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If you suffer from allergies, an air purifier can be your saving grace. There are already so many things that affect the air quality of your home, like smoke. Pollen, dust, and other indoor particulate matter are just the icing on the cake of things that make you sneeze or put your air purifier into overdrive. Puffy eyes and sniffly noses can leave you saying “gesundheit,” and you can only bless yourself so many times before you start to believe that maybe you’ve been cursed. There’s also only so much allergy medicine you can take before you start hallucinating and get a visit from the Hat Man. Life doesn’t have to be sneezy, runny, hoarse, and itchy, however. The best air purifiers for allergies eliminate pet dander, airborne allergens, and pathogens, letting you breathe easily without the help of medication.
How we chose the best air purifiers for allergies
All of us on the PopSci gear desk live in highly polluted cities (New York, D.C., and Pittsburgh, specifically) and own pets whom we adore dearly. We love where we live and the animals we call our fur children, who we treat just like real children. But one thing we don’t love: When the pollen count skyrockets, our pets decide to release more dander than usual, and existence feels like a hazy, miserable, (hay) fever dream.
We’ve written about air purifiers before and even delved into those that take mold out of the air. We considered factors like HEPA filtration, efficiency, smart-home features, design, and room coverage. Air purifiers work best when they’re out of sight and out of mind. You’re already worried about what’s in the air—you don’t want to worry about how well your air purifier is removing the gunk out of it.
The best air purifiers for allergies: Reviews & Recommendations
You want your Air Quality Index (AQI) like how The Youths are choosing the rise of their jeans: low. One of our choices will let you drop it* (*the amount of dust, pet dander, and pollen chilling out in your home) like it’s hot. You may have outgrown trends from the early 2000s, but you’ll never tire of retiring from your allergy era.
Best overall: Mila Air Purifier for Large Room | Big Sneeze
- Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 15 inches
- Weight: 12 lbs.
- Coverage area: 920 square feet
- Easy to set up
- Clean look
- Lots of customization
Instead of offering one filter that does everything OK, the Mila lets you choose from seven filters, each aimed at solving a particular need. We’re a fan of the Big Sneeze, which is made to fight allergy triggers like pollen, dander, and dust. It has a HEPA 13 filter with a powerful clean air delivery rate (CADR) of 416 cubic feet per hour. That gives you fully circulated air in a 920-square-foot room every 30 minutes.
The unit also has eight environmental sensors, including CO2 and humidity sensors. It’s literally as quiet as a library, thanks to its 24-decibel output. It’s also super sensitive: the air purifier kicked into high gear when I sprayed an aerosol air freshener in the room.
Mila’s app is where this connected smart-home device shines, however. Available for Android and iOS, the app gives you more preset modes like Bubble Boy (which keeps the AQI as low as possible, no matter the setting), sleep, white noise, energy save, Turndown Service, and child lock. We also love the app’s included local pollen forecasts from the National Allergy Bureau to stay in the know of elevated allergen levels. The air purifier is also incredibly stylish. Its cube shape gives “technologically advanced fancy marshmallow” compared to “bleak, unaesthetic cylinder” like many others on the market. The Mila is expensive, but you get lots of perks and flexibility.
Best with cooling: Dyson Pure Cool Link
- Dimensions: 7.7 x 4.3 x 4.01 inches
- Weight: 7.9 lbs.
- Coverage area: Up to 999 square feet
- Does double duty
- App provides detailed air quality reports
The Dyson Pure Cool Link excels at both purifying the air and providing a satisfying breeze. Its filtration system works quickly to clean a large area of all airborne allergens, including pollen, bacteria, and both human and pet dander. Expect all contaminants to be filtered out down to 0.3 microns. An activated carbon layer filters out paint fumes, smoke from tobacco and cooking, and nasty odors. Using the MyDyson app (available on Google Play and App Store) you can get real-time insights on air quality with detailed metrics.
You can even sync it up to an Amazon Alexa device and operate it using voice controls. Its fan is almost as powerful, with 10 different speeds, and automatic shut-off in the event that it’s knocked over. It also oscillates, and its bladeless design makes it safe for smaller humans and furry friends alike. The only downside here is almost ubiquitous with all other Dyson products: the cost.
Best for pets: BISSELL air320 Smart Air Purifier
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 14.7 x 25 inches
- Weight: 18.25 lbs.
- Coverage area: Up to 1,582 square feet
- Pet-specific filter
Don’t lets its pretty exterior fool you; this pet dander-demolishing air purifier means business. It has three levels of filtration: A pre-filter, an activated carbon filter (good for getting rid of pet smells), and a HEPA 13 filter. H13 and H14-level filters are considered hospital-grade, meaning you’re getting the purest air possible. The Pet Pro filter specifically captures 99.97% of .3 microns and is smaller, and its added Zeolite layer is better for capturing and controlling pet odors compared to traditional carbon filters. You only need to change the filter every six months, and doing so is incredibly easy.
We also love that it is whisper-quiet, takes very little energy to run, and cleans the air fast. It is a beautiful air filter, but it’s heavy and hard to move from room to room. Consider parking this air purifier in one place.
Best with UV light: InvisiClean Aura II Air Purifier
- Dimensions: 12.34 x 6.25 x 17.75 inches
- Weight: 8.9 lbs
- Coverage area: Up to 1,094 square feet
- Four fan speeds
- CARB compliant
The four fan speeds, whisper-quiet operation, and CARB compliance make this air purifier an especially good pick for allergy sufferers who are looking for something with UV light. In this case, a UV-C light neutralizes any airborne pathogens that the filter doesn’t catch. The California Air Resources Board requires purifiers to produce .050 parts per million of ozone or less, so any device with this certification keeps you safe from unsafe gas levels.
Best smart: Coway Airmega 250S
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 18.5 x 19.7 inches
- Weight: 20.5 lbs.
- Coverage area: Up to 930 square feet
- Easy-to-monitor LED lights
- Pulls even the small particles out of the air
- Noisy on higher fan speeds
This retro-inspired air purifier packs some seriously advanced tech. The touch panel at the top is easy to read and use. Plus, it’s not crowded with unnecessary settings: you just get an on/off button, and switches that control fan speed and different operational modes. Speaking of turning on, a long LED light flashes one of four colors for an instant read on air quality. If the light is blue, your air is so fresh and so clean. If it’s red, you might want to turn (the air purifier) up.
It can cycle 930 square feet of air in 30 minutes and can clean smaller rooms even faster than that. A multi-layered filtration system gets rid of mold, dust, pet dander, food smells, allergens, and even viruses—talk about a multi-hyphenate. Changing the filter is easy: simply open it up and slide a new one in. Practically everything with this air purifier, from its touch panel to the Coway IoCare app (available for Android and iOS devices), is user-friendly, which justifies its high price and occasional noisiness when running at high speeds.
Best budget: Levoit Core 300
- Dimensions: 8.7 x 8.7 x 16.25 inches
- Weight: 7.48 lbs.
- Coverage area: 219 square feet
- Incredibly quiet
- Have to pay more for a WiFi-enabled model
- Small coverage area compared to others on this list
This sub-$100 air purifier packs a punch well beyond its price. It’s incredibly quiet, easy to use, and lightweight for moving around the house. I’ve sneezed far less after running it in my living room and bedroom for the past two years. Its touch panel comes with three airflow presets (I, II, III), a quiet mode, a timer, a child lock, and a “lights off” button that turns off the panel lights without shutting down the air purifier. Each filter lasts for six months, and they come in a two-pack, so you only need to order them once a year. I’ve purchased this air purifier twice and would buy it again for every room in my apartment. I’ve used the general filter that comes with it and have had no problems, but the toxin absorber filter (sold separately) is a perfect match for mold catching. If you’re looking to pay extra for a WiFi-enabled model, it’s your lucky day.
What to consider when buying the best air purifiers for allergies
Looking at nature should make you cry because you’re moved by its astounding beauty, not because you’ve been ambushed by pollen. It’s also awful when you go inside to get some respite from that mulberry tree tackling your olfactory receptors, and you’re somehow still sneezing. Here’s what you should know when bringing home air purifiers for allergies:
Air purifiers generally require very little maintenance. If you have a pet, you’ll need to vacuum any excess hair stuck outside the filter. You’ll have to change the filter itself every six months. Most air purifiers will alert you when it’s time to change your filter, giving you the perfect opportunity to set up autoship so that they come to your door without having to think.
HEPA stands for “high-efficiency particulate air.” They remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, and bacteria down to .3 microns. Make sure your filter is a HEPA 13 or HEPA 14 for maximum filter power. Additionally, some models are compatible with filters that tackle specific problems, like pet dander or fumes.
Efficiency and coverage
Look at the clean air delivery rate (CADR) of the model you’re considering. Per Energy Star, the higher the CADR, the larger the area it can purify. If you want to put an air purifier in one small room, you can get away with something with a lower CADR. However, if you live in a home or have a large room you want to purify, you’ll need a higher CADR. You can use an air purifier with a lower CADR in a large room, but it will take longer to fully filter the air. Also, if you have a high ceiling, you’ll need an air purifier with a higher CADR.
Smart air purifiers give you convenience and advanced metrics, but sometimes you gotta keep it simple, sunshine. Air purifiers with apps give you more specific numbers on the air quality in your home. If you just want something that filters the air—no bells, no whistles, just a simple air purifier that’s like a regular cup of coffee—look for a model that at least has controls for airflow, a timer, and a sleep mode.
You worked hard to make your house a home. Don’t let your air purifier ruin the vibes you have cultivated over many months (and even years in some instances). However, don’t choose an air purifier just because it’s a pretty face. Make sure it works just as hard as those that look more utilitarian.
Q: Do air purifiers really help with allergies?
Yes. A 2022 study suggests that a portable HEPA air purifier with appropriate CADR can significantly reduce pet dander, dust mites, particulate matter, and other allergens from indoor air.
Q: What is better for allergies: a humidifier or an air purifier?
Humidifiers help relieve allergy symptoms, but an air purifier removes allergens from the air and completely cure symptoms.
Q: Should I sleep with the air purifier on?
Yes. Leaving an air purifier on for an extended period of time helps increase its effectiveness. Plus, some people enjoy the white noise an air purifier makes. If the noise and the lights bother you, consider an air purifier with a designated sleep mode that quiets things down and dims all lights.
Q: Do air purifiers work with windows open?
Yes, but it will operate less effectively. New pollutants come in from outside air and slow down the time it takes for an air purifier to cleanse the air in the room.
Q: How often should I change my air purifier filter?
It depends on the model you own. Some advertise a never-change filter that lasts up to five years. Others require a filter change every six months.
Q: Where should I place an air purifier?
You don’t want to keep an air purifier hidden in a corner or camouflaged by some furniture. Put it by a doorway, window, or any other place that has good airflow. For maximum efficacy, keep an air purifier in each room or move it around. Stick it near a particular pollutant that’s bothering you, like the litter box. It should also be 3-5 feet off the ground if it’s not tower-styled.
Final thoughts on the best air purifiers for allergies
There’s no need to cry over spilled pollen, loose dust, and floating dander with an air purifier made specifically for allergies. Make sure you choose one that’s appropriately sized for your home, and let the device take care of the rest. HEPA 13 or HEPA 14 filters will give you the airborne purity you desire, and special add-ons like carbon filters can tackle odors and other pain points in your home. You’ll see clearly after using one of the best air purifiers for allergies.
Why trust us
Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.
Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.