If recent events have taught us anything, it's that we can never have clean enough air. Whether you are trying to keep germs at bay, suffer from seasonal allergies, or simply light a lot of candles, an at-home air purifier is a brilliant way to keep the air you regularly inhale fresh and clean. Between VOCs, HEPA filters, and UV-C, the terms and specs surrounding air purifiers can get rather confusing — read our full breakdown and explanation of air purifiers here — not to mention they're pretty pricey. This is why it helps to have a first-hand account from a trusted pal — and why the Hunker team spent the last few weeks testing out a ton of different air purifiers to get the scoop on what's worth it.
Before you buy an air purifier, check out our honest thoughts below.
Who: Lowe, SEO Design Editor
Specs: This filter is incredibly sleek but works to filter 99.99% of harmful matter out of rooms that are up to 930 square feet in size. It also has a real-time air quality monitor that lets you know exactly when the breathability in your space changes and a Rapid Mode feature for when you need top-notch filtration quickly. Plus, there's an easy-to-access pre-filter you can remove and hand wash whenever necessary.
Review: To start, the Coway Airmega 250 came with the absolute easiest instructions. You pull it out of the box, open the front of the unit to take out the filter's protective cover, close everything back up, and you're good to go.
In addition to the ease of installation, this air purifier really stands out because of its sleek design. I've seen a few bulky units that take up a lot of space, but this option from Coway is far from an eyesore. It fits everywhere in my small apartment, and the colorway feels neutral and minimalist in the best way — it doesn't clash with my decor and furniture.
Apart from an easy setup and aesthetics, this air purifier seems to work within minutes. I plugged it in right after cooking broccoli and eggs (a weird food combo I know), and the food smells went away instantaneously — usually, they linger for hours. Moreover, my boyfriend who has the worst asthma, especially during the summer months in Los Angeles, didn't need to use his inhaler nearly as much when he came over to hang out. We think this will be especially useful for cutting down on smog when the wildfires pick up again.
Overall grade: A+
Who: Anna, Senior Lifestyle Editor
Specs: This fashionable-yet-functional air purifier removes allergens, dust, bacteria, pollen, mold spores, pet dander, smoke, viruses, and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Measuring 14 inches wide and deep, and 25 inches high, this purifier can clean up to 1,250 square feet and scans the room two times per hour.
Review: When I first received this air purifier, I was shocked by its size (mostly because I didn't look at the dimensions before requesting it). However, once I started using the device, I was comforted by how big it is and how much space it's able to purify. It's quiet, sleek (it has a glass touchscreen interface and light gray fabric exterior), has a long lifespan (the filter lasts six to 12 months), and it really does make my home's air feel fresh and clean. When I blow out a candle, the smoke smell goes away within minutes. So basically, this item is a dream for allergy sufferers like myself.
Overall grade: A+
Who: Jamie, Senior Utility Editor
Specs: This large yet sleek air purifier comes with a separate SensorPod Air Quality Monitor, which helps detect pollutants, VOCs, and allergens throughout the room — not just the ones next to the unit. The air purifier has an easy-to-read air quality indicator on the unit, which is also available to view on the TruSens app. Equipped with a DuPont HEPA filter, this air purifier traps airborne viruses, allergens, VOC gases, and it also kills bacteria with ultraviolet light. Standing 28 inches tall, it can purify the air in a 750-square-foot room and has five different fan speeds.
Review: I already have a smaller air purifier for my daughter's nursery, so I was eager to see what a larger model could do in my living room, which is filled with dog hair, dog hair, and more dog hair. When I unboxed the TruSens, it was definitely pretty hefty in size, but it was light to lift and very easy to set up in the corner. After activating the SensorPod Air Quality Monitor (a separate Alexa-like device that goes in the opposite corner of the room) and downloading the TruSens app, the machine quietly whirred and updated me when my air quality was poor (mostly, right after fluffing the pillows on my couch, where my dog spends most of her day).
For as large as the machine is, it's very unobtrusive and it looks as stylish as an air purifier can be expected to look. My favorite feature? Being able to check on the air quality on the app while I'm away from home, which reassures me that, no, I didn't leave the stove on and start a fire.
Overall grade: A
Who: Laurie, Editorial Director
Specs: The Brondell Pro is a sanitizing air purifier with AG+ technology by Aurabeat. With the five-stage filtration technology, it captures dust, mold, and bacteria — and eliminates ≥99.9% of COVID-19 virus within 15 minutes. (Not to mention a reduction of other viruses such as H1N1 influenza virus.) It has a UV disinfection lamp which helps to sanitize the air, the surface of the filters, and the inside of the unit. The plasma generator creates positive and negative ions that destroy microorganisms and removes smoke, dust, and odors. Another filer (the nanocrystalline filter) removes harmful gasses, formaldehyde, and VOCs. Operating options include changing the fan speed, setting a timer for however long (up to 12 hours) you want the air purifier to run, a sleep mode that runs on the lowest speed and turns off light indicators, and the previously mentioned UV and plasma functions. If you want to keep it on an auto mode, it adjusts the airflow according to PM2.5, which corresponds to the air quality level (good, bad, and fair). According to their site, the Brondell Pro cleans the air in a 538-square-foot room up to 3.4 times in one hour.
Review: With the pandemic of this past year, the fact that this air purifier has the ability to reduce viruses is a feature I greatly appreciate, especially as we start to have people over to our home again. I've been wanting to put an air purifier in my bedroom because of dogs, dust, seasonal pollen, and L.A. air. I often wake feeling stuffed up and filled with allergies. However, while I've only had the purifier for a short while, I do feel like it's making the air feel cleaner and I wake feeling better in general.
I do wish that it had handles or grooves on the side to make for easier carrying or moving. (It has one built-in handle in the back, but makes for somewhat awkward moving around.) I like it so much in my bedroom that I often move it to my living room area during the day to do its work.
It's easy to set up and looks sleek and modern. Overall, I feel that the Brondell Pro is creating better air quality in my home.
Overall grade: A
Who: Kendra, Audience Development Manager
Specs: The True HEPA air purifier cleans 800 square feet of air every 30 minutes and captures 99.99% of airborne contaminants down to 0.1 microns. It's the only HEPA air purifier proven to improve sleep. The brand offers a lifetime warranty with registration and a filter subscription with four filter options. And the front panel is customizable to match your decor.
Review: The Alen BreatheSmart 45i came with easy instructions. I turned it on Turbo mode to start and the air in my bedroom was cleared after just a few hours! There's a particle sensor that lets you know the status of the air. I definitely noticed a difference in my sleep too — I felt more rested. It's so quiet, I can only hear it if I'm trying to (it's pink noise which is quieter than white noise) and the lights turn off completely. After a week of using it 24/7, I achieved my fastest uphill-sprint time this year - even though I was tired. My lungs just feel healthier, I didn't expect to feel such a difference. I might just have to get a second one for my living room.
Overall grade: A+
Who: Ariane, Senior Design Editor
Specs: This air purifier with smart technology is rated HEPA 13, so it also removes pollen, smoke, dust, particulates, pet dander, mold, and cooking pollutants.
Review: I am one of the many Angelenos who happens to live in an apartment, with a dog, very close to a freeway. As a result, I constantly struggle with not only increased noise pollution but air pollution, too. Needless to say, I was extremely excited for the opportunity to try out an air purifier from Aeris. When I first opened the box, I was struck by the sleek, minimalist design. The purifier is a simple cylinder with a mesh fabric sleeve that is "infused with zinc-pyrithione, an antimicrobial coating that destroys surface-level viruses and bacteria." And after the last year, I'll take all the help I can get in that department. In fact, this air purifier is rated HEPA 13 — which means "that it captures 99.95% of pollutants at 0.1 microns" — so it also removes pollen, smoke, dust, particulates, pet dander, mold, and cooking pollutants, too! Additionally, it has a closed system so all of the nasty pollutants stay inside, and can't get out.
I also noticed that there aren't any knobs, switches, or levers to finagle on the exterior of the Aair Lite — it is controlled using a touch panel (or the Aeris app on your phone). In addition to its good looks, it is also much quieter and smarter than my other air purifier. It has technology that actually self-adjusts the fan speed depending on the quality of the indoor air and it adapts to my life using "advanced IAQ sensors and software." And that's not all, it also has a built-in air quality monitor so I can see just how well it is working at any given moment. Another cool feature is that, unlike some air purifiers, this one is ozone-free, meaning it is much better for my health.
Overall, I am very happy and impressed with the Aair Lite air purifier. My only issue is that it is a tad bit larger than I imagined it would be (11" diameter x 19" high), so I had to rearrange a few things to make room for it. And at some point, I will probably swap out the protective sleeve for a different color that works better with the rest of my home decor. I would highly recommend this product to anyone who is in the market for a stylish, new air purifier.
Overall Grade: A-
Who: Katie, Sr. Commerce Editor
Specs: This three-in-one hybrid not only purifies the air but is also a cooling fan and heater. It automatically detects pollutants found in the air and oscillates up to 360 degrees. An activated carbon filter removes gases and odors and a HEPA filter captures 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in size. Plus, it can be controlled via a remote or app on your phone.
Review: When I think of Dyson, I immediately think of top-of-the-line products — those "never lose suction" commercials really made an impression. Before trying this purifying fan, the only thing I had tried was the vacuum, which I love, but this fan is just as good. Having both cooling and heating capabilities is a game-changer, especially as I work from home and can have localized temperature settings right at my desk. It's sleek, lightweight, and easy to move around to wherever I need it to be. I rarely use the app on my phone honestly, but it's great to have the option in case the remote isn't near (although the remote is also magnetized to stick to the fan itself, which is a brilliant feature).
The small screen on the fan is really what blows me away, though. It showcases the pollutants as a number and color: 1-33 is green and very good (usually my space is around a seven); 34-66 is still green, but good; 67-100 is yellow and fair; 101-150 is red and poor; 151-200+ is very poor and, in some cases, hazardous. Honestly, I never really thought much about the quality of the air around me until I started using this fan. Every time I light a candle, the number shoots up into the 200s. Every time I do my hair with my Revlon Hair Dryer, it shoots up into the 100s. It's wild to think about all of the times I've inhaled less than ideal air conditions and not even known about it and I credit the Dyson Air Purifier with becoming a little more self-aware.
Overall grade: A-
Katie is a Los Angeles-based writer who covers shopping trends, deals, and product reviews for Hunker. She's written for PureWow, Food Network, and Well+Good. When not online shopping, you can find her collecting vintage glassware or rewatching Nancy Meyers' movies for design inspo.