The Best Air Purifiers Tested in 2023

We tested the top air filters on the market. Find out which ones did the best job of removing airborne pollutants.

By Glenda Taylor and Michelle Larson | Updated Jul 13, 2023 6:33 AM

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 Air Purifier Reviews

Photo: Glenda Taylor

As consumers become more aware of the airborne pollutants that lurk in their homes, the demand for quality air purifier reviews also increases. Technology changes quickly, even in air purifiers that operate on basic principles, so we wanted to put today’s top contenders to the test.

Members of the Bob Vila testing team selected several of the best-selling air purifiers available and then tested their abilities to remove dust, pet dander, pollen, smoke, and more. Our goal was to determine whether the purifiers would remove the most common types of household airborne pollutants, so we created test cubicles out of our closets. There, we introduced airborne pollutants and used air-quality monitors to see how quickly the purifiers removed them from the air.

Ahead, learn what features to look for when shopping for an air purifier, and discover how the following models earned a spot in our lineup. Find out our tests’ results—pros and cons—before selecting a room air purifier for home or office use.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Shark HC502 3-in-1 Air Purifier With NanoSeal HEPA
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Levoit LAP-C161-WUS Core Mini Air Purifier
  3. BEST FOR ALLERGENS: Blueair Pure 211+ Large Spaces Air Purifier
  4. BEST CLIMATE CONTROL: Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link HP02 Air Purifier Heater
  5. BEST FOR LARGE ROOMS: Alen BreatheSmart 75i True HEPA Air Purifier
  6. BEST FOR KIDS’ ROOMS: Pure Enrichment PureBaby Bear HEPA Air Purifier
  7. BEST MEDICAL-GRADE: Westinghouse 1701 NCCO Air Purifier
Air Purifier Reviews

Photo: Glenda Taylor

How We Tested the Best Air Purifiers

We quickly discovered dozens of manufacturers were marketing air purifiers to the public, and we wanted to test the best ones from several categories. We considered brand—names like Dyson, Shark, and Westinghouse are widely known and well respected. Still, we didn’t automatically eliminate smaller or niche brands if they had highly satisfied customers. We then narrowed our test list to less than a dozen of the highest-rated models.

For actual testing, we cleared out a closet and then wiped down the floors, walls, and ceilings to ensure they wouldn’t contribute to the dust in the spaces. We tested each air purifier—one at a time—by placing it in the closet alongside an air-quality monitor. We introduced airborne particulates by shaking dirty rugs over the devices, and then we took air-quality readings every 30 minutes to see how quickly the purifiers eliminated the pollutants.

Our smoke test was pretty smelly—we lit five incense sticks in the closet, gave the smoke a chance to infiltrate the space, and then started the air purifier and took a reading. We closed the door to let the purifier do its thing and continued to take readings every 30 minutes.

We scored the air purifiers using a rubric. The better they performed on a test, the more points they received. We also awarded points for quality materials, user-friendly functions, and overall aesthetic appeal. At the end of testing, we added and averaged the scores and used them to determine each air purifier’s stand-out strengths and which one was truly the all-around best.

Our Top Picks

The following air purifiers excelled in our tests, and while they vary in type, cost, and design, each one is well suited for removing airborne pollutants in the home. During testing, we noted their best and not-so-good features. (But don’t limit yourself to only the models on our list of the best air purifiers; we also constructed a DIY air purifier out of materials and supplies you may already have around the house. Check it out below, too.)

Best Overall

The Best Air Purifier Reviews Option: Shark HC502 3-in-1 Air Purifier With NanoSeal HEPA

Our top pick for air purifiers comes from a manufacturer known for its high-quality vacuums and other household appliances. The Shark 3-in-1 air purifier offers three distinct functions: purified air, heated air, and purified fan breeze. We tested the HC502 model, which is designed for rooms up to 1,000 square feet.

This is a floor model purifier—it measures 12.59 inches in diameter and stands 29.52 inches tall. It features a base plate that helps stabilize the unit and reduce the risk of tipping. Similar to other models we tested, the plastic wrap had to be removed from the internal filter before we were able to run the machine. Don’t skip this step, as failure to remove the plastic lining may damage the device’s motor.

We started our test by shaking a dirty rug above the Shark and the air-quality monitor. Within seconds, the monitor registered unsafe levels of airborne particulates. We turned on the Shark and closed the door. At our first 30-minute check, the air quality in the test closet had already dropped to safe levels. Impressive.

To test the Shark’s prowess for clearing smoke and odors, we lit five incense sticks and allowed their smoke to fill the closet. Our monitor registered unsafe levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Plus, the smell of incense was overwhelming. We turned on the Shark and let it run for 30 minutes before checking it again. At the 30-minute mark, the levels were still elevated but only slightly, and the smell of incense was milder. At our second 30-minute check, the levels were back in the safe zone, and the smell had significantly improved.

The Shark features an LED readout that indicates the room’s freshness level. We found it does a decent job of detecting particulates, but it does not detect odors or VOCs. We didn’t feel it was quite as accurate as our air-quality monitor, but it’s a nice feature for alerting the user to particulates, such as pollen and dust. This model also comes with a heating element that we found very nice, seeing as we tested the unit on a cold winter day. Other perks include a remote control and an oscillating feature.

The downside is the noise when the machine is running on High. It generated 59 decibels, comparable to the sound of riding in a car going 60 miles per hour. On Low, it registered just 28 decibels, similar to the sound of a whisper.

This is a powerhouse of a purifier, so once the air in the room is relatively fresh, the user should be able to run it on Low to maintain the freshness.

Read our full review: Shark HC502 3-in-1 Max Air Purifier with True HEPA

Product Specs

  • Dimensions: 29.52 inches tall by 12.59 inches in diameter
  • Remote control? Yes
  • Functions: Air purifying, fan, heating, oscillating


  • Unit features a heating element for warm purified air
  • Digital readout shows the overall freshness of the air in the room
  • Comes with a remote control and oscillates for better coverage


  • The purifier is relatively loud when operated on the highest power level

Get the Shark air purifier at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Shark.

Best Bang For The Buck

The Best Air Purifier Reviews Option: Levoit LAP-C161-WUS Core Mini Air Purifier

For those looking to freshen the air in small rooms—up to 178 square feet—there’s no need to spend a lot on an air purifier. The Levoit Core Mini removes airborne particulates in addition to smells and VOCs, and it does this at an affordable price point.

Like other Levoit models, this purifier is relatively quiet—generating just 20 decibels on Low and about 42 decibels on High. We didn’t find the noise distracting on either level, as it sounded much like a soothing hum.

In our pollutant tests, the Levoit took a bit longer than other models to clean the air, which isn’t surprising because it’s a compact machine. It took nearly 1.5 hours to clear the airborne particles from our shaken rug in the test closet, and it took 2 hours to eliminate the smoky smell from our incense test. However, our smoke test was aggressive. Users would rarely, if ever, run into a situation where a small room got that smoky.

Given time, the Levoit personal air purifier gets the job done. It’s not suitable for use in larger rooms because it is just not that powerful, but if it’s run continuously in a small space, such as a nursery, bedroom, or home office, it should keep the air at a fresh level.

Product Specs

  • Dimensions: 10.4 inches tall by 6.5 inches in diameter
  • Remote control? No
  • Functions: Air purifying, essential oil infusion


  • One of the quietest models we tested on High and on Low
  • Removes airborne particulates in rooms up to 178 square feet
  • Compact design makes it possible to put on a shelf or dresser


  • Takes more time than larger models to freshen the air

Read our full review: Levoit LAP-C161-WUS Core Mini Air Purifier

Get the Levoit air purifier at Amazon or Levoit.

Best For Allergens

The Best Air Purifier Reviews Option: Blueair Pure 211+ Large Spaces Air Purifier

We were slightly confused when we first opened the Blueair purifier box because it contained two small plastic bags filled with stretchy fabric—one blue and one gray. The instructions explained these were optional prefilter socks that could help provide extra protection for the internal filter. We stretched the blue one on and started testing.

The Blueair features a single large button on the front of the machine that’s touch-sensitive. Just a light touch is all it took to cycle through three power levels. A small lighted strip at the top of the button indicates which level is running. We felt this could have been more user-friendly—or the company could have included a remote control—because the light indicator wasn’t visible unless we were standing right over the machine. The machine is pretty quiet, though. On High, it generated 40 decibels; on Low, it registered just 21 decibels.

We started testing by shaking the dirty rug above the Blueair and our air-quality monitor, then we turned the purifier on when the monitor indicated the air was unsafe. We let the purifier run for 30 minutes and then came back and took a reading. The particulate level had dropped to the safe zone. Also interesting was the stretchy blue sock we’d put on the unit—it was covered with pet fur, lint, and dust. It was easy to see why it’s called a prefilter—it kept all that gunk from getting trapped in the machine’s internal high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. We peeled it off and tossed it in the washer. It was a little loose after laundering but still fit well.

The Blueair didn’t do quite as well with the smoke and odor test. It took a full hour for it to reduce the odor of incense and bring the VOCs and harmful gases to a safe level. This is a good purifier, but it’s better suited to removing airborne particulates, such as pet dander, pollen, and fur, than VOCs. While the pull-on stretch socks are optional, using them will likely extend the life of the Blueair’s internal air filter.

Product Specs

  • Dimensions: 20.4 inches tall by 13 inches wide by 13 inches deep
  • Remote control? No
  • Functions: Air purifying


  • Air purifier is relatively quiet, generating 40 decibels on High and 21 decibels on Low
  • Optional stretchy fabric socks fit on the bottom half of the unit for use as prefilters
  • Unit works best for removing particulate matter, such as pollen, dust, and fur


  • The indicator light around the single-touch button isn’t visible from a distance
  • Took longer to remove smoke and odors during testing

Get the Blueair air purifier at Amazon or Newegg.

Best Climate Control

The Best Air Purifier Reviews Option: Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link HP02 Air Purifier Heater

Dyson, a well-known name in air purifiers, puts out several models with various functions. We tested its HP02 version, which offers heating and cooling (in the form of a fan, not active cooling) and performs several air-cleaning functions.

In our airborne particulate tests, the Dyson fared relatively well. Immediately after introducing dust and pet dander, via shaking a rug over the unit, we took an air-quality reading that indicated the level of airborne particulates was in the hazardous zone. We closed the closet door and let the Dyson do its thing. At the first 30-minute reading, the particulate level in the closet had dropped, but it still showed a moderately high amount of particulates in the air. We tested particulates again 30 minutes later, and the amount had fallen to a safe level.

We then went on to the smoke test. We lit five incense sticks and closed the door to allow the smoke to fill the closet. We took an initial reading and found elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) carbon monoxide (CO), and VOCs. The smell was strong, and the air was visibly smoky. We started the Dyson and checked the air quality after 30 minutes. The smell of incense was still strong, but the monitor showed that NO2, CO, and VOC levels had dropped. We tested again after 30 more minutes, and at that time, the toxin readings were back in the safe zone and the smell was better: not gone, but much milder.

On High, the purifier generated 53 decibels, comparable to the sound of moderate rainfall. On Low, it generated only 38 decibels, which is similar to the sound of a loud whisper.

The Dyson incorporates an oscillating fan and an optional heating element. This model does not cool the air despite its name; it just offers a fan. It comes with a remote that we found handy for turning it on and off, and it also comes with Wi-Fi connectivity, but we were unable to sync the Wi-Fi to our router—we don’t know why, but the Dyson app would not recognize our network. A bit of research told us other users had similar problems.

Those looking for a single unit with multiple functions (removing pollutants plus heat) may want to consider the Dyson air purifier. Based on our tests, we feel it’s best suited for a small to medium-size room, such as a bedroom, home office, or nursery. It may not be as effective when used in a larger space.

Read our full review: Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link HP02 Air Purifier Heater

Product Specs

  • Dimensions: 24.9 inches tall by 8.7 inches in diameter
  • Remote control? Yes
  • Functions: Air purifying, fan, heating, oscillating, Wi-Fi connectivity


  • Trendy design and sleek look to complement virtually any style of decor
  • Remote control simplifies adjusting levels and functions of the purifier
  • Removes a variety of pollutants, including VOCs and airborne particulates
  • Users can opt to heat the air while operating the purifying modes


  • We were unable to sync the Wi-Fi to our network
  • Pricey model; didn’t perform quite as well as others we tested

Get the Dyson air purifier at Amazon.

Best For Large Rooms

The Best Air Purifier Reviews Option: Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link HP02 Air Purifier Heater

Here come the power cleaners! As we unboxed the Alen BreatheSmart air purifier, it was easy to tell it was by far the heaviest of all the models we tested, and when we opened the front to remove the plastic from the filter, we were surprised at how thick the internal filter was. The BreatheSmart filter is more than 2.5 inches thick and very dense.

This is a beefy machine all the way around. It’s a HEPA filter, and according to the manual, it’s supposed to last up to 1 year. Additionally, it’s made to block up to 99.9 percent of particles as small as 0.1 microns.

It aced both the airborne particulate and the smoke test. The BreatheSmart reduced the offending pollutants to safe levels on both tests by the first 30-minute check. We figured this was primarily due to the extensive power of the BreatheSmart, which is designed for large rooms up to 1,300 square feet. Those who are in need of serious air freshening because of wildfires or smog may want to consider the BreatheSmart.

This air purifier comes with an ionizer mode that emits negatively charged ions that adhere to particulates in the air, making them heavy, so they fall to the floor. Our only concern with this mode was whether the BreatheSmart inadvertently emitted ozone, a known lung irritant, which can be a byproduct of an ionizer machine. A little research eased our concern; the Alen BreatheSmart 75i is certified safe and effective by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

Soundwise, the BreatheSmart is in the middle of the road. On High, it generated 47 decibels; on Low, it generated 29 decibels. A nice perk is the LED color system on the unit that registers green for safe air, orange for fair, red for poor, and purple for bad. If we selected Auto mode, the BreatheSmart increased and decreased power as needed to clear the air. The air purifier has a few design downsides though. It comes with wheels on the back for easy rolling, but the handle is also on the back, making it awkward to tip and roll. The other downside is that the front panel kept falling off if we so much as brushed against it.

Product Specs

  • Dimensions: 27 inches tall by 19 inches wide by 12 inches deep
  • Remote control? No
  • Functions: Air purifying


  • Powerful enough to clean the air in rooms up to 1,300 square feet
  • Color-coded lights to see the air quality in the room at a glance
  • Features an ionizer mode that’s certified as safe and effective by CARB


  • Features wheels for rolling but rolling is awkward due to handle location
  • The front panel was loose and kept falling off

Get the Alen air purifier at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Alen.

Best For Kids' Room

The Best Air Purifier Reviews Option: Pure Enrichment PureBaby Bear HEPA Air Purifier

Clean air doesn’t get any cuter than this! We were charmed by the PureBaby Bear that adds a whimsical element to the rooms of the family’s youngest members. Plus, it comes with a four-stage filter: an activated carbon prefilter, a HEPA filter, an antibacterial filter, and an ultraviolet light for killing germs. It also features a night light in a range of adjustable colors.

As adorable as this air purifier is, it still means business when cleaning the air. In our tests, the PureBaby bear eliminated enough particles in the air within 30 minutes to bring the freshness level into the safe zone. It took a bit longer with the smoke and odors—1.5 hours—but it’s quite a bit smaller than most purifier models, so that’s understandable.

The PureBaby purifier is designed to treat rooms up to 263 square feet, which is quite an accomplishment for a machine this small. It stands just 14.6 inches high and 11.1 inches wide, small enough to set on a shelf or nightstand. It comes with an auto shutoff that can be set for 2 to 8 hours, and it features a child lock button, so little hands can’t turn it on accidentally. The downside is that it doesn’t come with tip-over protection, which is something we feel would be valuable in a model made to go in a child’s room.

All in all, this is a delightful air purifier. It generated 42 decibels when we ran it on High and just 20 decibels on Low. The sound is soothing, and some may find it does double duty as white noise for helping children get to sleep.

Product Specs

  • Dimensions: 14.6 inches tall by 11.1 inches wide by 8.7 inches deep
  • Remote control? No
  • Functions: Air purifying, night light


  • Blends well into nursery or child room decor
  • Features a UV light in addition to activated carbon and HEPA filters
  • Select from 7 night-light colors, or set the machine to scroll through all colors


  • Purifier does not have tip-over protection, so it should be placed out of children’s reach

Get the Pure Enrichment air purifier at Amazon, Best Buy, or Pure Enrichment.

Best Medical-Grade

The Best Air Purifier Reviews Option: Westinghouse 1701 NCCO Air Purifier

The Westinghouse 1701 air purifier is a unique option in our lineup, as it features a patented nano-confined catalytic oxidation (NCCO) reactor in addition to its HEPA filter. NCCO reactors act as medical-grade filters that kill the viruses, fungi, and bacteria they trap. The Westinghouse claims its NCCO units remove up to 99.97 percent of pollutants, germs, odors, and VOCs as small as 0.3 microns from the air.

During testing, we were impressed with how well the Westinghouse performed. Lighting five sticks of incense in a small closet produced an eye-burning amount of smoke, and though a faint incense smell lingered for days, the Westinghouse took the air quality from dangerous to acceptable in just 1 hour. Pet dander and accumulated dust and dirt from our rug-shaking test were gone within just 30 minutes.

Westinghouse’s 1701 model does not have an air-quality indicator, and the settings light turns off on its own within about a minute. While this dark operation is useful in terms of reducing power consumption and preventing unnecessary interior light pollution, it may take users some time to get used to. During testing, we came to trust that the Westinghouse 1701 was on and operating effectively via the proof provided by our external air-quality monitor.

Our only real complaint about the Westinghouse was the type of noise produced by the fan. We’re not particularly sensitive to ambient noise, having used an air purifier for allergies that runs at an equally loud 55 decibels on High, but it simply makes a whooshing sound. The Westinghouse features 10 speed settings (plus a turbo and eco mode), and every setting other than the lowest few produced a fan noise with a distracting rattle to it. While we’d certainly put up with this in return for the benefits the unit provides, it may not be an ideal option for noise-sensitive individuals in spaces requiring extended periods of high-speed operation.

Users will also want to note that this model features touchscreen-like controls, which might be confusing at first. We appreciated their contribution to the seamless design, but users will want to give themselves some time to get familiar with their operation, especially when trying to access turbo mode.

The Westinghouse 1701 is ideal for rooms up to 300 square feet, yet its sleek, easy-to-clean design takes up minimal floor space. This small air purifier features a convenient built-in handle, and its weight of under 9 pounds makes it easy to move from room to room.

Product Specs

  • Dimensions: 17.35 inches tall by 11.5 inches wide by 7 inches deep
  • Remote control? No
  • Functions: Air purification


  • NCCO reactor kills bacteria and viruses while removing allergens, smoke, and odors
  • Eco mode and auto-off settings light eliminate unnecessary energy consumption
  • Small footprint yet effective in rooms as large as 300 square feet
  • Lightweight unit features easy-to-access handle, allowing for easy portability


  • Fan sounds a bit rattly at higher speeds, which some users may find distracting
  • Lacks an air-quality indicator light, so users need a separate device to test air-quality levels
  • Some users may find touchscreen-type “buttons” confusing at first

Get the Westinghouse air purifier at Amazon, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, or Target.

Or, DIY Your Own Air Purifier 

Need an air filter in a hurry but don’t want to spend the money on a pricey model? We built our own air purifier by taping a 20-by-20-inch Filterbuy HVAC filter to the back of the Hurricane 20-inch box fan using clear packing tape. This is a simple way to create an on-the-spot air purifier. The box fan will draw in dirty air through the filter and expel cleaner air out of the front of the fan.

We tested our DIY air purifier by putting it in the test closet and shaking a dirty rug above it. We only tested for particulates because the Filterbuy filter did not contain an activated carbon layer necessary for absorbing smoke. After 30 minutes of running our DIY air purifier on Low, the particulate level in the closet was back in the safe zone.

Making your own DIY purifier offers some perks and some drawbacks.


  • Low-cost method for removing airborne particulates
  • Powerful airflow that can purify a room quickly (even on Low)
  • Purifier is customizable based on the filter purchased


  • Noisy; our DIY purifier generated 53 decibels on Low and 67 decibels on High
  • Most box fans are not designed for energy efficiency
  • HVAC filters are not suitable for removing smoke, odors, or VOCs

Jump to Our Top Picks

Air Purifier Reviews

Photo: Glenda Taylor

What to Consider When Choosing an Air Purifier

In addition to the main types of air purifiers, some models offer a few extra features that can help shoppers decide if a specific machine will be adequate for its intended use. Size, power level, and design all play a role.

Types of Air Purifiers 

To get the best air purifier for home use, shoppers will want to consider the type of airborne pollutants in their home. Many of today’s air purifiers come with HEPA filters; some offer additional activated carbon and negative ion modes. Each type targets a specific pollutant, but shoppers may not need all types.


At one time, these high-efficiency filters were limited to use in hospital settings and nuclear facilities and were on the pricey side. However, in the past couple of decades, with advances in consumer use, they’ve become a standby in most air purifiers and high-end vacuums.

The dense mesh of a HEPA filter traps up to 99.7 percent of particles as small as 0.3 microns, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Some souped-up HEPA filters trap even smaller particles. This makes a HEPA filter essential for removing particulates, such as dust, pet dander, mold spores, and pollen.

Those looking to buy an air purifier for homes with pets, and anyone who suffers from allergies, will want to consider an air cleaner that comes with a HEPA filter. A notable downside is that HEPA filters won’t remove all types of viruses, bacteria, or VOCs, which can slip through the filter.

Activated Carbon

Air purifiers with a primary HEPA filter may also come with a thinner activated charcoal filter that absorbs odors, smoke, and VOCs. Many manufacturers are combining the two filters to give users a more comprehensive range of protection against airborne pollutants. Activated carbon is highly porous, and as the purifier draws in the air from the room, it forces it through the carbon filter, where the smells and gaseous impurities stick to the carbon and are absorbed.

The expelled air is fresher, but depending on the quality and size of the activated carbon filter, odorous air may need to filter through the machine two or more times to get rid of lingering odors. In our smoke tests, the larger purifiers removed smoke more quickly than the smaller ones.

A slight downside to activated carbon filters is that they can require frequent replacement, and the housing inside the air purifier should be cleaned periodically to remove smells and prevent mold growth. (See product owner’s manual for cleaning directions.) Still, activated carbon is the way to go when it comes to air filters for smoke, VOCs, and disagreeable odors.

Negative Ion

Also called an “ionizer,” a negative ion air purifier cleans the air by emitting electrically charged particles (negative ions) that adhere to airborne particulates, such as pollen and dust, which increases their weight; they then theoretically fall to the floor. To keep the particulates from being stirred up again, it’s a good idea to vacuum often when running an air ionizer.

Air purifiers with negative ion technology often have standard filters, such as the Alen BreatheSmart 75i, which also came with a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter. A potential downside to some ionizer machines is that they may emit ozone as a byproduct of the ionizing process. The EPA categorizes ozone as a lung irritant, so shoppers looking for a purifier with a negative ion feature may want to assure themselves that the model does not emit dangerous ozone levels. The Alen BreatheSmart we tested is certified safe, according to the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

Area Coverage

Air purifiers are generally made to clean the air in rooms of a specific size. They may come with a clean air delivery rating (CADR), measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm), or they may just state the appropriate room size they’re best suited for. Always check the manufacturer’s specs and measure the room where the air cleaner is intended for use. However, here are some general guidelines to consider:

  • CADR ratings of 100 to 200 CFM will freshen small rooms such as nurseries, bedrooms, or home offices.
  • CADR ratings of 300 CFM or higher are well suited to great rooms and open living spaces.

Keep in mind that to ensure the freshest air, a purifier should be used in conjunction with healthy household hygiene, including daily vacuuming, dusting, and using only chemical-free cleaners and pesticides when possible.

Size and Aesthetics

For most people, how an air purifier looks is secondary to how well it performs, but with some of today’s trendiest models, such as the Dyson air purifier, there’s no need to give up style for performance. Many air purifiers come in standard white, but a few offer sleek gray or black exteriors, and a handful offer a color option, such as the Blueair we tested that came with a bright-blue stretchy sock-type covering for the bottom half of the unit.

As the popularity of air purifiers continues to climb, manufacturers will undoubtedly offer a broader range of colors and sizes. We tested several models that were large and designed for floor use, but we also found compact models that could be located on a table or dresser.

Additional Features

Air purifiers are straightforward devices; they draw in the air from the room, force it through filters, and then expel the cleaned air back into the room. Still, shoppers can find some unique features that include:

  • An auto mode that senses the pollution level in the room and adjusts the fan speed to suit;
  • A programmable timer that allows the user to set the machine to run for a specific time;
  • Sleep mode that is whisper quiet (and has dim lights) but still works to freshen the air as the user sleeps;
  • A remote control that makes it easy to operate the machine from across the room or program a timer;
  • A built-in air-quality monitor that shows the freshness of the air in the room; and
  • Smart integration that syncs with a home Wi-Fi network, allowing the user to control the unit from a smartphone or use voice commands.

Tips for Using and Maintaining an Air Purifier 

In testing, we found that about half of the air purifiers came with a plastic-wrapped internal filter that had to be removed before the user could operate the machine. Most of the units were marked with instructions to disassemble the unit and unwrap the filter. Still, it’s a good idea to check, even if there are no visible warnings, to keep from damaging the machine by running it with the plastic wrapping on. In addition, the following tips will maximize the air cleaner’s effectiveness and keep it in good working order:

  • Run the air purifier around the clock to maintain the freshest indoor air.
  • Consider investing in an air-quality monitor if the machine doesn’t have one built in. Poor air quality could indicate a dirty filter or too-low fan speed.
  • Clean the unit periodically—wipe down the exterior, replace the filters, and check inside to ensure there’s no mold growth.


Air purifiers all work on a basic principle—they draw air through filters to remove impurities. The most significant differences lie in the machine’s power level, which makes it suited to a specific room size. Other differences include the types of filters in the machine and whether they include an additional purifying method—such as ionizing. New users often have a few questions.

Q. Is there any downside to having an air purifier?

Potential downsides include cost and noise. High-end purifiers run hundreds of dollars and some can be annoyingly loud on the highest settings. Perhaps the most significant consideration, however, is a false sense of security—air purifiers, depending on type and quality—will not eliminate all pollutants in the home. Users should follow good housecleaning practices to help reduce overall pollutants.

Q. Which type of air purifier is best for your home?

That all depends on individual needs. Air purifiers with HEPA filters are the most efficient for removing particulates, while models with carbon filters are better for removing odors. To reduce airborne viruses, consider buying a purifier that uses ultraviolet technology.

Q. How do you know the right size of air purifier for your home? 

Look for a unit with a CADR that is at least equal to the room’s floor area. Choose a machine that offers the filters necessary to clean the specific types of pollutants in your home.

Q. Is it hard to replace filters in an air purifier?

Usually, it’s a simple process. In the models we tested, replacing the air filters consisted of removing a panel or grid, pulling the old filter out, and then putting a new one in its place. Most models are designed to make it easy to change filters.

Q. Is it necessary to run air purifiers through the night?

For the cleanest air, yes, running the purifier day and night is usually best. Many models come with a near-silent mode for night use, and some users may even find that the sound of the air purifier acts like white noise, which helps drown out other distracting sounds for better sleep.

Why Trust Bob Vila 

Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series, including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.