more particles.
The difference between clogging and saturation is subtle, but usually, clogging prevents airflow, while saturation prevents additional particle collection.
If your air purifier doesn’t collect dust, likely it is clogged.
How to fix it
Clean or replace your air filters regularly. A HEPA filter’s life expectancy is around 160 days. After that, its particle reduction efficiency reduces to 50%.
However, this “particle reduction efficiency” applies to all particles, including particles as small as a fraction of a micrometer.
Dust particles are much larger than that!
So, if you want your air purifier to just collect dust, you can shake out and brush your air filter!
3. Poor quality air filters
Not all filters are equal. Actually, all filters should be able to trap dust. So, no matter how bad the quality of your filter is, after some time, dust should accumulate.
However, some air filters have such bad quality, that they micro-tear quickly due to larger particles. Dust then flies through these micro tears.
I did a quick search for replacement filters for my air purifier model and found a cheap replacement filter with this review:
“The mesh is too large covering the filter so it doesn’t trap larger debris”reviewer CanadianJustice on amazon (product not linked because of apparent poor quality)
Air filters always have a mesh that covers them. If that mesh is too large, large dirt and sand particles just fly through and tear open the micro-fabric that is supposed to collect dust.
How to fix it
Usually, it’s best to get original replacement filters or at least replacement filters from a good filter company.
Usually, you can tell from the Amazon ratings how good a filter is. Just watch out for artificial-sounding fake reviews!
4. Incorrect Room Size
A large part of an air purifier’s capability to collect dust comes from it creating a room-wide airflow. This airflow rises from the air purifier to the ceiling, then takes a path across the ceiling, down the walls, and into the corners of the room from where it carries dust toward the air purifier.
If your air purifier is too weak, it can’t create a room-wide circular airflow.
Air purifier strength has to match room size.
How to fix it
Either use your air purifier in a smaller room. Keep it running for a couple of days or even weeks. It should collect more dust there.
Get an appropriate air purifier for your large rooms, such as the Levoit Core 600 (click here to view it on amazon) which is strong enough for even the largest living rooms.
5. Low Fan Speed
Aside from running a too-weak air purifier, you might have a strong enough model, but you run it on too-low settings.
Essentially, there is no difference between a strong air purifier running at “Medium” airspeed, and a weak air purifier running at high airspeed.
For example, the regular-size Levoit Core 300 air purifier consumes 47W of power on the highest setting. That’s similar to the 49 Watts the larger Levoit Core 600 model consumes on the medium setting.
How to fix it
Increase the fan speed of your moderately powerful air purifier. Try running your air purifier on the highest setting for a few days.
Yes, the noise can be annoying.
But through this experiment, you can verify whether you actually need a larger air purifier.
If your air purifier starts collecting dust on the highest setting, I recommend getting a larger air purifier, such as the Levoit Core 600 (which I linked earlier).
Larger air purifiers are quieter than small air purifiers on comparable power settings. A large air purifier at “Medium” airspeed is quieter than a small air purifier at “High” airspeed.
6. Improper Air Purifier Placement
In general, you can place your air purifier wherever you like and it should still collect dust. However, some placements are better than others.
For example, you can run your air purifier next to an open window, but the window’s airflow can reduce the number of dust particles nearby.
If there’s no dust nearby, your air purifier has a harder time collecting it.
How to fix it
So, move your air purifier away from air streams (doors, windows, etc.). Place it in the center of your room and run it at full power.
This is the only way your air purifier can create its own air stream to pick up dust.
7. Wrong Type of Filter or Air Purifier
Different air purifiers use various filter and air purifier types like HEPA or activated carbon, UV, and ionizing.
Some are more effective against dust than others. Here’s a quick table:
|Air purifier filter type
|Does it collect dust?
|Yes, captures 99.97% of particles ≥0.3 microns.
|Yes, but traps not all dust due to porous structure (mostly intended to capture gases).
|No. UV filters have no physical membrane. Dust flies straight through them. Neutralizes microorganisms, not dust.
|No. Ionizing causes particles to fall, and doesn’t trap dust directly.
As you can see, UV and ionizing air purifiers usually do nothing for dust collection. There are many air purifiers, where different filters are combined.
For example UV + HEPA. These do collect dust. But pure UV or ionizing air purifiers don’t collect dust.
How to fix it
Use a HEPA filter air purifier for effective dust collection.
8. Too high or too low humidity
High humidity makes dust particles heavier and more likely to settle, while extremely low humidity can cause static electricity repelling dust from filters.
In one study published in the Geophysical Research Letters, geophysicists measured the effects of humidity on dust:
“Humidity in the air can form a thin film of water on the surface of soil particles, which could inhibit the electrostatic forces, but enhance the wet-bonding forces between the soil particles”Ma, X., Gao, Q., Jiang, X., Chen, S., Gan, Y., Zhang, T., et al. (2023). Direct effects of air humidity on dust aerosol production: Evidences for the surprising role of electrostatic forces. Geophysical Research Letters, 50
Even though these experiments checked the effect on soil dust, it is not far-fetched to expect that humidity has a similar impact on household dust.
How to fix it
Use a dehumidifier in high-humidity conditions or a humidifier in very dry conditions to maintain balanced indoor humidity.
To determine whether to use a humidifier or dehumidifier, check your room’s moisture levels: if the air feels damp and muggy, use a dehumidifier; if it’s dry and causes skin or respiratory discomfort, get a humidifier.
If the air in your room feels neutral, not particularly dry or humid, humidity is not the cause for your air purifier not collecting dust.
Only extreme humidity levels (wet or dry) can inhibit dust collection.
9. Competing Airflows from Other Devices
If you run any other devices aside from your air purifier that create an airflow, they might interfere with your air purifier’s dust collection.
Appliances like fans, heaters, or air conditioners can redirect airflow away from the purifier.
How to fix it
Reposition other appliances to ensure they aren’t redirecting airflow away from the purifier. If you can’t reposition them, simply place your air purifier elsewhere.
Or, of course, you can use a stronger air purifier that dominates all other air currents.
10. Stale Air Zones
Stale air zones are zones in your room that lack proper airflow. It is not possible for your air purifier to create a dust-collecting air draft in these zones.
The more stuff you have lying around in your home and the more furniture you have, the harder it is to generate a room-wide airflow.
How to fix it
You can fix the source of the issue by decluttering your room. Even removing one or two pieces of furniture helps.
Of course, this is not always an option. Alternatively, get a strong floor fan such as this heavy-duty fan (click here to view it on amazon) and every once in a while turn it on full power to redistribute the dust in your room.
The strong air draft picks up dust from far-away corners and from behind furniture your air purifier wouldn’t be able to collect on its own.
11. Air Leaks
Air leaks inside your air purifier can cause air to bypass the filter.
These air leaks can come from impact damage (when your air purifier falls down from an elevated surface), or simply bad production quality.
Usually, good air purifiers are airtight, in the sense that all air has to pass through the filter.
How to fix it
Check for any gaps, especially around the filter.
Also, make sure that the filter itself doesn’t have any holes.
Ensure the filter is correctly seated and the purifier’s housing is securely closed.
12. Aged Air Purifier
Air purifiers can last you a long time. But aging does not necessarily depend on usage.
Some air purifiers age, even though you use them very little. Some other air purifiers don’t age, even though you run them on end.
Aging, in this sense, depends on the production quality of your air purifier and how well you care for it.
If your air purifier lacks care, it ages and degrades in performance and its ability to collect dust.
How to fix it
Replace your air purifier filter every 6 months! This is crucial to keep up the particle collection efficiency and to unload the fan.
If you can, also lubricate the fan’s bearings occasionally.
( This might be a bit harder to do and requires you to disassemble your air purifier since some fans are embedded deep inside the purifier’s case )
The newer the filter, the less power the fan needs to blow air through it. This, in turn, keeps air speed up. And high air speed usually means high dust collection rate.
If you already wore down your air purifier and it does not collect dust, even though you changed filters and lubricated the fan, I recommend getting a new one.
And care for your new air purifier regularly!
13. Air Purifier Design
Honestly, some air purifiers are just trash by design. Air purifiers do best when they can suck in air from all directions (into their bottom openings) and blow clean air out into the room (from the top).
Usually, these are cylindrical air purifiers. This creates a dust-collecting airflow along the floor.
Other air purifiers stand on attached feet or have a tower-like design, with an elevated air intake.
These obviously can’t collect dust as well as close-to-ground cylindrical air purifiers.
How to fix it
Get a good air purifier with a design that allows airflow across the floor.
I recommend the Levoit Core series.
14. Air purifier not even turning on
If your air purifier does not collect dust, are you even sure it’s running at all? Does it turn on?
And if it turns on, does it blow any air?
An air purifier that doesn’t run obviously won’t collect any dust.
How to fix it
If your air purifier doesn’t turn on or it turns on but doesn’t blow air, I recommend checking my air purifier repair guide:
Checklist to Ensure Your Air Purifier Effectively Collects Dust
Based on all the possible causes we just investigated, here’s a quick checklist to get your air purifier to collect dust:
- Initial Setup:
- Unseal the filter: Before the first use, ensure the filter isn’t sealed in its packaging.
- Correct placement: Place the purifier away from open windows or doors and in the center of the room for optimal airflow.
- Regular Maintenance:
- Filter replacement: Change the filter every 6 months or as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Cleaning: Clean external parts and any pre-filters to ensure optimal airflow.
- Check for air leaks: Ensure that there are no gaps or holes causing air to bypass the filter.
- Performance Optimization:
- Reassess room size: Ensure the purifier’s capacity matches the room’s volume.
- Adjust fan speed: If dust collection is inadequate, consider increasing the speed.
- Check humidity: Extreme humidity levels can affect dust collection. Use a humidifier or dehumidifier as needed.
- Device Quality & Design:
- Design Considerations: Choose a design that pulls air from multiple directions (ideally across the floor) for optimal dust collection.
- Ensure it’s running: If there’s no dust collection, verify the device is turning on and blowing air.
Advanced tips and tricks to collect more dust with air purifiers
Here are two more ways to improve your air purifier’s dust collection rate. And I believe the second tip is unexpected!
Use multiple purifiers to collect dust
If, after reading all of this post, you found out that your air purifier is too weak for your room, you should get a new air purifier.
But instead of getting a large air purifier, you can just as well get a second medium-sized air purifier and run both purifiers simultaneously.
Generally, two air purifiers running simultaneously will collect as much dust as one large air purifier.
The only downside is that you have to replace more air filters the more air purifiers you run.
Clean your home
When you clean your home, obviously, you collect a lot of dust. But, ironically, the cleaner your home, the more dust your air purifier can collect.
In a clean room with clean floors, dust particles have nothing to stick to. So, it is very easy for your air purifier to draw dust particles in.
On the other hand, in a dirty room, with a lot of dust on the floor, small dust particles will clump together with the dust and debris that’s already on your floor. These clumps of dirt are heavier and, therefore, harder to collect for your air purifierö.
So, clean your home regularly!
Air purifiers are good at keeping rooms clean, not at cleaning them!
Does no dust in my air purifier filter mean it’s not working?
No! Dust is just one type of particle that air purifiers filter.
If there’s no dust on your filter, likely, it still captures other particles. Usually, you can’t tell by looking at the filter, whether it collects any particles.
Especially, if the filter is new (a couple of weeks or a few months), it’s hard to tell.
But as soon as you compare your filter with a new replacement filter, you should be able to see the difference.
The filter in use might have a slight discoloring. And maybe you see some small particles, hair, etc. if you have a closer look.
If your air purifier is not collecting dust, the best thing you can do is to run it on the highest setting for a few days.
Possibly, it’s just a lack of power.
In this case, just get a new, more powerful air purifier.
However, if you are sure your air purifier is the right size for your room, try blowing up the dust with a floor fan.
And, interestingly, cleaning your room could also help.