People buy air purifiers for many reasons, but the most common is because someone in the household has allergies. The best air purifiers for allergies will take the major irritants out of your home’s air and thus alleviate the symptoms. Plus, it’s likely that everyone in the house will breathe easier with an air purifier.
Millions of people are plagued by indoor allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). These can be caused by everything from pet dander, dust, dust mites, mold and even cockroach droppings…ew! These can trigger your immune system to react, causing symptoms like a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, or itching in your nose, mouth, throat, eyes or ears.
Keeping your home clean and as allergen-free as possible certainly helps alleviate symptoms, but adding an air purifier can help remove any potential allergens that are floating around in the air. Even house dust – which is actually made up of a wide range of various particles and bits of dust mites – can cause allergies. Molds present in the air can cause allergic symptoms and sometimes originate from indoor plants. In some cases, indoor air pollutants like these, especially cockroach debris, can trigger asthma attacks.
What the Heck is a Dust Mite?
Medicinenet explains that dust mites are microscopic arachnids that look like teeny spiders — if you could actually see them. They are not visible to the naked eye, have eight legs, are blind, and live indoors. They also don’t bite, spread disease, or actually live on humans which is a good thing because they are everywhere and are impossible to eliminate through normal cleaning procedures, says Medicinenet. Dust mites love warmth and humidity and mainly dine on the skin cells we all naturally shed, and that’s why plenty are typically found in our bedrooms. They are rarely found in dry climates where the elevation is over 5,000 feet above sea level.
In recent decades, an allergy to cockroaches and their droppings have been implicated as a major factor in cases of serious asthma. They are most problematic in inner-city areas, multifamily buildings, and places where food is stored or prepared. Medicinenet says that major cockroach allergens are found in their digestive enzymes, saliva, and body parts. Similar to dust mite debris, these particles are a serious indoor air pollutant.
At the most basic level, any mold is a type of fungus, but there are thousands of different kinds that can grow outdoors as well as indoors, according to Medical News Today. All molds produce spores that they release into the air in order to spread and grow. They are present everywhere and can get into your home even if there’s no mold growing there. They can simply get in through windows, doors and ventilation systems, or hitch a ride in on your pets as well as your own clothes and shoes.
Mold spores are smaller than pollen and generally less potent allergens. More outdoor mold spores are in the air in spring and fall when the weather is damp as well as at night. Indoor mold can be an issue in bathrooms, damp basements, attics or in walls where leaks or flooding occurred
Pesky pet allergies
Contrary to popular beliefs, it’s actually the skin cells pets shed – called dander – that are more likely to cause an allergy than the actual fur. Allergies can also be caused by pet saliva or urine. Pet allergies are actually a big problem with Medicinenet citing that up to 20 percent of the North American population is affected by pets. Research has found dog and cat allergens in homes where pets are not even present. And, lest you think it’s just cats and dogs at fault, people can develop allergies to almost any kind of animal from horses and birds to rabbits, hamsters and other rodents.
Benefits of an Air Purifier for Allergies
Aside from keeping your home clean, using an air purifier is another major step you can take to cut down on indoor air pollutants that can cause allergies. The benefit they provide is that they remove the potentially harmful particles out of the air you breathe, writes Healthline. Most importantly, before shopping for an air purifier, identify what you most want to filter from the air so that you get the most benefit from your purchase. Just make sure you choose an air purifier and not a humidifier, which only adds moisture to the air.
Tips for Choosing an Air Purifier for Allergies
Where will you place the purifier? Size matters when it comes to the space where you will be using the purifier. It’s important to choose one that is designed for the specific size of the room – large or small. Many models have a certified CADR — clean air delivery rate — for general or specific indoor air pollutants, says Healthline. The CADR indicates how many particles and square feet the purifier can handle. According to Good Housekeeping, you want a general CADR of at least 300, and anything above 350 is excellent. The most common place to put an air purifier is in the bedroom, where you tend to spend the most time.
Look for certification. Specifically, you want the AHAM (Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers) Verified mark. This voluntary certification covers the safety and performance of many small home appliances, such as air purifiers. The AHAM certification usually means the product provides a CADR rating and size guidelines.
Insist on a True HEPA filter. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air and it uses a fine glass mesh to trap harmful particles. True HEPA filters remove at least 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 micron in diameter in a lab setting and this is what you want from one of the best air purifiers for allergies. This covers most common indoor air allergens such as dust, dander, pollen and mold, says WebMD. Beware of the terms “HEPA-like” or “HEPA-type,” when describing a filter because these do not have any specific standards backing up their effectiveness.
For odors, you also need an activated carbon filter. While these might clean out some particles from the air, their main function is to remove odors and gases from indoor air.
Other technologies are optional. Various air purifiers offer other technologies, such as a UV light, which inactivates microbes but does not remove them from the air. Ionizers are another option, and these create negative ions that help draw particles from the and into the filter. The caution with ionizers is that many of them create ozone, which creates harmful effects of its own. Vice magazine notes that “Most purifiers will mention in their product description if they don’t make ozone, but not if they do.”
Air purifiers and humidifiers are very different devices. An air purifier removes particles, gases, and other pollutants from indoor air making it cleaner to breathe. A humidifier adds moisture or humidity to the air without doing anything to clean the air.
Ready to go shopping? Here are the best air purifiers for allergies.
The Honeywell True HEPA Air Purifier with Allergen Remover is a winner among reviewers for its effectiveness at relieving allergy symptoms. Ideal for a medium-sized room, the True HEPA filter means that it traps up to 99.97 percent of particles as small as 0.3 microns, which includes the most common allergy culprits like pet dander, pollen, dust, mold and smoke. Honeywell says that its air purifiers filter and circulate the air as many as 5 times an hour in a medium-sized room.
This is one of the best air purifiers for allergies because it also has a pre-filter that traps the largest particles like dust, fibers and pet hair. An added bonus of the pre-filter is that it also helps eliminate volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and household odors. The prefilter needs to be replaced every three months while the HEP filter should be changed every 12 months. The unit has a filter change indicator to alert you when it’s time to swap them out. Honeywell’s air purifier is also AHAM Verifide, which means that it has undergone independent testing to verify the product works as it claims for the recommended room size for smoke, dust and pollen.
- Happy reviewers rave about waking up free of congestion and having relief from allergy symptoms.
- Buyers say the unit is easy to set up and operate.
- Telephone customer service was noted as very helpful with questions.
- Some buyers say that their unit is too noisy for use overnight.
- A few reviewers had issues with durability with the purifier not working after a number of weeks.
With 93 percent of reviewers giving the LEVOIT Air Purifier for Home Allergies four-and five-star reviews, you can tell there’s much to love about this unit. Levoit says that it offers better filtration because it has a larger expansion area and longer length than others. The True HEPA filter works in concert with an ultra-fine pre-filter and an activated carbon filter, giving you more allergy-busting bang for your buck. It also offers a full slate of certifications, being AHAM Verifide, California air resources board(CARB) compliant for indoor cleaning devices, Energy Star Verified, FCC certified, ETL listed, and CA PROP 65 certified. The Levoit air purifier is also ozone free and AHAM Verifide, which helps put it among the best air purifiers for allergies.
Another benefit of the Levoit is that it comes with the original all-purpose filter that efficiently particles including dust mites, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and bacteria. It also combats pet odors and cooking smells. If you have a particular allergy or household air issue, Levoit also offers different filters that target the issue. A filter specifically for pet allergies includes a high-efficiency activated carbon filter as does a filter aimed at eliminating toxins such as VOCs, smoke and strong smells. A third specialty filter is targeted at neutralizing harmful germs and preventing mold growth in the filter and uses an antibacterial filter.
- Reviewers love the quality and effectiveness of this air purifier.
- Levoit says it has whisper-quiet operation in the nighttime mode, which is praised by happy buyers.
- The purifier comes with a one-year warranty and it can be registered for an additional year of warranty through the company’s website.
- Some buyers had issues with an unpleasant plastic smell coming from the unit.
- A few reviewers noted that the purifier they received was very noisy.
The RabbitAir MinusA2 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier offers serious style as well as premium air filtration with its Advanced HEPA filter and six stages of purification and deodorization. From a functional standpoint, the BioGS HEPA Filter does what a True HEPA filter does, which is trapping 99.97 percent of particles as small as 0.3 microns in size. However, it also prevents the buildup of these allergens on the filter and reduces the growth of bacteria and viruses on the filter. This RabbitAir purifier also was a permanent, washable prefilter for dust and large particles, a medium filter, a customized filter to target a specific problem such as germs, pet allergies, odors or airborne toxins. Finally, it includes a charcoal-based activated carbon filter and a negative ion generator.
Designed for large spaces up to 815 square feet, the RabbitAir has an Energy Star rated motor and CADR ratings from dust pollen and smoke. It’s also ultra-quiet with a five-speed motor that emits just 20.8 decibels on the quietest setting. In fact, the unit has a sensor that automatically puts it on sleep mode when the room is dark and a more active mode when there is more light. From a style standpoint, this is one of the few units with the option for a wall mount, as well as an artistic series of cover panels that includes images by Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Katsushika Hokusai, and original designs that are available for an extra charge.
- The RabbitAir MinusA2 comes with a five-year warranty
- Buyers note the unit’s quality construction and effective cleaning of the air.
- Although this is a pricey unit, reviewers say that it is well worth the expense.
- Some buyers did not find the unit effective or worth the extra cost.
- Replacement filters are said to be more costly than average.
- A few buyers noted that while the unit has a 5-year warranty, returns fall under Amazon’s standard policy.
If you have an open plan home or a large room and you need an air purifier for allergies, the Honeywell HPA300 is made to handle spaces of up to 465 square feet. It features the True HEPA filter required to filter out 99.97 percent of allergens 0.3 microns or larger and combines it with three air cleaning levels plus a Turbo Clean mode. The unit filters out the most common allergy-inducing particles such as pet dander, pollen, dust, mold and smoke, while also reducing odors.
Honeywell’s unit filters and circulates the air up to five times an hour creating better indoor air quality. It is ozone free and runs at a low noise level that some call white noise. Honeywell says that if the unit becomes noisy and the air output seems to be diminished, the filters may be dirty and need replacement. High levels of indoor air contaminants can clog the filter and keep air from freely moving through it. The Honeywell HPA300 is Energy Star rated and AHAM Verifide.
- Buyers note the effectiveness of the air cleaning they get from this unit.
- A number of reviewers noted how quiet the purifier is.
- Some buyers had issues with the unit making noise or putting out an offensive odor.
- Durability in the long term was a problem for some people.
Smart technology makes this Blueair 605 Air Purifier the only one on the list that has its own app and that can be controlled via the Alexa voice assistant. Designed for spaces large spaces up to 775 square feet, the purifier has HEPASilent technology which, the company says, uses mechanical filtration and electrostatic charge. It has a CADR of 500 cubic feet per minute with 5 cycles of filtration per hour and is Energy Star rated, certified by the California Air Resources Board for no ozone emissions, and AHAM Verifide.
This purifier runs on one of three fan speeds, including a nighttime low mode and all can be set with a timer. Even better, it’s Wifi-enabled so that you can control it via the proprietary app or using Amazon Alexa. The app also has real-time air quality monitoring. Blueair offers Dual-Protection filters, which you can buy separately, that add carbon filtration to eliminate odors and smoke. The company notes that filters should be replaced every six months or so, depending on use, and that they are recyclable.
- Happy buyers called this one of the best purifiers because of its ease of use and effectiveness in filtering the air, even terming it the “gold standard for household air cleaners.”
- This Blueair comes with a one-year warranty that can be extended to five years by registering the unit on the manufacturer’s website.
- Some reviewers had problems with a funky odor coming from the unit.
- While it has an app, a number of users had trouble with it connecting to wifi and working properly.