The Best Air Purifiers for Allergies in 2022

Air purifiers help eliminate dust, dander, pollen, mold, and other airborne contaminants that can contribute to respiratory issues.

By Glenda Taylor and Savannah Sher | Updated Jan 7, 2022 3:26 PM

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Best Air Purifier for Allergies

Photo: istockphoto.com

Our homes are loaded with dust mites, dander and mold, pollen, and other indoor air pollutants. Poor ventilation and the use of household chemicals, gas-burning appliances, and tobacco products are among other contaminants. Once airborne, these irritants often negatively affect those with allergies and asthma.

Air purifiers act as a filtration system, catching contaminants and removing them from the air. The filtration traps the impurities before recirculating clean air back into the room. Before choosing one, learn about some of the most important features to look for and then choose the best air purifier for allergies on the market to meet your needs.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Alen BreatheSmart FLEX Air Purifier
  2. BEST VALUE: Winix 5300-2 Air Purifier with True HEPA
  3. UPGRADE PICK: RabbitAir MinusA2 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier
  4. TECH PICK: Dyson Pure Cool Purifying Fan
  5. BEST PERSONAL: Molekule Air Mini+ Small Room Air Purifier
  6. BEST WITH HEATER: Dyson Pure Hot + Cool HP01 HEPA Air Purifier
  7. BEST FOR BEDROOMS: Coway AP-1512HH White HEPA Air Purifier
  8. BEST FOR LARGE ROOMS: Bissell Smart Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters
  9. BEST FOR PET OWNERS: LEVOIT Air Purifier for Home
  10. BEST FOR TRAVEL: Blueair Blue Pure 411+ Air Purifier for Home
The Best Air Purifiers Option

Photo: amazon.com

Types of Air Purifiers

Air purifiers come with different types of filtration, some more suitable for alleviating allergy symptoms than others.

HEPA Air Purifiers

If an air purifier has an industry-standard HEPA filter (high-efficiency particulate air filter), it can remove up to 99.97 percent of airborne particulates at a size of 0.3 microns or larger, which includes pet dander and small smoke particles. To put that into perspective, a micron is only 0.00004 of an inch in length, so HEPA air purifiers will trap even microscopic particles that are too small to see with the human eye.

Be aware, because they’re so dense and efficient at trapping tiny particles, HEPA filters tend to clog quickly, and HEPA replacement filters are on the pricey side compared with other types of replacement filters. However, if the air cleaner has one or more prefilters to trap larger particulates, the costly HEPA filter will often last longer, up to 2 years or more, before replacement is necessary.

Activated Carbon Air Purifiers

Air purifiers with carbon filters keep odors down to a minimum. Activated charcoal, the filter’s main ingredient, can filter out whiffs of wet dog or cat litter box odors to help keep the home smelling fresh. Activated carbon air purifiers also can come with additional air filters within the same unit, working double-duty to remove odors and trap airborne particulates.

A carbon filter often serves as a prefilter before a primary HEPA or other type. Depending on quality, a carbon filter also will remove smoke and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air and can get rid of cooking odors and many types of chemical smells.

UV Air Purifiers

Air purifiers with ultraviolet (UV) technology are designed to kill microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria. They perform the task by drawing in the air past a strong UV light stream that destroys the microbes.

By itself, a UV purifier will not trap pet dander or fur; however, some UV air purifiers also feature a HEPA or other type of filter. If this is the case, they can trap and remove pet fur and dander, in addition to destroying airborne bacteria and viruses.

Negative Ion Air Purifiers

A negative ion is an electrically charged oxygen molecule with an added electron. Negative ions occur naturally after events such as lightning strikes or as a result of bright ultraviolet sun rays. A negative ion air purifier artificially produces negative ions, and rather than drawing in air and trapping contaminates, this type of air purification injects invisible puffs of negative ions into a room.

The negative ions are drawn magnetically to airborne particles, and they bond with the particles. As a result, they are too heavy to remain airborne, so they subsequently fall to the floor or furniture. While this process removes debris from the air, it doesn’t remove it from the room altogether, so sitting on the sofa or a chair can bring the home’s residents into contact with the contaminants.

Ozone Generators

Some people like the smell of ozone and associate it with thunderstorms, since lightning creates ozone in the atmosphere. Ozone generators emit ozone into a room. Often, they’re used in conjunction with negative ion purifiers, but the verdict is still out on whether they’re beneficial.

According to the EPA, inhaling ozone might be detrimental to the human respiratory system and can result in symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, and throat irritation. As is the case with negative ion purifiers, ozone generators don’t actually remove pollutants from the room; they just give the room a fresh rain scent.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Air Purifier for Allergies

While it’s easy to assume that all air purifiers perform similarly, a number of factors affect their functionality. The best air purifiers have high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, are the correct size for your space, and operate quietly. Keep reading to learn about some of the most important qualities to consider when shopping for the best air purifiers for allergies.

Room Size

Air purifiers are labeled for specific room sizes, which are described in square feet. You can calculate square footage of a room by multiplying the length by the width. If you’d like to buy one air purifier to handle multiple rooms, add up the square footage for each room.

These machines are also labeled with a clean air delivery rate (CADR). This value is influenced by filter efficiency and airflow in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The higher the CADR rating, the faster the unit can deliver clean air. CADR values can reach a maximum of 450 for smoke and pollen, while 400 is the highest score for dust.

While CADR is a standard for air purifier performance in the U.S., the values can be misleading for purifiers that contain filters other than standard HEPA filtration. Some manufacturers design air purifiers to circulate a lot of air at a faster rate, filtering only the larger contaminants. The CADR test does not take into account gases, odors, or VOCs, which are targeted by carbon filters.

Another figure to keep in mind is the number of air changes per hour (ACH). This number shows how many times per hour the entire air volume of a room will be filtered. The rating may be shown for a different room size than the product’s “filters up to X square feet” statement, so be sure to read the fine print.

EPA Rating

Energy Star is a joint program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). The program’s goal is to help customers, businesses, and industries save money and protect the environment using energy-efficient products and practices.

An Energy Star certification means that the unit uses less energy than standard products. These certified energy-efficient appliances usually have lower operating costs and create less air pollution than standard equipment. Look for the blue Energy Star logo to find certified products.

Air Quality Indicator

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a national system managed by the EPA that is used to measure and report air quality. AQI is affected by five major pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: particle pollution, ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. A benefit of using a home air purifier is that it can improve the AQI inside the home.

AQI ranges from 0 to 500, with high values indicating greater air pollution levels. Good indoor air quality conditions fall in the 0 to 50 range. Unhealthy values start at 100, indicating the air is a moderate health concern for sensitive groups including people with lung or heart disease, older adults, and children. Air is considered unhealthy for everyone if the AQI value is greater than 151, with the risks of adverse health effects increasing until conditions are deemed hazardous between 300 and 500.

If you live in an area associated with higher levels of air pollution, such as a city or town with industrial factories, power plants, or chemical facilities, awareness of AQI is especially important. Certain home air purifiers feature an air quality indicator, which typically uses an infrared beam and sensor to detect particulate matter. Some smart air purifiers are capable of automatically adjusting in response to higher or lower detected air quality levels.

Portability

Some air purifiers are designed for travel. These small, portable air purifiers can help you sleep better in a new environment by reducing exposure to pollutants. These devices perform the same function as larger devices but are sized for smaller rooms. If you need an air purifier for travel, you may want to look for a purifier with a minimum CADR of 217, suitable for an average hotel room size of about 325 square feet.

Handles and caster wheels make it easier to move the machine when needed. Variable-speed options allow you to increase or decrease filtration power in response to changing conditions, like when there’s a fire in the fireplace. Remote control ability using a smart device app makes it easier to adjust operation from other places in the home or away from home.

Cost and Filter Replacements

When shopping for a purifier, consider the filter replacement cost as well as the machine’s initial price. An inexpensive unit that requires expensive replacement filters may not be a bargain.

Air purifiers with HEPA filters range from the small and low-priced all the way up to high-capacity models with multiple filtering systems that treat large areas. To increase the useful life of any HEPA filter, take additional steps to keep the air clean, such as vacuuming and dusting daily, banning indoor smoking, and limiting the use of candles.

Additional Features

Different comfort and convenience features can make a good air purifier even better. Popular features include quiet operation, easy access for filter maintenance, smart technology, and more. Noise output is important for some users, as well.

  • Smart technology: Various smart technologies help home air purifiers perform efficiently and maximize user control. Onboard air quality sensors can automatically adjust the output of the unit in response to the air quality in a home. Bluetooth connectivity, smart device apps, and compatibility with personal digital assistants allow you to monitor air quality conditions and control the unit while away from home.
  • Filter change indicator: Filters need to be replaced periodically, so it helps to have indicator lights that remind you when it’s time for a change. Changing a filter tends to be easier when filter covers and access points are located near the top or front of the machine and are fastened with magnets or sliding latches instead of screws.
  • Functionality: Some air purifiers have additional functionality, acting as humidifiers, heaters, or fans. Some units also include a built-in night light that makes them particularly suitable for bedroom use.
  • Noise level: Noise level can be an important factor when selecting an air purifier. Many air purifiers operate at about 60 decibels (dB), about the same noise level as a normal conversation. Quiet air purifiers operate at a noise level below 55 decibels, making them a better alternative for bedrooms and home offices. There also are quiet models that operate at 25 dB or lower.

Our Top Picks

This list of products takes into consideration factors like filtering systems, capacity, tech features, and total cost to determine the best air purifier options on the market.

Best Overall

The Best Air Purifier Option: Alen BreatheSmart FLEX Air Purifier
Photo: amazon.com

For relief overnight, you need an ultraquiet air purifier like the Alen BreatheSmart FLEX, featuring WhisperMax technology that limits noise to a soft, almost pleasant hum. The manufacturer does not perform CADR testing but emphasizes the unit’s high-capacity HEPA-Pure filter, designed to trap airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns.

Treating rooms up to 700 square feet in area, the FLEX operates in four modes, including sleep mode, all while its sleek design (available in 14 designer colors) allows the unit to look at home in your space. Purchase replacement filters separately, and change out once every 6 to 9 months.

Product Specs

  • Type: HEPA
  • Room Size Recommendation: 700 square feet
  • Noise Level: 39-55 decibels

Pros

  • Catches particles as small as 0.3 microns
  • 4 built-in modes
  • Comes in 14 colorways
  • Filters last for 6-9 months

Cons

  • No CADR testing conducted
  • Filters sold separately

Best Value

The Best Air Purifiers Option: Winix 5300-2 Air Purifier
Photo: amazon.com

Despite its relatively low price tag, the Winix doesn’t skimp on features or effectiveness. Of course, it removes dust, pollen, and smoke, delivering competitive CADR numbers for each. But it also goes further than many air purifiers.

Winix PlasmaWave technology filters out disagreeable odors and chemical vapors, while a smart sensor reads the air and automatically modulates the air purifier’s fan speed up or down as needed. Filter replacement costs are lower than that of many competitors, which is a plus considering replacement may be necessary as often as four times per year.

Product Specs

  • Type: Activated carbon filter
  • Room Size Recommendation: 360 square feet
  • Noise Level: 27.8 decibels

Pros

  • Removes dust, pollen, smoke, odors, and chemical vapors
  • CADR-tested
  • Built-in smart sensor
  • Filters included

Cons

  • Some users report manufacturing defects

Upgrade Pick

The Best Air Purifiers Option: Rabbit Air MinusA2 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier
Photo: amazon.com

Entertaining at home is nothing to sneeze at. Ensure easy breathing in a large great room or family room by purifying up to 700 feet of living space with the RabbitAir MinusA2 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier. Thanks to its combination of a high-efficiency HEPA filter, two pre-filters, and an activated carbon filter, the RabbitAir achieves impressive CADR numbers: 200 for pollen, 193 for dust, and 180 for smoke.

This unit has five operating speeds in addition to a night mode. The filter lasts a relatively long time, too, and typically needs replacement only once per year.

Product Specs

  • Type: HEPA
  • Room Size Recommendation: 700 square feet
  • Noise Level: 20-45 decibels

Pros

  • 1 HEPA filter, 2 pre-filters, and an activated carbon filter included
  • CADR-tested
  • Filters pollen, dust, and smoke
  • 5 operating speeds plus a night mode included

Cons

  • Expensive price point
  • Some users report manufacturing defects

Tech Pick

The Best Air Purifier for Allergies Option: Dyson Pure Cool Purifying Fan
Photo: walmart.com

It sure looks cool, but another cool thing about the Dyson is that it pulls double duty as a smart air purifier. That is, you can use it to remove allergens from indoor air all year round, and you can also use it to cool off with a breeze on warm days. The unit treats up to 400 square feet and boasts a whopping 10 speed settings, including a nighttime sleep mode.

It’s the Dyson’s “smart” capabilities that make it really stand out, though. After downloading the Dyson mobile app, you can turn the air purifier on and off from your smartphone, program an operational schedule, and view real-time air quality reports.

Dyson does not provide CADR numbers for its air purifier, but because it features a True-HEPA filter, we know it is capable of removing up to 99.97% of airborne allergens as small as 0.3 microns. Replacement filters, sold separately, should be used for six to eight months.

Product Specs

  • Type: HEPA
  • Room Size Recommendation: 400 square feet
  • Noise Level: 50 decibels

Pros

  • 10 speed settings included
  • Smart air purifier; compatible with the Dyson mobile app
  • Filters particles of 0.3 microns in size
  • Filters last for 8 months

Cons

  • No CADR testing conducted
  • Filters sold separately

Best Personal

The Best Air Purifier Option: Molekule Air Mini+ Small Room Air Purifier
Photo: amazon.com

Those living in small spaces may not have room for a large air purifier. While the Molekule air purifier is small—measuring 12 inches tall with a diameter of 8.26 inches—it packs a serious punch, filtering the air in a 250-square-foot room every hour. With Auto Protect Mode, the device regulates the fan speed based on the room’s air quality.

It uses a PECO filter, which harnesses nanotechnology to completely eliminate potentially harmful particles, including viruses and VOCs. You can track the filter’s status and be notified when it needs to be replaced. Using Molekule’s Silent Mode, the purifier operates at just 39 dB, making it quiet enough to use while you sleep.

Product Specs

  • Type: UV Air Purifier
  • Room Size Recommendation: 250 square feet
  • Noise Level: 39 decibels

Pros

  • Auto Protect Mode; regulates air quality
  • Eliminated viruses and VOCs
  • Silent Mode included
  • Compact, portable design

Cons

  • Expensive price point; replacement filters are also expensive
  • Some users report connectivity issues

Best with Heater

The Best Air Purifier Option: Dyson Pure Hot + Cool HP01 HEPA Air Purifier
Photo: amazon.com

The Dyson Pure Hot + Cool is a powerful appliance that is capable of filtering the air in spaces as large as 999 square feet. Not only does this Dyson purifier act as an air purifier, but it also functions as a fan or space heater, depending on the weather. It’s capable of automatically detecting airborne particles and reporting them so you have a full picture of your home’s air quality.

Using a sealed HEPA filter, this Dyson purifier captures 99.97 percent of allergens as small as 0.3 microns. The filter should be swapped out once per year. It features 360-degree oscillation, 10 air speed settings, and a nighttime mode that operates quietly with a dimmed display.

Product Specs

  • Type: HEPA
  • Room Size Recommendation: 999 square feet
  • Noise Level: 57 decibels

Pros

  • Filters particles of 0.3 microns in size
  • Also functions as a fan or space heater
  • 360-degree oscillation
  • Suitable for large spaces

Cons

  • Some users report manufacturing defects
  • Base gets hot when in use; may not be suitable for home with young children
  • Expensive price point

Best for Bedrooms

The Best Air Purifier Option: Coway AP-1512HH White HEPA Air Purifier
Photo: amazon.com

For many, quiet operation is a top concern when shopping for a bedroom air purifier. That’s what makes the Coway AP-1512HH such an excellent choice. Despite having a coverage area of 361 square feet—which is large enough for most bedrooms—it operates quietly at just 24.4 dB when on the lowest setting. Even when working at full power, it produces only 53.8 dB of sound.

It’s also extremely effective at filtering out allergens due to its four-stage filtration system, which includes a pre-filter, a deodorization filter, a true HEPA filter, and a vital ion filter. A pollution sensor evaluates air quality and displays the air quality level using LED lights. The auto mode automatically selects the fan setting based on the air quality in the room. The fan even powers off after 30 minutes if the device fails to detect any pollutants in the room.

Product Specs

  • Type: HEPA
  • Room Size Recommendation: 361 square feet
  • Noise Level: 24-53 decibels

Pros

  • 4-stage filtration system; pre-filter, deodorizing filter, HEPA filter, and vital ion filter
  • Built-in pollution sensor
  • Automatic mode included
  • Affordable price point

Cons

  • Many users report manufacturing defects

Best for Large Rooms

The Best Air Purifier for Allergies Option: Bissell Smart Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters
Photo: amazon.com

The Bissell Smart Purifier’s three-layer filtration system, which includes a fabric prefilter, a HEPA filter, and an activated carbon filter, can remove more than 99 percent of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns from an 800-square-foot room.

The manufacturer’s CirQulate System monitors and provides colored-coded air-quality feedback and then adjusts to the appropriate fan speed. The Bissell purifier will refresh all the air in the room within an hour and will eliminate pet dander and odors, smoke, dust, pollen, hair, and general household odors.
The filters are easily accessible from the front of the machine, so the appliance can rest directly against a wall and out of the way of foot traffic. A rear cord storage and concealment feature keeps the cord out of the way.

An automated feature will set the fan to whisper-quiet operation and dim the display to create a peaceful environment for sleeping people and pets. As a bonus, its stylish design, with a midcentury exterior and retro wire stand, can fit into just about any home’s interior theme.

Product Specs

  • Type: HEPA filters and activated carbon filters
  • Room Size Recommendation: 800 square feet
  • Noise Level: 37-59 decibels

Pros

  • 3-layer filtration system
  • Removes 99% of airborne particles
  • Color-coded air quality monitor
  • Compact design

Cons

  • Not wifi-compatible
  • Limited portability

Best for Pet Owners

The Best Air Purifier Option: LEVOIT Air Purifier for Home
Photo: amazon.com

Pet owners require serious air quality control, especially if there are allergy-sufferers in the home. The LEVOIT H13 Air Purifier uses a three-step filtration system, which includes a washable preliminary filter that traps large particles of dust and hair. A true HEPA filter captures small particles of pet dander and hair along with other pollutants and allergens. Not only that, but the carbon filter works to absorb odors in order to keep your home smelling fresh.

It works well in large spaces, purifying the air in a 1,076-square-foot room in just half an hour. The Auto Mode monitors air quality and adjusts the fan speed accordingly in order to save energy. On the lowest setting, the purifier is nearly silent at just 25 dB.

Product Specs

  • Type: HEPA and activated carbon filter
  • Room Size Recommendation: 1,076 square feet
  • Noise Level: 25 decibels

Pros

  • 3-step filtration system; washable preliminary filter, HEPA filter, and carbon filter
  • Suitable for large spaces
  • Automatic mode included

Cons

  • Limited portability; heavier than comparable options

Best for Travel

The Best Air Purifier Option: Blueair Blue Pure 411+ Air Purifier for Home
Photo: amazon.com

While some larger models are bulky and difficult to move from room to room, this Blueair Blue Pure is a lightweight and portable air purifier, weighing just 7.98 pounds. Despite its small size, it’s extremely effective at filtering air in rooms as large as 185 square feet every 12 minutes.

The purifier uses HEPASilent filtration technology, which purports to be quieter and more energy-efficient than true HEPA filters while still filtering 99.97 percent of particles of 0.3 microns or larger. An activated carbon filter helps to eliminate odors. It’s extremely quiet, operating at 17 dB on its lowest setting and 46 dB on the highest.

Product Specs

  • Type: HEPA
  • Room Size Recommendation: 185 square feet
  • Noise Level: 17-46 decibels

Pros

  • Filters every 12 minutes
  • HEPASilent filtration technology
  • Filters 99.97 percent of 0.3-micron particles
  • Lightweight, portable design

Cons

  • No automatic mode included
  • Does not ship to California

Our Verdict

With so many options on the market, it can be difficult to know which air purifier for allergens is the best for your needs and environment. One of the best options overall is the Alen air purifier with its HEPA filtration, 39-55 decibel operation, ability to catch contaminants the size of 0.3 microns, and compatibility with rooms that are over 700 square feet in size.

Alternatively, the Winix air purifier comes with a smaller price tag, an activated carbon filter, operates at 27.8 decibels, and works in smaller spaces like bedrooms or offices of 360 square feet.

How We Chose the Best Air Purifier for Allergies

Those that suffer from allergies know that the right air purifier can ease respiratory problems while creating peace of mind. Selections for the best air purifiers for allergies depended upon their filtration type, square feet covered, noise level, airflow and filtration settings, and added special features included by select brands.

We researched the most sought-after air filtration systems in their respective categories and discovered that activated carbon, UV, and HEPA air purifiers were among the most popular filtration types on the market. Not only do these types reduce the amount of dust, pollen, and volatile organic compounds in your home’s air, select models are also capable of reducing odors and eliminating toxic particles of 0.1 microns in size.

With this efficiency, keep in mind that many of the above picks are made for a certain size of space, ranging from 185 to 1,060 square feet depending upon where filtration is needed. Most also come with noise levels under 59 decibels (which is the volume of a typical conversation) and as low as 17 decibels (which is nearly silent). For added convenience, many air purifiers come with multiple modes or settings including an automatic or night mode.

Finally, some of the above air purifiers are made with multi-step filtration, are compatible with mobile apps, have built-in air pollution sensors, or are portable air cleaners that can be moved from room to room.

FAQs

Though you now know more about air purifiers, you might still have questions about how to use them. The following are answers to some of the most common questions about how to select and maintain an air purifier.

Q: How do air purifiers work?

Portable air purifiers have a fan that sucks air in and moves it through a purifying filter or system. The cleaner air is then pushed out into the room.

Q. What is the difference between air purifiers and dehumidifiers?

Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air and do not have a filtering step. Air purifiers have filters or other methods to remove contaminants from the air.

Q: Which brand of air purifier is the best?

When shopping for an air purifier, consider a product from a reputable brand like Coway, LEVOIT, Dyson, or Honeywell.

Q: What type of air purifier is best for allergies?

Allergy sufferers should purchase a true HEPA air purifier, which filters out irritants like mold, dust, and pet hair.

Q: Do air purifiers help with seasonal allergies?

While an air purifier can’t completely eliminate seasonal allergy symptoms, it can remove a significant amount of irritating pollen, dust, and dander from the air in your home.

Q: Can air purifiers make allergies worse?

Most air purifiers on the market are designed to trap airborne toxins like dust and pollen to help reduce allergy symptoms. However, ozone-generating air purifiers are known to leave allergens in your space rather than trap or neutralize them, which can still manage to aggravate allergies.

Q: Do HEPA air purifiers help with asthma?

HEPA filters reduce a high percentile of particles in the air that are 0.3 microns in size or larger, making the air much safer for those that suffer from asthma.

Q: How long do air purifiers last?

An air purifier can last 3 to 5 years, or longer if it’s well maintained. To get the most life out of the unit, change filters as soon as they become clogged or within the time period recommended by the manufacturer.