Guide for selecting an air purifier if you have allergies or asthma
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergies on the rise and appear to affect around 30% of adults and 40% of kids. And, believe it or not, according to Consumer Reports, indoor air can be 2 to 5 times as dirty as outdoor air. To help clean the air, many are turning to air purifiers.
Please note that this article may include affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.
A good air purifier isn’t cheap. In fact, they often range in price from around $50 to $1000. But, please bear in mind that there are additional costs you need to factor into the equation, namely the cost of the filters and energy usage, especially as most should be run around the the clock.
Often, as you pay a bit more for the air purifier, you save on the energy and filter costs (and reduce the noise).
If you’re curious (or in a hurry)
It’s an excellent air purifier specifically designed for those with asthma or allergies. Honeywell is the #1 brand recommended by allergists.
This uses a powerful HEPA filter and a Carbon filter to both clean the air of dust, allergens, smoke and odors. It covers a large area – up to 465 sf.
You’ll also find that it’s also one of the most affordable air purifiers you’ll find online.
If you can get it for under $250, grab it. That’s one heck of a deal on a GOOD air purifier! (check current price).
Important note on air purifier limitations
Please note that air purifiers only remove air borne particles, NOT the dust or dander in the carpet. Once allergens or mold spores hit the floor, you need to vacuum them. For carpet, I’d recommend the Shark Rotator Pro. For hardwood floors, I recommend this vacuum from Bissell, specifically designed for hardwood floors. (See this article on why you should be using a different vacuum on hardwood floors).
Please also note that super cheap purifiers often do very little for indoor air quality, even when run on high speeds. You are often better off investing a little bit more to get a higher quality purifier. These do work a bit similar to printer business models…you either pay more for the equipment and less on refills (in this case filters and energy) or vice versa).
Steps to take before you use your air purifier
Before you buy your air purifier, be sure to take some simple steps that will reduce air irritants. This will help make your air purifier work even better.
- Vacuum often (at least once a week). See this article for the best vacuum for hardwood flooring. If you or a family member has severe allergies or asthma, vacuuming more often is even better, especially in high traffic areas.
- Maintain your heating and cooling systems (HVAC) and be sure to change your filters (at least every 3 months, but once a month is better). This is really important as this recirculates air throughout the entire house.
- Be sure to clean the lint in the laundry machine after every use (and vacuum behind it as well).
- Do not smoke indoors.
- Minimize the use of candles, incense and wood fires
- Use exhaust fans in kitchen and bathrooms; be sure to clean and change those filters, too.
- Don’t store chemicals inside (e.g. pesticides, solvents, etc.)
- Seal any drafts you have by windows and doors.
Types of air purifiers
There are several types of air purifiers including ultraviolet, ionizing and filter based. Most prefer to use filter based purifiers as the others can produce ozone which can irritate your lungs. HEPA filter based capture up to 99.97% of allergens and pollutants as small as 0.3 microns (this is about as small as smoke or fine dust particles.
Note: filter based air purifiers do not capture gasses, so they won’t protect you from carbon monoxide, radon or VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds). And, they won’t remove odors (e.g. cigarette smoke, pet odor) unless you have a carbon filter.
Some air purifiers have pre-filters which can improve their effectiveness and save money by extending the life of the HEPA filter.
Picking the right size
Please note that when Consumer Reports did their air purification tests, they found that most models overstated the size of the room that the purifier cover. So, to get the best performance and efficiency, you are better off buying a slightly larger size than what you think you might need and then use it on low to improve energy efficiency and reduce noise.
My top 3 recommendations for air purifiers
We all know that you get what you pay for and generally as you pay more, you get more features and a higher quality product. In this case here, we are talking about our health and comfort level, and my general recommendation is to spend a bit more, if you can afford it. If we don’t have our health, we don’t have much else. So, I’ve selected my top choices for each price tier – so these are good, better, best scenarios. All of these are great options.
1. Rabbit Air MinusA2
If I had to pick the best rated air purifier this would be my first choice. It has amazing cleaning power and a wide range of features. It does cost more, but you’ll see that it’s worth it.
This air purifier offers an unparalleled 6-stage air purification process for the cleanest and freshest air possible. :
- Pre-filter – Captures the largest particles
- Medium Filter – Traps large allergens and dust
- BioGS® HEPA Filter – Captures the tiniest of all allergens, dust, pollen and mold particles. .
- Carbon Filter – Eliminates odors
- Customized Filter – Allows you to customize to suit your specific needs.
- Ion Generator – Creates an ionic field to neutralize contaminants. It does this without producing ozone
This covers a room up to 700 square feet and it comes with a 5 year warranty.
Another great and unusual feature of this air purifier is that you can mount it on the wall so it won’t take up floor space (and of course it makes vacuuming easier as you won’t need to move it. It comes in white and black.
The Rabbit Air MinusA2 is more expensive than the most popular one I mentioned above, but it is totally worth it. If you can afford it, it’s a wonderful option.
Check out the Amazon reviews here.
2. Honeywell True HEPA allergen Remover (HPA300)
This air purifier is great for large rooms as it covers up to 465 sq ft. It offers 4 cleaning levels: Germ, General clean, allergen and Turbo. It filters and recirculates the air in the 5 times per hour.
This also uses a powerful HEPA filter and a Carbon filter to both clean the air of dust, allergens, smoke and odors. Honeywell is the #1 Brand that allergists recommend.
This product is very reasonably priced for the quality it provides. Check out the current price here.
3. GermGuardian AE5000E 3 in 1 air purifier
This is the economical air purifier that delivers a quality end result. The 3 in 1 system features:
- True HEPA Filter – Captures 99.97% of microscopic allergens, dust and mold spores down to 0.3 microns in size. This is the optimal filter for people who suffer with with allergies or asthma.
- Charcoal carbon Filter – Reduces odors (from pets, cooking and smoke)
- UV-C Light – Kills bacteria, viruses, germs and mold spores.
The GermGuardian is good for smaller to mid sized rooms. I can cover up to 193 sq ft. It’s lightweight and easily portable, so you an easily move it from room to room.
The only downside to this product is that it tends to emit a plastic smelling odor during the first 2 days of use (according to some of the reviews). This is a common occurrence among many manufactured products that come in boxes. But, it does fade away after the first 48 hours. If you are super sensitive to smell and it bothers you, I’d recommend that open the box and let it sit in the garage or another area for a couple of days before using it.
You can check out the reviews here.
Where to buy air purifiers
There are many places to shop for air purifiers including local and online stores. I’ve generally found that Amazon has the lowest prices for the same items, so that’s my preferred venue.
Frequently asked questions about air purifiers
What is a HEPA filter?
HEPA filter based capture up to 99.97% of allergens and pollutants as small as 0.3 microns (this is about as small as smoke or fine dust particles.
Do air purifiers really work?
I will be honest that there are mixed data and mixed opinions on the web about this. Most doctors and allergists do recommend them, but importantly, this is only part of what impacts indoor air quality. It’s also super important to vacuum (and have a good vacuum) as well as look into your heating/cooling equipment (and filters). See above for more tips. I would consider air purifiers to be a part of the solution, but not the only factor.
Do HEPA filters remove odors?
No. HEPA filters capture allergens, not odors. To capture odors, you need a separate carbon filter. Some of the above options have that.
Do air purifiers really work for allergies?
The answer is yes, provided you have indoor environmental allergies, you get a machine that uses a true HEPA filter and is the right size of the room.
Which is better for asthma – humidifiers or air purifiers?
An air purifier is the best option for allergies. Air purifiers actually remove dust, pollen, pet dander, mold spores from the air so they don’t end up in your eyes, nose, throat, or lungs. A humidifier doesn’t remove these items. In fact, humidifiers may make the environment worse by adding moisture to the air which enables these items to spread and multiply.
Are air purifiers and humidifiers the same thing?
Air purifiers and humidifiers have different functions. Air purifiers are clean indoor air, but do nothing for indoor humidity levels. They remove dust, pollen, allergens, pet dander and smoke from the air.
Humidifiers, on the other hand add water into the air, but they do nothing to clean the air.
Can you run an air purifier and dehumidifier at the same time?
Yes, you can safely use both an air purifier and a humidifier together because they do very different things. While your humidifier raises the moisture level in the air, the air purifier will work to clean out the contaminants.
- What’s the best type of flooring if you have allergies or asthma?
- Best vacuum for pet hair and pet fur