We’re going to put it plainly: air cleaners aren’t perfect. That is to say, an air cleaner could be performing at its very best and still not remove every last pollutant from the air.

Some might say you’re better of with an air cleaner than without one, but is that necessarily true? In the following article, we’ll talk about what you can expect from an air cleaner and what it is (and is not) protecting you against.

Like we said before, if you’re looking for an air cleaner that will remove all the gas and impurities from the air, you’re not going to find it. What an air cleaner is going to do is potentially lower the risks associated with some contaminants.

For example, let’s say you’re smoking indoors. This fills the air with smoke and particulates. Your air cleaner may be able to mitigate some of the particulates, but it’s going to have a lot harder time with all of that smoke.

The real kicker is that your air cleaner can actually undermine itself in a situation like this. How? Particulates from the smoke can get hung up in the cleaner. What happens next is a bit ironic: these contaminants can then be spat back out into the room.

That’s not fantastic, is it? Well, if you thought tobacco smoke was bad, you don’t want to know how your average air cleaner handles radon. Answer: it doesn’t, really. And with all the side effects associated with exposure to radon, you’d be smart not to put too much trust in your air cleaner.

Allergies affect a wide range of people. For some, it’s cats that set them off. For others, it’s mold. And for others, it’s pollen.

Whatever your trigger, an air cleaner won’t be much help. Studies have shown that it’s difficult to combat allergens with air cleaners, so keep that box of tissues close.

In fact, you’re almost better off with a properly functioning air-conditioning system alone, especially on muggy summer days. It’s biggest strengths lie in forcing out air from outdoors and reducing damp – two big causes of the sniffles.

For those sensitive to pollutants and allergens in the air (and anyone who cares about clean breathing), a logical first step is to make sure your air-conditioning system is running smoothly. Only if contaminants in the air pose a serious risk should you consider using an air cleaner.