The Best Air Purifiers, Tested by HGTV Editors
Breathe deeper by adding a top-rated air purifier that reduces dust, allergens, pet dander and more to your home.
Our Top Air Purifier Picks
Concerned about the air quality in your home? Air purifiers can work wonders to reduce common pollutants like dust, pet dander, smoke and other harmful particles from the air. Air purifiers are especially helpful for people who suffer from allergies or who live in areas where wildfires are common.
How Do Air Purifiers Work?
Air purifiers work by pulling air into the machine at the base to go through a filter (or sometimes multiple filters) to catch particles and pollutants. Then the clean, filtered air is released back into the room from the top of the machine. Purifies use mechanical filters like HEPA filters, ionizers, UV light, activated charcoal or a combination of these types to clean the air. A true HEPA filter removes 99.97 percent of particulates measuring 0.3-micron diameter and is the most reliable and effective type of filter to use. Watch out for marketing jargon, though; if a manufacturer claims a product uses a "HEPA-like" filter, it's possible the machine doesn't meet the 99.97 percent threshold to be considered a "true HEPA" filter and won't be as effective in your home environment. So are air purifiers worth the money? Purifiers with a HEPA filter work well on dust, pollen, pet hair, smoke and other larger particles, but they aren't as effective on gases from things like paint and cleaning supplies. They're also most effective on airborne particles, meaning if pet dander or dust has settled on upholstered furniture, those particles likely won't make it through the purifier. In short, an air purifier is one tool to improve your home's air quality, reduce odors and alleviate allergy symptoms, but it shouldn't be the only one. Other things like frequent vacuuming (snag one of our favorite robot vacuums or vacuums for pet hair to make it easier), changing your home's HVAC air filter frequently, opening windows when painting, using milder cleaning products when possible and other preventative measures can also improve your home's air quality.
What to Look for in an Air Purifier
Beyond price, the main factors to consider when purchasing an air purifier include noise level, energy use, the size of room size it can clean and the filter replacements it will require. If you plan to use a purifier in your bedroom, choosing a machine that has a low noise output and gives off minimal light is important to ensure it doesn't disrupt your sleep. Depending on how often you plan to run your purifier, it can require a lot of energy, so look for machines that are Energy Star rated. Bedrooms, playrooms, offices and living rooms are some of the most common rooms for purifiers, so considering the square footage capacity for the purifier will help you determine if the machine will work well in the space you plan to use it in. Changing the filter(s) on an air purifier is key to ensuring that it operates effectively, so don't forget to factor in the cost of replacements before purchasing. We've considered all of these elements when researching and testing our top air purifier picks from reputable brands.
At under $100, this budget-friendly, top-rated air purifier from Levoit is our top overall pick and will meet most consumers' needs for use in a small- to medium-size bedroom, office or living room. This purifier has a three-stage filtration system consisting of a pre-filter, a HEPA filter and a high-efficiency activated carbon filter to capture allergens, pet hair, dander, smoke, mold, odor and large dust particles as well as airborne contaminants as small as .3 microns. The controls are easy to use, and with three fan speeds to choose from, the lowest setting is quiet enough to use in a bedroom overnight. This model does come with a nightlight option, but you can also completely turn off the control lights, too. The manufacturer recommends cleaning the pre-filter every two to four weeks to maintain its effectiveness, replacing the HEPA and carbon filters every six to eight months.
Our Editor Says: "I love that the lowest setting is quiet enough to use while sleeping, and there's an option to turn off all of the control lights if you're sensitive to lights at night. Plus, this thing is great for reducing odors — you could barely tell when I cook salmon for dinner with this machine running."
For purifying a larger space, we like this upgrade pick from LEVOIT. This option also has a three-stage filtration process, including a preliminary filter, a HEPA filter and then an activated carbon filter. The three filters work together to remove and absorb 99.7 percent of airborne pollutants and particles such as dust, lint, hair, pet dander, VOCs, ammonia, formaldehyde, benzene, hydrogen sulfide, mold spores, pollen, smoke, odors and fumes. On max power, it can clean up to 900 square feet in one hour or 500 square feet in 33 minutes, and there are three fan settings, as well as a smart auto mode that can adjust between three fan speed settings in response to real-time air quality readings. There's also an option to set a timer for it to shut off between one and 12 hours. It's also rated by Energy Star as one of the most energy-efficient air purifier options. With three fan settings, this purifier is also quiet enough to use in a bedroom without interrupting sleep. On average, the filter should be replaced every six to eight months. For $10 more, you can purchase a smart version of this model with Wi-Fi for app and voice control. On the downside, since this air purifier is on the larger size, it's a little trickier to find discreet locations for it.
Our Editor Says: "I noticed that my house smelled less musty. I like that the auto-mode feature does the hard work for you by detecting air quality and adjusting the fan speed to match what your space needs. I also like the air quality color indicators that make it easy to keep tabs on the air quality in your home."
The first distinguishing feature of this air purifier is the design that says, "Hello, I'm a Dyson." The brand known for its sleek and effective vacuums has engineered this purifier that's also a fan to have all of the necessary features you want in a purifier: true HEPA filter, quiet operation, Energy Star certification and ample 800-square-foot coverage. Plus, it boasts even more bells and whistles that are nice to have like remote control, mobile app, voice control capabilities, 350-degree oscillation for better coverage, a whopping 10 speeds, night mode with the quietest setting and dimmed display and a filter replacement notification. Depending on use, Dyson says the filters last about 12 months. Plus, it's not just a purifier; it can be a cooling fan, too!
Our Editor Says: "It’s so quiet that I sometimes forget that it’s on. It is a little expensive, but given how many fires we've had here in Seattle, it's worth it to me. Beyond wildfires, my apartment building and a nearby car have caught on fire before, and after running the Dyson purifier, our unit smelled fine, but the hallway right outside smelled like a campfire."
For small spaces like bathrooms, laundry rooms, litter-box rooms or hotel rooms, a plug-in air purifier you can easily move is a great option. The UV-C light helps kill airborne viruses such as influenza, staph, rhinovirus and reduces 99.97 percent of airborne particles and allergens including dust mites, pet dander, pollen, smoke, mold and bacteria. Since there's no filter, you don't need to worry about replacing filters frequently, but the UV-C bulb does need to be replaced every 4,000 to 5,000 hours or 10 to 12 months, depending on use. As a con, it’s not as quiet as our tester anticipated. There’s a noticeable hum that you can hear when you enter the room, but it becomes white noise after you get used to it. She thinks you could definitely sleep with it on, and the soft hum may actually help you sleep if you're a fan of noise machines.
Our Editor Says: "I put this in an outlet near my cats’ litter boxes, and I’ve definitely noticed a difference (aka the smell doesn’t knock you out when you enter the room). An out-of-town guest even said she couldn’t tell I have cats — that’s a BIG win."