We updated this guide in April 2022 to ensure all products vetted by the Home Improvement Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute were in stock, available and correctly priced.
You already know it’s important to regularly clean your home, but there’s one part beyond the surfaces that’s often looked over: the air. Using an air purifier can help make sure the air you breathe is cleaner, but not all air purifiers are created equal. That’s why the Lab experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute dug deep into the research to find the best air purifiers on the market. We vetted dozens of air purifiers by evaluating their controls and interfaces for ease of use, road testing in our homes and labs, in addition to reviewing specifications and test documentations and selecting from brands we know and trust.
Given the increased focus on air purifiers of late, we decided to update our report with additional model recommendations, based on further specification reviews and road tests of reliable brands. During the pandemic, our chief engineer, Rachel Rothman, tested more than 12 models in her home, logging 100,000-plus hours of total run time, along with extensive usability tests. The devices were exposed to drying paint, kitchen fumes and even dirty diapers to measure air purification across a range of scenarios and common at-home needs. We also turned to our Lab experts, as well as outside specialists on indoor air quality, for answers to the most frequently asked questions around air purifiers.
Before we get to those insights, here’s a list of the best air purifiers you can buy right now:
Our top picks
- Effective three-part filtration system
- Ideal for bedrooms and home offices
- Quiet operation
Our testers have evaluated many Blueair air purifiers in recent years. The brand is a standout for performance and reliability and we found the Blue Pure 211+ Air Purifier to be best for removing an array of particles from the air, including dust and smoke. The device's three-part filtration system (one each for fabric, particles and carbon particles) claims to clear up to 99% of common airborne pollutants. It's designed to cover up to 540 square feet, which is the ideal size for a family room, master bedroom or large office. The best part? You'll barely notice it working since it's so quiet. If you're looking to clear the air in a smaller space, our testers also liked the Blue Pure 411 Auto Air Purifier, basically a smaller, more affordable version of our top pick.
- True HEPA filtration
- Smart home integration with real-time air monitoring
- Quiet operation
The combination of value, performance and intelligent design impressed our engineering experts during our Seal evaluation process. In particular, the unit’s three-stage filtration, including HEPA, helps it capture even the smallest airborne pollutants in rooms up to approximately 400 square feet; a built-in precision laser sensor accurately monitors particles in the room and auto-adjusts fan speeds as needed. The purifier is also incredibly quiet, operating at a whisper-quiet (literally!) 24db, which you’ll appreciate if it’s stationed in your bedroom; one of our staff testers has been running the unit for several months in her home and says the light hum is quite peaceful at night. Then there’s the smart capabilities, including the Levoit app, which allows you to monitor real-time air quality, view filter life and set schedules.
- No accessible blades, so it's kid-friendly
- Equipped with sleep timer
- Syncs with app for real-time air quality reports
Using a HEPA filter, this Dyson air purifier claims to clear up to 99.97% of airborne pollutants, including smoke from wildfires, as well as various odors and toxins. Our ease-of-use tests also found a bunch of family-friendly extras on the unit: unlike other fans, it has no accessible blades, so it's safer for small hands. There's also a nighttime mode and a sleep timer as part of its 10 speed settings. You can use the Dyson app to deliver real-time air quality reports that also includes temperature and humidity.
- Choose from one of five size options
This air purifier from Honeywell, another established brand in the home comfort space, comes in five different sizes that target rooms ranging from small (75 square feet) to extra large (465 square feet). This model, previously the brand's largest, claims to clean the air as often as five times an hour and remove up to 99.97% of super tiny airborne particles (including viruses). Since it's HEPA-certified, our testers found this air purifier to be a superb choice for allergy sufferers because it can remove fine particles and common allergens from the air.
- LED display indicates air quality
- Energy-saving mode
With an average 4.7-star rating across over more than 10,000 reviews, Amazon customers clearly love this air purifier. Its 4-stage filtration system includes a deodorization layer that's tough on smells. We like that the model also has an LED light that constantly indicates how clean or dirty the air is. It's built to purify the air in up to 361 square feet. In usability tests, our testers gave points for the fact the unit offers various fan speeds, timers and modes to choose from (like an eco mode that claims to automatically save energy when it doesn't detect air pollution for 30 minutes).
- Tough on odors
- Pre-filter minimizes maintenance
- Helpful "change filter" indicator light
The Airmega’s 4-stage filtration system includes an activated-carbon layer that’s designed to capture odors, including those from a beloved — yet stinky — pet. The unit is good for room sizes up to roughly 360 square feet. Our testers also like the easy-to-clean pre-filter, which captures hair, fur, and other large particulates before they reach the inner HEPA filters. Indicator lights give the heads up when all filters need to be cleaned or replaced.
- Versatile with heating and fan features
- Syncs with Alexa
This triple-duty machine is a heater, fan and air purifier all in one. It features all the same air purifying features as Dyson's Pure Cool model, but it also includes a heater to keep your family warm and toasty all winter. In terms of intelligence, the unit syncs with Amazon Alexa through your Echo device and can also deliver real-time air quality reports through the Dyson app.
- Three-in-one device
- Includes white noise or ocean wave sounds
Fridababy, a company known for ingenious solutions to everyday parenting problems, recently introduced a small-room air purifier designed for spaces up to 150 square feet—like a baby's nursery. It's on our recommended list because, not only is it meant to help filter out dust mites and the like, but it also has a built-in sound machine and nightlight. We’re all about finding space-saving, multi-purpose products, particularly for our littles! While we have yet to review company testing data on the air purity claims, we found the sound machine and nightly aspects easy to use and the filter easy to replace.
✔️In short, yes, air purifiers work. In order to clean the air, these appliances use filters and fans to remove particles and circulate the purified air back into the room. They can improve air quality and help you breathe easier. People suffering from allergies or asthma might find air purifiers with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters particularly helpful, because they remove fine particles (99.97% of those measuring 0.3 micron diameter in a lab setting, according to industry standards) and common allergens from air. Not all air purifiers meet that high bar. For example, the much-hyped, sleek-looking IKEA Förnuftig can only capture 99.5% of smaller airborne particles.
Even air purifiers that excel at removing particles like dust, smoke and pollen are limited in their ability to capture smaller toxins, such as those from cleaning products and paint. One more thing to note: the effectiveness of air purifiers in real-world situations likely won’t mimic those of controlled conditions in a lab. That means it can be difficult to measure an air purifier’s true efficacy of how it will perform in your home.
Since we first published our findings, concerns around indoor air quality have grown significantly — as have some manufacturer claims. First and foremost, the pandemic has more consumers looking for ways to safeguard their homes, offices and other indoor spaces against airborne viruses. Some other FAQs:
✔️ Do air purifiers protect against COVID-19? An air purifier with a HEPA filter will capture particulate matter down to the size of airborne viruses, including COVID-19. That’s why you often see manufacturers claiming their products remove 99% (or more) of particles in the air. The Molekule air purifier, another model that’s generating a ton of buzz on social media (but which misses our picks list) goes so far as to claim it “destroys COVID-19 virus by over 99% in under one hour.” Unfortunately, the science simply isn’t clear enough on how quickly droplets containing the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted from person to person. That’s why our advice is to follow CDC guidelines for COVID protection, including getting vaccinated and wearing a mask indoors if you’re in an area of substantial or high transmission.
✔️ Do air purifiers protect against smoke from wildfires? Microscopic particles in smoke can trigger a range of health issues, from burning eyes to chronic lung disease, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but "generally, outside pollution or smoke or temporary bad air isn't a constant concern for bystanders," says Ryan Roten, D.O., an emergency medicine doctor with Redlands Community Hospital in California. If you're still concerned, Dr. Roten notes that a HEPA filter-equipped purifier is once again your best bet: "Anything that has a true HEPA filter in it is probably adequate enough to filter out most all the large particles that would be concerning,” he says. "Most of the smoky smell will also be addressed as well."
Air purifiers are not a cure-all for every possible air quality issue. Yes, they can be part of your overall strategy. But they become a disadvantage if they give you a false sense of security that keeps you from combating indoor pollution in other ways — for example, vacuuming regularly and running the kitchen range hood while cooking (or at least cracking a window to allow fumes to dissipate). It’s also critical to maintain and upgrade your home’s heating and cooling equipment. “[Whole-house] filtration is the easiest retrofit opportunity by installing high-capture filters in HVAC systems,” says Sam Rashkin, chief architect of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technology’s Office.
Another possible concern is with air purifiers that use ionizers to help attract particles like static. In some cases, these purifiers can end up producing ozone in the process. While some manufacturers claim that the gas helps break down pollutants, it can also be a lung irritant and further aggravate asthma conditions. If you're interested in buying an air cleaner that uses ionizers, make sure it meets the California Air Resources Board (CARB) limit of 50 per parts per billion; the CARB website includes a list of approved air purifiers, and the information is usually listed in marketing material as well. For certified units with ionization, we still recommend that you operate the device with this function turned off until more research is done on the effectiveness and safety of these types of machines.
✔️ Cleaning: Apart from wiping down the housing every now and then, cleaning the exterior of the device is minimal. However, the filters that do the dirty work inside an air purifier require regular attention. Whether made of paper, fiber or mesh, the filters should usually be cleaned and/or replaced every few months or so (check the owner’s manual for specific recommendations). Some filters are reusable, but they require meticulous maintenance, so you don't usually find them on the most effective air purifiers. An exception is models with a washable pre-filter, designed to capture large particles before they reach the primary filter; this feature can cut operating costs by extending the life of the main inner filter.✔️ Operation: For maximum air cleaning, you should run the air purifier all the time when you’re home. Our picks are all UL-certified for safety, though as with any electrical device, be mindful of fire hazards, for example frayed wires. Where noise is a factor, like the bedroom, you could operate the machine on high when you’re out of the room, then drop it to a lower fan setting before going to sleep. It’s also best to keep windows and doors closed, so the unit isn’t cleaning air from outside or other parts of the home. And make sure airflow to the device isn’t obstructed by furniture, curtains or other objects.
Dan DiClerico is the Director of Home Improvement & Outdoors at the Good Housekeeping Institute. For more than two decades, he has written about all things home-related, from big-ticket remodeling projects to routine home maintenance. During his time at GHI — as well as prior stints at This Old House, Martha Stewart Living and Consumer Reports — Dan has reviewed thousands of consumer products across a wide range of categories, including appliances, building materials, fixtures, outdoor power equipment, home technology, and more. Dan also has extensive hands-on experience in home improvement; he worked as a roofer for many years and he has completed multiple home remodels, including the gut renovation of the Brooklyn brownstone where he lives with his wife and kids. The total experience has made Dan a sought-after thought leader in the space; he has spoken at such industry events as KBIS and CES and he has been quoted in The New York Times, Washington Post among other publications.
Rachel Rothman, Chief Technologist and head engineer, has a B.S.E. in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics with a mathematics minor from the University of Pennsylvania and has been at GH for 14 years. She leads efforts for the constant evolution of GH’s technical and testing protocols, responding both to market drivers and growth opportunities. Rachel is the lead expert and key brand ambassador for GH across a number of categories — including electronics, smart home, automotive, toys, parenting, fitness, tech, startups and more — and a sought-after speaker at large-scale events like CES.