Air sterilisers vs air purifiers: what’s the difference?

Polecat Inn, Prestwood

When it comes to hygiene, wiping down hard surfaces is no longer enough. With customers returning to restaurants again, a key element in building confidence will be demonstrating that you provide the very highest standards of air quality.

Many operators will be aware of the variety of air purifiers and sterilisers/sanitisers on the market – and will recognise the need to make the investment in one or the other.

But what’s the difference between the two? And does it even matter? Here, foodservice hygiene specialist Mechline look more closely at the two systems and outlines the advantages of each one.

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How they work

Air purifiers use a fan to draw in air through filters and then expel the air. By pulling the air through filters, usually HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, they capture airborne particles, including contaminants.

Some air purifiers have combined this filtration process with other technologies, such as UV light, to target and kill the captured viruses and bacteria.

Pros and cons

– You can set them almost anywhere and leave them to get on with the job. They’re ideal for locations where people stay for long periods.

– Air purifiers that use filters alone don’t actually disinfect the air. They simply physically filter out some of the pollutants – essentially those whose particles are large enough to be held up by the holes in the filters.

– They tend to recycle the same air, which gets processed repeatedly. There might be large areas of the room where the air rarely gets processed.

– Filters can clog easily, especially in foodservice environments due to grease particles in the air. This, of course, reduces their effectiveness and, in time, filters need replacing.

– Research has emerged, showing that standalone HEPA filters could provide an environment that encourages bacteria. Find out more here.

– They do make some noise, although it’s not particularly noticeable.


How they work

Air sterilisers/sanitisers use UV light, Photocatalytic Oxidation, Ozone, or a combination of these technologies to destroy microorganisms.

They sanitise and disinfect the air and/or surrounding surfaces, destroying many types of virus and bacteria.

It is always important to look at air and surface sterilisers/sanitisers at an individual level as there are many different alternatives under this umbrella. Products differ in terms of their application, coverage, efficiency, and effectiveness.

Pros and cons

– They eliminate harmful microorganisms drawn into the unit. Unlike purifiers that rely solely on filters, there is not a build-up of contaminants.

– They sanitise large areas as they do not require contaminated air to pass through the unit. Cleaning air that convects from the unit circulates around a room, sanitising the air and surfaces.

– Products designed without filters and fans are less susceptible to clogging from the grease particles found in commercial kitchens, which makes them ideal for foodservice environments.

– They require little maintenance, which reduces ongoing costs.

– Their energy consumption is low, making them cheap to run.

– They work noiselessly.

Mechline is the Platinum Partner sponsor of the Kitchen Safety & Management category of FEJ Kitchen Excellence Week. For information about Mechline and its range of products, including the HyGenikx air and surface amplification system, call 01908 261511 or visit

Tags : HyGenikxKitchen Excellence WeekMechlineSafety & Management
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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