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An air purifier is a great appliance to purchase if you have breathing sensitivities, allergies, or are concerned about environmental pollutants.

There are many air purifiers available for purchase, some that are portable and others that are installed in your home.

In general, the most effective air purifiers have filters that remove even the smallest particles floating in the air.

Note that air purifiers aren’t the only solution to maintaining a pollutant-free environment. Allergens like mold need to be remediated to reduce air contaminants.

The air purifier that’s right for you really depends on your room specifications and preferences. Below are some air purifiers that may be useful for your needs.

Purchasing an air purifier doesn’t need to be complicated, but it’s important to know what’s available and what to measure before you buy. We started by considering a few simple questions, prices, clinical studies, and brands on the market. For more in-depth considerations, jump to the section on “How to choose.”

Prices are designated as follows:

  • $ = under $200
  • $$ = $200–$400
  • $$$ = over $400

Adding an air purifier to your home or room is a popular way to control allergies. One study found that filtering the air with an air purifier was the fourth-most common strategy for managing allergies.

Selecting air purifiers with a HEPA filter will ensure that the air in your room is clean and pollutant-free.

Here are two products to consider for allergies.

Holmes True HEPA Console Air Purifier

Price: $

Features:

  • HEPA filter
  • 4 speed settings, including a sleep setting to run more quietly
  • good for rooms up to 349 square feet

This unit does make a sound when in use. Some users find the settings to be louder than they’d like while others consider it “white noise.” Many users note that the sleep setting is very quiet.

Blueair Blue Pure 211+

Price: $$

Features:

  • filters for particles and gasses
  • multiple settings
  • washable prefilter that captures pet dander and other large particles, which prolongs the main filter
  • one-button simple operation
  • 360-degree airflow

While this model works in medium-sized rooms (about 540 square feet), it’s 16 pounds, which may make it difficult to move from room to room.

You may want to find an air purifier that features filters for both dander and odor. Pet hair may not require as fine a filter as other pollutants but choosing one with a HEPA filter can ensure that you eliminate all unwanted particles in your room.

Here are two that may work best if you have pets, such as cats and dogs, in your home.

Levoit Core P350 Pet Care True HEPA Purifier

Price: $

Features:

  • low-cost option tailored for pet dander and hair
  • HEPA filter for pet dander and a carbon filter for pet odors
  • runs quietly
  • small size, weighing 9 pounds

This model works best in small rooms like bedrooms or offices.

Honeywell HPA300

Price: $$

Features:

  • includes HEPA and carbon filters
  • four settings, including a “Turbo Clean” mode
  • timer
  • runs quietly

This Honeywell air purifier works for medium rooms like common areas, which may be where your pets spend most of their time. It’s 17 pounds, so it may be best to keep it in one room.

You may wish to purify the air from tobacco smoke or other sources of smoke, such as wildfires. HEPA filters can help remove smoke particles, which can be the most harmful aspect of smoke exposure.

Air purifiers featuring filters for gasses may also be helpful to remove the harmful aspects of pollution caused by smoke.

Levoit LV-PUR131 True HEPA Air Purifier

Price: $

Features:

  • 3-stage filter, including a prefilter, HEPA filter, and carbon filter, to trap particles and gases
  • sleep mode and a timer
  • Wi-Fi capability for easy programming
  • automatically adjusts based on air quality

This air purifier is designed to work in a room up to 322 square feet. It weighs 11 pounds, so it could be moved to another room if needed.

RabbitAir MinusA2 Ultra Quiet Air Purifier

Price: $$$

Features:

  • customized filter that traps 99.97 percent of allergens as well as gases from smoke
  • speed adjustment based on the environment
  • can be mounted on the wall
  • very quiet

The MinusA2 air purifier works in large rooms of up to 815 square feet. This air purifier is on the expensive end.

While an air purifier can help eliminate mold in the air, it won’t remove the source of the problem.

In fact, beware of relying on an air purifier to help with a mold problem in your home. Mold grows in moist or wet spaces. To truly remove mold in your space, you’ll need to address the source of the water and replace anything affected by mold.

Running an air purifier with a HEPA filter, like those recommended for allergies, will help trap mold particles, but your best option is to get rid of the source of the mold to truly remove the pollutant.

Portable vs. permanent

Consider what you want out of your air purifier. Do you want it to work in your entire house, or is there a particular room, such as a bedroom, that needs cleaner air?

Portable air filters come in many different sizes and units.

Permanent air purifiers are generally part of your home heating, ventilation, and air condition (HVAC) unit and require regular filter replacement. Keep in mind that permanent air purifiers only work when the HVAC is running, so it may not run if the temperatures are mild outdoors.

Running an HVAC during mild weather to filter the air may lead to an increase in your utility bills because of the machine’s extra use.

Types of filtration

There are many types of air purifiers available for purchase, all of which filter different sizes and types of particles.

Keep in mind that pet hair is larger in size than fine particles from pollen, dust, or smoke. Your air filtration needs may be less if you’re primarily concerned with dander.

As a rule of thumb:

  • Pet hair and pollen are larger particles.
  • Dust is a medium-size particle.
  • Smoke is considered a small particle.

In general, for allergens like pollen, dander, and smoke, you’ll want to look for high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters for both portable and permanent air purifiers. This type of filter traps large, medium, and small particles floating in the air.

Carbon filters target gases. They may be useful for filtering smoke and other contaminants in the air.

Many air purifiers contain both HEPA and carbon air filters.

For more on the best types of air filtration for allergies, read our roundup that has even more specifics on what’s important.

Size matters

If you choose to purchase a portable air purifier, know the size of your room. Air purifiers are only effective for certain sizes of space, so closely read the packaging to make sure the air purifier fits the square footage of your room.

You can find out the square feet of any room by multiplying the room’s length and width.

Ratings

What does the CADR rating on air filters mean?

Portable air filters are measured by clean air delivery rate (CADR). This rating measures the size of the particles the unit filters and in what size room you can use it. Larger rooms need higher CADR ratings to effectively clean the air.

For example, look for a CADR of 130 if your room is 200 square feet or a 325 rating for a 500-square-foot room.

What does the MERV rating for HVAC air filters mean?

HVACs that filter the air are measured in MERVs (minimum efficiency reporting value).

Look for filters that are 10 or higher on this scale, no matter the particles you aim to filter. MERVs are measured from 1 to 20. You’ll need to regularly replace the filters for effective purification.

Not all air purifiers are good for your health. Using a unit or filter that’s not regularly cleaned or maintained won’t work effectively. Also consider that some air purifiers emit ozone, which can cause irritation in your lungs. These may include ionizers, uncoated or poorly coated UV lights, and plasma.

Make sure you’re keeping your room free of pollutants in other ways as well:

  • Don’t let people smoke indoors.
  • Vacuum and clean regularly.
  • Ventilate with outdoor air from time to time, if possible.

Utilizing an air purifier may help control particles and other pollutants in the air. There are many portable air purifiers available for purchase.

Lower-cost models tend to work in smaller rooms, whereas larger units cost more but may cover the common space in your home. If you want to consider installing an air purifier in your HVAC unit, be sure to work with a professional.