The best air purifiers you can buy

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  • Fresh, clean air. You need it, but the environment doesn't always provide it.

  • If you've suffered long enough with sinus problems, allergies, or headaches due to pollutants in the air, it's time for an air purifier. Our top pick is the Coway Mighty Air Purifier.

You can go up to three weeks without eating. You'll survive three to four days, on average, without fluids. But it only takes six minutes without air to damage your delicate brain, and survival beyond that is unlikely. The air you breathe is the most pressing life necessity, so why not take as many breaths as possible of pure, clean air?

To accomplish that, you'll likely need an air purifier. Far too many of us live in areas with polluted outdoor air, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside our homes can be even dirtier.

Common pollutants inside your home can include molds and fungi spores, bacteria and viruses, pollen, cigarette smoke, volatile organic compounds (VOCs emitted from carpeting, paint, and other construction materials), dust and pet dander, and fumes from air fresheners and other cleaning supplies.

Air purifiers remove some or most of those pollutants from your indoor air. They work by drawing room air in and through a filter or combination of filters, then blowing out fresh, clean air.

A good air purifier removes allergens, dust, gases, and other pollutants from the room air, leaving behind clean air for your lung's benefit. There are a lot of air purifiers on the market, though, and that's why we did the hard work for you. We've done our research, and gathered up the eight air purifiers we think do the best job of cleaning your air.

Here are the best air purifiers you can buy:

Updated on 11/29/2018 by Steven John: Added Morihata and Molekule air purifiers. Updated prices and formatting.

Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

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The best air purifier overall

The best air purifier overall
Why you'll love it: Highly effective against indoor air pollution and reasonably attractive to boot, the Coway Mighty Air Purifier knows when your air is in serious need of cleaning.

The Coway Mighty Air Purifier doesn’t fool around. It has four levels of filtration: a pre-filter that captures the largest particles, an activated carbon filter that grabs onto smoke, gases, odors, and other air pollutants, a HEPA filter that catches up to 99.97% of tiny particles, and an ionizing function to increase the air purifier’s ability to freshen the air.

Its ionizing function is approved by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which means it’s certified to release less than 0.050 parts per million of ozone, making it safe for use even if you have respiratory sensitivities. It's best for rooms up to 350 square feet.

But that’s not the best part. The air purifier has particle sensor technology to check your room air’s quality. The device will automatically kick into high gear when excessive indoor pollution is detected, and once 30 minutes pass with air in the acceptable level, it will shut off the fan to conserve energy.

The Wirecutter named it the best air purifier, praising not only its superior performance but also its reasonable price both at initial purchase and over the years as filters need replacement.

Pros: Four types of filtration for superior performance, air quality sensor technology, three speed settings, filter replacement indicator, timer

Cons: None to speak of

Buy the Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier on Amazon for $192.42 to $229.99

The best air purifier if you’re concerned about germs

The best air purifier if you’re concerned about germs
Why you'll love it: The GermGuardian 3-in-1 Air Purifier uses UV-C light technology to kill most viruses, bacteria, and mold spores.

If you are highly concerned about bacteria and viruses — perhaps you or a family member have a compromised immune system or respiratory illness — the GermGuardian 3-in-1 Air Purifier might set your mind a bit more at ease. This device has an activated charcoal filter to catch and remove smoke, smells, and gases from your room air. It also uses a HEPA filter to filter out up to 99.97% of small particles.

Best of all, this purifier has an ultraviolet light function that combines with titanium dioxide to kill most bacteria and viruses, including those that cause colds, flu, and staph infections.

There’s a filter change indicator light, and conveniently enough, the filter for this device combines the HEPA and carbon portions in one filter, so you only have one piece to change.

It works best for rooms up to 155 square feet.

Pros: UV-C light function for killing germs, only one filter to change, three speeds, relatively quiet performance

Cons: Some owners complain that the device is noisy, the combo filters are rather expensive

Buy the GermGuardian 3-in-1 Air Purifier on Amazon for $76.99 (originally $149.99)

The best air purifier for allergies

The best air purifier for allergies
Why you'll love it: With the smarts to analyze your air before it gets to work, the Dyson Pure Cool will make your allergies disappear.

If allergy season has you living your worst life, then fear not: Dyson's Pure Cool Air Purifier is here to save the day. It’s capable of actually calculating the amount of pollutants in your home, and then automatically adjusting itself to filter them out. Because let’s be honest — you literally can’t do that yourself.

While other air purifiers try to capture most allergens and pollutants, the Dyson Pure Cool ups the ante by removing up to 99.97% of the stuff that’s making you sneeze and your eyes water. As a result, you’ll likely notice considerably fewer symptoms after letting this purifier do its job for awhile — I certainly did, and so did my colleague Mara Leighton.

Thanks to the 350-degree oscillation of the Pure Cool, purified air won’t be relegated to a single corner of your room. Rather, you’ll get practically comprehensive filtration, which likely contributes to its 99.97% cleansing rate. For easier control, the purifier connects to both the Dyson Link app as well as Amazon Alexa, so you can tell the machine what to do either with the tap of an app or with the sound of your voice.

When it’s time for you to go to sleep, the night-time mode ensures that the purifier is quieter, and its LCD screen is dimmed.

Not only is the Pure Cool particularly effective, but it’s also extremely well-designed. This is certainly one air purifier that you won’t be inclined to hide from your guests. — Lulu Chang

Pros: Automatically adjusts to the level of pollutants in your home, great design, 10 fan speeds for variable volume

Cons: At $450, it’s quite expensive

Buy the Dyson Pure Cool Air Purifier on Amazon for $415.15 to $450

The best air purifier for pet owners

The best air purifier for pet owners
Why you'll love it: Your love for the furry members of your family is greater than the pain that the resulting allergies bring you, but you don’t have to suffer anymore with the Winix WAC9500 Ultimate Pet True.

If you feel as though you have to choose between Fido and fresh air, put that internal battle to rest once and for all with an external purification system. The Winix WAC9500 Ultimate Pet True HEPA Air Cleaner with PlasmaWave Technology is one of the most powerful and effective air purifiers on the market, especially when it comes to households with four-legged friends.

The five-stage filtration system includes a pre-filter, HEPA filter, CleanCel anti-bacterial filter, and an Advanced Odor Control filter, along with PlasmaWave. That technology targets pollutants at their molecular level, thereby eliminating viruses, bacteria, odors, and gases in the air

The Winix is particularly effective at pet odors and dander because it boasts not one, but two different stages when it comes to carbon filtration. That helps you get rid of pet hair, dander, as well as smells. Plus, this air filter boasts smart sensors, which means it’s always taking tabs on the air around it, automatically adjusting fan speeds to ensure that your environment is always fresh.

The Winix is strong enough to handle spaces up to 280 square feet, so it works well for moderately-sized rooms or small apartments. More than 800 happy customers on Amazon have given this air cleaner a 4.4 out of 5-star rating, and we heartily agree with that assessment.

If you're on a budget and the $212 Winix is out of your range, the Hamilton Beach TrueAir Pet Filter Air Purifier is a good option. It has a permanent pre-filter that grabs onto pet hair and large particles, a permanent HEPA filter, and not one, but two carbon zeolite filters that eliminate even the stinkiest pet odors. This is a great choice for your bedroom, the area holding the cat's litter box, or by your dog’s bed.

The permanent HEPA filter removes up to 99% of small particles, including pollen, dust, pet dander, and most bacteria. Just vacuum it periodically — no need to buy expensive filter replacements. The device has three speeds, is very quiet, and can run standing upright or lying on its side. The Hamilton Beach air purifier is best for rooms up to 140 square feet. — Lulu Chang

Pros: Effective with pet dander and odor, handles 280 square feet of space, five-stage filtration

Cons: Pricey

Buy the Winix WAC9500 Ultimate Pet True HEPA Air Cleaner with PlasmaWave Technology on Amazon for $$187.27 (originally $349.99) Buy the Hamilton Beach TrueAir Pet Filter Air Purifier on Amazon for $59.99

The best air purifier for a small room

The best air purifier for a small room
Why you'll love it: The Holmes Small Room Air Purifier keeps you breathing fresh air all night long so you wake up allergy-symptom free.

I’ve had this air purifier running nonstop on my nightstand for nearly two years. It’s been quite effective in reducing my hay fever and sinus symptoms, and I’m always amazed at how much grunge the filter has collected when it’s time for a change.

The Holmes Small Room Air Purifier has a HEPA filter that catches up to 99% of small particles, and an optional carbon pre-filter that prolongs the life of the HEPA filter while further removing indoor air pollution.

There are three speeds, but I keep the device on low, which seems to be enough to get the job done. On the downside, this isn’t a quiet air purifier, but its sound is similar to a white noise machine, so does not disturb my rest.

There’s an optional ion setting, which I have not used. You can stand the air purifier up on its side or keep it horizontal, depending on your space. It's best for rooms up to 109 square feet.

Pros: Small enough for the nightstand, simple operation, very reasonable price

Cons: Loud, although sound is similar to white noise machine

Buy the Holmes Small Room Air Purifier on Amazon for $30.88 (originally $59.99)

The best air purifier for large rooms

The best air purifier for large rooms
Why you'll love it: If you need an air purifier for a large room, the Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Air Purifier can’t be beat.

Suitable for rooms up to 540 square feet, the Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Air Purifier is all about performance. It draws air in from every side for quick and efficient turnover of room air. The process happens five times per hour. It’s super energy-efficient, as well, using no more electricity than a lightbulb.

An activated carbon filter removes dust, odors, VOCs, gases, and other lung irritants, while the particle filter captures just about anything likely to cause allergy or asthma symptoms. Plus, you get a choice of two washable pre-filters that slip over the entire outside of the device while adding a bit of style. You can choose from a blue or dark gray color, both are in the box. The pre-filter captures larger particles, such as pet hair and larger airborne particles.

Consumer Reports gives the Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Air Purifier its highest rating, citing its excellent performance at removing dust, smoke, and pollen from room air. Owners of the device mostly praise its effective and quiet performance, although a few outliers say it’s noisy.

Pros: Particularly suited for allergy or asthma sufferers, good for large rooms, just one button to control the three speeds

Cons: A few owners complained it is noisy even on the low setting

Buy the Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Air Purifier on Amazon for $249.99

The best air purifier for travel

The best air purifier for travel
Why you'll love it: With the AirTamer Portable Air Purifier, you can create your own personal “germ-free” zone around your plane or train seat.

There are no filters to change in the AirTamer A302 Portable Air Purifier. This device cleans the air with electrostatic purification technology. Basically, that means it emits a cloud of negatively charged ions, which attach to airborne particles and keep them out of your personal space. You get up to three feet of clearance, according to AirTamer.

While the device won’t purify the air of gases, odors, or VOCs, it does work for bacteria, viruses, pollen, dust, and other particulate matter. That’s perfect for those long airplane trips, where inevitably, one or more passengers have a cold or the flu and spreads it to everyone unlucky enough to be sitting near them.

For best performance, wear the AirTamer around your neck on its included lanyard cord. It’s small enough to be relatively discreet. You can also clip it to your belt or clothing if you prefer. It comes with two lithium cell batteries, which provide up to seven days continuous power. You’ll also get a travel case to store the device once your flight is over.

Pros: Great for warding off germs on planes, buses, trains, or any other public transportation system

Cons: Although the device produces an extremely low amount of ozone, if you are very sensitive to respiratory irritants, this could be a problem with regular usage

Buy the AirTamer A302 Portable Air Purifier on Amazon for $64.98 (originally $79.99)

The best non-electric air purifier

The best non-electric air purifier
Why you'll love it: The Morihata International Chikuno Cube can purify and deodorize rooms measuring up to 17 square feet without the use of any electrical connection.

Activated charcoal is having its moment. From use in tooth whitening pastes to water filters and air purification, this versatile, natural material is everywhere these days, and with good reason: It works. And it's perfectly safe.

When it comes to air purification, charcoal made from bamboo is effective because it is so amazingly absorbent. It captures moisture and contaminants right out of the air. All a passing bit of dander, pollen, spores, or smoke has to do is touch a bit of the charcoal and it will be trapped among countless little cavities.

The Morihata International Chikuno Cube makes brilliant use of the high absorbance ability of activated charcoal by creating maximum surface area using a honeycomb pattern of dozens of narrow tubes. Constructed out of natural clay infused with bamboo charcoal, a two-inch Chikuno Cube boasts enough surface area to effectively treat the air of rooms as large as 17 square feet.

That makes this compact, passive device perfect for bathrooms, closets, cars, or even for use in the fridge. As it requires no electrical connection, you can set up a Chikuno Cube just about anywhere. It's small enough to be tucked out of site, but has an elegant simplicity of style that might prompt you to position it more prominently.

A single Chikuno Cube can provide about a year of effective air purification. All you need to do is expose the cube to about six hours of direct sunlight once a month. This process releases the trapped impurities and allows the charcoal to perform at full potential once again.

One Amazon reviewer praised the Morihata Chikuno Cube, saying it "does what it says it will" and worked well for removing "musty closed in smells" in a large closet. And a writer from Domino called the purifier "stylish" and an effective way to "remove impurities from the air." — Steven John

Pros: No electricity required, compact and stylish design, refreshed with brief sunlight exposure

Cons: Only lasts for a year

Buy the Morihata International Chikuno Cube on Amazon for $31 Buy the Morihata Chikuno Cube in wooden stand at Urban Outfitters for $72

The best advanced air purifier

The best advanced air purifier
Why you'll love it: Rather than merely trapping indoor air pollutants, the Molekule air purifier uses its proprietary Photo Electrochemical Oxidation to destroy them.

If it weren't for the hefty price tag, the Molekule air purifier would by all means be the top pick on this list. But at about $800 per unit, you could buy many of the lower priced options on our list many times over and spread them around the house. However, multiple cheap air purifiers couldn't match the performance of this one impressive piece of technology.

Most air purifiers use a filtration system to trap impurities. Molekule, on the other hand, eradicates indoor air pollutants entirely. It does this by drawing air in through a 360-degree air intake around the base of the cylindrical unit and then initially passing it though a mechanical filter. Then the air passes through a chamber where it is exposed to Photo Electrochemical Oxidization, AKA PECO, a process the company developed over the course of some 20 years.

The PECO process destroys pollutants such as virus cells, spores, dander, and all the other stuff other purifiers can only trap. So the air that comes wafting out of the top of the Molekule is not simply filtered and purified, it's genuinely pure. For some comparison, the PECO air purifying approach eradicates air pollutants that are as small as 0.1 nanometers in size, compared to the 300 nanometer limit of most HEPA filter-based units.

So if you're serious about clean indoor air, whether for specific medical purposes, a general commitment to health, or because you just really like clean air, consider spending big bucks for amazing results.

A writer from The Gadgeteer was "immediately impressed" with the Molekule and reported a marked reduction in allergy symptoms during its use. — Steven John

Pros: Eradicates pollutants down to nanoscopic level, multiple operation modes, stylish design

Cons: Very expensive, app is fraught with bug issues

Buy the Molekule air purifier from Molekule for $799

Everything you need to know about air purifier filters

Everything you need to know about air purifier filters
Here are the different types of filters air purifiers use:
  • HEPA filters (high-efficiency particulate arresting) are the most common, and the most effective. These super-filters remove 99% or more of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns from the air. That includes most common allergens such as pet dander, mold spores, and pollen, along with many bacteria. HEPA filters don’t combat VOCs and other gases, however, nor can they trap viruses, which are much smaller than 0.3 microns. HEPA filters can be pricey, however, and you’ll need to replace the filter at least annually — more often if your home is especially dusty or smoky.
  • Activated carbon filters are best for capturing odors, smoke, VOCs, and other potentially harmful gases. They don’t do a great job of removing dust and other allergens, though. Because of this, it’s very common for an air purifier to have both types of filter. Activated carbon filters are much less expensive than HEPA filters, but generally, need more frequent replacement.
  • Electrostatic filters use an electric charge to attract large particles, some gases, dust, and most allergens. These types of air purifiers can be pricey, but you won’t have to change the filter, just wipe it off periodically.
  • Ionizing air purifiers create a cloud of negatively charged atoms, which cause large particles to clump together. This makes it easier for the air purifier’s filters to capture the pollutants. There is a concern, however, that some ionizers create excessive ozone, which is a known respiratory irritant. Typically, air purifiers have an ionizing function along with other types of filters.
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