If you or someone in your family has a condition like asthma, or if you’re just concerned about the levels of the pollution where you live, an air purifier is a fantastic way of giving you peace of mind and healthier air. The best models can help remove smoke, dust particles and pollen (a welcome feature for hayfever sufferers) providing relief for allergies, although unfortunately, not all purifiers are as capable as others.
We’ve compared best selling models on the market so you don’t have to, picking out the ones that will give you a breath of fresh air, without costing the earth.
What to look for in an air purifier
If you’re buying your first air purifier it can be quite a daunting task with a range of features and stats that won’t mean a lot to you. One thing you may recognise if you’ve bought a vacuum cleaner recently is a HEPA filter and it’s a good sign if your air purifier includes one. This means the filter can remove particles as small as 0.3 microns, which covers 99.97% of allergens and pollutants.
Another stat that may be included is a CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) which measures how quickly it filters different materials, so it will normally have a separate number for smoke, pollen and dust. It’s worth noting this measure only applies to the speed a purifier works and not how thoroughly it cleans so CADR scores are best used to choose a model appropriate to the size of the room you want to filter, rather than as a judge of its level of cleaning.
It is recommended that you have a CADR that is two thirds the square footage of the area you want to clean, so if a room is 120 square feet, you would need a purifier with a CADR of 80 (for whichever material you are most interested in filtering).
Should I buy ozone?
As an alternative to an air purifier, some people look at ozone generators to provide cleaner air. We wouldn’t recommend this as instead of cleaning the air it is just adding a new element, the equivalent of spraying an air freshener rather than removing the thing that smells in the first place. It’s also worth noting that ozone can be considered a lung irritant so could actually make things worse for people with sensitive breathing conditions.
Best Air Purifiers
PureMate True HEPA Air Purifier and Ioniser with UV-C and Odor Reduction – Best heavy duty air purifier
Our pick for giving your air the best scrubbing is this model from PureMate. It has a 5 stage filtration process designed to remove anything up to the smallest particles and smells, as well as killing bacteria.
The first stage of the filter uses carbon to absorb smells as well as capturing larger particles such as hairs and dust. Next, the air passes through the HEPA stage that removes 99.97% of particles, including particles as small as 0.3 microns – which, if you’re not familiar with a micron is very, very small.
The third and fourth stages use UV-C light to kill any bacteria, viruses and mould spores in the air and titanium oxide to remove any lingering smells from smoking or cooking. The final stage is an optional ionizer that is designed to make the air smell “fresher”.
The CADR ratings at full power are 110 for smoke, 120 for pollen and 126 for dust. This means it should be more than enough to clear out smoke in a space measuring up to 165 sq foot (15 sq m). The lower settings are particularly quiet for an air purifier if you are planning on using it in a smaller space. At full power it is quite loud, but unless you have a very large room, you will probably only need the top settings for a quick blast of cleaning power.
It’s not the cheapest (although it’s also far from the most expensive), but if you’re after a heavy duty machine that will get the job done it’s an excellent choice. You have to replace the filter every 9-12 months so it’s worth bearing in mind this when considering running costs.
Breathe Fresh Air 3-in-1 Air Cleaning system – Good alternative large space purifier
A slightly less powerful model than the PureMate, this purifier from Breathe shares many of the features including HEPA and carbon filters, as well as a UV-C treatment for killing bacteria. The Breathe model is a slightly less powerful model, aimed at medium rooms rather large spaces, but it also generally available a little cheaper.
Saying that, if the price difference wasn’t large we’d always opt for the PureMate, not only for the added power, but also for a slightly nicer build quality to the unit. Neither is ever going to count as a designer piece (and actually look exceptionally similar) but the neater top controls of the PureMate win it for us.
Levoit Air Purifier – Best air purifier for small spaces
If you only need to purify a small area this model from Levoit is well worth a look. The compact cylinder uses a 3-stage filtration process including a HEPA filter that will remove everything smaller than 0.3 microns and an active carbon filter for removing smells. It’s smaller size means it doesn’t have the best CADR score, with it coming in at 40, so is suitable for cleaning a space 60 square feet (5.5 sq m).
It performs well, removing particles and smells very well in an enclosed space. It has 3 fan speeds and while it is a little bit loud at the top level it’s not too distracting.
HoMedics HEPA Professional Air Purifier – Best bedroom Air Purifier
This neat little model from HoMedics is a fantastic option if you are looking to purify a smaller space. It is considerably cheaper than the first three options on our list, but still provides HEPA filtering and in fact has a long-lasting filter that you can take out, vacuum and put back in, extending its life and reducing longterm running costs.
It has a CADR of 75 and so is designed for a room measuring up to 112 sq feet (11 square metres), so is more than capable of handling the average bedroom. It has 3 power settings and is very quiet on the lowest setting, with even the highest setting not being deafeningly loud.
It is missing a carbon filter, so it’s not aimed at dealing with smells, but it still an excellent model if all you are looking to do is remove irritants and allergens.
VonHaus True HEPA Air Purifier – Best budget air purifier
This VonHaus purifier might be the cheapest on our list but that doesn’t mean it lacks features. It has HEPA and carbon filters for dealing with small particles and smells, plus it even has a remote control so you can change the settings from a distance.
Where it falls down compared with rivals, as well as being lower powered than the larger models, is the volume when it is running. While not very loud, even at the lowest settings it’s more noticeable than the others on our list.
Despite this, it’s still a very good air purifier and a decent choice, especially for the price.
Vax ACAMV101 Pure Air 300 Air Purifier – Best for open plan spaces
This purifier from vacuum brand Vax will certainly look the part in a modern home although the gloss white finish won’t be for everyone. At the size of a large pedal bin it takes up a fair bit of space but it also packs a lot of power in, shown by its huge CADR ratings of 428 for smoke, 392 for pollen and 278 for dust. This means it is capable of cleaning a space up to 642 sq feet (60 sq metres).
It includes a HEPA filter for cleaning ultra-small particles and 5 different speed settings according to need, including a night mode that leaves it easily quiet enough to get used to.
It’s pretty expensive, and replacement filters also don’t come cheap, but if you need to filter a large open area in your home this model is worth the investment.
Dyson Pure Cool Link – Best stylish air purifier
If you’ve got a decent budget to play with there’s no air purifier you can find that looks better than the Dyson Pure Cool Link. It doesn’t come with an official CADR score but includes a HEPA filter so can remove anything from the air bigger than 0.3 microns. Doubling as a (bladeless) room fan it can help keep a room cool as well, while also being easy to clean.
The Pure Link monitors air quality and automatically cleans the air, providing information in the accompanying app. The app also allows you to control the Pure Link remotely, kick-starting a clean whenever you need even if you’re not at home.
As well as the expensive cost of purchase it is worth bearing in mind replacement filters are also not cheap, costing £76 a piece and needing to be changed every 6 months or so.