These Air Purifiers Protects from Smoke, Germs, and Allergens
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These Air Purifiers Protects from Smoke, Germs, and Allergens

Jan 24, 2024

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Whether you’re worried about wildfire smoke, have allergies, or are generally health-conscious, portable air purifiers can help you breathe easier and promote good health. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air quality may be even more polluted than the air outside.

Given that we spend a lot more of our time inside, it seems only rational to buy an air purifier. They can significantly reduce the number of pollutants and irritants in your home and help you sleep more soundly. Plus, with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, a portable air purifier can theoretically remove 99.97% of airborne dust, pollen, mold, and bacteria and reduce exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19—in conjunction with proper mask-wearing, of course.

Portable air purifiers encompass a broad set of appliances with varying levels of effectiveness, depending on what you’re trying to "purify." The performance also depends on the environment—how large a space is and the air quality outside the home. Some portable air purifiers can filter wildfire smoke, while others can target foul odors or fumes. Filters can neutralize toxic VOCs and reduce the risk of illness.

Despite the broad range of performance, consumer-grade portable air purifiers are far from medical devices. There are just too many variables to say anything more than they "promote" good health. That said, they are great for reducing congestion and keeping your home smelling fresh. And they do a fine job at removing fine air particulates, including duct, pollen, fungal spores, pet dander, smoke, and soot. Given what we know about the harms of air pollution on human health, that's nothing to sneeze at!

We combed through dozens of products, specifications, reviews, and user complaints to identify the best portable air purifiers. While all portable air purifiers offer the same primary function, they differ significantly in price, room coverage, design, and secondary features like hands-free control or display shut-offs.

We balanced our picks, structuring our list based on what we believed various people would be looking for in a portable air purifier. Our list includes options for everyone, whether you’re concerned about budget, capacity, design, performance, or the type of particulate you’re trying to remove from your home or office.

Looking for more home clarity? Check out our picks for the best humidifiers and air fresheners for your living space.

Long-lasting, capable, durable, sleekly designed, and fairly priced, the Coway AP-1512HH is a great choice if you’re looking for a no-frills portable air purifier that does its job. It works quietly unless it detects a large amount of pollution, in which case it can be louder than a standing fan.

The four-stage filtration system (Pre-filter, Deodorization filter, True HEPA filter, Vital Ion) works automatically, depending on the number of pollutants detected, although the science behind ionizers is uncertain.

This Coway air purifier can handle room sizes up to 361 square feet. As with any air purifier, you’ll need to periodically replace the HEPA filter, and if you don't occasionally remove dust from the pre-filter it won't turn on as often. We really liked the option to turn off the display lights, which can be annoying in bedrooms at night or other low-light conditions.

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AP-1512HH Air Purifier


Another quiet operator, the Blueair Blue Pure 211+ is a great alternative to our top pick. It's suited for slightly larger rooms (up to 540 square feet) and costs a bit more. We like the sleek design and quiet operation, which claims not to exceed 31 decibels (about the level of a whisper), and the odor-removal feature works as intended.

This is a great portable air purifier for big rooms, although not quite enough for a whole apartment or very large room. Most reviews praise its performance, although some cited lasting VOCs, which are quite difficult to remove anyway.

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Blue Pure 211+ Air Purifier


For very small rooms, the Blueair Blue Pure 411 offers much of the same performance and features at the Pure 211+. Designed for spaces no larger than 161 square feet, the 411 is about the size of an Alexa speaker and includes the same three-layer filtration system. (You can upgrade to the 411+ for an extra $20 and another 24 square feet of coverage.)

The 411 is a bit louder than its big sister, but the value offered by such a small air purifier is unmatched. The size and functionality is ideal for kids' bedrooms or small apartments in big cities.

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Blue Pure 411 Air Purifier


For truly large spaces or even whole apartments, the Coway Airmega 400 Smart Air Purifier is designed to cover up to 1,560 square feet. It also has a variety of smart features, sleep settings, and a surprisingly compact design for such a capable portable air purifier. While pricier than other options in this guide, it's reasonably affordable considering its capacity.

The Airmega 400 has a three-setting smart mode that can adapt to its environment, with a fan speed that automatically adjusts based on air quality or lighting conditions. There's also a timer and pollution sensor. Opinions may vary, but we also really liked the design.

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Airmega 400 Air Purifier


The LEVOIT Core 400S offers a balance of features that makes it ideal for small apartments or kids’ bedrooms. It has a sleek, compact design that should blend nicely into most homes, and the voice control with Alexa-compatibility brings it well into the 21st century with hands-free operation.

Designed to cover up to 403 square feet, the LEVOIT purifier is also whisper-quiet. At a max volume of 23 decibels, it's the quietest purifier on our list. The true HEPA filter adds another layer of performance to an already feature-laden little air cleaner. And it's priced to compete.

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Core 400S Air Purifier


Sometimes you just need to kick the stink. For extra smelly rooms or apartments, the Austin Air HealthMate B400A1 is more than capable. It has a four-stage filtration system and a true, medical-grade HEPA filter that can capture particles larger than 0.3 microns. That, theoretically, makes it capable of removing VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and other unwanted particles that contribute to foul odors.

The design is a little dated, looking like a PC tower from the early 2000s, and it's quite expensive, but for resilient odors and noxious compounds, it's probably one of the more effective purifiers you’ll find.

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HealthMate Standard Air Purifier


Dyson appliances are known for their unique designs and clever features, and the Dyson Pure Hot + Cool is no exception. This hybrid device combines the functions of a portable air purifier with that of a fan and a space heater. It really does kill two (or three?) birds with one stone.

Like most portable air purifiers it has an automatic pollution sensor, but it's unique in its ability to oscillate like a fan. That's because it is also, well, a fan. We love the design, although it is a bit tall for an air purifier. And, as is common for Dyson products, it's fairly expensive.

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Pure Hot + Cool Air Purifier, Heater + Fan


Another hands-free portable air purifier, the Winix AM90 is ideal for midsized rooms of up to 360 square feet. With Wi-Fi and Alexa compatibility, the AM90 is surprisingly cheap for the extra features it packs in. Some people may like the design, which is certainly more modern than the medically inspired Austin Air HealthMate, but others may find it a bit unusual.

With no display shut-off, the AM90 may prove annoying in the bedroom at night, but for the price—one of the cheapest portable air purifiers on this list—there's little room to complain.

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AM90 Wi-Fi Air Purifier


If you like Dyson Pure Hot + Cool's presentation, but are turned off by the price tag, you may appreciate the more affordable Dyson Pure Cool. It doesn't include the space heater found on the Dyson Pure Hot + Cool, but it does have a fan and the same sleek, forward-looking design.

Also, like the Hot + Cool, the Dyson Pure Cool includes a night-time mode, a sleep timer, 10 airspeed settings, and an automatic pollution sensor. We also appreciate how easy it is to clean with a simple aperture that can be wiped with a cloth.

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Pure Cool TP01 Air Purifier


Another budget option for folks who’d prefer not to spend an arm and a leg, the Winix 5500-2 is one of the cheapest options on this list, but it's more than capable of covering midsized rooms.

With a capacity of up to 360 square feet, the 5500-2 has a three-stage filtration system, including a true HEPA filter, and an automatic sensor for "set it and forget it" operation.

We’re not wild about the imposing design, but we don't think that's a serious complaint given the affordable price tag. The 5500-2 is well-reviewed, although some reviews complain it's rather loud for the size.

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