Rinse Your Air Pure

A combo air purifier-humidifier that's now available in the United States.

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Back to basics: A new air purifier-humidifier captures the cleaning power of ... water.

Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the best. Exhibit A: the Venta Airwasher,
a combo air purifier-humidifier that's now available in the United States after a successful debut in Germany.

At the Airwasher's core are two cylindrical stacks of thin plastic disks, laid on their side and half-submerged in water. As a fan above sucks in dry, dusty air from the surrounding room, the stacks begin to rotate and pick up water. Some of the water is absorbed by the air (the stacks offer 5 square feet of disk surface), and some of it captures dust particles, causing them to drop into the tub. As a result, air leaving the unit is purified and humidified. The rotating disks are self-cleaning, and you can add oils to the water for a scent of pine, menthol, or tangerine.

The boxy sample unit Venta sent me (think black breadbox) was unobtrusive when tucked into a corner of my office. And the only noise was the barely audible hum of the fan. But
getting the Airwasher's full benefit
demanded a routine that took some getting used to. You have to fill the device with water each morning and add an antibacterial treatment every two weeks. There's also not a water-level indicator.

I expected less effort from a $499 product, but I was very happy with the Airwasher's performance. It's now available at select retailers, which are listed at www.venta-airwasher.com.