10 best air purifiers 2021
04 December 2020
Air purifiers don’t just remove smoke and food smells. They also remove things like pollen, pet dander, bacteria and other fine particles from the air you breathe.
Air purifiers can really help with allergies, asthma, breathing problems and pollution. There are several different styles on the market and they all work in different ways. You can choose between a HEPA filter and an ioniser, and some air purifiers even have both.
Remember to consider the size, noise level and ease of use when deciding which model is right for you.
Here are the best air purifiers to buy.
1. Best overall air purifier: Blueair Blue Pure 411 Air Purifier
“We've got Blueair Classic purifiers with smoke-stop filters – not that anyone smokes, but they get rid of smells as well as allergens. You need to get the right purifier for the room size.”
The Blueair Pure 411 Air Purifier completely cleans your indoor air five times an hour, catching virtually every airborne particle including dust, pollen, pet dander, smoke, allergens, viruses and bacteria. It even removes odours thanks to active carbon.
On the normal operating speed, the Blue Pure 411 uses only 1.5W of power and operates as quietly as 17dB. It also comes in a range of five colours, unlike most air purifiers, which are usually white.
It’s not just for decoration though. The fabric doubles as a pre-filter, catching large particles and extending the life of the primary filter.
- Only uses 1.5W of power
- Has the Quiet Mark stamp of approval
- Choice of colours
- Coloured covers cost extra
2. Best budget air purifier: Beurer LR200 Air Purifier
“Although it does have a quiet fan and a filter for large fluff and dust, it mostly works by ionising the air (like static) so that the particles stick together in clumps and fall out of the air. You won't believe it works until you see the pattern of dirt and dust forming.”
The Beurer LR200 Air Purifier has fans that suck the polluted air into the pre-filter which captures large harmful particles like dust, dirt and animal hair. Smaller particles, such as toxic gases and odours, get captured by the second filter (the carbon filter). There’s also an ioniser and a night mode.
Watch out though as this air purifier has an EPA filter, rather than the standard HEPA, and these vary a lot in their effectiveness – capturing 85% to 99.5% of harmful particles compared with the 99.97% that HEPA filters do.
- Has a less efficient EPA filter
Price: £59.99Buy now from LloydsPharmacy
3. Best air purifier for small rooms: Bionaire BAP600 Compact Air Purifier
“I have a Bionaire which comes with washable/replaceable filters and was recommended to me about seven years ago (and it’s still going strong).”
Bionaire’s Compact Air Purifier is often named on the Mumsnet forums. It’s ideal for small rooms up to 112 square feet and has three cleaning levels with a HEPA-type filter, which removes up to 99% of indoor airborne particles (a true HEPA filter removes 99.7%).
There’s also an independently controlled ioniser, which is great if the ozone it emits upsets your breathing as you can turn it off. There’s an optional night light too.
The filters will need replacing every six months or so depending on use. Although the price for these is steep, they contain baking soda to help remove odours.
- Ideal for small rooms
- The ioniser can be turned off if it affects your breathing
- Filters are pricey
4. Best ozone-free air purifier for asthma: Levoit Air Purifier LV-H132
“I just got Levoit. The last two nights I used it, I woke up without a stuffy nose.”
The main selling point of the Levoit model is that it’s ozone-free – ozone can aggravate some allergies. It has a three-step filter system with a pre-filter, HEPA filter and a high-efficiency carbon filter.
It’s pretty quiet at 25dB (a whisper is 30dB) and you can turn off the light entirely or have it on low, so it shouldn’t affect your sleep. It filters at the rate of 68m³/h and should work effectively in medium to large rooms.
The filters typically last six to eight months, but don’t worry if you forget as there’s a handy filter change reminder.
- Great for people with asthma
- Works at 25dB
- Affordable option
- Lacks timer settings
5. Best air purifier for allergies: HoMedics Compact Air Purifier
The HoMedics Compact Air Purifier has a 360-degree filtration system, a UV-C light and an ioniser to eliminate 99% of airborne pollutants and germs.
There are three different sizes, so you can choose the best size for specific rooms in your home, and there’s also a night mode. It’s approved by Allergy UK meaning it’s been through scientific testing carried out by an independent laboratory and through protocols created by leading allergy specialists.
- Has auto-timer settings
- Certified by the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation (ECARF)
- Has no particle sensor so it doesn’t automatically select the best speed to optimise filtration
6. Best multi-purpose air purifier: Dyson Pure Cool Tower Advanced Technology Air Purifier Fan
“Dyson Cool with an air filter. It's really good and, if you connect it to wifi, you get feedback on the air quality via the app. We use it in the bedroom in the summer, but it would definitely do a bigger room (if we had one!)."
As you’d expect from Dyson, this beautifully designed fan isn’t just pretty – it’s useful too. It has a HEPA filter that claims to clear up to 99.97% of airborne pollutants, smells and toxins, and an activated carbon filter to remove gases.
It’s not just an air purifier though. It’s also a fan – and one that’s family-friendly too (no accessible blades means 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 even use the Dyson app to deliver real-time air quality reports that also include temperature and humidity. The only downside is the hefty price tag as it comes in at almost £500.
- Dual-purpose fan and filter
- Very quiet
- HEPA and carbon filter for allergens and smells
7. Best air purifier for sleep: Silentnight 38060 Air Purifier
“We have the Silentnight one and DH is now using a lot less Ventolin.”
Silentnight’s model has, as you’d expect, a sleep mode which is extra quiet. It also has a three-stage filtration system and an independent ioniser, which releases negative ions into the air to pick up extra pollutants.
A built-in timer means it can run up to eight hours and automatically turns off once the time is up. Watch out if you have asthma though as ionisers give out ozone, which can aggravate the condition. You’ll also need replacement filters after 1,000 hours or six months – these cost £19.99 each.
- The filter removes 99% of airborne allergens as small as 0.3 microns
- Has three speed settings, including a sleep mode
- The built-in ioniser releases ozone, which can aggravate asthma
- Needs filters every six months that are almost half the cost of the purifier
8. Best hospital-grade air purifier: IQAir HealthPro 150 Air Purifier
“We used to live in a place with a high PSI level (bad air pollution), so I bought a hospital-grade purifier called IQAir when my little one was born. They're particularly good when in an area of congestion, dust, high pollen count etc.”
The IQ range of air purifiers are even more expensive than the Dyson, but they offer hospital-grade virus filtration. The IQAir HealthPro 150 will remove fine and ultra-fine particles, such as bacteria, viruses, mould, pet dander and traffic pollution.
It’s better than the 100 model for asthma, and at filtering out smells as it has a PreMax MG filter, which uses 1kg of high-quality granular-activated carbon. The ultra-quiet design means it won’t disturb your sleep. It’s also 100% ozone-free so safe if you have breathing problems.
- Ultra quiet
- Very pricey
Price: £899Buy now from Allergy Cosmos
9. Best air purifier with a washable filter: Honeywell AirGenius 5 Air Purifier
The AirGenius 5 has intuitive touch screen controls including seasonal allergen and germ reduction settings. You can also use auto shut-off timer and quiet operation so you don’t need to remember to set it.
The HEPA filter captures up to 99.9% of microscopic particles such as dust, smoke, mould spores, pollen and pet dander as small as 0.3 microns. The permanent primary ifD filter is washable, making this air purifier longer-lasting than most. You just rinse the filter in water.
- Washable primary filter
- Automatic controls
- At 48dB, it's noisier than other air purifiers
10. Best automatic air purifier: Vax ACAMV101 Pure Air 300 Air Purifier
“I have a Vax air purifier and it’s brilliant. I have asthma and I’m also very allergic to things, particularly pollen. I put it on overnight in my bedroom. I'd really recommend it.”
This Vax air purifier has air-monitoring technology, which keeps it running at the perfect speed, and is incredibly easy to use. You can turn off the ioniser if it aggravates your breathing, and it has a timer for one, two, four, six and eight hours.
This model comes with a dust sensor and indication light so you can visibly see the air being cleaned.
- Timer function
- Can turn off the ioniser
- The night mode isn’t the quietest
Do air purifiers really work?
Air purifiers can work in different ways. Purifiers with a HEPA filter, which stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air, work by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps harmful particles such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites and tobacco smoke. They're made from either plastic (PP+PET) or fibreglass.
The most common allergens, like pollen, mould spores, pet dander and dust mite faeces, range from about 100 microns down to around 0.3 microns and can be filtered out. But some household dust, insecticide dust, fungi and bacteria can be as small as 0.01 microns. EPA filters are less effective (85% to 99.5%) than HEPA (99.7%).
Ionisers (also spelled ionizers) work by creating a static charge around the airborne contaminants that float around. Once charged with static, these particles (dust, allergens, pet dander etc) stick to the ioniser plate, but sometimes to the nearest surface they find.
Some air purifiers combine HEPA filters with ionisers for the best of both worlds. But ionisers release ozone which can aggravate conditions like asthma.
How long does it take an air purifier to clean a room?
There are a lot of factors that determine how long an air purifier will take to clean a room, such as its size, capacity, fan speed and the room size. In most cases, an air purifier can clean a room in 30 minutes to two hours.
For a more accurate time scale, look out for the CADR rating – it stands for Clean Air Delivery Rate. An air purifier with a CADR rating of 300cfm, which will clean a room of 300 square feet much faster than an air purifier with CADR rating of only 200cfm.
What should I consider when buying an air purifier?
- The reason you need one – if you’re looking for a purifier to filter out smells, then look for ones with an activated carbon filter as it will absorb bad smells. If you need one to help with allergies and asthma, then look for HEPA filters and products approved by Allergy UK. If you do need it for asthma, then avoid ionisers that emit ozone as this can aggravate the condition.
- Noise level – if you don’t want too much background noise or are looking for an air purifier to run while you sleep, then the lower the decibel level the better. Remember, a whisper is about 30dB so anything under 20dB should be quiet enough.
- Filters – washable filters are more eco-friendly and cheaper than replacement filters, but may not filter out as many particles.
- Power – air purifiers with a mains plug will be more powerful than ones that work through USB.
- Speed settings – most air purifiers have a choice of speeds so you can keep it lower for sleeping and turn it up when the pollen count is high. A night mode can also help if you want a quiet setting and dimmer lights while you sleep.
- Filter replacement indicators – these aren’t crucial and not all air purifiers have them, but this is a helpful feature as a clogged air cleaner won’t work properly.
What is the best air purifier?
The Blueair Blue Pure 411 Air Purifier is the best air purifier. It completely cleans your indoor air five times an hour and has a HEPA filter so over 99% of allergens will be removed. It also has a stylish coloured shell, which is more than just a fashion statement – it’s a washable filter too. This air purifier is one of the more affordable options so you could get one for multiple rooms in your house.
If you’ve got a bigger budget, then the Dyson Pure Cool Air Purifier Fan offers a lot. With both HEPA and carbon filters, as well as an app, it’s very family-friendly and it also doubles as a fan.
How we chose our recommendations
All of our recommendations for air purifiers come from Mumsnet users themselves. We searched the Mumsnet forums for posts about which air purifiers, including those with HEPA filters and ionisers, Mumsnetters really love. We also looked at other reviews sites to see which air purifiers performed well across the board.
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