Dirty air isn’t just a problem for commercial properties. Common allergens such as dust mites, pollen, pet dander and mould can circulate in your home’s air. These can trigger allergic reactions and even start asthma attacks.
If you suffer from an allergy, maintaining clean air in your home is one of the fastest ways to get relief. Vacuuming is the most effective way to reduce allergens, but doing so can make allergies worse if your vacuum doesn’t have the right type of filter.
Ordinary vacuums have a filter to trap larger allergens, but smaller particles can escape. This is why some people refer to them as “vacuum re-arrangers” rather than vacuum cleaners.
Vacuums with HEPA filters, on the other hand, capture smaller particles and prevent them re-entering your home. These filters were developed during the Manhattan project, but are now common in domestic products. The cleaner air released by vacuums with a HEPA filter can relieve allergies and prevent breathing problems.
But what exactly is a HEPA filter? And how do they remove smaller particles than regular filters? Keep reading to find out.
What is a HEPA Filter?
A standard vacuum filter works in a similar way to a sieve. Dust is sucked up from carpets and hard floors and passed through the filter. Larger particles are removed, but particles smaller than the gaps can pass through. This means you could be picking up allergens from the carpet and pumping them back into the air when vacuuming!
Unlike standard filters, HEPA filters use several methods for removing dust, pollen and other allergens. The first layer is often simple gauze for removing larger particles. This does the same job as a regular vacuum’s filter and also prevents the delicate inner layer from being damaged.
The second layer is made from folded glass fibres. These fibres are “sticky” and can either attract or intercept particles depending on their speed. This allows a HEPA filter to catch much smaller particles, as the filtering doesn’t depend on the size of the particle.
Why Should Allergy Sufferers Use a HEPA Filter?
To be classed as a HEPA filter, a filter must be able to remove 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger. This is many times smaller than the width of a human hair.
As you can imagine, this means using a vacuum with a HEPA filter can remove airborne allergens that would otherwise trigger a reaction. Smaller particles that would pass through a standard filter, such as pet dander and dust mites, are removed from the air and caught in the bag or canister. Even bacteria and viruses can be filtered from exhaust air, which makes a HEPA vacuum much more hygienic.
A HEPA vacuum alone isn’t going to cure your allergies, as it’s impossible to get rid of all the allergens hiding in bedding, curtains and rugs. They can provide an immediately noticeable effect on your symptoms though.
Are All HEPA Filters Equal?
HEPA filters come in many forms, but any “true” HEPA is suitable for people with allergies. There are also a range of HEPA filters for industrial use, but these aren’t usually required for domestic cleaning.
Unfortunately, many manufacturers have started to produce “HEPA-like” filters. These aren’t actually HEPA filters – at least in terms of filtration efficiency. Instead, they are upgraded standard filters that aren’t as effective for allergy sufferers.
If you see terms such as “HEPA-style” as part of a vacuum’s specification, check whether the filter meets the 99.97% filtration standard. If it doesn’t meet this standard, it’s not a true HEPA filter. In fact, unless you see a filter marketed as a “true HEPA,” you should be suspicious of any claims that it’s suitable for people with allergies.
Is There Anything Else you can do to Relieve Allergies?
Aside from vacuum cleaners, HEPA filters are found in a variety of other products. The best dehumidifiers, for example, often have a HEPA filter so they can remove allergens while reducing humidity. Many air filters also include a HEPA filter.
There are also other ways to get relief from an airborne allergy. The most important is to eliminate or at least minimise sources of allergens. For pet allergies, this might mean keeping your dog or cat confined to certain rooms in the house. People with a pollen allergy may also want to keep windows closed during spring.
See Also – How To Get Rid Of Allergens In Your Home
Buying a vacuum with a HEPA filter is one of the easiest ways to relieve a dust, pollen or pet allergy. Vacuuming can reduce the amount of allergens in your home, while a HEPA filter prevents small particles from being pumped back into the air. If you or anyone in your household suffers from an allergy or asthma, a HEPA filter is an essential purchase that can make a big difference to your quality of life.