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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.

An air purifier is a device that helps clean your air by removing contaminants like:

  • pollutants
  • dust
  • pollen
  • pet dander
  • smoke
  • viruses
  • bacteria

Poor indoor air quality can damage your health, so air purifiers may be worth investing in.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air can be two to five (to up to 100) times more polluted than the air outdoors. Sources of that pollution include:

  • cleaning products
  • personal care products
  • off-gassing from furniture and mattresses
  • building materials
  • paint
  • wet or damp carpets
  • central heating and cooling systems
  • fuel sources, like oil, gas, coal, wood, and kerosene
  • tobacco products

If you want to ensure you’re breathing the cleanest air possible, an air purifier can eliminate pollutants and help provide a fresher home.

While air purifiers can have different features and types of filters, they all work similarly.

Air purifiers have a fan that sucks air into various filters that remove particles — like dust, dander, smoke, odors, bacteria, viruses, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — before releasing the cleaned air back into the room.

To keep your air as clean as possible, you’ll want to run the air purifier 24/7 so it can cycle the air as needed.

Many of the best air purifiers have HEPA filters, which remove 99.97 percent of pollutants down to 0.3 microns in size. Some also include carbon or charcoal filters that eliminate odors and UV filters that destroy pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and mold.

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.”

Questions to consider

Here are some questions to think through before purchasing an air purifier:

  • Are you looking to purify the air in your whole house or just a room or two?
  • What types of pollutants would you like to filter?
  • What’s the size of the room where the air purifier will be?
  • How willing are you to replace or clean filters?
  • What size, noise, and programming features you desire for your air purifier?

Prices are designated as follows:

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

Best air purifiers for allergies

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

While this Holmes unit does make a sound when it’s in use, it has 4 speed settings and is 99.97 percent effective at removing allergens.

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.

Pros

  • includes a carbon filter
  • has a filter-change indicator
  • exceptional odor control
  • good for large rooms

Cons

  • not as quiet as other air purifiers
  • heavy (21.1 pounds)

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. However, users note that it’s relatively quiet, making it a good option for people who don’t love white noise.

Pros

  • quiet operation
  • 360-degree air intake
  • washable fabric pre-filter

Cons

  • heavier (16 pounds)
  • may emit an odor from charcoal filter

Levoit Core300 True HEPA Air Purifier

Price: $

Features:

  • 3-stage filter includes a prefilter, true HEPA filter, and activated carbon filter to capture particles down to 0.3 microns
  • VortexAir technology delivers clean air around the room faster
  • includes a sleep mode and “display off” setting

This air purifier can effectively clean rooms up to 219 square feet. At just 7.5 pounds, it’s fairly lightweight, so you can move it from room to room if needed.

Pros

  • 3-stage filter
  • has a sleep mode with option to turn off display
  • 360-degree air circulation
  • budget-friendly

Cons

  • small coverage area
  • filter doesn’t last long

Best air purifiers for pets

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. The HEPA filter does a great job of filtering out allergens and pet dander, too.

Pros

  • effectively clears allergens
  • small footprint
  • can turn off lights for sleep

Cons

  • small coverage area
  • louder than other air purifiers

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.

Pros

  • comes in 3 sizes
  • 4 cleaning levels, including a Turbo speed
  • helps reduce odors

Cons

  • HEPA filter can give off a smell
  • only works with brand-name filters

Best air purifiers for smoke

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.

Pros

  • effective at eliminating dust
  • has an auto mode
  • displays air quality on screen

Cons

  • can be loud when operating
  • filters need frequent replacement

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.

Pros

  • minimal footprint
  • ability to set cleaning schedules
  • effectively eliminates odor

Cons

  • expensive
  • users report the app is glitchy

BISSELL Air220 Air Purifier

Price: $$

Features:

  • 3-stage filtration, including a prefilter, activated carbon filter, and medical-grade HEPA filter
  • dial lets you control fan speed and power
  • VOC sensor automatically adjusts fan speed
  • filter change indicator

The BISSELL Air220 filters the air in a 259-square-foot room every 12 minutes (or almost five times per hour). The medical-grade HEPA filter captures smoke, pet dander, allergens, and odor.

Pros

  • automatically adjusts speed
  • 3-stage filtration
  • whisper quiet
  • easy access to filters

Cons

  • not as effective for large rooms

Best air purifiers for large rooms

If you want to purify a larger room—one that’s at least 700 square feet—you’ll most likely need an air purifier that’s equipped for the job. The following air purifiers are designed to clean larger areas, faster.

Alen BreatheSmart 75i True HEPA Air Purifier

Price: $$$

Features:

  • true HEPA and medical-grade filters capture particles down to 0.1 microns
  • 5 speed settings
  • colored air-quality sensors report in real time
  • automatically adjusts based on air quality

The Alen BreatheSmart 75i is designed for large rooms. It can clean up to 1,300 square feet of space every 30 minutes.

Pros

  • effective for large rooms
  • simple and intuitive controls
  • medical-grade filtration

Cons

  • expensive
  • large footprint

Dyson Purifier Cool

Price: $$$

Features:

  • fully sealed HEPA filter prevents pollutants from being re-released into the air
  • easy-to-use accompanying app
  • night mode turns down the volume and display, so you can run it without disturbances
  • includes a fan function for cooling

The Dyson Purifier Cool is an air purifier and tower fan in one. It can clean and cool rooms of up to 800 square feet. If you want to run it without the cooling capability, you can use the backward airflow to clean the air without dropping the room’s temperature.

Pros

  • HEPA filter is fully sealed
  • can be controlled from the app
  • dual-use (purify and fan)

Cons

  • expensive
  • large footprint
  • heavy

BlueAir Classic 680i

Price: $$$

Features:

  • dual-filtration technology uses mechanical filtration and electrostatic filtration
  • integrated sensors automatically adjust speed as needed
  • can control via voice and app
  • advanced odor elimination thanks to an activated carbon filter

The BlueAir Classic 680i was specifically designed for large rooms. It can clean up to 775 square feet in as little as 12.5 minutes, or up to 3,720 square feet in 1 hour on the highest setting.

Pros

  • dual filtration process
  • auto adjustment
  • quiet operation

Cons

  • expensive
  • users report the app can be glitchy

Best air purifier for mold

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.

PriceWhat it’s best forCustomer rating
Dyson Purifier Cool$$$large rooms; dual use (purifying and cooling)4.3 stars
Bissell air220 Air Purifier$$medium rooms; smoke and odors4.8 stars
Blueair Classic 680i$$$large rooms; allergens and odors4.1 stars
Alen BreatheSmart 75i$$$large rooms; bacteria and viruses4.9 stars
Levoit Core 300 True HEPA Air Purifier$small rooms; allergens, odors, and dust4.7 stars
Holmes True HEPA Console Air Purifier$$medium rooms; allergens4.5 stars
Blueair Blue Pure 211+$$medium rooms; allergens, dust, and odors4.7 stars
Levoit Care P350 Pet Care True HEPA Purifier$small rooms; pet dander and odors4.7 stars
Honeywell HPA300$$medium rooms; pet dander and odor4.7 stars
Levoit LV-PUR131$medium to large rooms; smoke4.5 stars
RabbitAir MINUSA2$$$large rooms; smoke, allergens, and odor4.7 stars

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.

Do air purifiers help with COVID-19?

According to the EPA, air purifiers can help reduce airborne contaminants like viruses. However, there are some caveats here:

  • The air purifier must be able to remove small airborne particles between 0.1 and 1 microns to effectively reduce viruses in the air.
  • On its own, an air purifier isn’t enough to protect you against the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. However, it can help when used with other preventive measures, like cleaning and disinfecting your home, frequent handwashing, and avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands.

How often should I run my air purifier?

It’s recommended to run an air purifier 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for best results.

If you turn the air purifier off, the air will return to its pre-cleaned quality. If you don’t want to run your air purifier all day, you can choose an option with an automatic setting. These air purifiers detect when there are contaminants in the air and turn on and off (and adjust speed) as needed.

What’s the difference between an air purifier and a humidifier?

Air purifiers and humidifiers are both tools used to improve air quality, but they work differently.

Air purifiers help clean the air by removing contaminants like dust, pollen, bacteria, viruses, pet dander, and smoke.

Humidifiers add moisture to the room by turning water into droplets that are dispersed into dry air. Air purifiers don’t add moisture, while humidifiers don’t remove contaminants.

You can get multipurpose machines that do both, however.

Using 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.