If the past few months have taught us anything, it’s that the air indoors, in places like your home, shops and restaurants, can actually be more polluted than the air outdoors. And if you’re spending more time at home these days, as many of us are, you might be concerned about the risk from contaminants like dust, smoke, pet dander, organic compounds, allergens and bacteria. Good ventilation can help, but the best air purifiers can make an enormous difference in the quality of the air in your home.

Air purifiers come in all shapes and sizes, and even work in fundamentally different ways. Most have what’s known as a mechanical filter, and are generally very effective at removing pollutants. A purifier with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter is designed to remove at least 99.97 percent of dust, pollen, mold and bacteria, plus all airborne particles 0.3 microns or larger.

There are other kinds of air purifiers as well. Some, for example, generate an ionic field, which emits negatively charged ions. These ions attract positively charged ions, in the particulates in the air, which causes them to fall out of the air. That sounds effective, but many of these devices create ozone, which has its own health concerns.

Regardless of the underlying technology, keep an eye out for how large of a space an air purifier can handle. Many models specify Air Changes per Hour for a given size room. Or you might see air purifiers refer to their CADR (clean air delivery rate), which measures how much clean air they deliver per minute.

It can be challenging to find a purifier that works the way you want, fits your lifestyle, falls within your price range and doesn’t look like an outdated radiator. When in doubt, it’s best to turn to tried-and-true brands and products with excellent user reviews. We’ve evaluated the following air purifiers by their efficiency (how many germs they claim to suck up), capacity (how much space they can keep clean), appearance (is it aesthetically pleasing?) and price. From desktop fans to state-of-the-art machines, here are our picks for the best air purifiers on the market right now.

Best Overall Air Purifier

Molekule Air Purifier

  • Pros: PECO destroys pollutants 1000 times smaller than those in HEPA tests.
  • Cons: Expensive

This is the priciest air purifier on the list, but for serious allergy-sufferers, it may well be a worthwhile investment. Unlike most other purifiers which have HEPA filters that collect particulates from the air, the Molekule actually removes indoor air pollutants and then destroys them. It does this using a dual-filtration system: first, the pre-filter catches larger pollutants like dander and pollen; then, the nano-filter cleans the air with a process called photoelectrochemical oxidation (PECO), claiming to eliminate airborne pollutants that are 1,000 times smaller than those the average air purifier can destroy.

The materials used to create the Molekule aren’t just functional; the design is sleek and elegant, featuring a leather handhold strap and a machined aluminum case.

It’s also worth mentioning that the brand just released a new model, the Air Pro, designed for extra large spaces up to 1000 square feet. It’s currently available for pre-order and ships in mid-October. So if you’re looking for the same sophisticated design for a bigger space, that might be the model worth investing in.

Best Air Purifier For a Bedroom

Levoit Air Purifier

  • Pros: Three-stage filtering, compact, inexpensive
  • Cons: No wireless or connected features, filter replacement can be expensive over time

Compact enough to fit on your desk and designed to filter single rooms up to about 300 square feet, this compact Levoit model is equipped with a HEPA filter able to remove 99.97 percent of dust, pollen, smoke, odor, mold spores and pet dander. It’s an excellent inexpensive option that eschews technology like UV and ionization more commonly found in this price range. Instead it features a three-stage filtration system that includes a pre-filter, a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter. And three fan settings let you control the speed and volume of the purifier.

While this air purifier was designed for use in the bedroom (it’s fan is ultra quiet and it features an optional soft blue night light with two brightness settings), it’s quite portable and can be moved from room to room if needed. Aesthetically, it wouldn’t be out of place on your nightstand, with its white or black case and sleek design. And though its capacity is on the smaller size is doesn’t have as many features as other air purifiers on this list, it’s hard to beat the price.

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Best Air Purifier For a Large Space

Alen BreatheSmart Classic Large Room Air Purifier

  • Pros: Covers an enormous 1300 square feet, configurable color panels
  • Cons: Has a large footprint, expensive

Looking to cover a lot of square footage? Not a problem with the Alen BreatheSmart 75i Large Room Air Purifier. This air purifier cleans up to about 1300 square feet twice an hour without making a lot of noise. In fact, Alen claims the technology in the BreatheSmart is twice as quiet as that of its key competitors, even on Turbo speed.

The Alen BreatheSmart features a HEPA Pure filter that is certified to capture 99.97 percent of airborne particles down to 0.3 microns. This works in combination with the device’s Laser Smart Sensor, which also detects airborne particles down to 0.3 microns, to effectively clean your air of dust, pollen, allergens and dander.

It measures about 27 inches high and 18 inches wide, with a control panel on top that includes an air quality indicator light which always reflects the real-time purity of the room’s air with an easy-to-read display. And you can choose from among 14 different colors and panels to find one to match your home’s interior.

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Best Air Purifier For a Small Room

Molekule Air Mini+

  • Pros: Smart styling, particulate sensor, combo-filter
  • Cons: Smartphone app isn’t smart

Like its big brother, the Molekule Air, this air purifier is aimed at serious allergy-sufferers, though its smaller stature (it stands just 12 inches high) is designed expressly for smaller spaces. The Molekule Air Mini+ is for rooms up to about 250 square feet and is easily moved about via the attractive leather hand-strap riveted to the side. It weighs just 7.3 pounds.

The Air Mini+ has a sensor designed to measure particulate matter in the room, and you can see how congested the room is with particulates via a four-color display on top of the purifier itself, or by looking at the mobile app that it syncs with via Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, that’s about all the app does; you can’t use it to schedule the purifier or temporarily boost the fan speed. On the plus side, the purifier’s Auto Protect mode automatically adjusts the fan speed based on the the Mini+’s sensor readings.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the Molekule Air and the Air Mini+ is the filtering; rather than being built around two filters (the pre-filter and main PECO filter) this one uses a single hybrid filter that only needs to be changed twice a year.

If you can’t decide between the two, you can bundle the Air Mini+ and the Molekule Air together and save $140.

Best Filter-Free Air Purifier

Airdog X5

  • Pros: No filters to replace, no recurring costs over time
  • Cons: Generates ozone (at reportedly negligible levels), need to clean collector plates, which can be unpleasant

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of most air purifiers is the filter. Every few months, you need to replace the HEPA filter, and not only can that get expensive, but it’s also wasteful and environmentally unfriendly. If you fail to change the filter on schedule, the purifier’s effectiveness is compromised — or it might stop working entirely. The Airdog avoids filters entirely by using a completely different technology: ionic filtration. After a pre-filter that traps large particulates like pollen and pet dander, the air flows past an emitter that traps and destroys particulates with an ionic field.

In fact, the inside of the Airdog looks more like a printer or a fax machine than a traditional air purifier; instead of filters, the unit has metal plates that collect gunk you’ll eventually need to clean. Slide them out and wash them by hand or in a dishwasher.

Unfortunately, there is a serious downside to ionic air purifiers. The ionic field creates ozone, which has proven health risks and is, on balance, probably worse than the poor air quality it’s designed to fix. On that front, though, the Airdog has a leg up. Its catalytic layer eliminates ozone emissions down to just 0.01 parts per mission, so the EPA considers it safe for home use.

The science of the inside aside, the Airdog has an attractive high-tech appearance and comes with a remote control you can use to adjust the turn it on and off, put it to sleep, and adjust the filtration mode.

Most Stylish Air Purifier

Blueair Blue Pure 411

  • Pros: Can match color to room decor
  • Cons: There is no timer or automatic shut-off

If you’re looking for a snazzy-looking device for modestly sized rooms, this Blueair model may well be the way to go. It’s designed for spaces up top about 160 square feet, and Blueair claims it can filter that space five times an hour.

This three-stage air purifier combines mechanical filtration with an electrostatic filter and, to reduce odors, an activated carbon filter. It comes with two washable pre-filters designed for filtering out particles, pet dander, smoke and more. That said, be aware that while Blueair claims the system filters 99 percent of pollutants and it’s had its performance independently verified by the AHAM (Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers), the filter itself isn’t HEPA-certified, if you’re looking for that particular seal of approval.

Visually, Blueair made sure that this purifier doesn’t look like an ordinary appliance; it has an interesting design that splits the device into two contrasting colors — colors which you can change depending upon the filter you install. A single button turns it on, off and varies the fan speed, but there’s no display or status on the device, nor is there a way to set an on/off timer.

Best Air Purifier for Allergies

Honeywell HPA100 True HEPA Allergen Remover

  • Pros: Auto-off timer, visual indicator to change filter
  • Cons: Visually unappealing, limited to small rooms

This Honeywell HPA100 might not look like much — it has all the visual appeal of a space heater — but Honeywell no doubt is hoping you’ll care more about what it can do. This model is designed for medium-sized rooms — about 155 square feet — and features a true HEPA filter for guaranteed removal of 99.97 percent of airborne particles down to .3 microns. Honeywell says that its fan can filter the air in the room five times an hour.

It’s one of the more configurable air purifiers on this list. The control panel on the top of the unit lets you set up to four different cleaning levels (which affects the fan speed and overall noise level) and has an auto-off timer option so it doesn’t run continuously. The panel also indicates when it’s time to change the filter, and it has multiple brightness levels so you can dim it at night or when you don’t need to see it.

Best Air Purifier For Odors

Austin Air Healthmate

  • Pros: Activated carbon for eliminating odors, large HEPA filter
  • Cons: Ugly industrial design, no convenience features or controls

The Austin Air Healthmate, which can purify almost 930 square feet, is built like a tank, with an all-metal frame and shell, mounted on four heavy-duty casters so you can wheel it around as needed. It draws air in on all four sides and comes equipped with four sequential filters, making it one of the best air purifiers for getting rid of odors.

It has a pre-filter for large particulates, a “medium particle filter” for small- to medium-size allergens, such as mold, pollen and dust mites, an activated carbon filter for trapping odors, and a medical-grade HEPA filter that can remove contaminants and chemicals. The HEPA filter has an especially long life, only needing to be changed once every five years.

Best Air Purifier With LED Lighting

PARTU Air Purifier

  • Pros: Extremely quiet, activated charcoal for odor elimination
  • Cons: Lighting is very dim

The PARTU Air Purifier claims to be the quietest on the market, which might be attractive news for light sleepers or anyone who dislikes a noisy fan. (At its lowest speed, the PARTU creates 25db of noise; this is just above the sound of leaves rustling, which clocks in at 20db, for comparison.)

It is built around a four-stage filter that includes a mechanical HEPA filter, activated charcoal for odor removal, and an anion filter which uses ions to trap particles (though Partu claims it generates no ozone). It’s also fairly unusual looking; it’s a canister with an angled top, where you’ll find large graphical controls to operate the filters, fan speed and more. The top also has an LED light wrapped around it; it’s designed to be used as a night light or to give the room an accent color, though the lighting is generally too dim to be helpful. It automatically cycles through seven different colors, or you can choose a single color to glow.

Best Air Purifier With Smart Cooling

Dyson DP04 Air Purifier

  • Pros: Smart display, modern design, can divert fan in cold weather
  • Cons: Pricey

Dyson has long been known as an innovator in the home cleaning space, though its product line recently evolved beyond vacuums to include technology like purifying fans. The Dyson Pure Cool Fans come in several sizes, though this counter top model is equipped to handle a moderately large room with a HEPA-certified filter system.

Dyson engineered this air purifier with features that distinguish it from most other models in its price range. It is a “smart” purifier, for example. A small display on the unit itself reports what kind of pollutants it’s actually detecting in real time, and it connects to a smartphone app that can deliver lots of additional information, such as when the filter needs to be changed and the environmental conditions both inside and outside the house. The fan is also configurable in a way you probably won’t find anywhere else: Not only can you set the rotational angle, so it can spin around to clean the air in any direction, but you can change how the fan works, providing cooling in warm weather but diverting the air so it doesn’t cool in winter.

Best Smart Air Purifier

Coway Airmega 400 Smart Air Purifier

  • Pros: Excellent smartphone support, covers enormous square footage
  • Cons: Large footprint

Coway’s Airmega 400S Smart Air Purifier is a peek at the future of air purification. It can smartly adjust the fan speed when it needs more or less air cleaning power, able even to put itself to sleep when the air is clean and wake itself up when pollutants are detected — it’s truly hands-off. It works in conjunction with a mobile app on your phone, where you can control the purifier remotely, check its status, see if filters need to cleaned and find out the air quality.

It’s equipped with a HEPA filter as well as a cleanable pre-filter and odor-reducing activated carbon filter, and air is drawn in from two sides at once, reducing the need to position it precisely. And it’s especially flexible, able to handle spaces as large as 1500 square feet.

Of course, if you’re looking for air purifiers that are more suited for specific needs, check out our picks for the top-rated air purifiers for allergies and our top-rated air purifiers for smoke.

Best No-Touch Filter Replacement Air Purifier

Oransi mod HEPA Air Purifier

Oransi mod HEPA Air Purifier – True HEPA Filter Air Purifier

  • Pros: Simple operation and easy clean-hands filter changes
  • Cons: Pricey, no advanced features

The Oransi mod HEPA Air Purifier has just arrived on the scene and appears to benefit from a lot of lessons learned. One of its most interesting features, for example, is the ease with which you change the HEPA filter. Just flip it over, unlock a latch with a slide and pull the base off. Then it pulls out with its own integrated handle, so you can dispose of it without ever touching the now-filthy filter. After you dispose of the old filter, the new one slides in and you snap the base back in place — easy peasy.

Filter swaps aside, the Oransi mod is smartly designed. The top of the can-shaped unit has a touchscreen interface for setting the fan speed; just slide your finger to choose the intensity.

As the name implies, the system is HEPA-certified, so it filters 99.97 percent of airborne particles down to 0.3 microns in size. And it is suitable for rooms up to about 1200 feet (with two air changes per hour).

Do air purifiers really work?

Yes. Air purifiers use filters to trap particles like dust, smoke, pet dander, and mold. The best air purifiers are so effective that they can remove up to 99% of pollutants and contaminants from indoor air. However, it’s important to make sure you’re changing the filters regularly or your air purifier won’t be as effective.

Can you run an air purifier 24/7?

Yes, it’s safe to run your air purifier 24/7. Since air quality is constantly changing, air purifiers are designed for continuous use. Some air purifiers have smart technologies that read air quality in real time and automatically adjust settings to help conserve energy when purification isn’t needed.

How often do you need to change an air purifier’s filter?

It depends on your air quality. Most manufacturers recommend that you change your filter every three to six months, but if your indoor air is really polluted, you may have to change your filters more often.

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