The 10 Best Home Air Purifiers, According to People Who Have Used & Loved Them
On a normal day, Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors. Add a self-quarantine and thatstat has likely risen to somewhere around 99.9 percent. Since we’ve been stuck at home, Cloroxing every surface and spraying Lysol like it’s our job, we’ve been thinking a lot about the germs, dust and bacteria in our breathing space. Cue the uptick in searches for a home air purifier (especially since we can’t cleanse the air with a disinfectant wipe). But do these devices actually do what they promise? Let’s investigate.
What does an air purifier do?
Think of an air purifier as a catchall for the microscopic dust and bacteria particles floating through your home. Using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, these machines remove harmful particles and allergens (think pollen, mold spores, dust mites, pet dander, smoke and even airborne bacteria that might come from human coughing or sneezing) from the air.
Ready to breathe a bit easier? Here are the ten best home air purifiers for filtering out dust, allergens and bacteria at a time when we need it most.
1. Best Air Purifier for Mold: Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier with True HEPA and Eco Mode
Designed to accommodate rooms up to 361 square feet, this stylish and surprisingly small air purifier is a favorite of Linda Chu, PureWow’s director of events. She says, “I have really bad hay fever, so I need air circulation since I can’t have my windows open. This air purifier is super quiet, and the auto feature makes it so I never have to turn it off.” It also has a four-stage filtration system that captures and reduces up to 99.97 percent of particles in the air, including pollen, pollutants and other allergens like dust, mold spores and pet dander. And as Chu mentioned, the purifier has a timer that allows you to set it for one-, four- or eight-hour cycles.
2. Best Multiuse Air Purifier: Dyson HP04 Pure Hot+Cool Air Purifier
All of Dyson’s products are game changers, but Abby Hepworth, PureWow’s associate editor, thinks this product is top-notch. She says, “I know it’s expensive, but I love my Dyson air purifier. It’s almost entirely silent, and it can also act as a heater and a fan. But really, the most fascinating thing is that you can track the quality of your air on the app (as well as the little screen on the purifier itself) so you can see exactly what it’s pulling from the air. Mine was a gift, but if you have the money to spend, this guy is really worth it.”
3. Best Air Purifier for Allergies: Blueair Blue Pure 121 Air Purifier
If you’re most concerned about allergies, this model from Blueair can help alleviate your symptoms. PureWow’s senior software engineer, Grace Kim, has this model and can’t stop raving about it. She says, “I have really bad sinus issues, in addition to allergies to dander and dust mites. This filter works like magic in cleaning and circulating my bedroom air. You can also wash and change the color of the outer mesh fabric, which makes it fun to customize. It also works well for background white noise, if you need it for sleeping.”
4. Best Air Purifier for Large Rooms: Alen BreatheSmart Classic Large Room Air Purifier
Remember when the Blueair experts said to put an air purifier in the room you spend the most time in? Well, this one reaches a whopping 1,100 feet, so it could essentially purify your whole home—or at least one of the floors. You can also choose which particles you want to filter out with models designed specifically for allergies and dust, mold and bacteria, pet dander and odor, and smoke and chemicals. One user explained its power, saying, “We live in a high-rise building and have about 1,200 square feet. We have placed the unit in such a way that it can pull the air from both large rooms at the same time. We noticed after only a few days how the amount of dust on the furniture diminished. After about a week, no more sneezing, and after about three weeks, no more congestion.”
5. Best Air Purifier Under $100: LEVOIT LV-H132 AIR PURIFIER
You can take our word for it, or you can read through the 9,000 positive reviews. Either way, this under-$100 air purifier is highly praised for its quiet air technology, which means you can leave it running all night without interrupting anyone’s sleep. It’s also super effective at filtering out pet dander for those with allergies. One formerly sniffly user says, “This item is a life changer. I suffer from terrible cat allergies and awful sinus problems. My parents have a cat, which is how we discovered I was allergic, and nothing has ever helped. We bought this on a recommendation from a friend, and I was skeptical as I had tried so many different types of things to stop my constant asthma attacks, stuffy nose and constant eye streaming, let alone sleeping. I used this the whole week I was at my parents’ house and I slept all the way through the night, no waking up not being able to breathe, no allergic reactions and no getting sick when I arrived home.”
6. Most Stylish Air Purifier: The PURE COMPANY Large Room True HEPA Air Purifier
It’s no shock that air purifiers aren’t the chicest appliances. But hey, sometimes function trumps fashion. That’s not the case with this large-room air purifier from The Pure Company. It has a 360-degree filter that reaches rooms up to 750 square feet and a minimalist design that makes it look more like a piece of art than any other air purifier we’ve used. Mary Kate McGrath, Gallery Media Group’s chief content officer, is obsessed with hers for more than just its looks, proving that it’s actually a great device. She says, “It has this feature that allows you to turn off all its lights while it’s still on, so it’s allowed in my completely blackout slumber-centric bedroom.” In addition, it features an auto mode, which self-adjusts the fan speed to the room’s air quality level without your having to tinker with knobs or buttons.
7. Best Air Purifier for Pets: Germ Guardian True HEPA Filter Air Purifier
Being allergic to pets doesn’t make them any less cute, and it definitely doesn’t stop us from cuddling with a brand-new puppy. Or at least it doesn’t have to, thanks to this powerful machine. Featuring a charcoal HEPA filter, it easily traps the pet dander and hair that could trigger sneezing fits, and it even removes strong odors from puppy-training accidents. To top it off, the Germ Guardian also comes with a UV-C light designed to kill airborne germs and bacteria for an extra deep clean, making it a smart choice for homes without pets too.
8. Best Air Purifier for Small Rooms: Molekule Air Mini+
Have you ever seen a cuter or more stylish air purifier? From the sleek, statue-like design to the felt handle for easy transporting, it will almost look like a piece of artwork on your nightstand. Plus, it’s super high-tech—you can control the speed from an app, whether or not you’re in the same room, which is ideal for keeping a sleeping baby, well, sleeping. This updated version of the original Air Mini now comes with an air particle sensor light on top that indicates "good" to "very bad" air quality so you can crank up the fan or lower it depending on the room. You can even get fresh filters delivered to your door every 12 months, so you don’t have to set a reminder to order them. And although it’s small, it’s super effective. One reviewer states: “The Molekule Air Mini+ has literally changed our lives. My 6-year-old son, who suffers from severe allergies and asthma, has been experiencing the benefits of the Molekule… After two days of using it we experienced what I call a miracle! He woke up being able to breathe through both nostrils, without any medication.”
9. Best Portable Air Purifier: QUEENTY Desktop Air Cleaner with True HEPA Filter
What better place to put an air purifier than right on our desk? This one is small enough to sit atop any surface, yet powerful enough to filter out 99.97 percent of dust, pollen, smoke, odor and pet dander. But the best part? It weighs in at just over one pound, making it super easy to pick up and tote from room to room with you. It also plugs right into your computer via USB cable. One reviewer uses it daily at the office to help with asthma symptoms. He says, “What I like about this product is the ease of use and how quiet it is to have at your desk. I am always answering phones or speaking to parents. This air purifier is very quiet, and it really does clean and purify the air in front of you. I had a very bad asthma attack at work after being outside with staff, [but] this little guy really helped.”
10. Best Air Purifier/Fan Combo: Dyson Pure Cool, TP04 - HEPA Air Purifier and Tower Fan
If you don’t need the heating capabilities of the Dyson Hot+Cool, this Pure Cool model is the perfect alternative. Rachel Bowie, PureWow’s director of special projects, uses it in her son’s room to help monitor the dust. She says, “I’m a huge fan of the Dyson Pure Cool Air Purifier. We run it ’round the clock in our son’s room, and I love being able to keep watch over the air quality in his room via an app. Living in a city like New York, there is a ton of pollution, and this purifier keeps clear tabs on things like VOCs and other particles and gases it detects, which helps me breathe a bit easier—literally.” In addition to its being really stylish, you can also control it using Amazon Alexa to turn on auto mode and to get updates on the indoor air quality.
How can we tell if an air purifier is effective?Just because we can’t see the dust and airborne bacteria floating around doesn’t mean it’s not there. In fact, research from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that indoor air can be “more polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities.” That point resonates even more if you’ve ever cleaned the air filter out of an AC unit or air purifier and have seen the grime firsthand. We’re talking about those grayish fluff balls that are a sneezing fit waiting to happen (you know the ones).
Does an air purifier reduce allergy symptoms?
Because an air purifier traps common allergens, it can also help reduce those annoying allergy symptoms (yep, including sneezing, itchy nose, watery eyes, the works). In another recent PureWow article, editor Sarah Vazquez explains, “According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year, and with the season beginning a good two to three weeks earlier than usual across the country (thanks to our warmer than average winter) allergy sufferers are in for a long battle. While stocking up on your go-to allergy medication and soothing eye drops (we’re looking at you, Zaditor) is a must, there’s one product that should be at the top of your shopping list: an air purifier.”
How many air purifiers do you need?
Any number of purifiers is better than none. But in general, models are built to filter the air in a room of a specific size, whether that’s 200 square feet or 400. The experts at Blueair state, “For optimal results, your air purifier should be placed in the room where you spend the most time, or where the air quality is the worst. If your asthma or your allergies keep you awake at night, running your air purifier in your bedroom sounds like the best choice.” If you need it with you at all times, some compact purifiers are easily portable, making it effortless to move it from room to room.
But for the best results, it’s also important to consider where in the room to place the purifier, with extra thought placed on air flow and circulation. The Blueair experts explain, “Air purifiers have an inlet where the polluted air is drawn in and filtered, and an outlet where clean air is pushed out. Place the air purifier where the air can circulate freely in, out and around the unit, away from walls, furniture and other objects that may stop the air flow.” They also recommend putting your air purifier at least four inches away from any potential obstacles but as close as possible to the pollution source (e.g., windows), while avoiding tucking it into a corner.