The best air purifiers will help you breathe a little easier at home. Air purifiers are designed to essentially filter out any unwelcome airborne particles, such as dust, pollen and smoke. Some models even claim to help protect against COVID-19 coronavirus by filtering out airborne particles which carry the virus, according to Consumer Reports — this is why these appliances soared in popularity during the pandemic. In filtering the air, air purifiers promote a healthier environment to breathe, reducing symptoms of allergies and asthma. With carbon filters, these appliances are natural deodorizers as well, which makes them ideal in the kitchen. However, most tend to keep these in the bedroom, to help them sleep easier at night.
If you’re in the market for an air purifier, there are several factors to consider. Firstly, you want one which is simple to operate, with enough fan speeds to suit your needs. You also need one which will suit you space and work effectively — take a look at the suggested room size and CADR figures for guidance. Generally speaking, the higher the CADR, the better, although it may not be necessary if you’re purifying a small room. It’s also useful if your air purifier can display the live quality of the air, and adjust automatically to it — that way you don’t have to keep changing the settings yourself. Night modes are handy as well if you intend to use the appliance as you sleep.
As great as air purifiers sound, they should not be considered as an effective replacement for fresh, outdoor air according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Having said that, they’re still a useful addition to have in the home, especially if you spend a lot of time indoors. Need help picking out an air purifier? We’ve tested a range of models to find the best options on the market, whether you’re looking for value for money, or one to suit a small space. These are the best air purifiers.
What are the best air purifiers?
After testing 10 models, both in a lab and at home, we think the Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Auto is the all-around best air purifier, combining quality, effectiveness, and value into one sleek package. It blew us away with how effectively it cleaned a room’s air, while not being obtrusive.
If you’re shopping on a budget and need an air purifier for a small space, then the BlueAir Blue Pure 411 Auto can’t be beat with its auto mode that’s perfect for a kid’s room or office. It’s straightforward to set up and it’s quiet in operation too, making it ideal for nighttime use.
If you want value for money, but need an air purifier which will suit a larger room, then we recommend the Honeywell HPA300. While it might not look the most attractive, it offers an impressive CADR of 300 or over across dust, smoke and pollen and it suits rooms up to 465 square feet. At just over $200, this is great value for performance.
Without further ado, here is our ranking of the best air purifiers around.
The best air purifier you can buy today
Throughout our testing, one cube-shaped air purifier stood out above the rest. The Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Auto dominated the competition. It has the ability to clean the air in a large-sized room while using minimal power and creating very little noise. It might not be as flashy as its more expensive cousin, the Health Protect 7470i, but it doesn’t need the extra expense to get the job done.
Designed for large spaces (rooms up to 550 square feet), its average Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) of 360 for smoke, dust and pollen was the highest of all those we tested. That means it’s both fast and efficient at removing pollutants from the air.
It’s also one of the best looking air purifiers with a unique top grate and sleek pre-filter skirt that takes away a lot of the technological intrusion that other devices have. The white shell also helps it disappear into your decor.
Devilishly simple to set up and use, it features only one button to cycle through all four of its modes. The auto mode is truly supreme — able to pick up speed and power within seconds of detecting something in the air. One of its only demerits is its night mode, which slows the fan down so much that it doesn’t work nearly as well as its lowest daytime setting. That said, there really isn’t a better air purifier out there.
Read our full Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Auto review.
The Honeywell HPA300 is a bulky beast of a device that offers good value for money considering its impressive performance. It’s a large oval air purifier with slats all around, making it look like it belongs in the office of a dystopian future. It’s also pretty heavy at 17 pounds, so this is the kind of air purifier you won’t want to move around once you set it down.
A truly powerful device, the HPA300 scored second to the Blueair Blue Pure 211+ auto on the CADR test, with its three filters able to remove most of the pollutants in a large-sized room of 465 square feet. With an average CADR score of 306, it did perform slightly better on dust versus pollen and smoke.
It’s pretty simple to set up — all you need to do is open the front panel and take the plastic off the included filters. Nicely hidden near the top control panel is also a quick reference guide, so you don’t have to go searching for the manual that inevitably goes missing after just a few days. It’s not got a wide range of settings and features, but it does offer a timer as well as a dimmer for nighttime use. However, there's no auto mode, which is a shame.
The replacement filters are very reasonably priced and only need to be swapped out every 12 months. It’s noisier and has a higher energy output compared to others on the list, but the purifying capabilities make this easy to overlook — that’s why it’s one of the best air purifiers.
The most expensive and heaviest air purifier we tested is also one of the best air purifiers. It can clear a room of pollutants efficiently, increasing its strength with relative ease whenever needed. With two lights on the front — one representing gas pollutants and the other for larger particles — the Blueair Health Protect 7470i has the clearest indicator of air quality we’ve seen out of any of the devices. Whenever we started cooking, those lights would turn bright red and the fan would kick into overdrive.
Blueair’s top-shelf machine has all the technological bells and whistles anyone would ever want. It’s got an LCD screen on top of the device that gives you up-to-date information on what it’s sensing, including the local temperature, filter lifetime remaining, and the relative humidity of the room. Having that information is nice, but it doesn’t really add anything to the experience unless you really love data. This is the only air purifier we tested that’s accompanied by an app (Android and iOS). It’s very simple to use and every feature is conveniently located on one page. One feature solely possible through its app is the capability to dim all the lights while keeping the fan at a particular setting — it gives a truly customizable experience and is a great alternative to night mode.
The weight of this air purifier does make it a bit cumbersome when trying to move it into different rooms, but it is the only device we tested to include a pair of wheels to help with this. Even though it is the quietest of the bunch, it’s also worth mentioning that it tends to use more energy than other devices at 0.241 kWh in 24 hours, so all that data comes at a cost.
The recommended room size for this model is a bit smaller than its sibling, the 211+ Auto, but it still works well in quite a large living space at about 418 square feet. It had an average CADR score of 275, performing best on pollen versus dust and smoke.
If you want a quality air purifier and don’t mind the hefty price tag, then we highly recommend the Blueair Health Protect 7470i. It’s an ideal purchase if you want to see the impact your air purifier is having in real time.
There’s no denying how much the Coway looks like an iPod Shuffle, but if you don’t mind that outdated Apple aesthetic, it’s a great air purifier.
It’s got a built-in auto sensor, which is a must-have feature for top-of-the-line air purifiers. Without it, you’re stuck with your purifier running on the highest speed for the best purification, while building up quite the utility bill. It was also the only purifier we tested that included an eco setting. What this means is that if there is no change in air quality for a specified amount of time, the machine will go into standby mode, saving you countless kilowatts and money on your energy bill.
It received an average CADR of 240, with a similar performance across dust, smoke and pollen, and would suit a room size of 384 square feet. That’s quite a strong performance considering its compact design.
However, one downside to this purifier is the price of replacing its filter. You’re paying a little less than a quarter of the original price, $57.49, to replace the filter every six months to one year, which isn’t ideal.
Saying that, the device itself comes at a great price and has enough layers of filtration to earn a spot on our list of the best air purifiers. Just keep in mind that the sleek plastic exterior will pick up your fingerprints quite easily, so it may need a cleaning every once in a while.
The Winix 5500-2 performed well, just shy of some of the others on our list. It’s the only device to use relatively unheard of “Plasmawave” technology. The premise behind this is that it creates hydroxyls that easily attach to other molecules to neutralize the air faster. It received an average CADR score of 240 as a result — about the same as the Coway Airmega, and would suit rooms up to 360 square feet.
If you are someone who needs to see the impact your purifier is having, you're in luck. Included in the design is a light that will glow red, yellow, or green depending on the current air quality. It also includes both auto and night modes to fit your particular needs. Don’t expect cheap filter replacements however. These were on the higher end, costing just under $80 per filter, and you’re recommended to change these over every six months.
Still, this air purifier provides a solid amount of filtration and an auto-sensor that picks up quite hastily. It’s also one of the few devices we tested to come with a remote control, making it easy to program from across the room. Coming only in black however, it will stand out in any minimally designed room. Adding in its beeps and boops, it’s definitely got Star Wars energy.
The petite Blueair Blue Pure 411 Auto air purifier is a great fit for any small-sized room, suiting up to 190 square feet. It doesn’t have the same strength or flair as its two larger siblings, but that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile. It’s a cute little device and still manages to pack in multiple layers of filtration to keep your air clean.
It uses the same simplistic but easy-to-use controls as the 211+ Auto, meaning you won’t have any trouble trying to set it up or get it going. Just plug it straight into the wall and pick the setting you want by tapping its little noggin.
It didn’t score as highly in the CADR tests compared to a lot of the other devices, only pulling in an average rating of 109, but it is specifically designed for smaller spaces, so that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It might not clear the air out of your whole house, but it should do wonders in small bedrooms or tight spaces.
If you want an air purifier for your home office or wherever your pets congregate, this will do the job. Just don’t expect it to put in the same heavy work as larger units and you should be happy with the results. It’s also worth mentioning that the device itself is fairly small and only uses a small amount of electricity compared to its cohorts — add to that it’s pretty quiet too.
How we tested the best air purifiers
Tom’s Guide put 10 air purifiers through rigorous months of testing to come up with this list. First of all, we compared the CADR of each to get an accurate representation of the performance. If a CADR rating was not supplied by the manufacturer, we sent it off to a lab to get our own rating — we used SGS IBR Laboratories for this test. The lab calculated the CADR for each pollutant by using the AHAM AC-1 testing method, which involves placing each air purifier in a test chamber and measuring the rate at which it reduces dust, smoke and pollen from the atmosphere. Once you have these figures, you can then calculate the recommended room size for the air purifier.
This is a widely recognized testing protocol for air purifiers, and one of the few ways with which you can compare performance. For those brands that already provided a CADR, we checked they had the certificate to prove it. That way, we made sure each device got the same treatment. It should be noted that though a device may have a low CADR score, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad air purifier. But, this does mean it will struggle in larger rooms.
We then conducted a home test separately to compare the design and ease of use of each air purifier in a real world environment. For energy, we hooked up each device to an electricity usage monitor and ran it for a full 24 hours. To figure out the noise output, we used a decibel meter and ran the purifiers at a set distance of three feet away on both the lowest and highest possible fan settings. We also took an ambient room reading to make sure that the fan noise was not being overpowered by the outside world.
We considered all kinds of factors as part of these in-house tests, from the length of the cord to the plug, to whether the model oscillates. The overall set up and the clarity of the manuals was taken into account as well. With all of this, we were able to create a scoring system to summerize the overall experience. Once all these scores were totted up, we got the average ratings that you see above.
|Air purifier||Suggested room size (sq. ft.)||Smoke CADR||Dust CADR||Pollen CADR|
|Dyson Pure Cool TP01||111||71.7||68.5||72.8|
|Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Auto||550||353||347||380|
|Blueair Healthprotect 7470i||418||270||275||280|
|Blueair Blue Pure 411 Auto||190||123||107||96|
|Coway Airmega AP-1512HH||384||247.5||232.3||241.3|
|Levoit Core 300||224||144.5||138.6||142.2|
Air purifier sales and deals
Want to invest in a new air purifier? Check out our air purifier sales and deals page first to grab a bargain. Some of our favorite brands have made an appearance, so it’s worth keeping an eye on.
Do air purifiers work and what do they do?
While air purifiers are designed to neutralize and sanitize air pollution, its performance depends on the model you own. Not all air purifiers are suited to remove every allergen, so it's important to check the product description for a clean air delivery rate (CADR). The higher the CADR, the most effective it is of trapping airborne particles. Similarly, air purifiers with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is a good indicator of having a high CADR.
Essentially, air purifiers work by a powerful fan that sucks in air to go through one or more filters (HEPA). These filters trap and neutralize particles and pollutants as air passes over them before the Dair is recirculated. Some air purifiers also have ultraviolet filters and use light to destroy smaller molecules such as mold and bacteria.
If you want to go above and beyond, also check out our tips for reducing allergens in your home.
How to choose the best air purifier for you
There are dozens of air purifiers on the market, and it can be difficult to sort out which one is the best air purifier for your home size, health concerns and price. Here are a few factors to consider.
Do air purifiers help with Covid?
Although there haven’t been any specific air purifiers tested against the Covid-19 virus, the CDC recommends most top-rated air purifiers have efficient filters capable of capturing pesky, particles similar to coronavirus, and “can help prevent virus particles from accumulating in the air in your home”.
Air purifier CADR ratings
The effectiveness of an air purifier can be measured by the CADR (Clean air delivery rate). This number reveals its performance depending on a particular room size. The higher the number, the better it is at clearing airborne particles and the more effective it is at cleaning a larger space too.
The numbers translate to how many cubic feet of air the purifier can clean per minute. The standard goal is to clean a full room’s worth of air in 15 minutes. So, for instance, a 300-square-foot room would need an air purifier with a CADR of 200 or so, assuming ceilings were 10 feet high and any doors and windows were closed.
Some air purifiers come with different CADRs for smoke, pollen and dust, so you can see which it is most effective for.
Here are the minimum CADR ratings the Environmental Protection Agency recommends by room size:
|Area (sq. ft.)||100||200||300||400||500||600|
|Minimum CADR (cfm)||65||130||195||260||325||390|
Not every purifier is tested using the CADR rating system, but real-life reviews can give you a sense of a device's effectiveness if a rating isn't available.
Air purifier filter types
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
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.
Air purifier added costs
Many of us aren’t aware of the added costs when running an air purifier. Firstly, you should consider the cost of replacement filters, then there’s the energy needed to power the appliance on a regular basis. In terms of the filter replacement, some models are fitted with filters which can last for years, but can be very expensive to replace. Whereas others can be cheaper, but a replacement is needed much more often. To calculate the actual cost, you need to balance out the frequency of changing the filter with the cost per filter. OneLife’s new air purifier never needs its filter replaced if you really want to save!
You should also take energy consumption into account. Some of the best air purifiers in our list are Energy Star Certified and these generally will save money in the long term. Bear in mind that different speeds and settings will affect how much energy it uses though.
If an air purifier is designed to reach a large room and it uses a powerful fan to do so, it is likely to consume more energy than a smaller model, although efficiency can vary. One setting worth looking out for is an ‘Eco mode’ — this should save on energy use and makes the product more sustainable in operation.
Air purifier extra features
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 Winix 5500-2) comes with a remote control, but we're not convinced that this adds a lot of value to the machine.
Should I get a smart air purifier?
Some modern air purifiers, such as the Blueair Health Protect 7470i, can be connected to the Wi-Fi and linked to an app on your smartphone. In doing this, you can control the air purifier remotely, including changing the fan speed or setting a schedule. For some air purifiers, the app will also breakdown the quality of the air and let you monitor it more precisely.
This can give you a much better understanding of what’s in your air and you can see the effect the air purifier is having on it too. Using the Dyson air purifier app for instance, you can see the different levels of particulate matter as well as any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen dioxide. This is usually displayed in a chart form so you can see where there’s been an increase in any air impurities.
This can be a useful feature to have, particularly if you want to better understand your air and want to source where your allergies are coming from. It’s also nice to see the evidence that the air purifier is making a difference.
Some apps will even display what the air is like outside as well, so you know not to leave when the pollen count is high or the general air quality is low.