Having allergies will make you reach for anything to stop the stuffy nose, puffy eyes, and constant watery eyes. While taking the right medication and avoiding triggers will do plenty to curb unwanted symptoms, adding an air purifier to the mix can help further tone down your discomfort. Enter: the best air purifier for allergies.
ICYMI, an air purifier is a portable device that can filter allergens like dust, dirt, and bacteria out of the air around you. Sure, an air purifier won’t magically make your allergies go way, but it can help you feel less itchy, swollen, and congested, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).
And there is evidence to back this up. One study published in the Yonsei Medical Journal Found patients with dust mite allergies who used air purifiers for six weeks felt so much better that they were able to take less of their regular allergy medication. Another study in the Journal of Asthma found that air purifiers lowered concentrations of allergens like cat dander and respiratory viruses by more than 50 percent, which is great news for people with asthma or allergies.
Air purifiers can even reduce your risk of being infected with the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that two air filters cut down exposure to simulated exhaled aerosol particles by up to 65 percent.
One important element to look for in an air purifier is a HEPA filter (which stands for high-efficiency particulate air, BTW) filters, per the AAAAI. These are considered the gold standard of air filters—they can remove at least 99.97 percent of contaminants (think: dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and other airborne particles), according to the EPA, and circulate the air in a room multiple times an hour, trapping particles at each pass.
But choosing the best air purifier for allergies largely comes down to personal preference—and there are factors to consider like size, style, and, naturally, cost. Here’s how to find the right air purifier for you.
Check out this list of the best air purifiers according to online reviews and selection criteria recommended by allergy experts—and start breathing easier.
1. Best For Bedrooms: Rabbit Air BioGS 2.0 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier
Not only is this a top-performing device (it has a 4.9-star average from reviewers), it also has a discreet display, so its glow won’t keep you up at night. An added bonus: It can filter a room as large as 625 square feet twice an hour.
2. Best For COVID: Pure Enrichment PureZone Air Purifier
This ultra-quiet machine removes particles and sanitizes the air silently, so it won’t mess with your sleep or annoy you. Air purifiers with a HEPA filter can sanitize the coronavirus out of your air “down to a certain droplet size—0.3 microns,” says Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network. The model is on the smaller side, so it’s perfect in a smaller room.
3. Best For Temperature Control: Dyson Pure Hot+Cool Air Purifier
Dyson is known for quality products, and its Pure Hot + Cool Smart Tower Air Purifier doesn’t disappoint. It captures 99.97 percent of allergens as small as 0.3 microns, making it great for tackling allergies due to pets, dust, smoke, pollen, and mold. It even has an activated carbon filter to weed out pollutants and odors. And—this is cool—it also works as a heater and air conditioner, so you can stay comfortable while breathing in clean air.
4. Best For Dust: VEVA 8000 Elite Pro Series Air Purifier
This air purifier removes super-small particles like dust and dander and eliminates odors. Users say it literally brings a breath of fresh air into the room. “HEPA does not work well for dust mites, but does work for house dust, which has larger particles,” says Dr. parikh (BTW, if dust mites are an issue for you, Dr. Parikh recommends using hypoallergenic covers on your pillows and mattress.)
5. Best For Allergies: Honeywell HPA300 HEPA Air Purifier
This purifier filters and circulates room air up to five times per hour, and captures up to 99.97 percent of microscopic allergens.
6. Best For Living Rooms: Winix True HEPA 6300-2 Air Cleaner
Perfect for larger spaces, this air purifier can filter the air in rooms up to 400 square feet, and uses a four-stage filtration system to ensure it’s pumping out the cleanest air possible.
7. Best For Odor Removal: LEVOIT Air Purifier
Not only is this air purifier super cheap, but it’s also an Amazon best-selling item (it has nearly 4,500 customer reviews and nearly 70 percent are five-star ratings). Most of the reviews celebrate how fresh and clean their homes smell now (especially if they’ve dealt with pet odors in the past).
8. Best Quiet Air Purifier: Blueair Protect 7470i Smart Air Purifier
This air purifier can filter a large bedroom or living room in 12 minutes. In addition to removing certain bacteria and viruses from the air and small particles like dust and pollen, its filter is also made with a layer of activated carbon to get rid of odors and other chemicals. It’s also made with HEPASilent Ultra technology that keeps noise minimal.
9. Best For Pets: LEVOIT Pet Air Purifier
A huge thing when choosing an air purifier for pet dander is to look for one with a HEPA filter, Dr. Parikh says—this should be able to catch and trap dander, so it ends up in your filter, not your body. This Levoit air purifier features a HEPA filter, and is specially designed to take out pet dander while eliminating pet odor.
10. Best For Mold: Germ Guardian AC4825 3-in-1 True HEPA Filter Air Purifier
Mold spores can float around your place without you even realizing it. This Germ Guardian filter takes out up to 99.97 percent of allergens like mold so you can breathe easier. A pre-filter traps dust and mold before it even gets to the HEPA filter, so you won’t have to replace the main filter as often. It also features a UV-C light to tackle airborne viruses.
What should I look for in an air purifier?
When shopping for an air purifier, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. The first is to look for a filter that can remove 0.03 micron-sized particles and 99.97 percent of allergens. Look to the product description to find this info, says Sanjeev Jain, MD, board-certified allergist and immunologist at Columbia Allergy.
You can also check to see if the air purifier is effective by making sure it has a seal from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and Allergy Standards Limited (ASL). “The AAFA and ASL have teamed up to create a certification program to help guide consumers to choose effective allergy and asthma-friendly products including air purifiers,” says Dr. jain
Other things you can consider when shopping for an air purifier include the following.
Type of filter
The type of filter it’s made with can tell you a lot about how effective an air purifier is, like what kinds and size of particles they are able to filter. The filter will usually have a rating that will tell you more about how well it works. “Filter rating systems such as the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) are commonly used by industry professionals to rate the filter on its ability to remove certain particle sizes from the air,” says Dr. jain “In general, a higher value on these grading scales indicate a filter capable of removing smaller particles from the air, which is ideal.”
“Generally, look for a HEPA filter,” says Kara Wada, MD, an allergist-immunologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “This filters out particles that are 0.3 microns or larger.” They also filter out the vast majority of dust, pollen, mold, and bacteria, she says, adding that it can also help filter out viral particles.
HEPA filters can typically filter out most kinds of particles, says Dr. Jain, and so they might have MERV ratings of 13, 14, or 15. HEPA filters are ideal for most home settings. For reference, purifiers with a MERV rating of one to four can filter out small particles such as pollen, dust mites, sand, and carpet fibers, while something with a MERV rating of 17-21 can filter out even smaller particles like combustion smoke and carbon dust. These kind of filters can help trap allergens to reduce a person’s exposure while indoors, especially when particles are more likely to be airborne like during vacuuming, using a fan, or using central heating or air conditioning, says Dr. jain
What you need to filter
Before you make a purchase, you should consider what you’re trying to remove from the air. For example, you may need aa filter that works for smaller particles if you’re trying to remove smoke. If not, you might be able to get away with a filter with a lower MERV rating for dust mites, pet dander, or other indoor allergens, says Dr. jain
If you experience irritation to chemicals like perfumes and other solvents, you may also want to make sure your filter is made with activated charcoal, which can remove the chemical vapors, says Dr. jain
“The size of the air purifier appropriate for you will depend on the size of the space you wish to filter,” explains Dr. Jain. Most air purifiers contain specs that indicate the size of the room it’s able to filter. But ideally, the filter unit should be able to circulate the room air through the filter six times every hour, adds Dr. Jain.
“I recommend people use air purifiers in the rooms that they frequent most often such as the bedroom and main living space,” says Dr. wada
Some air purifiers are a lot pricier than others, so you may want to keep price point in mind, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find an effective and affordable option. Just make sure that you pay special attention to the air purifier’s product specifications so it works for your needs.
Other things you may want to consider are the air purifier’s sound, or its ability to also humidify air. Some machines are noisier than others, so if that’s something that will bother you, that could help rule out some options. Some machines also contain a humidification feature.
“This may be beneficial during the winter or for patients with an irritated airway or nasal passages from asthma or allergies,” says Dr. Jain, though he recommends using these with caution, as they can also promote the growth of dust mites and mold. To avoid this, keep humidity in the house between 30 and 50 percent.
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