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Air purifiers sanitize air by removing allergens, pollutants, and toxins from small to large rooms. Some personal air purifiers fit this bill on a smaller scale.
If you enjoy the use of air purifiers at home, you may wish to gain the same benefits when you’re on-the-go and in different indoor environments.
Personal air purifiers come in different sizes and rely on varying technologies. Some are small and portable. Others are wearable. In this roundup, we’ll explain how they work and provide recommendations for safe and effective personal air purifying devices.
Personal air purifiers are small devices. They’re designed to clean and purify indoor air circulating in your immediate proximity. Indoor air can contain irritants and particles from many substances, including:
- allergens, including pet dander and pollen
- toxins and chemicals, such as those found in cigarette smoke
- volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as those emitted from paint and fabric
- dust mites
Since they’re small, personal air purifiers are not able to handle the particle load typically found in a medium or large room. They may also have a limited capacity to clean the air in very polluted or dirty environments.
Air purifiers of all sizes, including personal air purifiers, don’t remove toxins or pollutants found on hard or soft surfaces. For example, if you’re using an effective personal air purifier on an airplane or in a car, it will clean the air in your immediate surroundings, but won’t eliminate germs or bacteria from your seat or window.
Many wearable personal air purifiers rely on ionization technology to clean the air. Ionization produces negative ions that electrically charge particles in the air. This causes the particles to adhere to solid surfaces, such as walls or carpets. The particles are not cleaned or purified, only moved away from you. If the particles are disrupted from their landing place, they can float back into the air.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ionization also generates ozone, a lung irritant. Ozone can make air harder to breathe, particularly if you have a condition such as asthma. For this reason, we have not included any personal air purifiers on this list that use ionization technology.
Some personal air purifiers utilize high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, activated carbon filters, or both. These filters trap and remove particles from the air, making it clean and free of irritants.
No matter its size or technology, no air purifier will clean the air completely. True HEPA filters are highly effective, although smaller devices that contain them have less cleaning capacity than larger models. A recent
The products on this list that use True HEPA filters are said by their manufacturers to meet or exceed Department of Energy standards for particle cleansing. They’re able to remove at least 99.97 percent of pollutants from the air that passes through them.
The products on this list that use other types of filters or technologies are said by their manufacturers to remove airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns.
Some air purifiers that rely on electrostatic charging technology produce ozone. We’ve included one device that utilizes an electrostatic filter because its manufacturer states that it is completely ozone-free. None of the products on this list produce ozone.
We read customer reviews on multiple sales sites to gauge product efficiency, manufacturer transparency, and customer service. We only chose products that get significantly more good reviews than negative ones.
Personal air purifier prices vary. Some of the more expensive models on our list offer financing or a monthly payment plan.
We’ve indicated cost as follows:
- $ = under $100
- $$ = $100–$300
- $$$ = over $300
At a little over a half-pound (lb.), this rechargeable air purifier is highly portable. It can be placed on a desk, car seat, or armrest. It cleans the air within a 5-foot (ft.) radius.
It uses an activated carbon prefilter and True HEPA filter to clean the air of dust, odors, allergens, and smoke.
The battery lasts for 12 hours prior to needing a charge. A USB charging cable is included.
To provide optimum efficiency, you’ll need to change the filter and prefilter every 6 months. Some users mentioned that replacement filters are hard to find, so it may make sense to stock up.
This air purifier has three fan speeds. Some users report that the highest fan speed is too loud for comfortable conversations.
It comes with a 5-year manufacturer’s warranty.
This 6-lb. desktop air purifier has a three-stage filtration system. It uses a prefilter, True HEPA filter, and activated carbon filter to remove odors and particles from the air.
It has three fan speeds and a built-in night light.
Despite its small size, you can use this device to clean the air in small and medium rooms.
It comes with a manufacturer’s 1-year limited warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
This FDA-cleared 510(k) class II medical device uses a proprietary technology called PICO (photo electrochemical oxidation) to clean the air. According to the manufacturer, PICO filters use free radicals to break down pollutants, including viruses, bacteria, mold, chemicals, and allergens, at the molecular level.
Each filter lasts for 6 months. It can be used to clean a room up to 250 square ft.
It is 11.5 lbs. which is on the high end of the personal air purifier spectrum. However, it has a large strap for easy transport from room to room.
It syncs to the Apple HomeKit app, so you can control it from your iOS device.
User reviews for this product are highly positive. People mention a reduction in allergy symptoms and removal of fungi and odors in the home.
It comes with a 30-day trial and 100-percent money-back guarantee.
This air purifier weighs less than 1 lb. and is the size of a water bottle. It uses a medical-grade filter plus antimicrobial silver to capture and eliminate germs, allergens, and pollutants from the air within a 3.2-ft. radius.
It comes with a built-in air quality sensor that monitors the surrounding air. According to the manufacturer, it creates a pressurized air bubble around you that bad air can’t penetrate.
This air purifier comes from a German manufacturer that utilizes Swiss engineering concepts. It is designed to clean the air within a 3-ft. area. It’s meant to be placed on a desk or bedside and pointed directly at your face.
It uses a proprietary, patented, hyper HEPA filter that removes and eradicates 99 percent of particles, including those as small as 0.003 microns.
It comes with a detachable base. It weighs 4.4 lbs. without the base and 6.26 lbs. when it is attached.
Users give this air purifier high marks for use during travel on cruise ships and in hotel rooms. Since it plugs into an electrical outlet, make sure to bring a European plug adaptor with you if you travel overseas.
This air purifier uses an electrostatic filter to pull particles as small as 0.1 microns out of the air.
According to the manufacturer, it does not produce any ozone.
It weighs 3.5 lbs. With a noise level of 36 decibels, it sounds slightly louder than a whisper on both low and high fan settings.
It comes with 60-day free return, 100-percent satisfaction guarantee. It also comes with a 3-year warranty.
Personal air purifiers are designed to work in small areas. Some are meant to blanket you in cleaner air within a small radius. Others may work in a small room. Don’t purchase a small air purifier for a space that is larger than the manufacturer recommends. Otherwise, the purifier won’t effectively remove allergens.
Purifiers that use filters require filter changes and, sometimes, cleaning or vacuuming. If you prefer less maintenance, opt for a filter that contains a rechargeable battery.
When possible, buy an air purifier that comes with a manufacturer’s warranty, trial period, or money-back guarantee.
You may be interested in using a personal air purifier to reduce the possibility of contracting SARS-CoV-2 or other viruses. Air purifiers may help, but they won’t take the place of wearing masks, social distancing, or vaccination.
Since they only clean the air, personal air purifiers also won’t take the place of cleaning the hard and soft surfaces of your home.
Personal air purifiers are designed to clean the air in your immediate proximity. Some can be used to clean the air in a small room.
Personal air purifiers are used to remove toxins, pollutants, odors, and allergens from small spaces.
Many personal air purifiers rely on True HEPA filters and activated charcoal filters. Others use varying types of proprietary technology.
It may be best to avoid using wearable personal air purifiers that use ionization technology, as they may release ozone, a lung irritant, into the air.