Spending more time in your home means worrying about the air quality in your house or apartment, and maybe this has never been a high priority until now. Virus particles, smog, wildfire smoke, allergens, mold, and exhaust fumes all contribute to a number of negative health effects, and often come with symptoms that lower your quality of life.
With more and more people turning to air purifiers as a way to gain some peace of mind, it's important to know which ones are the most effective so that you can buy what's best for your needs.
However, not all air cleaners are created equal; they vary in effectiveness, filter capture, user-friendliness, and aesthetics. After extensive testing, the Winix 5500-2(available at Amazon for $159.99) is our top pick as best air purifier because of its strong air cleaning performance and streamlined interface.
These are the best air purifiers we tested ranked, in order:
Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Cryptomic
Blueair Classic 205
Blue Pure Fan
Blue Pure 211+
LG PuriCare 360-Degree
Dyson Pure Hot + Cool
Coway Airmega AP-1512HHS
Blueair Classic 480i
Blue Pure 411+
Alen BreatheSmart 75i
LG Signature Wi-Fi Enabled
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The Winix 5500-2 air purifier has intuitive controls and thoughtful extras like a sleep mode, a timer, and a light sensor. It also comes with a number of status lights for filter integrity, air quality, and odor detection. Changing the filters is easy, and the noise level of most of the fan settings are quiet enough to not prove disruptive.
While the Winix 5500-2 employs plasma as one purification method, it is certified by the California Air Resources Board, meaning that it emits minimal, safe levels of ozone. If you have a strong ozone sensitivity, though, all you have to do is turn the PlasmaWave function off.
The Winix 5500-2 did well in our smell tests; it was able to noticeably remove odors like cinnamon and cigarette smoke. Of the two scents, cigarette smoke seems to be more pervasive, so the fact that the Winix was able to remove enough smoke that not all of our testers could immediately identify it is praise-worthy.
The Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Cryptomic (HP06) is the latest coup in air quality control from Dyson. While a lot of the features are similar to those in previous iterations of the Dyson Pure Hot + Cool air purifier, the presence of a permanent cryptomic panel helps to remove formaldehyde.
The information panel on both the machine and in the Dyson Link app (iOS/Android) provide real-time information about the temperature, humidity, and air quality of your room. You can set voice commands (through Amazon Alexa or Siri) and change every setting, with the exception of the temperature (which can be changed via the remote).
When it comes to performance, our tester loved the 350-degree oscillation option, which spins the air purifier around in nearly a full circle. In the at-home smell tests, the HP06 easily dispelled the smell of cooking bacon and bleach. During our smell test in the lab, the Dyson did a pretty good job of removing the smell of cigarette smoke; only a hint of a menthol smell remained after it ran for four hours.
For gadget fiends, those with serious concerns about formaldehyde in the air, or those who don’t have permanent heating or cooling options in their homes, it may be worth the investment.
If you're a big fan of smart home devices, clean air, and sleek design aesthetics, then you are going to be pleased as punch by the LG PuriCare 360-Degree Air Purifier (model AS560DWR0). It's essentially two smaller units stacked on top of one another, with an additional fan on top. It's also been certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
With the tap of a button, you can bring up the modules that show you the concentrations of particulates, make the whole unit rotate, check the filter status, and more. You can even track your air quality on your phone through the SmartThinQ app, which is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
During testing, the LG PuriCare excelled at removing fragrance smells (one of the few that did), but didn't do as well with cigarette smoke. The wide range of air purification settings and options means that you can easily find a setting that isn't too loud during the day or night. But, it's tall (nearly 4 feet tall), heavy (more than 40 pounds), and difficult to move.
Really, though, this air cleaner belongs in one corner of a high-end living space, where it can be functional and admired.
I have allergies (both plant- and animal-related) that follow me around wherever I go. My friends know that if they don’t see me flash a packet of tissues at least once while I’m out, chances are I’ve been replaced by an allergy-free clone. Naturally, I was hyped to test out air purifiers because I was curious to see if they really work, especially when it comes to allergens and other airborne irritants.
The Testing Area
To test these devices in the lab, I built an airtight space with a footprint of approximately 200 square feet—about the size of a large bedroom or a small living room.
During the initial testing, I set off a red smoke grenade to see if the air purifier could clear the room (spoiler alert: it can, but it completely clogs the filters), and as a result, the room’s walls were slightly red-tinged from then on, looking like a scene out of Dexter.
The room replicates the way someone may use an air purifier in their home, and without having to worry about external air currents or smells.
I tested the products in two ways: casual usage and smell tests. I asked volunteers to take two units home and use each for two weeks at a time. Volunteers then filled out surveys containing questions about user-friendliness, as well as their impressions as to whether each unit worked well in their homes.
The smell tests were conducted in the testing room I built. I would introduce a smell (cigarette smoke, fish oil, essential oils) into the sealed room for 20 minutes, run the air purifier on its highest fan setting for four hours, and then ask people to identify what they smelled. The more “smell confusion,” a term I made up that defines the way people have a tough time identifying a specific smell, the better the air purifier did at removing that smell from the room.
Unfortunately, we were unable to measure the size and type of particulates in a room before and after using an air purifier. But, our testing does allow us to replicate the experience of someone actually using the air purifier in his or her home, since air particulate differences detected by machines are not necessarily detectable by humans.
What You Should Know About Air Purifiers
Do Air Purifiers Work?
The hundred dollar question: Do air purifiers work? Well, yes, these devices do. Multiple studies show that air purifier usage can have a mild to moderate positive effect on air quality and, subsequently, human health. Although, as with all things, some products work better than others at removing air pollutants quickly and efficiently.
According to the EPA, the problem isn’t that air purifiers don’t work, it’s that people have a tendency to not use them at all or at the best settings, because they can be too loud or because they require frequent maintenance, cleaning, and replacement filters to operate optimally.
As a result, more and more brands are making an effort to prioritize quiet operation and easy filter replacement.
What Does An Air Purifier Do?
Air purifiers operate under the same basic principles as space heaters and air conditioners. They draw air in using a series of fans, condition the air in some fashion, and then use fans and blowers to send the air back out into the room.
The EPA offers a seriously thorough explanation on what an air purifier does and the various air-cleaning technologies—from fibrous air filters to ionizers and plasma—that are on the market (Check out Table 1 on page 17) and used by different manufacturers.
Do Air Purifiers Help With COVID?
Heading toward our second anniversary of the outbreak of COVID-19, we know that it spreads much more easily indoors than it does outside, especially when there is inadequate ventilation. But, the question remains: Will an air purifier help protect from COVID-19?
The EPA cautions that while air purifiers can help to reduce airborne contaminants inside, it is not enough on its own to protect people from exposure to coronavirus.
However, air filtration can be used to reduce transmission.
Do be careful about choosing an air purifier from brands making broad claims that it can eliminate the virus that causes COVID-19.
Do Air Purifiers Help With Allergies?
After extensive testing both in our labs and in peoples' homes, we determined that air purifiers can noticeably reduce indoor air pollutants, including allergens. As you might expect, though, some air purifiers work better than others.
If allergies are the main reason you're looking at air purifiers, you should look for the presence of a HEPA or True HEPA filter—and we've tested these out, as well.
While, according to the EPA, there are no requirements that need to be met for a brand to claim that a filter is a HEPA filter in a consumer product, there are requirements on HEPA air filters in industrial settings. There seems to be general agreement that a True HEPA/HEPA filter can remove 99.97% of particles that have a diameter of 0.3 microns (for reference, there are 10,000 microns in a centimeter).
Most airborne allergens have diameters in the range of 0.1-100 microns, with pet dander on the low end and plant allergens on the high end. True HEPA and HEPA filters that meet the aforementioned standard can remove most of the airborne allergens in your air.
However, if pet dander is problematic for you, consider looking for air purifiers with multiple filtration methods, as well as claims that mention removing air pollutants as small as 0.1 microns.
Do Air Purifiers Help With Dust, Ash, and Debris?
Seasonally, wildfires rage in the western U.S., and for people living in those areas, concerns of air quality increase dramatically because of the smoke, ash, and soot that comes with the fires.
If you're looking for an air purifier to help with dust, HEPA filters are effective in filtering out any particulate matter that is larger than 0.3 microns, while active carbon filters are helpful in eliminating smoke exposure that can come with wildfire pollution.
Are Air Purifiers Worth It?
Air filters have different capture capabilities, which is documented by The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Its minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) system evaluates the efficiency of an air filter, and the higher the value, the better the capture efficiency.
Many air purifiers combine multiple technologies to provide a holistic filtration system that can combat both large particulate matter and toxic gas matter. You’ll often see air purifiers pair HEPA filters with an activated carbon filter or an ionizer for this reason.
Even though the market for residential air purifiers is growing rapidly, chances are that your air quality is fine and that the absence of an air purifier is not going to have dire health consequences for you and your family.
However, we highly recommend making an investment if someone in your home has trouble breathing on a regular basis, your house is covered in pet dander and hair, you have very young children or older folks in your home, or you live in a state/city/town that has persistent issues with outside air quality.
Other Air Purifiers We Tested
The Sharp FPK50UW is a sleek but powerful air purifier featuring three fan speeds (including a “Sleep mode”) and a “Express Clean” option that uses ionized particles to remove contaminants from the air for up to 60 minutes. The “Express Clean” setting cleared kitty litter dust from the air with no problem, but had a bit of a tougher time removing the smell of bacon from the air.
With its small size, low weight, and deep handle, this model is very portable.
The Wynd Home Purifier has four fan modes and is big enough (and powerful enough) to quickly clean the air in a larger room or multiple rooms arranged in an open floor plan.
The Wynd Home Purifier dispatched bathroom smells and burnt toast with ease. However, the Wynd struggled a bit when it came to fragrance smells.
Only the fastest fan speed is noisy, but again, that’s to be expected. While its size makes it a bit awkward to handle, with its relatively low weight and side handles, it’s pretty easy to move and lift.
App contains lots of great air quality info
Smart features only work with 2.4 GHz wi-fi networks
Beneath its industrial-looking exterior lies an air purifier that can get the job done. The Blueair Classic 205 has a basic control panel only consisting of the power/fan control, the WiFi network indicator, and the filter status light.
The Classic 205 had a tough time removing cigarette smoke, but it did a pretty good job of cleansing the room of the stench of fish oil, so we'd recommend using this air purifier near the kitchen so as to help eradicate unpleasant cooking, food, or food waste smells. At-home testing revealed that the Classic 205 might also help to mitigate allergy congestion when you first wake up in the morning.
The Bissell air220 is intuitive and unobtrusive. It has a single power button and five fan speeds, a tiny display panel that shows the fan setting, and three different LEDs that give you general information about the ambient air quality. The air220 is designed to fade into the background, rather than draw the eye.
The air220 did a solid job of getting rid of pot smoke, but it struggled a bit more to remove the smell of incense. In our lab, it performed similarly, where it wasn’t quite able to dispel the smell of peppermint from our sealed test room after running for four hours.
The fastest fan setting isn’t too loud, and it automatically switches over to night mode and turns off the machine lights when it senses low ambient light levels. The Bissell has a nice cord storage system, but the too-shallow handle means that you have to hold it with two hands when moving it around.
The Vornado AC550 favors simplicity over aesthetics. It's interesting to look at, if not particularly modern in its design. With only a plus and minus sign button to toggle between the four fan speeds, sleep, and auto modes, and filter status lights, this air purifier is for those who don't want to read an entire manual in order to understand how to make it work.
The Vornado had a tough time removing the scent of peppermint essential oil but did well with fish oil, so it may be more successful in removing food and cooking smells. While some of the settings on the Vornado are loud, most are quiet enough that they weren't bothersome during quiet time or conversations.
The Vornado is light and can be moved with one hand, using one of the pocket handles on the side of the machine. It is a device that you don't have to babysit.
The Honeywell HPA200 is one of the more basic air purifiers on the market, but it is effective and user-friendly. While its interface is simple, it has four different cleaning modes and offers enough flexibility that you'll be able to use it in a number of different circumstances, particularly when pollen is bad or when family members get sick.
Other features include a timer, filter status lights, and a dimmer function that allows you to adjust the level of panel lighting as needed.
While the HPA200 did a pretty good job of filtering out fish oil, it had a tougher time removing the lemon essential oil smell from our test room. The HPA200 will also drastically reduced the number of airborne allergens.
However, some settings get pretty noisy, so you may have to either use the timer function or run it on a lower setting if you want to run it while sleeping.
The Blue Pure Fan has a stylish aesthetic and a simple control panel consisting of a single button that you press multiple times to access the different fan speeds. The fan speed LEDs change to yellow when it’s time to replace the particle filter.
Despite it lacking a HEPA filter, the tester reported that this cooling fan noticeably reduced pet odors and cooking smells, and also made her home more livable for a roommate with a dust allergy. In the lab, we found that the Blue Pure Fan did a pretty good job of dispelling the smell of fish oil.
The highest fan setting is loud, but it’s easy to move around.
The Blue Pure 211+ is among the most streamlined and eco-friendly products we tested, featuring a washable fabric prefilter, a reusable metal frame that houses the particle filter, and the most basic control panel ever.
One large, central button means you tap it repeatedly to increase the fan speed, respond to filter replacement reminders and turn the machine on and off.
The Pure 211+ did pretty well in our smell tests, removing the smell of fish oil better than it did the scent of lemon, so this air purifier is probably better for people who are plagued by cooking smells, rather than fragrances. Slow-cooker smells while enticing for some, are no match for the air cleaning power of the Pure 211+.
It's also surprisingly light, so it's easy to move to another room.
Despite its old-school aesthetics, its interface and capabilities are both modern and highly relevant to today's air quality concerns. In addition to the cleaning modes, this air purifier also has a VOC sensor, which, when activated, automatically sets the level of air cleaning to best eradicate any VOCs detected.
Even better, you can connect with your device via Bluetooth allowing you to change the settings, set alerts for allergen levels, order filter replacements, and set a weekly operation schedule.
The HPA250B did a pretty good job at filtering out the smell of the nutmeg essential oil but did not perform as well when it came to filtering out cigarette smoke. Testers who took the Honeywell home noticed a definite improvement in their air quality with respect to the rapid removal of cooking smoke and smells.
While some of the fan settings get pretty loud, this is offset by the fact that you can set a very specific schedule for it to follow.
This combination of air purifier, heater, air conditioner, and fan has so many features and options that it'll make your head spin.
You can use the Dyson app to monitor your air quality, change the settings, and check on the status of the filters. With its magnetic remote and display screen, you can easily toggle between modules that allow you to check indoor air quality, humidity, temperature, and VOC content, among other things.
While the Dyson Pure Hot + Cool didn't do as well in our smell tests as other air purifiers. During the smell test, the air purifiers ran for four hours, and because of a smaller outflow grill it took it longer to purify the air in the room. Those who tested the Dyson in their homes reported that their air felt fresher and that it did a solid job of improving their air quality.
This is a great machine if you want the best out of an all-in-one air conditioning device.
The Airmega's streamlined control panel has large buttons that are easy to press. Its five fan modes include "Auto" (which turns on when the air quality gets below a certain threshold) and "Eco" (which turns off automatically when no pollutants are detected after 30 minutes).
In the Coway IO Care app (iOS/Android), you can control your device, get real-time air quality data, and set up air quality notifications.
Note: the smart aspect of this air purifier only works on 2.4 GHz wi-fi networks, so if you only have a 5 GHz network in your home, you may not be able to take advantage of the Coway’s smart features.
It does a great job of getting rid of cooking smells such as ground beef, popcorn, and garlic. It struggles a bit more removing fragrance smells such as fruit-scented candles and peppermint oil. The faster fan settings are pretty loud. It also has a convenient handle on the back and easy access to the filters.
The industrial-looking 480i can be controlled remotely via the Blueair app and has filter status lights on its hidden control panel. It has bigger, stronger air fans, and warning lights for high contents of VOCs and PM2.5 particulate matter.
When it came to the smell tests, the 480i was one of the better devices when it came to removing fragrance smells—peppermint in particular. It did, however, struggle when it came to cigarette smoke. At-home testing revealed the utility of the app, which shows the air quality in real-time.
The high fan speed is loud, but the other fan speeds are quiet enough to not prove disruptive to sleep or conversation. Lastly, it is heavy and awkward to move, even if its rectangular shape lends itself to easy storage.
Hidden control panel makes a good choice for bedroom use.
The Blue Pure 411+ is a way for people to explore the possibility of cleaner air without spending a lot of money. Between its small size and its futuristic, cylindrical design, it’s easy to fit into any home.
Our tester subjected it to sweaty workout clothes and the smell of cooked onions, both of which the Blue Pure 411+ handled pretty well. It had a tougher time removing cigarette smoke, and in fact, vented out air with a smoky odor.
The fastest fan setting is loud but not as loud as some of the larger air purifiers we tested. While the Blue Pure 411+ lacks a handle, it’s light enough that you can simply pick it up and move it as needed.
Easy to move
Retained smoky smell after running in room with cigarette smoke
The Rabbit MinusA2 has a lot of useful and fun customization options. In addition to its five fan speeds, it also has an “Auto” mode and a “Pollen” mode that can sense pollen and turn off automatically once the air has been cleansed. The Rabbit MinusA2 has also been certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. In addition to all the usual filters, the Rabbit also allows you to insert one of four possible custom filters: Toxin Absorber, Germ Defense, Pet Allergy, and Odor Removal.
The Rabbit Air app (iOS/Android) is pretty robust; you can control every aspect of operation, as well as set a timer or a schedule for when the device will turn on or off.
Note: The smart aspect of this product only works on 2.4 GHz wi-fi networks, so if you only have a 5 GHz network in your home, you might not be able to take advantage of the Rabbit’s smart features.
During at-home testing, the Rabbit did a pretty good job of removing cooking smells and pot smoke from the air. It also almost completely removed all traces of the fish oil that had been planted inside our sealed testing room.
While the Rabbit has a nice deep handle, it’s a bit heavy.
Can be mounted on a wall
Smart features only work with 2.4 GHz wi-fi networks
If you've ever wondered what it would look like if Apple designed an air purifier, look no further than the Alen BreatheSmart 75i. Its clean lines and sleek interface will definitely appeal to those who spend a lot of time on their smartphones. The control panel is streamlined and fairly intuitive, with the buttons for the fan speed, timer, filter status, and optional ionizer clearly labeled. The circle around the unit's power button changes color to indicate the overall air quality in your home.
During smell testing, the Alen did a pretty good job of diffusing the smell of a cinnamon fragrance, so it'll be a good fit for those who have to contend with smells from spray bottles, such as cleaning solutions and perfumes. It also did a pretty good job of getting rid of the smell of fish oil, so it can conquer cooking smells as well. Some of the fan settings can get pretty loud.
While the Alen comes with a pocket handle and wheels, it's still pretty tall and heavy.
This modest little humidifier may not have the sleek looks or digital read-outs of other air purifiers on this list, but the Holmes HAP9726B is no joke. In our smell test, it was able to noticeably diminish the fish oil smell but struggled more with cinnamon. One downside to the Holmes is that some of its fan speeds are pretty loud; that might deter users from actually activating the higher settings, which is a shame, since it seems to be able to move a lot of air quickly, and that may improve the air quality at a faster rate.
The Holmes has a very basic, intuitive control panel. It comes with a handle that makes for easy moving.
This all-in-one air purifier and humidifier have over 20 different symbols that live on the control panel, ranging from the amount of particulates, filter and water bucket statuses, troubleshooting hints, odor and dust warnings, and more. While helpful, testers found that these symbols can be confusing and hard to understand.
The humidifier has a UV LED water treatment so as to kill bacteria in the water bucket, which makes sense because in addition to using either the air purifier or the humidifier singly, you can also select the Humid Purify mode, which uses the humidifier in conjunction with the air purifier to help cleanse your air. The LG Signature is also compatible with LG's ThinQ app, so it can be controlled remotely from your smartphone.
The LG did the best job of all tackling cigarette smoke. It did equally well when it came to cinnamon, so if you don't want fragrance smells hanging around, this air purifier can help you out.
Julia is the Senior Scientist at Reviewed, which means that she oversees (and continually updates) the testing of products in Reviewed's core categories such as televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, and more. She also determines the testing methods and standards for Reviewed's "The Best Right Now" articles.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.