The need for clean, pure air has never been more evident. Between the current concern over the coronavirus pandemic and rising levels of air pollution and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) throughout our country, many of us have started seeking simple, effective ways to ensure cleaner air within our homes.
One of the most obvious ways to accomplish this is to invest in an in-home air purifier. But what exactly should you be looking for in a home air purifier? And what are some of the best air purification brands on the market today?
Our Top Picks for Best Air Purifiers
- Hathaspace Smart True HEPA Air Purifier - Best Smart Purifier
- LEVOIT Core 300 Air Purifier - Most Affordable
- Bluair Blue Pure 211+ Air Purifier - Best for Large Rooms
- Honeywell HPA300 True HEPA Air Purifier - Best for Allergies
- Toshiba Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier - Best Voice Control
How Air Purifiers Work
Before investing in an in-home air purifier, sometimes called an air cleaner, it may be helpful to know how these devices are intended to work.
For the most part, home air purifiers come with one or more HEPA filters, as well as a fan that sucks in and circulates air. As the air moves through the filter, dust, allergens, pet hair, pollutants, particulates, and other airborne particles are caught in it, allowing clean air to be pushed back out into your home.
Of course, air filters don't last forever, and the only way to keep your air purifier working as intended is to change out your filter with a filter replacement on a regular schedule. This means that air purifiers have a small operational cost associated with them; you will likely need to spend at least $50 annually on new filters, sometimes more than $100.
What to Consider When Shopping for Air Purifiers
As you survey your options for different in-home air purifiers, there are a few considerations you can use to guide your decision.
- Type of filter. The most important acronym to know about air filters is HEPA, which stands for high-efficiency particulate air. This type of filter is designed for the filtration of specific levels of airborne pollutants. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), HEPA filters "remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns." Make sure that any product you purchase contains true HEPA filters.
- Cost of maintenance. Make sure you do some research to determine how often you will need to replace the filter for a given air purifier, and how much a single replacement filter costs. This will provide you with some indication as to how much it will cost you to operate that air purifier.
- Certifications. Also check the packaging for a couple of important labels. The first label to look for is Energy Star, which certifies that the air purifier in question is at least 40 percent more energy efficient than the average model. This is a key indicator for eco-friendly shoppers. The other label to watch for is the AHAM seal, which denotes approval from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. This shows you that the unit has been tested and found to be effective. It also provides each purifier with a clean air delivery rate (CADR) score. A CADR rating is a measure of the volume of clean air that the unit can produce per minute on the highest setting.
- Room size. Air purifiers will often tell you the size room they are equipped for. A unit designed for small rooms will not work effectively as a large room air purifier. If the unit also has an AHAM seal, then the room size indicator should be fairly reliable.
- Noise level. Air purifiers are intended to run more or less all of the time, which means you don't want one that's excessively noisy. Most units will tell you about what decibel level you can expect, either on the packaging or somewhere on the website.
What are the Best Room Air Purifiers?
With these standards and considerations in mind, you can find the best home air purifier for your needs. To get you started, here are the products that we think are best, based on our own review of product specs, certifications, pricing, and user reviews.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
One of the bestselling and most well-reviewed air filters, the Hathaspace filter claims that it can filter 99.97 percent of particles from your air, including debris as small as 0.3 microns. Honeycomb-activated carbon filters help it eliminate strange smells and smoke, while "smart" settings allow it to adjust its fan speed settings in real time, adapting to any changes in air quality.
Why buy: This highly-recommended air filter is built to intelligently improve your indoor air quality and comes at a reasonable price compared to other "smart" options.
Looking for a great bargain on an air purifier? LEVOIT's Core 300 is available for a disruptively low price point, but that doesn't mean it scrimps on quality. We love this one because it is highly effective in eliminating smoke, odors, and up to 99.97 percent of airborne debris like dust mites and mold spores. It also happens to be one of the quietest air filters on the market today.
Why buy: This filter is the most affordable one on our list, but still makes an excellent filtration system for most any room.
By contrast, the Blueair Blue Pure 211+ purifier is a little pricier, but it gives you a lot of bang for your buck. That's because it's powerful enough to handle some pretty big spaces, making it a better choice if you have a lot of square feet to filter. Its carbon filter can help eliminate odors, dust, pet dander, mold particles, and more.
Why buy: This Blueair purifier gets major points for being extremely quiet and extremely modest in its energy consumption while filtering larger spaces.
Honeywell is one of the most trusted names in home appliances, so it comes as no surprise that the HPA300 air filter is a sturdy, effective product. Though very sleek and compact, it is powerful enough to purify the air in fairly large rooms.
Why buy: Honeywell happens to be the most-recommended brand among allergists, making this powerful air filter a great choice for allergy and asthma sufferers.
For something in the middle price tier, Toshiba's air purifier gets the job done. What's more, it comes with some of the best Wi-Fi home automation integrations we've come across, including voice control with Amazon Alexa. It also includes a UV light sanitizer for an additional purifying layer.
Why buy: This purifier is a great pick for middle to large rooms thanks to its 3-in-1 filter, which features a pre-filter, HEPA, and activated charcoal filter.
Finding the Best Air Purifier to Meet Your Needs
As you consider these different options for home air purifiers, make sure you take into account those bullet points we mentioned earlier: How often will you need to change the filter? How much will it cost to do so? Will the air purifier be powerful enough for your room? And does it satisfy your expectations for energy efficiency?
We've talked in the past about the best water filters for your home—and a quality air filter makes sense too. With these points in mind, look for an air purifier that will give you total confidence in the quality and health of your household air.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. His writing on natural health, nutrition, and supplements has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.