One or more of the best air purifiers placed in your house, apartment or office will filter out many dangerous airborne particles. That’s especially true if you suffer from allergies, have pets who shed, live or work with a smoker or simply want to breathe better.
The best air purifiers even provide some protection against airborne particles carrying the COVID-19 coronavirus, Consumer Reports recently found. That may be why some stores seem to run out of stock as the pandemic persists. If the model you like below isn’t available, it’s worth checking back in another week.
No device can completely get rid of air pollutants or be a substitute for clean outdoor air, says the Environmental Protection Agency. But the best air purifiers may indeed improve respiratory health.
“When used along with other best practices recommended by CDC and others,” the EPA says, “[air] filtration can be part of a plan to protect people indoors” from COVID-19.
That will be especially true if you suffer from pre-existing conditions such as asthma or from chronic allergies. Air purifiers with HEPA or “HEPA-like” filters will trap most airborne particles, including pet dander and pollen.
Airborne droplets expelled from the mouth or nose of someone infected with COVID-19 can also be removed from the air, although the rate at which the air is cleaned depends on the specific model.
Some of the best air purifiers have pre-filters to trap larger pet hairs before they get to the main filter. Others use electrostatic attraction to trap very small particles or ultraviolet lights to kill bacteria and mold. And some use charcoal or carbon filters to trap petroleum-based gases.
Our research examined more than 30 brands and dozens of customer and expert reviews, and we’ve come up with the best air purifiers for your home or office.
Our top pick is the Coway AP-1512 HH Mighty, a quiet model with a HEPA filter, prefilter, ionizer and odor filter. With its strong performance for the price (including the cost of replacement filters), this is the best air purifier for most people.
The best-looking air purifier is the Blueair Blue Pure 211+, which comes in five colors including yellow, blue and pink. It’s powerful, but a bit loud. It doesn’t have a HEPA filter but Blueair insists its filters are even better. (Consumer Reports said this is one of the best at cleaning a room of COVID-19 droplets.)
For tight budgets, we recommend the Levoit LV-H132 or the Blueair Blue Pure 411. Either will do nicely in your bedroom. There’s also the new IKEA Förnuftig, which is extremely affordable, although you may want to get more than one to see good results.
Parents of young children will like the PureZone 3-in-1 True HEPA Air Purifier, which is small, quiet and perfect for kids’ bedrooms. It can also be put on a timer to shut itself off while the little ones slumber.
If you don’t like changing filters, try the Austin Air HealthMate HM-400. Its filters last up to 5 years. It also filters out the the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) you’ll get from fresh paints, plastics and petroleum products.
Finally, if money is no object and clean air is critical to your health needs, the IQAir HealthPro Plus or the Coway Airmega 400 may fit the bill. Both are equipped to handle rooms of 1,000 square feet or more.
In general, you’ll want to look for a purifier that uses a true high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
Government agencies and professional groups, including the EPA and the American Lung Association, recommend True HEPA filters as the standard for air purification. These filters trap 99.97% of particles that are at least 0.3 microns in size.
Some devices have HEPA-type filters, which work similarly but aren’t held to the same performance standards. The IQAir HealthPro Plus uses a HyperHEPA filter, which is believed to capture even smaller particles than a True HEPA filter.
Your purifier will likely also come with a pre-filter (some you can clean, some you have to toss after a few months) that catches the big stuff like pet fur and human hair before it reaches the main filter.
Some devices have additional filters, like carbon or charcoal filters, that trap the petroleum-based gases known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Air-purifier noise levels range from nearly silent to steady humming, like an AC unit. Depending on the fan speed you’re using and where you’re placing your purifier, you may prefer a quieter device.
The purchase price of your air purifier is one thing. Ongoing filter replacement and energy costs are another. For example, some machines have filters that last for years but are expensive to replace, while others work with filters that are cheap to purchase but have to be changed frequently.
You’ll also want to consider the cost of electricity. Some of the best air purifiers we recommend are ENERGY STAR certified, but each pulls varying amounts of power on different fan speeds.
Devices for larger rooms and with higher speeds tend to use more electricity. although this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. Some devices also have eco modes. The Blue Pure 411 requires the least energy, but it covers only a small room.
Some features are more nice-to-have extras than absolute requirements. In general, pricier purifiers come with more features, such as filter indicator lights, dimmable lights and programmable timers.
Only one of the devices we recommend (the IQAir HealthPro Plus) comes with a remote control, but we’re not convinced that this adds a lot of value to the machine.
To make our short list of air purifiers for consideration, we looked at top picks from Wirecutter, Consumer Reports, Allergy Buyers Club and others, and also noted the top-selling and most highly reviewed models on Amazon, Home Depot and Best Buy. We narrowed down our list to nine models based on features, price and other factors, including clean air delivery rate (CADR) ratings and noise levels.