How to Make an Air Purifier at Home for Less than $40

If you need to clean your home’s air in a pinch, learn how to make your own budget DIY air purifier. We’ll show you how.

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Katie McEntire
Staff Writer, Safety & Security
September 15, 2021

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Clearing the air inside your home can make the great indoors feel a lot more welcoming, but the best air purifiers can cost anywhere from $80 to over $400 dollars.

The good news is you don't need to be an engineer to make an air purifier or drop a ton of cash on one that's already assembled. You can make one from household items you probably already have lying around.

So what do a box fan, a furnace filter, and exercise bands have in common? Well, they’re all the ingredients you need to make your own DIY air purifier.

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1. The box fan

Box fan

First, gather your items:

  • 20 in. x 20 in. box fan (flat back is best)
  • 20 in. x 20 in. furnace filter
  • Two exercise bands

You can use a box fan of any size, as long as it matches the furnace filter and has a flat back.

Test the air

With the right tools, you can test the air quality inside your home. We recommend trying a test before and after setting up your new air purifier.

2. The furnace filter

Furnace or air filter

Next is the furnace filter. Also called an HVAC filter, they’re the big sheets you stick in the vents to catch all the little icky stuff like dust mites and pollen in your home.

They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and filtration types. Look for ratings like MERV, FPR, and MPR. These refer to the size of the microns that can get through the filtration. The higher the number, the smaller the particles they can catch.

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Our recommendation

For the heavy duty stuff, look for MERV ratings between 7 and 11. That's gonna catch smoke, pet dander, and other allergens.

3. The exercise bands

Cheap exercise bands

And finally, there’s the exercise bands.

They're basically giant rubber bands with different levels of resistance, and you can get a pack of five or more for around $10.

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No exercise bands? Try tape
But if you don't have any lying around the house, duct tape or clear packing tape works just as well. The important part is creating a seal around the fan and the furnace filter.

4. Put it together

Now that you have everything together, it's time to get started.

Place the furnace filter on the back of the fan and secure it with the exercise band so there's a tight fit.

And that's it! You're done! You're ready to go!

The fan draws all the pollutants in while the furnace filter traps it. As long as there's a seal, you're good to go.

Again, if you don't have exercise bands, don't worry. Packing tape or duct tape will work just as well.

orange cat on a table next to homemade air purifier

Image: Katie McEntire, SafeWise

5. Final word

And there you have it: a three three-step DIY air purifier. It might not be as sexy as the ones you might get at the store, but it's good in a pinch.

That said, we do have those sexy air purifiers listed on—going from best to other best.

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