I have had allergies as long as I can remember. I did four years of allergy shots, and I take a daily allergy medication. However, I still need something to help keep the dust and pet hair to a minimum inside my house.
My mom bought me an Oreck air cleaner for my dorm room when I went off to college. It was great for the 70-year-old dorm I was living in. Now I have one in the living room, one in my bedroom, and one in the basement.
Here’s how it works: the air is pulled in through the front of the unit. It goes through a small pre-filter (that you can remove and rinse with water and dry off and then replace) and then into the collector cell where the air is ionized and dust, dirt, dander and supposedly even bacteria are removed from the air. Next the air is pulled through the charcoal filter (which is disposable: I replace mine once or twice a year) which helps remove odors. Finally, the air goes back out of the unit via a fan that turns at the back of the machine and opens onto the top of the machine.
Cleaning is relatively easy. I turn off the unit, remove the cover and take out the pre-filter, collector cell and post-filter/charcoal. I always have a dusting cloth (like Swiffer or Pledge Grab-It) to wipe the dust off the front of the air cleaner and around the inside. There are also small vents on the bottom that tend to collect dust and pet hair. Washing the collector cell is more involved: I was told by an employee at an Oreck Store to use Dawn detergent to clean the cell (instead of the expensive cleaner Oreck sells). I get the sprayer on my faucet and wet down the cell: you can see the dirty water coming out of the bottom. Then I dribble the Dawn inside and then use a pipe cleaner to clean the plates inside the cell. It has a lot of surface area inside so there are a lot of tiers of plates. I rinse out the cell and let it dry overnight (I have a few extra ones so I can replace them in my cleaner and get it running again).
I won’t lie: they’re pricey. But my quality of life has improved inside my house as long as I regularly run and clean my air cleaners. The models I own have three different settings so I can put them on silent, medium, or high. I choose high because I like the background fan noise, but if I’m on the phone and can’t hear I can always turn it down to silent.
Pros: My sneezing and congestion is greatly reduced when I run the air cleaners 24/7 and clean them at least every two to three weeks.
Cons: It takes a good 15-20 minutes to do a good cleaning of the machine. Due to my long-haired cats, I often have to get a pair of tweezers and pull pet hair out of the cleaner. It’s not difficult to remove, but it’s time-consuming.
I tried the Ionic Breeze when it came out in 2001, but the ozone it put out made my asthma worse. The Oreck air cleaner has the option to use fragrances, but you don’t have to. It doesn’t put out much (if any) ozone, and I know it helps with my allergies because there have been a few times that I’ve put off cleaning it and noticed a difference in the way I feel.
This is not a cure for allergies. I have to change my sheets at least once a week, vacuum my carpet and wash the curtains to keep from waking up in the morning with congestion and sneezing. But my air cleaners help a lot with keeping dust and other allergens down to a minimum. If you’re looking for an air cleaner, give this one a try!