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.
If you've decided that what your room needs is a concerted shot of air cleaning, it's time to have a mosey at our pick of the best air purifiers. This ranking ranges from serious devices from the likes of Blueair, that will please air purifier, er, purists to more stylish efforts from Dyson, Philips and more. There's even a cheap bedside model for a bargain price. If you're inclined to purify the air that you breathe at home, now is a good time to invest in a purifier. Read on for our reviews of the best air purifiers to buy now.
Looking for something slightly different? We also have guides to the best humidifiers (for dry air), and the best humidifiers (if you're struggling with damp). And of course, if you just need to cool things down, you'll struggle to do better than one of the best Dyson fans.
Do air purifiers really work?
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.
There is zero evidence that anyone will live longer because they buy an air purifier. However, if you suffer from asthma, hay fever or any sensitivity or allergic reactions to particles (or are simply hung up on hygiene), you could benefit from buying one.
For most people, 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 using a filter makes it more pleasing to drink. The same holds true for air purifiers.
The best air purifiers in order of preference
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.
If you want something a bit sexier than your average air purifier, 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 Joseph Joseph.
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.
Meaco produces an excellent range of cooling fans and dehumidifiers that we have reviewed over the years, but this is the first air purifier we’ve received from the UK-based company. And, for the price, it’s well worth checking out. Like all the best air purifiers, the Meaco is equipped with laser technology to monitor the air. This means it will increase suction and expulsion whenever it detects higher incidences of poor air quality brought about by smoking, pet dander, kitchen smells or summer pollen. The really good thing about this model is that it pulls air in from all sides – most air purifiers have a single air intake area which misses some of the invisible pollutants floating around – and that can be considered a major bonus.
The MeacoClean CA-HEPA 76x5 is good for rooms up to 30 square metres and comes with an H11 HEPA filter, Wi-Fi app connectivity and a rather attractive – and informative – multi-coloured top-mounted opaque interface that keeps the user informed of localised PM (Particulate Matter) levels. It’s easy to use, pretty decent looking for an air purifier and effective against 99.97% of the airborne crap that’s floating around. It’s very reasonably priced, too.
Normally we would advise sticking to named 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'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.
According to some statistics, air on the road can be ‘15 times worse than off-road outdoor air’. Of course you could just close the windows and whack on the air-con which is likely to have a pollen filter built in. But when did you last change the filter? Unless you have a newer car with a factory-fitted HEPA filter incorporated into the air-con system, chances are at least some roadside pollutants will be sucked right in. And what if you travel with your dogs in tow or you puff like a chimney when driving?
What you probably need is a compact in-car air purifier like this small-form model from reputable Swedish manufacturer Blueair. At just 20 x 20 x 10cm, the Cabin P2i’s black fabric covering is designed to blend in with most cars’ interiors. To use, simply strap it onto the rear side of the front seat headrest and plug it into the car’s 12v lighter socket. Its replaceable HEPASilent filter is said to purify the air in the cabin in ‘less than six minutes’ with five air changes per hour, and that could well be true because this writer definitely noticed that the air in the car’s cabin smelled sweeter after about 15 minutes of use. According to Blueair, the Cabin P2i provides ‘95% filtration efficiency against PM 2.5, formaldehyde, benzene, tire wear, pollen, dust and industrial emissions’ and I won’t argue with that.
Rather like the best home models, the Cabin P2i’s fan speed ramps up whenever its built-in sensors detect higher levels of particles in the air and thankfully it’s pretty silent so you’re unlikely to hear it, even when directly behind your head. It will also relay air quality info to your phone via the Blueair Friend app.
If you’re concerned about the air that you breathe when out and about, the Cabin P2i is a worthwhile consideration and not just for cars but also campers, RVs and caravans.
There was a time not long ago when only a very small handful of manufacturers were producing air purifiers – Philips, Vax and Blueair to name the most prominent contenders – but since China climbed on board, air purifiers have been coming out en masse and many of them are actually very good. After all, an air purifier isn’t exactly the most complex piece of machinery in the home. In fact, all you need is a motor, a fan blade, a composite three-stage HEPA filter and, if it’s a clever model, an air quality sensor.
This new Chinese model is suitable for desktop use (it’s just 27cm in height) and comes equipped with a three-stage HEPA filter that costs just £17 to replace. This is an important consideration because new filters are usually too expensive to warrant buying a new one, even when it’s clearly required. For instance, a new official filter set (charcoal and HEPA) for this writer’s trusty Philips model retails at a substantial £90. Given that these filters only last a few months, that’s quite an outlay.
But I digress. For an air purifier, this circular model is better looking than most. While it won’t clean a large room (at this size, how could it?), it will give the air in your immediate vicinity a damn could scrub. However, since it doesn’t come with an air quality sensor, you will need to adjust the speed of the air intake yourself. Speaking of which, it comes with three main speed settings plus a turbo booster for tackling particularly grimy air. You’ll be pleased to know it’s remarkably quiet, too, which makes it a great choice for bedside use.
This writer tested the TaoTronics on some smoke and while the lowest two settings weren’t especially effective, the two fastest speeds definitely made an impression. But that was an extreme test so, short of smoking cigarettes, frying bacon or living in a house full of pets, the two lowest settings should keep the air nicely conditioned over a period of time.
For a smidge under £70, this is a great choice for very small rooms and personal and bedside use. It’s effective enough for the size, is generally very quiet and new filters are cheap enough to make it a worthwhile long-term investment.
Next up in our best air purifier ranking is the award-winning Blueair Classic 405. 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. This model 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.
This sensor-festooned Vax Pure Air 300 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.
Blueair is not only one of the most prominent manufacturers of air purifiers, its models are also amongst the best looking. And that’s a worthy point because some of these machines have looks only a mother could love.
The new Swedish-designed Blue Pure Fan is a stumpy square-ish fella that sits on short wooden legs. It doesn’t shout ‘check me out’ though, at 38 x 33 x 28cm, it does look quite large when in situ. However, it is pretty portable and even comes with its own leather carry handle. Like the Dyson Pure Cool Tower reviewed below, this model also serves as a genuinely effective cooling fan with a 90˚ blast range – perfect for a long hot summer.
One should add that the Blue Pure Fan doesn’t come with automatic air sensor control so it won’t ramp up the fan speed automatically if uncle Norman starts smoking one of his cigars. What it will do, though, is effectively clear a room up to 28m² of pet dander, airborne dust, pollen and other pesky microns in about 20 minutes, especially when on full bore. Sound level wise, it’s pretty quiet and we rather like the white noise it emits on the highest of its three speed settings – to make speed adjustments, simply tap the top button which also lights up in yellow and then red when it’s time to change the main filter.
While we’re on the subject of filters, this one uses two washable pre filters (available in different colours to suit your abode) for capturing larger airborne particles and a main combined particle and carbon filter for deeper cleaning that will need to be replaced from time to time at a current cost of £59 a pop.
If you’re currently searching for an attractive and very efficient air purifier-cum-fan to site in your trendy abode, then waltz this way.
If you’re in the market for a very decent tabletop or portable model that takes up very little space and doesn’t look too ugly, this titchy 26.5cm model from Airfree might be the best air purifier for you. 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?