Whether you live in an area with poor air quality, have been affected by the smoke from the recent wildfires or just keep waking up with a scratchy throat or nose, investing in an air purifier could be a game changer, as it can help improve the quality of air that circulates from your bedroom to your kitchen and beyond.
While everyone could benefit from cleaner air, Board-certified allergist and immunologist at Columbia Allergy Dr. Sanjeev Jain explains that those who have allergies to pet, mold, dust, mites and other indoor allergens sometimes feel congested in the comfort of their home. That’s where an air purifier comes to the rescue. “The use of a small-particle or high-efficiency particulate air [HEPA] filter in the home can help trap these allergens to reduce a person’s exposure while indoors, especially when particles are more likely to be airborne, such as during vacuuming, using a fan or using central heating or air conditioning,” he explains.
Not only will this make it easier to inhale and exhale, but the quality of your air is better, creating a calmer living environment. Households with elderly individuals or infants and those who are very sensitive to allergens should research thoroughly to ensure they are reaping the most benefit from their purifier.
Though there are hundreds of options on Amazon, Best Buy and other retailers, Jain says there are a few features that make them effective or not. First, it needs to have a filter that can trap small particles, and HEPA filters, which capture 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in diameter and up, can do the job. There is experimental evidence that HEPA filters can effectively remove even smaller particles, down to 0.1 microns across, which includes viruses and bacteria as well as damaging components of smoke and vehicle and industrial exhaust.
“HEPA filters are a very common type of filter that has been proven to accomplish this task, so an air purifier with a certified HEPA filter will likely be reliable,” he says. It’s also important to note that filters aren’t a one-time purchase and must be replaced throughout their life span to clean the air. “It is important to buy a product that has replacement filters available or the ability to wash the filter,” Jain adds.
To double-check your filter’s quality before you buy it, Jain suggests turning to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and Allergy Standards Limited (ASL). The two organizations recently teamed up to create a certification program to help guide consumers to choose worthwhile allergy- and asthma-friendly products, including air purifiers.
If you’ve decided it’s time to invest in cleaner, healthier air, we’ve searched the internet far and wide and gathered a list of top-rated options in a variety of sizes and price ranges. Our research found that many air purifiers are selling out, so act fast before these do too.
Best air purifier for smoke
Medify MA-40W V2.0 Medical-Grade Filtration H13 True HEPA Air Purifier ($270, originally $349; amazon.com)
Medify Air’s purifier is built with “medical grade” three-stage filters including an H13 HEPA filter stage (H13 is the highest efficiency HEPA filter, removing 99.995% of particles 0.3 microns and up) plus this purifier can move enough air to clear rooms up to 1,600 square feet in one hour (though it’s recommended use is in rooms of 800 square feet or smaller).
The filter is expected to last for 2,500 hours before you have to change it, and the purifier itself has four fan speeds and a sleep mode, giving you ultimate control over your air quality.
Austin Air HealthMate Room Air Purifier With HEPA Filter ($594.99; wayfair.com)
Also sporting a HEPA filter, this air purifier from Austin Air is a heavy hitter. It can clean the air in rooms up to 1,500 square feet, and it has a 360-degree air intake system to capture and purify all the dirty air. It’s available in two colors right now, black and sandstone, and is equipped with a three-speed fan control.
If you’re suffering from smoky conditions in your zip code, Jain suggests this Dyson air purifier because it features both HEPA and activated carbon filters. “This specific model also humidifies the air, which can aid in exacerbating asthma and allergy symptoms that can occur from extremely dry air,” he explains. “Dyson has UV technology built in to remove bacteria in the water to ensure your air stays clean during the humidification process.” And it carries an Asthma & Allergy Friendly certification.
Best air purifier for allergies
Honeywell PowerPlus True HEPA Allergen Remover/Air Purifier ($269; homedepot.com)
This air purifier from Honeywell uses certified HEPA filters that can capture up to 99.97% of microscopic allergens 0.3 microns and larger that pass through it, and since HEPA filters actually are capable of trapping even smaller particles, it has shown to help reduce up to 99.9% of certain airborne viruses, bacteria and mold spores (though it hasn’t been tested specifically for effectiveness against pathogenic viruses or its ability to reduce Covid-19).
This purifier has a built-in air quality indicator that continuously monitors and displays the air quality, so you’ll know when it’s working. Plus, it has an automatic cleaning mode that will adjust its cleaning level based on the air quality reading, so you won’t have to worry about fiddling with the fan speeds.
As the new season rolls around, many people are sniffling and battling runny noses and eyes. Some of these allergens could be coming from your house, and you can fight against this with the right type of air purifier. Jain recommends these three Dyson models since they use HEPA filters. He suggests having one of these running year-round.
Blueair Blue Pure 311 Auto ($239.99; amazon.com)
Ideal for medium-sized rooms, this editor-favorite Blueair air purifier completely filters the air in a room in just 12 minutes. There’s also an auto mode so you can really set it and forget it, with its washable HEPA filter. Although there’s a quiet night mode, the purifier is nearly silent on any of its settings.
Best air purifier for large homes
Medify Air MA-112 V2.0 Super CADR 950 H13 True HEPA Air Purifier ($495; amazon.com)
This monster of an air purifier from Medify Air has an enormous coverage area of 3,700 square feet. Using a pair of “medical grade” three-stage filters including an H13 HEPA stage like the smaller MA-40W, it’s a juggernaut at cleaning the air in large rooms. The purifier also comes with a touch-screen panel, four fan speeds, a sleep mode and an ionizer function that can be switched on or off.
Germ Guardian Air Purifier ($199.99, originally $299.99; amazon.com)
This air purifier can filter all the air in a room up to 338 square feet four times per hour, which makes it a solid option for medium to large areas in your house. It has a three-stage filtration process that includes a prefilter, a charcoal filter, and a HEPA filter to eliminate 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns or bigger from the air, along with a UV-C light.
Best air purifier for pets
Winix HR900 Ultimate Pet True HEPA Air Purifier ($224.99; homedepot.com)
Equipped with smart sensors, this air purifier from Winix is perfect for pet owners. With a HEPA filter, washable prefilter, advanced order control carbon filter and Winix PlasmaWave Technology (an ionizing stage), it can capture 99.97% of airborne pollutants, pet dander and allergens as small as 0.3 microns. It also has a display that shows the real-time air quality with LED lights.
Pets are members of the family, and thus they can irritate us just like siblings, children, parents or partners. And sometimes they can cause us to sneeze and sniffle, thanks to their dander. Jain recommends these two models of the Rabbit Air purifier, which use 3 stages of filtration including a HEPA filter. Also, because Rabbit’s design is so thin, he also says they are easy to keep out of the way of a hyperactive furry friend.
Best air purifier for dust and mold
Dust and mold have you struggling to sleep or take a deep breath? If so, Jain suggests this Dyson option that can easily sit on desk or kitchen countertops. It’s small yet mighty, with a HEPA filter onboard as with the other Dyson models.
Best air purifier for apartments
Levoit LV-H132 Air Purifier Filtration With True HEPA Filter ($89.99; homedepot.com)
With three speed settings and a three-stage filtration system that includes a HEPA filter, this purifier is perfect for smaller apartments or rooms. At just 14.5 inches tall, it can even fit on your desk. It cleans the air in a room up to 129 square feet.
Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Cryptomic ($749.99; dyson.com)
This small fan combines heating and cooling functions with an activated carbon and glass HEPA filter and Dyson’s own Cryptomic technology (the company’s proprietary VOC filtration method).
The fan automatically detects airborne particles and gases, oscillates up to 350 degrees for full room coverage and even has a night mode that utilizes its quietest settings with a dimmed display. You can also link your purifier with the Dyson Link app so you can keep an eye on your air quality in real time.
Best air purifier for budget-minded households
GermGuardian Full Room ($89.99; amazon.com)
For a budget-friendly option, consider this pick from GermGuardian. It’s ideal for large rooms, and it captures dust and allergens like pet dander and pollen.
Honeywell HEPA-Type Tabletop Air Purifier ($59.98; homedepot.com)
This air purifier from Honeywell uses “HEPA-type” filters, which aren’t certified to the HEPA standard but use a similar construction and can capture up to 99% of allergens as small as 2 microns in the air. While it doesn’t capture particles as small as many of our other picks and thus isn’t as effective against a wide range of pollutants and allergens, this compact unit can fit on a nightstand or desk and helps if your main concerns are pollen and other larger particles.
Hamilton Beach TrueAir ($55.07; amazon.com)
The cheapest option on our list, this purifier is small enough to sit on your desk or kitchen counter but may not be able to filter your whole home, making it ideal for a smaller space. Its filter can be vacuumed clean, so you don’t have to buy replacement filters — and it costs less than $60. Win-win!
Best air purifier for offices
Pure Enrichment PureZone Breeze Tabletop 2-in-1 Air Purifier ($59.99, originally $69.99; amazon.com)
Equipped with a two-stage filtration process including a HEPA filter, this purifier from Pure Enrichment cleans the air of 99.97% of dust, pollen, smoke and other household odors. Its portable size makes it perfect for your work-from-home setup, plus it’s cheaper than many of the other purifiers on this list that have HEPA filters.
Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Air Purifier, Heater + Fan ($649; amazon.com)
Another option from Dyson, this fan purifies while offering heating and cooling functions as well. It can also be controlled by your voice if you pair it with an Alexa device. It’s incredibly convenient, and its sleek, beautiful design will fit right into any home office.