Air quality is not something most individuals spend a lot of time thinking about. However, numerous airborne-particles thrive indoors, particularly in older homes and apartments or those with pets. Particle allergens such as mold, dander, and pollen are just a few of the antagonists found in the typical household. The best air purifiers will remove virtually all these airborne particles in a few hours or less and leave you breathing cleaner air. While there may be some health benefits for the average individual, these machines can be particularly life-changing for people who suffer from allergies.
We combed through some of the specs and put together a list of our ten favorite models. At the top of our list is the Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Air Purifier. Not only is this machine one of the more affordable options available, but it’s also powerful enough to handle large rooms and uses a true HEPA filter to rid your air of 99.97% of airborne particles.
Our Top Picks: The Best Air Purifiers in 2021
For those of you in a hurry — breathe easy — here’s a quick look at our top picks for the best air purifiers on the market.
|Best Overall: Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Air Purifier.|
True HEPA filtration for larger rooms from a trusted brand at a great price.
|Best Eco-Friendly: Coway Mighty Air Purifier with True HEPA and Eco Mode.|
This machine is so good at conserving energy that it turns the fan off and runs on eco mode when it detects no pollution in your air.
|Best Budget: PureZone Mini Portable Air Purifier with True HEPA.|
Not only is this the best air purifier under $50 that you can find, but it’s also one of the most portable models to take along when you’re traveling.
|Best for Allergies: GermGuardian 4-in-1 Air Cleaning System.|
This machine utilizes UV-C light to head off germs and viruses after putting your air through a true HEPA filter.
|Best Quiet HEPA: Whirlpool Whispure True HEPA Air Purifier.|
Besides cleaning your air quietly, this machine has an auto mode that will adjust to the air quality of your room.
|Best for Small Rooms: Levoit Air Purifier.|
This unit brings true HEPA filtration in a small package, and it’s one of the most highly-rated units on the market.
|Best for Medium Rooms: Winix PlasmaWave Air Cleaner. |
PlasmaWave technology offers a permanent style filter as part of this machine’s 4-stage air cleaning process.
|Best for Large Rooms: Austin Air Healthmate. |
Okay, so it looks a bit like an 80’s robot, but it can clean up to 1500 square feet with two pre-filters, about 15 pounds of activated carbon, and a certified HEPA filter.
|Best with a Humidifier: VENTA Comfort Plus Airwasher Humidifier. |
This machine is filterless and utilizes water to pull the pollutants out of your air.
|Best with a UV Light: Biota Bot MM208 Air Purifier. |
This model puts your air through 7-stages of Air Purification, including a true HEPA filter and ultraviolet sterilization.
1. Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Air Purifier
The best air purifier overall
Brand: Honeywell | Capability: 495 Square Feet | Filtration: Pre-Filter, HEPA Filter | ENERGY STAR Certified: Yes | Price: 💰💰💰
In addition to carrying the well-known Honeywell name, this air purifier uses a true HEPA filter that captures 99. 97% of airborne particles and should last for about 12 months. The machine can circulate air at a rate of 5 times an hour and has four cleaning levels: allergen, general clean, germ, and turbo. It even has a timer option, a control panel dimmer, and a reminder light that indicates when it’s time to check the filter. This unit can help with smoke, pets, dust, pollen, mold spores, and germs.
- Low setting is almost silent
- Significantly reduces dust levels
- Works well for people with asthma
- Filter replacements are pricey
- Some reviewers had issues with the front grill staying in place
2. Conway Mighty Air Purifier
The best eco-friendly air purifier
Brand: Conway | Capability: 361 Square Feet | Filtration: Washable Pre-Filter, Deodorization Filter, HEPA Filter, Ionizer | ENERGY STAR Certified: No | Price: 💰💰💰
This is truly one of the best air purifiers with a washable filter that takes energy efficiency to the next level. In addition to the three fan speeds, it has an auto mode that adjusts to the pollution level it detects in your air. If it deems your air clean, it turns the fan off and runs in eco mode.
Not only will this machine do an outstanding job of filtering your air and saving you money, but it will also look good doing it with a modern, stylish appearance not often seen in air purifiers. And for anyone sensitive to ionizers, this unit will still work wonders with that option turned off.
- Uses very little energy
- Filters out cigarette smoke
- The air is filtered upwards and doesn’t blow directly at you
- It’s easy to forget to turn the ionizer off
- Not properly installing the filters can cause the fan to explode
3. PureZone Mini Portable Air Purifier
The best budget air purifier
Brand: Pure Enrichment | Capability: 54 Square Feet | Filtration: Carbon Pre-Filter, HEPA Filter | ENERGY STAR Certified: No | Price: 💰
This portable air purifier weighs in at less than a pound and works on a rechargeable battery. It has three fan settings, a 2-in-1 filter, and it’s tiny enough to fit in a cup holder. And if its small size and weight weren’t enough, it even has a removable handle and will work sitting upright or on its side.
This little machine is ideal for travel, desktops, cars, closets, and or about anywhere else you carry it. Unfortunately, what you gain in portability from this model, you lose in cleaning capacity. It can work well for personal spaces and tiny areas.
- Quiet enough that it’s not distracting
- It’s easy to take on trips and use in hotels
- It keeps the car feeling fresh on road trips
- Only works in small areas
- It only lasts for about 6 hours on high speed
4. GermGuardian 4-in-1 Air Cleaning System
The best air purifier for allergies
Brand: Guardian Technologies | Capability: 167 Square Feet | Filtration: Carbon Pre-Filter, HEPA Filter | ENERGY STAR Certified: Yes | Price: 💰💰
One of the most popular air purifiers in recent years is GermGuardian’s air cleaning system. It is a top pick for the best air purifier under $100. We don’t know how they got the price so low on this machine, but kudos to them—this is truly a great value. The GermGuardian AC4825E is a 22-inch tall, 3-speed tower with a UV-C light and Titanium Dioxide technology. This will purge the air in smaller rooms quite efficiently.
The only downside is that it can only reasonably keep the air 100% pure in one room, but its quietness makes it ideal for the bedroom or office. Furthermore, it is very lightweight and easy to move from room-to-room.
The one-two combo punch of a carbon and HEPA filter kicks nasty particles to the curb. Furthermore, this is bolstered by its Energy Star qualification, meaning you are doing right by the environment and not sucking up an excessive amount of electrical energy to power it.
- Good for pet smells
- Very portable with a built-in handhold
- The low and middle fan settings are quiet
- It doesn’t work very well for smoke or cooking odors
- Some reviewers reported a quality control issue with fried circuit boards
5. Whirlpool Whispure True HEPA Purifier
The best quiet HEPA air purifier
Brand: Whirlpool | Capability: 508 Square Feet | Filtration: Carbon Pre-Filter, HEPA Filter | ENERGY STAR Certified: Yes | Price: 💰💰💰
True to its name, the highlight of this Whirlpool Whispure model is how quiet it is. It’s an excellent unit for moderate to larger sized rooms. The touch screen controls along the machine’s top are very user-friendly with buttons for speed, timer, sleep, control lock, filter status, nightlight, and power. The light strip will glow blue, yellow, or red based on the air quality (blue being the best, and red the worst).
Another feature we like is the speed control. You can switch between low, medium, high, turbo, or auto based on how much filtering power you want. The auto setting is convenient because it will detect your air quality and then select its speed accordingly.
As you can imagine, turbo is significantly louder than the other settings. The blue LED light strip along the bottom of the unit makes a neat nightlight. It has two brightness levels, or you can switch it off entirely if it bothers you.
- The timer function is helpful
- You can know the quality of air from the light indicator
- The auto mode makes everything easy with no monitoring needed
- No remote control
- Somewhat bulky unit
6. Levoit Air Purifier
The best small room air purifier
Brand: Levoit | Capability: 129 Square Feet | Filtration: Pre-Filter, Carbon Filter, HELPA Filter | ENERGY STAR Certified: No | Price: 💰💰
Levoit’s Air Purifier is a great budget option and one of the best air purifiers for dorm rooms because of its smaller capacity. You get HEPA filtering power at a fraction of the typical cost, 3-speed settings, a total of 3 filters (pre, HEPA, carbon), and a fancy nightlight function.
- You can turn off all the lights
- A small unit that fits just about anywhere
- Helps get rid of smoke smell from neighbors
- High speed is a bit noisy
- The unit needs 15 inches of clearance around it to work properly
7. Winix PlasmaWave Air Cleaner
The best medium room air purifier
Brand: Winix | Capability: 360 Square Feet | Filtration: Washable Pre-Filter, Carbon Filter, HEPA Filter, PlasmaWave | ENERGY STAR Certified: Yes | Price: 💰💰
Winix makes some great air purifiers, and their 4-stage air cleaning technology is excellent. It removes smoke, dust, odors, pet dander, mold, spores, and pretty much everything in between. It’s our top pick for the best air purifier for kitchens because the PlasmaWave technology breaks down all of these pollutants without releasing or producing any harmful byproducts. The PlasmaWave stage of the cleaning process is built directly into the machine making this the best air purifier with a permanent filter to make our list.
The 5300 is Energy Star approved, so you know you aren’t going to get wrecked on the electricity bill. This is certified for rooms up to 360 square feet, but you’ll still see a benefit if you have a room larger than that, especially if you keep it running for a long time.
- Energy-efficient unit
- All the unit lights turn off in sleep mode
- The light sensor works to activate sleep mode when a room is dark
- High speed is extremely loud
- The unit has to be in sleep mode for the lights to turn off
8. Austin Air Healthmate
The best large room air purifier
Brand: Austin Air | Capability: 1500 Square Feet | Filtration: Large Particle Pre-Filter, Medium Particle Pre-Filter, Carbon & Zeolite Filter, HEPA Filter | ENERGY STAR Certified: No | Price: 💰💰💰💰💰
Austin Air claims their filters last five years. You may want to put this beast to the test. The Healthmate is our choice for the best air purifier for smoke because it contains almost 15 pounds of activated carbon. Activated carbon filters are excellent at absorbing smoke odor. Matched with the HEPA filtering system, it can remove visible smoke and harmful particles and eliminate any remaining odor. It pulls air from all sides, a functional 360 degrees, helping contribute to that massive 1500 square feet of filtering capacity. With this unit’s capacity and its ability to battle gaseous and VOC contaminants, it’s also one of the best basement air purifiers you can find.
- Gets rid of paint fumes
- Well made and very durable
- Can filter the air in a room very quickly
- Louder than some
- Not a very attractive unit
9. VENTA Comfort Plus Airwasher Humidifier
The best humidifier air purifier
Brand: VENTA | Capability: 645 Square Feet | Filtration: Filterless | ENERGY STAR Certified: No | Price: 💰💰💰💰
The VENTA Comfort Plus Airwasher Humidifier will naturally clean your air by removing impurities while humidifying your home. This is one of the best filterless air purifiers, meaning you’ll never have to pay to replace a filter. This humidifier and purifier combo also have a rather large capacity making it a fantastic option for almost any space. This model has a built-in hygrostat so you can set your desired humidity levels and let the auto mode take care of the rest. And, if you’re planning to use this in a bedroom, you’ll be happy to know that its sleep mode will dim the display so you can get an even better night’s rest. Another one of our favorite things about this unit is how easy it is to clean and maintain.
- Easy to clean and maintain
- No filter replacement costs
- Doesn’t leave mist all over the floor
- Sleep mode doesn’t turn off the display entirely
- Some reviewers had difficulty getting to their desired humidity level
10. Biota Bot MM208 Air Purifier
The best UV light air purifier
Brand: Biota Bot | Capability: 430 Square Feet | Filtration: Pre-Filter, Carbon Filter, HEPA Filter | ENERGY STAR Certified: No | Price: 💰💰💰
This brand may not be as well known as Honeywell and Whirlpool, but the Biota Bot is a reliable air purifier fully capable of cleansing air in rooms about 400-500 square feet and smaller. We think it’s one of the best air purifiers for kitchens and bedrooms.
Biota Bot provides three layers of filtration defense: an elementary filter, an activated carbon filter, and a true HEPA filter. These work together to vacuum up everything from cooking odors to microparticles like mold. This model is rounded out nicely by quiet operation, a filter replacement indicator light, an ultraviolet sterilizing option, a sleep and timer mode, and adjustable fan speeds.
Another feature we dig is the automatic sensor that monitors air quality and will display a blue color for excellent air quality, purple for moderate, and red for poor.
- American made
- Sleep mode is quiet with no lights
- It gets rid of cigar smell almost entirely
- Noisy on higher speeds
- UV light turns off after running a full cycle
What is an Air Purifier? What is HEPA?
An air purifier is a machine that helps purge the air of particulate contaminants. One of the situations that really benefits from an air purifier is a home with a pet or multiple pets. Homes that have a smoker or used to have a smoker will see a significant difference as well. Air purifiers will also help collect and break down odors, therefore, removing them from the air. Air purifiers won’t completely eliminate odors, but they can remove many unpleasant ones, which is excellent for people who have an acute sense of smell.
When Is Air Purified?
Purified air is simply air minus all the particulate components such as dust, pollen, dander, etc. Air purifying machines accomplish this task by using a fan to force air through a filter array. The filter collects and traps all the particulates while letting the air itself flow back into your home. However, it’s important to note that this does not mean your air is 100% safe.
Some gases or other volatile organic compounds, a well-known one being formaldehyde, could still be hiding out in your air. Some purifiers come with additional equipment that will remove these harmful gases. Additionally, some molds and dust mites remain in an environment even if the air is clean and must be removed at the source. All in all, having an air purifier will still make a significant difference in your air quality.
The fact remains that, as humans, we do a lot of breathing. It’s sort of an essential part of our survival. Highly concentrated particulate matter can cause lung conditions, respiratory issues, and aggravate existing health problems like chronic bronchitis and asthma. Extremely fine particles (less than 2.5 micrometers in size) are particularly dangerous because they can get into the lungs’ deepest tissues. That is why HEPA filters have become so popular in air purifying systems.
More About HEPA Filters
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. It’s a strict government manufacturer standard that an air purifier machine must meet to receive a HEPA certified label. An air purifier must remove 99.97% of particles in the air that are 0.3 micrometers or larger to qualify for the label. For an idea of how small that is, consider that a human hair is actually around 70 micrometers in width.
If an air purifier has a HEPA rated filter, it is probably a top model. If you’re going to spend a lot of money on an air purifier, a machine that has a HEPA filter is a must.
As a comparison, non HEPA filter air purifiers remove about 75-95% of particles, sometimes less. While not as effective as an air purifier with a HEPA certified filter, it is undoubtedly better than not having one at all. Furthermore, non HEPA air purifiers are generally much less expensive. The production costs of HEPA air purifiers are much higher than those of non HEPA. As a general rule of thumb, HEPA air purifiers range from about $200-$400, while other models typically cost less than $200.
List of Airborne Particles
As a side note, if you aren’t ready to invest in an air purifier, there are a few common-sense steps you can take to keep your home’s air clean. Vacuuming often and banning smoking indoors are two giant steps that will cut down on indoor air pollution. You can also minimize your use of wood fires or candles and test your home for radon gas. You’ll want to use the exhaust fans in your kitchen, bathrooms, and utility rooms often. If you can help it, don’t store chemicals, solvents, and other pesticides in your house. Of course, make sure you’ve got those carbon-monoxide alarms on all floors of your home.
Primary Air Purifier Technical Terms
In this section, you’ll find some of the standard terms associated with air purifiers.
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. An air purifier filter with HEPA certification means that the air purifier removes nearly all air pollutants and irritants (99.97%). This type of filter can collect very tiny airborne particles and is the same type of filter in vacuums that trap dust. The US Department of Energy developed the HEPA standard.
Ozone (Ionizer) Technology
Some air purifier machines double as air fresheners. They generate Ozone, which to the human nose is a sweet-smelling fragrance. Most critics of these machines say to stay away from them because Ozone has been shown as a lung irritant in some individuals. Probably the best thing is to stay away from models that do not have a switch to turn this feature off. Ozone and some VOCs can have chemical reactions whose byproducts may be harmful to your health.
Activated Carbon Filter
This technology is incorporated in some air purifiers to add a chemical filtration component to the machine. These filters use activated carbon or sometimes zeolite. Both of these materials are great at absorbing odors, some gases, and VOCs. The only issue is that you need to stay on the ball when replacing these filters. If a filter becomes saturated, it will stop removing the bad guys and start releasing them instead.
This is a relatively new technology that some manufacturers are integrating into their machines. These machines use ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), which is effective at killing germs. While, in general, it looks like a promising technology for air purifying, the effectiveness in small portable air purifiers may be limited. This is because air quickly passes through these machines, and the UV light exposure is very short. This technology, therefore, may be better suited to commercial applications.
This acronym stands for a clean air delivery rate, which delineates the max square footage recommended for an air purifier. It also refers to how fast the air purifier can remove the three most common air pollutants: smoke, pollen, and dust. The higher the value, the faster the machine can filter the air.
Other Things to Know Before Buying
There is a wide range of prices when it comes to air purifiers. Like many things, highly effective models are expensive upfront. The silver lining is that the best air purifiers usually have lower operating costs, and replacement filters are often readily available. Though there are many claims about air purifiers having a dramatic positive impact on people’s health, the data so far is not definitive.
How Air Impacts Health
The human body is a complex system, and it can be challenging to match cause and effect in a complicated environment with so many variables. Nevertheless, the average person spends 90% of their time indoors, and caring about the air quality inside makes a lot of sense. Perhaps the best thing to do is judge for yourself if it makes a difference after running it for a while.
Buying an air purifier makes the most sense if you are sensitive to pet dander, own many pets, have bad allergies, do not have access to clean outdoor air, and live near busy roads/power plants/factories, or have any type of respiratory affliction. For pretty much everyone else, it comes down to whether or not it will give you peace of mind and if that’s worth the price of buying and maintaining an air purifier.
If you have lived your whole life without trouble, you’ll probably be okay without buying one. They are expensive machines and have ongoing costs such as filter replacements and added electricity use on your utility bill.