May 29, 2023

7 of the best air purifiers to deal with pets, pollen, and pollution

Between allergens, pollutants, and irritants like wildfire smoke, it’s valid to be concerned about worsening air quality — but you can breathe easier with these.

All products featured here are independently selected by our editors and writers.If you buy something through links on our site, Mashable may earn an affiliate commission.

We know taking deep breaths is calming and all, and we don’t want to freak you out — but those big gulps of untreated air can contain a lot of harmful contaminants and irritants.

For one thing, pollen season is getting worse every year. (If your allergies seem more annoying than usual lately, it’s not your imagination.) A 2018 ABC News report pointed to climate change as a huge factor, as high temperatures and increased levels of carbon dioxide can affect the proteins in the pollen grains that cause severe allergies.

Combined with worsening levels of smog and other fine-particle air pollution amid increased natural gas use, a rise in car usership, and the now-annual wildfires that sear through the West, it’s no wonder air purifiers (or air cleaners, as they’re sometimes called) have made their way to lists of must-have home appliances.

What are the effects of air pollution?

The issue of air pollution is often disregarded unless it’s really bad — say, the apocalyptic orange skies and heavy smoke produced by the 2020 California fires, which caused immediate health effects like stinging eyes, coughing, and headaches. 

But just because you can’t see dirty air doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, or that your future self won’t feel the effects of long-term exposure to it — we’re talking asthma, immune system weakening, chronic heart and lung diseases, and increased vulnerability to sick building syndrome.

That’s right — you don’t even have to venture outside to be exposed to some of the worst of it. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, concentrations of some indoor pollutants are frequently two to five times higher than those of outdoor pollutants.

What are the benefits of air purifiers?

Eliminating harmful airborne particles is the best way to cope with allergies and those aforementioned respiratory issues — and there may be no better way to trap pain-in-the-ass irritants and increase air quality than by using an air purifier with a HEPA filter. 

Air purifiers are also ace when it comes to ridding a space of animal smells like litter boxes and pet beds, as well as clearing the air of smoke stench from cigarettes without opening a window. (And no, getting an air freshener is not good enough.)

Can an air purifier protect you from the coronavirus?

A good question. We’ll let the EPA take it from here: “When used properly, air purifiers can help reduce airborne contaminants including viruses in a home or confined space. However, by itself, a portable air cleaner is not enough to protect people from COVID-19.” (Emphasis theirs.)

As Wirecutter reported, the issue lies in whether or not air purifiers’ HEPA filters are capable of capturing the virus before it infects you — as of fall 2020, we don’t know for sure. (Although that may be beside the point, considering experts still don’t know how much of the virus is needed for an infection.) 

For now, the best way to avoid catching COVID-19 is to keep following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to wash your hands often, wear a mask in public settings, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and maintain a social distance of at least six feet away from people who aren’t in your quarantine bubble.

What is the best air purifier on the market?

We dug through Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy to find the models with the best customer reviews, and have separated them by price. Whether you need something small to take with you or you’re in the market for an air purifier that can handle the whole house, you’re covered. May the relief be with you.

Modern, attractive design • Shuts off when no pollutants are detected • Timed schedule option
Pricey • Unreliable customer service
Get silent, timed cleanings in a compact design that looks like an iPod Nano.

Coway Mighty Air Purifier

This well-reviewed air purifier cleans quicker than most and is aesthetically pleasing AF.

  • Dimensions:
    9.6 x 16.8 x 18.3 inches
  • Weight:
    12.79 pounds
  • HEPA air filter:
  • Coverage area:
    361 square feet
If you were hoping for a more modern design, the Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier is aesthetically pleasing AF. The design is as clean as the air it pushes out and will blend right in with any home’s contemporary decor. 
Called “mighty” for a reason, this puppy features a four-stage filtration system with a 99.7% HEPA efficiency rating (in a space up to 361 square feet). It also comes equipped with an energy-saving “Eco Mode,” which will turn its fan off when it detects 10 minutes of good air quality levels, then on again after 30 minutes or when it senses any sort of air pollution.
Walmart customer Farah writes:

What a difference this guy made to the air quality in our home! Within a day, both our pets and us stopped sneezing from the smoke filling the SoCal air. The Eco setting was really great, as it would turn on when the air quality dropped in the space. A little noisier than I would have liked, but a worthy trade off and a bigger than I anticipated in terms of size. Not intrusive at all, though and I like the simple white design.

Overall, it has a 4.7/5-star rating at Walmart with nearly 200 reviews.

Sits horizontally or vertically • Special filters tackle pet odors and floating hair • Great budget pick
Not so durable • Out-of-date design
For less than $60, this system cleans and purifies the nasty smells and pet hairs left from dogs and cats.

Hamilton Beach TrueAir Compact Pet Air Purifier

Special filters for pet odor and hair makes this ideal for homes that scream “animals live here.”

  • Dimensions:
    10.8 x 8.1 x 16.4 inches
  • Weight:
    6.3 pounds
  • HEPA air filter:
  • Coverage area:
    140 square feet
Pet parents: We know you love your fur babies, but you can admit that their beds or litter boxes don’t smell the best. The Hamilton Beach TrueAir Compact Pet Air Purifier is your answer to combatting reeking rooms (and getting rid of pet hair that you constantly see floating in the air). This is due to its 99% HEPA filtration and use of zeolites, or non-toxic absorbent crystals, which are naturally activated when combined with heat and water, and are also being used in new efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. 
The Hamilton Beach air cleaner is said to be optimal for rooms up to 140 square feet, but numerous customers have mentioned that it can handle larger spaces.
Best Buy customer Brooklynn72180 writes:

I have a tiny apartment that I share with a dog and a cat. I have a large full-size air purifier in the living room, but my bedroom has a tendency to smell like dog, no matter how often I wash her beds, or my sheets for that matter. This worked perfectly! Within an hour of having it on, it didn’t smell like dog anymore! I keep it on the lowest setting and it still works. Great little machine, especially at the price!

Overall, it has a 4.7/5-star rating at Best Buy with almost 50 reviews.

Desk-sized, but not too small • Highly effective for its size • Sleek cylindrical shape
Can be loud
Don’t let its small size fool you: The LEVOIT air purifier is powerful enough to clean a whole room.

LEVOIT Air Purifier

Small but mighty, this purifier is perfect for a desk or nightstand and powerful enough to clean a room.

  • Dimensions:
    8.5 x 8.5 x 14.5 inches
  • Weight:
    6.48 pounds
  • HEPA air filter:
  • Coverage area:
    86 square feet
For smaller rooms or offices, you might not need a massive cleaner that sits on the floor — but that doesn’t mean a mini one is your only other option. The Levoit LV-H132 Air Purifier is one of the sleekest little guys on the market, and though it’s small enough to sit on a desk, its cleaning capacity is massive. 
The three-stage filtration system apparently kills 99.7% of dust, pollen, and pet dander, including particles as small as .3 microns. It’s also 100% ozone free — this basically means that it does not use UV or ions, which produce trace amounts of measurable ozone.
Amazon customer Sasha raves, writing:

Worth every cent. We live in the heart of Manhattan and we bought this particular product as I can smell cigarette smoke coming through the walls from the neighbors. I also wake up with a stuffy nose most days. I put the product in the room to test it and was blown away by how awesome the air smelled. Like being up a mountain. I can’t smell cigarette smoke and after the first night of using the air purifier I didn’t have a stuffy nose in the morning.

I highly recommend this product for anyone who lives in a city. You don’t realize how low the quality of air is until you try this product, and it really does make a significant difference. Super impressed.

Overall, it has a 4.5/5-star rating on Amazon with nearly 20,000 (!) reviews.

Doubles as a heater and fan • Bladeless design is nearly silent • Alexa and app enabled
Priciest by far • No heat controls in app
It’s expensive, but the heating, cooling, and smart features make Dyson’s purifier a knockout year-round.

Dyson Pure Hot+Cool

Year-round temperature control, Alexa, and peace of mind make Dyson worth the price tag.

  • Dimensions:
    8.7 x 6 x 24.9 inches
  • Weight:
    8.62 pounds
  • HEPA air filter:
  • Coverage area:
    400 square feet
Moving on to the big guns: Dyson rules the vacuum market (and now even the hair styling market), but its contribution to the world of air purifiers is just as impactful. The Dyson Pure Hot+Cool is truly ahead of its time, using bladeless Air Multiplier tech to circulate 99.97 percent pollutant-free air through the room. Dirty air is pulled in, sent through multiple diffusers and a HEPA filter, then pushed back out to give the room serious airflow. The hollow design may look complicated, but the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool is one of the simplest devices to use in the list.
A mini LCD screen on the front shows you the current status of your air, and the Dyson app gives detailed info on the quality of the air outside and the type of pollutants most affecting your home. If the app senses that polluted air increases in your home at a certain time of day, you can set timed cleaning schedules just as you would with a robot vacuum.
Amazon customer Marc Wexler writes:

“Bought it as a gift for my wife. She loves it. So do I. To call it pricey id an understatement, but like most things Dyson, it is a marvel of engineering. Functional and attractive. It move air so much better than all other fans I have seen to date. Quiet. It also heats, which is a plus in this part of the world. And in a way unlike other room heaters. It’s action is fast and gentle. Big Plus, it cleans the air…and it does it really well. The air quality was affected by the multitudes of wildfires out her in the west. This cleaned the air up very quickly and improved our quality of life indoors. The rains of fall will do the job outdoors. Expensive, but worth it”

The effortless peace of mind is enough justification on its own, but the cooling fan and heater addition make it a year-round favorite. So yeah, you’re paying nearly $500, but you’re getting the best-of-the-best quality and three appliances in one.
Overall, it has a 4.3/5-star rating on Amazon with over 650 customer reviews.

Four specialized modes • Smart sensor gauges speed needed • Colored light shows level of cleaning
Awkwardly large
A smart sensor and color-coded light make the Winix a super hands-off cleaner, even in huge rooms.

Winix 5300 Air Purifier

This smart purifier senses the air quality in your biggest spaces and chooses the most suitable cleaning mode.

  • Dimensions:
    14.9 x 7.8 x 23.6 inches
  • Weight:
    18 pounds
  • HEPA air filter:
  • Coverage area:
    360 square feet
For a little more oomph, the Winix 5300 Air Purifier is great for those big, open rooms, up to 360 square feet. A whopping five cleaning modes are present (sleep, slow, medium, high, or turbo), but you don’t have to make the judgment yourself: This powerhouse uses a smart sensor to gauge the level of pollution in your air, then signals which level of cleaning is underway by changing the color of the light. If you’re cooking and things get smokey, you’ll see red or orange — and when everything’s chill, blue signifies less cleaning and good air.
Amazon customer Tarutastic writes:

“Plain and simple works. I put it up in my living room and went to my bedroom to fold laundry. I was gone about 30 minutes. I came back to the living room and my daughter said to me mom this is crazy I feel a difference in the living room (she suffers from bad allergies). Now I have had it running everyday for about a week. I can tell you I have a dog and even the dog sneezes less! This product is great. This does a great job at getting rid of the dust, pet dander, and over all the quality of the air is much better. I recommend it so much that I purchased 3 more for the bedrooms.”

There are way too many other positive reviews to count, with numerous customers mentioning how quiet this thing is — even on the Turbo setting. 
Overall, it has a 4.7/5-star rating on Amazon with almost 5,000 reviews.

Optional UV-C light mode • Slim enough to fit anywhere
If you can ignore the rumble, the GermGuardian kills pollutants while staying out of the way.

GermGuardian 3-in-1

One of the most purchased purifiers on Amazon fits in any corner and cleans with UV technology.

  • Dimensions:
    7 x 10.2 x 21.5 inches
  • Weight:
    7 pounds
  • HEPA air filter :
  • Coverage area:
    167 square feet
The name “GermGuardian” may seem corny, but it’s literally what this thing can do for a room. The HEPA filter captures 99.7 percent of allergens like household dust, pet dander, mold spores, and plant pollens, even as small as .3 microns. For rooms that need a heavy-duty cleaning, the UV-C light technology sanitizes air by working with Titanium Dioxide to kill airborne bacteria, viruses, germs, and mold spores.
Not only is it cleaning the air by trapping particles you can’t even see, but it’s making it smell better, too. The filter battles odors like cigarette smoke, litter boxes, or overly-smelly furnaces to provide a fresher feel every time you walk into the room. Though it sits on the floor, it’s slim enough to be tucked in a corner, in between furniture, or somewhere else out of the way.
Amazon customer Voodoo writes:

Love this! This really really cleans the air. It makes my life a lot nicer during allergy season. I can tell the difference. I have a lot of cats and it make my house smells clean. I loved it so much, I bought another. We have a big house and you can tell the difference when they are running. People who visit our home alway say “If you didn’t see the cats you would never know they were there, it doesn’t smell like pets”!!! Awesome!

The GermGaurdian isn’t the quietest thing in the world on its highest setting, but if you’re anything like us, that white noise could actually be great for drowning out city noise, neighborhood lawnmowers, and more. 
Overall, it has a 4.2/5-star rating on Amazon with nearly 23,000 reviews (whoa).

Pretty quiet at 30dB (in Low Mode) • Wireless control via Bluetooth and its companion app • Battery-powered
Expensive • No HEPA filter
It’s one of the most expensive purifiers in this category by far, but it blows its competition out of the water quality-wise.

LG PuriCare Mini Air Purifier

This small smart purifier is offers major on-the-go convenience, but it’ll cost you.

  • Dimensions:
    2.72 x 7.87 x 2.52 inches
  • Weight:
    1.17 pounds
  • HEPA air filter:
  • Coverage area:
    18 square feet
Go ahead and throw out that little evergreen-shaped air freshener dangling from your rearview mirror: LG’s new PuriCare Mini will do a much better job deodorizing your car.
Released in mid-2020, this ultra-portable, dual-fan air purifier features a 3,600mAh battery that lasts for up to 8 hours on a single charge (in Low Mode) and charges with a USB cable. At just 1.2 pounds, it’s no heavier than a water bottle — you can easily stash it in a purse or backpack for use in a hotel, on a plane, or at the office. (There’s a built-in leather wrist strap that makes it easy to carry.)
On the outside, you’ll find an LED smart display that shows you the air quality in real time, though you can also control its airflow, keep tabs on air quality history, and monitor its filter and battery life via Bluetooth using the PuriCare Mini app.
LG customer Suzhappy writes:

I have a lot of allergies plus I have fragrance sensitivities which is very hard to live with because there are fragrances everywhere! This mini air purifier is perfect for me! It’s a perfect size and it lasts a good 8 hours on a charge. I put it in a cute little bag and I carry it with me. How many air purifiers can you do that with? Not many! All in all this this LG PuriCare Mini Air Purifier is totally awesome!

The PuriCare Mini hasn’t gotten a ton of feedback yet since it’s so new, but as of Oct. 2020, it’s got two 5-star ratings on Amazon and a 4.6/5-star rating on the LG website with 17 customer reviews so far.