Best air purifier 2020: remove allergens, particles and pollution

Improve the quality of the air you breathe with these atmos-filtering best air purifiers

Best air purifier
(Image credit: Blueair)

The best air purifier could buy you peace of mind as well as cleaner air. You can’t see or even consciously sense it, but the air in your home is very likely inundated with dust and a whole range of ugly little microorganisms that can have an impact on respiration and general well-being. Particularly if you have allergies, you may well decide that what your room needs is a concerted shot of air cleaning. 

Time, then, to have a mosey at our pick of the best air purifiers. After much research and personal testing, we’ve alighted on three main frontrunners: the Elechomes H13, Philips 3000i and Blueair Classic 480i – all of which are serious devices that will please air purifier, er, purists. Those wanting something a teensy bit more elegant should look to Dyson's Pure Cool Tower, which is also a fan – or even the Dyson Pure Humidify+Cool, which is the same thing but with a humidifier in as well.

If you're inclined to purify the air that you breathe at home, now is a good time to invest in a purifier. Keep an eye on our Amazon Prime Day hub if you're after a clean air deal in the future though.

Do you need an air purifier? 

First up, there is zero evidence that anyone will live longer because they buy an air purifier. However, if you suffer from asthma, hay fever or allergic reactions to particles, or are simply hung up on hygiene to an unhealthy degree, you could benefit from buying one. 

There are probably 'well-being' as opposed to true 'health' benefits to having an air purifier, comparable to using a water purifier. No, drinking tap water in most western countries is probably not going to harm you, but by using a filter, you can make it taste nicer and be more pleasing to drink. The same holds true for air purifiers.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air quality can be two to five times – and occasionally up to 100 times – more polluted than the air outside. Indeed, you only need shine an ultra bright torch indoors with the lights off to see a whole swathe of allergy-inducing crap floating about in the beam: dust, skin particles, pet dander, smoke, pollen… aircraft, UFOs, ghosts… all sorts of weird gubbins.

An air purifier basically works like a vacuum cleaner, gently sucking in the air around it and trapping the pollutants it captures in a HEPA filter (High Efficiency Particulate Air). Cleaned air is then expelled back into the room. 

A few purifiers will also electrically charge (ionise) the air molecules during the process, which is also said to help further improve the air we breathe. We're not at all convinced by that, but if it makes you happy, great.

The best air purifiers in order of preference

Best Air Purifier: Blueair Classic 480iT3 Awards 2020

(Image credit: Blueair)

1. Blueair Classic 480i

Best air purifier overall, although not the most beautiful

Height: 59cm
Effective area : 40m2
HEPA Filter : Yes
Ioniser : No
Cord length : 1.5m
Reasons to buy
+Extremely efficient+Reliable app control
Reasons to avoid
-Hefty and less than beautiful-No pollution sensor

• Buy Blueair Classic 480i from Harrods (yes, really) for £599

Undeniably a hefty thing, the Blueair Classic 480i is a big hitter in every way. With a  HEPASilent filtering system that uses both mechanical and electrostatic filtration, it simply needs to be set up in a suitable space and then left until the app tells you the filter needs replacing. 

Once set on Auto mode, this Swedish made machine will monitor the air quality and flick between its three power settings as required – it then returns to standby mode once the air has been made pure. 

That's about all you need to know, really. The two lower power settings are very quiet and the maximum suck level is only needed when things get very serious. 

The Blueair Classic 480i comes with a HEPA particle filter, but you can upgrade to a SmokeStop filter with a carbon layer. That's for if you want to use the 480i as additional kitchen extraction, or have a house full of smokers. 

It seems to us that if you want to get an air purifier, there's not much point settling for half measures. This big unit looks quite like something you'd find in an industrial setting, and it also works like one. The sheer lack of maintenance involved is another huge plus.

Best air purifier: Philips Series 3000i Connected AC3033/30T3 Awards 2020 - Highly Commended

(Image credit: Philips)

2. Philips Series 3000i Connected AC3033/30

A good mix of purifying power and a bit of style

Height: 65cm
Effective area : 104m2
HEPA Filter : Yes
Ioniser : No
Cord length : 1.5m
Reasons to buy
+Quite attractive+Very quiet
Reasons to avoid
-Needs a fair amount of low-level maintenance

If you want something a bit sexier than the Elechomes or Blueair machines, and don't need the fan function of the Dyson, look no further than the latest incarnation of the Philips Series 3000i – AC3033/30 to its friends. 

It stands even higher than the Blueair Classic 480i at 64.5cm but is overall way smaller, with a neat cylindrical appearance that resembles a very stylish pedal bin, or a Dalek made over by JosephJoseph. 

Cleaning performance is impressive, with an average size bedroom going from particle-riddled to pure – at least according to the screen and app of the 3000i – in about 20 minutes.

Philips claims an effective cleaning area of 104 m sq for the 3000i, thanks to its 360º cleaning circle. However, unless you can place the device bang in the middle of the room, and not trip over it, I'm not sure you'll ever get that kind of coverage. Realistically, it's going to go near a wall or even in a corner, where much of its 360º field of influence is rendered moot.

In night mode this cylindrical air purifier at least as quiet as the Blueair, and the size and appearance of it make it far more suitable for bedroom use. However, it also needs a lot more maintenance as you have to vacuum off the filter every month or so. That's not a lot of maintenance, granted, but the Blueair seems to require absolutely none. 

best air purifier 2019: Elechomes WIFI H13 Medical Grade Air Purifier

(Image credit: Elechomes)

3. Elechomes WIFI H13 Medical Grade Air Purifier

Best cheap air purifier – exceptional efficiency for the price!

Height: 53cm
Effective area: 30m2
HEPA Filter: Yes
Ioniser: No
Cord length: 2m
Reasons to buy
+Great design+Effective performer+WiFi enabled
Reasons to avoid
-Fan is loud at full speed

Normally we would advise sticking to name brands when it comes to the most common consumer electronics but, on evidence of this air purifier (and the humidifier we also recently reviewed), Elechomes – a popular brand in the US – is producing some excellent air treatment products that are efficient, attractively designed and very keenly priced. 

No question, the H13 is an indisputable cracker, especially for the price. Firstly, it’s not too big and ungainly and, for an air purifier, it’s quite stylish too. But more importantly, it works impeccably well at clarifying the air in rooms up to 325sq.ft / 30m² in volume. 

The H13’s inbuilt Smart sensor is very sensitive to a room’s air quality and the PM (Particulate Matter) readouts on the elegantly designed interface were accurate when checked against a trusty Philips model. In one test, a lit incense stick was placed about 10 feet from the unit and it took less than a minute for the fan to ramp up and the PM number to soar to its maximum 500. 

Granted, the fan at full bore is loud enough to drown out a television but most of the time it hums along quietly in the background. It’s certainly perfectly suitable for bedroom use, though I’d advise using it in Sleep mode which uses the lowest fan speed setting.

The H13 comes equipped with an all-in-one filtration system comprised of cleanable mesh filter to catch large dust particles and pet dander, and a combined antibacterial/HEPA H13/activated carbon filter that requires changing after 1,500 hours of use (the unit’s LED flashes to remind you when it’s time to buy a new one). Filters are readily available at Amazon US – Amazon UK expects shipment in June.

Instead of a remote control, this model is equipped with WiFi connectivity that allows the user to turn it on and off, make changes to its modes (manual, auto, sleep), adjust the fan speed and check the status of the room’s air quality using the Smart Life app. As there are several Smart Life apps available, look for the one produced by Yu Xiang. 

If the Philips, Dyson and Blueair models on this page are way outside your budget, consider heading over to Amazon and snapping up one of these small but highly competent air fresheners.

Dyson fan: bladeless Pure Cool tower

(Image credit: Dyson)

4. Dyson Pure Cool tower fan (TP04)

We're Dyson's biggest fan. And this is their biggest fan (and air purifier)

Type: air purifying fan
Format: tower
Filter: Glass HEPA Media
Amp diameter: 117mm
Cord length : 1.8m
Weight: 4.98kg
Reasons to buy
+Unusually attractive for a purifier+Very effective
Reasons to avoid
-Really howls when at full power-Faintly terrifying app warnings about BAD AIR

Dyson's Pure Cool tower purifying fan aka TP04 is not only the best Dyson fan you can buy, it's also a highly effective air purifier. It senses and captures VOCs and 99.95 per cent of fine particles, allergens and pollutants, then spins down and awaits the next onslaught of air-borne foulness.  

The dual filters – one for smoke, one for particles – last for about a year, and Dyson's app is pretty effective these days, with reliable control in and out of the home and via Google Home or Alexa, with a compatible speaker. Our only reservation is that we do not find the app's warnings of bad air terribly soothing. It goes red and plasters the word 'EXTREME' across your phone screen if you so much as burn some  toast.

• Update: you can now get the Dyson Pure Humidify+Cool. As you can probably guess, it is the Dyson Pure Cool, with the added bonus of a humidifier.  

best air purifier 2019: blueair classic 405

(Image credit: Blueair)

5. Blueair Classic 405

This Swedish beast is basically the 480i (above) but without the air quality sensors

Height: 59cm
Effective area : 40m2
HEPA Filter : Yes
Ioniser : No
Cord length : 1.5m
Reasons to buy
+Extremely efficient+Reliable app control
Reasons to avoid
-Hefty and less than beautiful-No pollution sensor

Another very serious option, this Swedish purifier stands over half a metre tall and half a metre wide – so consider those dimensions if space is an issue. The award-winning Blueair 405 uses the Swedish company’s HEPASilent Technology – a combination of both mechanical and electrostatic filtration, as you probably know – to remove a wide range of airborne pollutants. It has also been given the Quiet Mark stamp of approval – in fact, it’s so quiet on its two lower settings that you may wonder if it’s actually on. Even on its highest power setting, it's still quieter than the Dyson, below.

The Classic 405's Blueair Friend app means you can control it from a distance, or even when out of the house, as well as setting up sleep timers. While its purifying is undoubtedly highly effective, it's worth noting that, unlike the Philips or Dyson, there's no air-monitoring feature on the 405, so you need to either leave it on, or turn it on yourself when the air is noticeably bad. The former option seems best, because it's so quiet, and the filters do seem to last for a long time.

The unit comes with a standard HEPA particle filter or, for £50 extra, you can opt for the SmokeStop filter – essential if you’re a smoker or plan to use this in the kitchen. It's testament to how good this is that the Blueair 405 functions very effectively as a kitchen extractor with a SmokeStop fitted. If you can ignore or hide away its less than luscious appearance, this is about as effective as air purifiers get.

best air purifier 2019: vax pure air 300

6. Vax Pure Air 300

Best value air purifier

Height: 76cm
Effective area : 120m2
HEPA Filter : Yes
Ioniser : Yes
Cord length : 1.6m
Reasons to buy
+Great price+Effective and easy to use+Comes with remote
Reasons to avoid
-Quite loud at full pelt-Resembles bin

This sensor-festooned Vax is about the size, shape and look of a large Brabantia bin so while it's not would you call gorgeous, it is fairly easy to locate in the corner of a kitchen, hallway or utility room without upsetting aesthetics too much. 

In auto mode it’s so quiet that the only way you know it’s working is by the large circular light that glows green when the air is good, orange when it’s not so good and red when the sh*t hits the fan.

The large HEPA filter comes with a protective plastic covering – don't forget to remove it first or you will spend the next few weeks wondering why the machine doesn’t appear to be working correctly. Not that I did that, or anything.

Bear in mind, too, that the outlet faces upwards so don’t expect to be cooled – this is not a fan.

Control wise, a cluster of touch-sensitive buttons on the front give access to fan speed, a timer that goes up in one-hour increments, an auto button that when tapped selects the optimum fan speed depending on the quality of the air it senses (full bore is pretty loud) and an ionising button – you know, for ionisation. 

The remote control also features a sleep button for whisper-quiet night-time operation.

Air does genuinely cleaner and fresher after just a few days of use, making this another great air purifier option.

best air purifier 2019: airfree P80

7. Airfree P80

Best budget table-top air cleaner

Height: 26.5cm
Effective area : 32m2
HEPA Filter : No
Ioniser : No
Cord length : Not listed
Reasons to buy
+Portable and unobtrusive+Effective in small rooms+Totally silent
Reasons to avoid
-Not suitable for large rooms, of course

•Buy the Airfree P80 from Breathing Space

If you’re in the market for a very decent tabletop or portable air purifier that takes up very little space and doesn’t look too ugly, consider this titchy 26.5cm model from Airfree. It’s ideal for rooms up to 32m2 and is as silent as a church mouse – not that we’ve ever heard one of those. It also features an adjustable nightlight.

In short, it's like a budget version of the Falmec Bellaria, above.

The cleverest thing about this model is that it doesn’t require the need for any filters that will require either regular cleaning or periodic replacement. Instead, grubby air is drawn into the intake at the bottom of the unit and the pollutant-filled moisture in it is ‘boiled’ at 200ºC before being cooled and pumped back out into the room all wonderfully sterilised and squeaky clean. 

Apparently this system will "eliminate up to 99.99% of any microorganisms and allergens in the air." Given the surfeit of positive reviews by asthma and allergy suffers, who are we to disagree?

best air purifier 2019: Fellowes Aeramax Baby DB5

8. Fellowes Aeramax Baby DB5

Best air purifier for baby rooms

Height: 69cm
Effective area: 60m2
HEPA Filter: Yes
Ioniser: No
Cord length: 1.6m
Reasons to buy
+Very small footprint+Effective in small rooms+Cheap
Reasons to avoid
-Looks pretty naff

• Buy the Fellowes Aeramax Baby DB5 from Amazon

This dinky purifier resembles one of those robots from Star Wars films that only appears for a few seconds, and obviously hasn't been thought through properly. However, being just 18.5cm wide, it's just the right size for a baby’s room or small living areas like studio flats up to around 602m, or, er, narrowboats. 

Its four-stage hospital-style HEPA antimicrobial filter is capable of removing most airborne particles, including pollen, dust mites and cigarette smoke and it couldn’t be easier to use. Simply switch on, tap the ‘Auto’ button and, when the sensors detect pollutants in the vicinity, the fan speed increases to draw in more air over the filter.

The sensors on this system aren’t as sensitive as the winning Philips – in most cases it’s quite a bit slower to react than either the Philips of Vac when smoke is blown in its direction – but for size and price it performs very well. And, uh, you probably shouldn't be smoking around your baby anyway.