There’s never been a better time to invest in a quality air purifier to help you breathe easier in your own home. From dust to smoke to pet dander, the best of these handy devices filter out effectively all contaminants from the air that you breathe. And while they’re especially useful for those with allergies or asthma, anyone can benefit from running one in their living space. Who doesn’t want to breathe cleaner, fresher air?
That being said, air purifiers aren’t a one-size-fits-all device—and it can be challenging to find one that suits your lifestyle, falls within your price range and meets your aesthetic requirements. Thankfully, there’s a wide range on the market, so the right model for you does exist—you just have to know how to find it. Ideally, you want an air purifier with a HEPA filter (short for “high-efficiency particulate air”), which removes at least 99.97% of air pollutants down to 0.3 microns. Also, depending on where you’d like to place your air purifier in your home, you’ll want to consider a range of sizes. While some models are compact enough to perch on your countertop, others will require room on your floor.
To find the best air purifiers out there, we researched the top devices on the market and combed through thousands of reader reviews. Then, we evaluated the best of the best according to efficiency, capacity, appearance and value—and since everyone has a different budget, we included swankier models and economical picks alike. In other words, there’s something for everyone here.
Best Air Purifier Overall
A Sleek, Compact Option With A Built-In Night Light
Best Smart Air Purifier
An Intelligent Model You Can Control With Your Phone
Best Splurge Air Purifier
An Elegant Option That Delivers A Strong Performance
Best Air Purifier For Allergies
A Configurable Model For The Allergy-Prone
Best Compact Air Purifier
A Small Model That Communicates Your Air Quality In Real Time
Best Air Purifier For Pets
A Larger Option That’s Perfect For Capturing Dander
Best Air Purifier For A Large Space
An Aesthetically-Pleasing Unit That Can Purify An Entire Floor
Best Air Purifier With Washable Filters
A Good-Looking Option That Blends In With Your Decor
Best Multi-Use Air Purifier
A Popular Option That Serves Multiple Purposes
What To Consider When Buying An Air Purifier
How large of a model do you need? Do you want a “smart” unit you can control using your phone? Here’s what you should think about before hitting purchase.
Make sure to check how large of a space an air purifier can handle. Many models specify “Air Changes per Hour” for a given size room, and you’ll want to make sure the one you’re eyeing will actually work efficiently in the space where you plan to use it.
HEPA filters are considered the gold standard with air purifiers. “The filter captures both large and small particles that move through it,” explains Catherine Monteleone, M.D., professor of medicine, allergy and immunology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey. “This type is usually best for allergens and best for use in a single room.”
CADR stands for clean air delivery rate. “CADR is a product of two filter variables: the air flow rate and the filtration efficiency,” Corry explains. “Many units include this measurement.” However, he says, it shouldn’t be the end-all, be-all for choosing an air purifier. “Units that move lots of air but have poor filters that remove only large particles and fail to include a carbon insert will rate highly by CADR, but not clean your air very well at all, no matter how long you run the unit,” Corry says. “The better thing to do is purchase a unit that is a true HEPA system, so it will remove even very small particles.”
An air purifier isn’t exactly something you can hide in a cupboard—it has to be out in the open in order for it to work effectively. You’ll want to choose one that matches your decor or at least isn’t an eyesore when it’s sitting on a shelf, table or the floor.
Some purifiers have smart options like apps that let you control all the action from your phone. Others double as heating or cooling systems or both. But not everyone needs those extra bells and whistles. Figuring out what you will and won’t require from your purifier in advance is important—you don’t want to spend extra for features you’ll never even use.
Do Air Purifiers Really Work?
Yes. At baseline, these units are designed to remove unwanted particles and irritants from the surrounding air. “An air purifier can filter particles down to a specific size,” says Purvi Parikh, M.D., an allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network. “This is helpful for allergens like mold and animal dander as well as certain viral, bacterial, fungal and other irritants and pollutants.”
Air purifiers typically feature a fan that moves air through a filter, weeding out impurities in the process, says David B. Corry, M.D., vice chair for immunology in the Department of Pathology & Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. In addition to HEPA filters, which usually have a “woven material of differing weaves that can remove things as small as 0.3 microns,” some air filters are electrostatic, meaning air is passed over an electrically charged series of plates and causes particles to stick to other things.
If your unit has a HEPA filter, you’ll want to change the filter on a regular basis. This, Corry explains, “leads to permanent removal of the particles and volatiles from your local environment.”
Can You Run An Air Purifier 24/7?
Yes, it’s safe to run your unit around the clock. Since air quality is constantly changing, these machines are designed for continuous use. Some even have smart technologies that read air quality in real time and automatically adjust their settings to help conserve energy when purification isn’t needed.
How Often Do You Need To Change An Air Purifier’s Filter?
That depends on the air quality in your living space (or wherever you’ve placed your unit). Most manufacturers recommend that you change the filter every three to six months, but if the air quality is particularly poor, you may have to change your filters more often.
Is An Air Purifier Helpful For COVID?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an air purifier by itself isn’t enough to protect you from contracting COVID-19. However, the EPA website notes, a quality unit “can help reduce airborne contaminants including viruses in a home or confined space.” In other words, running an air purifier can a good protective measure but it shouldn’t be your only one.
Where Is The Best Place To Put An Air Purifier?
It really depends on the layout of your living space and where you spend most of your time. If you pass most of the day in your home office or living room, you may want to put an air purifier in one of those spaces. Many people like to place the unit in their bedroom and run it at night to remove airborne irritants while they sleep.
Air Purifier Deals You Can Shop Right Now
Looking to save an on air purifier? Check out the following air purifiers, which are currently on sale: