The 5 Best Air Purifiers for Smoke, Dust, and Allergens in 2022


Air purifier FAQs

The interior of an air purifier shows several filters for the best air purifiers in 2022.

James Brains/Insider

Why do I need an air purifier? 

An air purifier does what its name implies, cleaning odors, pollen, pet dander, and more from indoor air. According to the EPA, units with HEPA filters can improve symptoms of COPD and asthma sufferers and effectively remove ash and smoke particles.

What do air purifiers remove from the air?

The air pollutants an air purifier can remove will depend on its filter. HEPA filters are suitable for removing particulate matter of 0.3 to 10 microns, including smoke, pollen, bacteria, pet dander, dust, mold, and more.

Specialized filters, like activated carbon filters, can remove VOCs and other gases. Consumer products often produce these gases. Pesticides, pharmaceuticals, refrigerants, cleaning supplies, fuel, cosmetics, and industrial solvents are common culprits. Gas-removing filters don’t have a standard for assessing their effectiveness.

What does HEPA mean?

HEPA is an acronym for “high-efficiency particulate air.” The EPA defines a true HEPA filter as a filter that captures at least 99.97% of airborne particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter. This includes bacteria, dust, pollen, and mold.

Are all your picks true HEPA filters?

No, but we give preference to true HEPA filter air purifiers in our picks. The exception is the Blueair 7470i, which has a HEPA-type filter that performed just as well, if not better, than most true HEPA models.

What’s the difference between true HEPA and HEPA-type filters?

True HEPA filters capture 99.97% of airborne particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter. According to the EPA, true HEPA filters can more easily catch particles larger or smaller than 0.3 microns. There’s no standard for HEPA-type filters.

Can an air purifier prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus?

According to the EPA, air cleaners are not enough to protect against coronavirus. Yet, an air purifier can help protect you and your household when used with best practice recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Can HEPA or H13 purifiers capture viruses, including the coronavirus?

Ravi Pandey, MD, a specialist in internal medicine in Florida, said HEPA air purifiers wouldn’t eliminate the coronavirus, but they help. He added that the coronavirus and most viruses are 0.06 to 0.12 microns, smaller than most purifiers catch.

Yet, when used with mask-wearing, hand washing, and social distancing, an air purifier is another protective tool.

What can you do to get the most out of your air purifier?

Bryan Buckley, the brand manager for One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, suggested always keeping your air purifier running. He added that you need the continuous air circulation of the air purifier to clean the air.

He also recommended keeping the air purifier in one spot. He said this is important because you can’t maintain consistent air quality levels when constantly moving the air purifier from room to room.

Where do you put an air purifier? 

Air purifiers are best in high-traffic areas, such as your kitchen, living room, or bedroom. In the kitchen, a purifier is excellent for removing smoke from cooking. Buckley said you should position the unit to blow clean air where people gather.

He added that you should close windows to keep outdoor pollutants from entering and avoid putting your purifier next to a wall.

How often do you change the filter?

It varies. Manufacturer guidelines range from every 3 to 24 months. We list the replacement schedule for the models in our guide. Follow the schedule in your air purifier’s user manual for optimal efficiency and performance.

Can plants help clean indoor air?

Probably not. The Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology published a study in 2019 showing that indoor vegetation did not remove air pollutants.

How can you keep your air clean if you don’t have an air purifier?

When disasters affect our indoor air quality, air purifiers sell out quickly. A few steps you can take to clean the air without a purifier are cleaning regularly, ventilating with fans, and storing chemicals outside of your house.

During the Western US’s wildfire season, we spoke to Junfeng Zhang, PhD, professor of global and environmental health at Duke University, for additional tips. Zhang recommended people with heart disease, COPD, asthma, and other pre-existing conditions wear N95 masks, even when indoors.

Are air purifiers worth it?

If you cannot take steps to improve your indoor air quality by other means or the pollutants still seem to stick around, an air purifier is an intelligent choice. Even the worst air purifiers we tested improved indoor air quality.

Are ionizing air purifiers safe?

The efficacy and safety of ionizers are debatable. Ionizers can generate ozone, a lung irritant. Enesta Jones, an EPA spokesperson, said even low amounts of ozone could cause shortness of breath, chest pain, throat irritation, and coughing.

Jones added that consumers should follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid models that generate ozone. You can ensure a purifier doesn’t produce ozone by looking for UL 2998 Standard Certification.

We don’t recommend any ionizing air purifiers (unless you can turn off the ionizing function) because this technology is so new and could adversely affect your ability to breathe.

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