Best air purifier 2022: Clear the air and take a break from your allergies


Sick of sniffling, sneezing and feeling low in your home? Find relief from your allergies with our pick of the best air purifiers

The best air purifiers can help to ease the symptoms of asthma, hay fever and other allergies by cleaning the air in your home, removing pollutants and irritants such as pollen, dust, pet dander and smoke. With good-quality air purifiers available from under £100 to well over £1,000, there are plenty of great choices for every budget.

But with machines ranging from downright useless to ultra-effective, it’s essential you do your homework before you choose which one to buy. To help out, we’ve tested a selection of machines to pick out the best air purifiers you can buy – that is, the ones that quickly and efficiently clear the air and are easy to both set up and use.

Not sure what to look out for? Have a read of our buying guide below, where we’ve summed up the key factors you need to consider before parting with your hard-earned dosh.

Alternatively, feel free to skip ahead to one of the following sections:

Best air purifier: At a glance

For small rooms

For mid-sized rooms

For larger rooms

How to choose the best air purifier for you

How much do I need to spend?

Air purifiers can cost as little as £70 or well over £1,000, but it’s not simply a case of the more you spend, the better the machine. Indeed, we’ve found low-cost machines with features that are usually only found in much more expensive models. But that’s not to say that a pricey air purifier is inevitably overpriced; more expensive models from Philips, Sharp or Daikin will have additional modes and features that the cheaper products lack. Also remember it’s not just the initial financial outlay you need to think about, with operating costs ranging from a few pounds a year up to over £70 per annum, especially if you need to replace filters once or twice a year.

How do air purifiers actually clean the air?

Air purifiers use different kinds of filters to do their job – usually, a large, washable, reusable pre-filter to collect bigger particles, plus a finer filter, which is usually a disposable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. The length of time this lasts varies, but on average expect it to need replacing every six months (or fewer if you use the machine less). It’s the HEPA filter that catches all the tiny airborne nasties, and these are capable of catching particles as small as 0.3 microns, which is more than three times smaller than a cigarette smoke particle.

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What is the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR)?

The CADR aims to provide an objective measure of the effectiveness of a portable air purifier at dealing with different types of allergen. A purifier with a score of 250 for dust particles is as effective as adding 250 cubic feet of clean air per minute. Buyers should focus on the results of the specific pollutant they're aiming to eradicate, whether that’s pollen, smoke or dust, and many manufacturers will supply CADR figures for the most common.

Generally speaking, the higher the CADR, the larger the room it can purify effectively. It’s also worth comparing manufacturer figures for the maximum size of room as these can vary enormously, sometimes when the CADR doesn’t.

Can air purifiers help protect against viruses?

Understandably, there has been a lot of talk over the last couple of years around whether HEPA air purifiers offer any protection against viruses, including Covid-19. The answer is pretty complex. Most viruses – and the droplets of mucus and saliva that might contain them – are perfectly capable of filtering particles in the 20 to 500-nanometre range in which you’d find most viruses. What’s more, the US Centre for Disease Control has advised that used properly, air purifiers can help reduce airborne contaminants, including viruses, in a home or confined space.

However, there’s no way to ensure that a HEPA air purifier would catch the virus prior to you inhaling it, and there are a lot of variables in play, including the type of filter used, the size of the room and the airflow in it. There’s also still a lot of discussion about the extent to which many viruses are spread through the air or transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets. In short, an air purifier might help, but there’s not enough evidence to make the case compelling.

What other factors should I consider?

  • Filtration performance should be your priority. Your symptoms will only be eased to a noticeable extent with an air purifier that works quickly to clean the air.
  • Noise is another factor – you don’t want to replace one irritation (allergies) with another (the sound of a jet plane in your room). For many, the hum is something that doesn’t bother them, but some purifiers can get very noisy. It’s also worth remembering that, while some machines are quiet on their lowest setting (where they’re often at their least effective), they might be loud on the fastest (where they’re working at their best).
  • Speed settings. Most air purifiers have a choice of speeds so you can keep it lower for sleeping and turn it up when the pollen count is high. A night mode can also help if you want a quiet setting and dimmer lights while you sleep, although we found this doesn’t always work as well as you’d hope.
  • An air-quality sensor, which enables the machine to switch itself on when the air quality becomes poorer, can be useful. After all, you can’t see when the air quality dips, for example, as the result of a high pollen count.
  • A few high-end units double as humidifiers, managing the moisture in the air to prevent dry air causing irritation to the nose, throat, lips and skin.
  • What about a carry handle? These are handy if you need to move it from room to room. Wheels, a compact design and a low weight won’t go amiss here, either.
  • Easy-to-use controls are always a plus, with a good remote control a must-have when you’re using a purifier in a larger room. Some purifiers are even packing in Wi-Fi connectivity and apps, so you can set the purifier going before you get home from the office or control it from your phone.
  • Filter replacement indicators aren’t crucial and not all air purifiers have them, but this is a helpful feature as a clogged air cleaner won’t work properly.
  • Some purifiers have a built-in timer. This can be really useful if you want your machine to come on a few hours before you get home, or if you want to turn it off automatically at night.
  • Smart features allow you to operate your purifier remotely or switch it on and off according to a schedule. You may also get useful data on air quality, temperature, humidity and more.

How we test air purifiers

We first test air purifiers in normal household circumstances to assess their features, noise levels and performance with everyday particulates and irritants, including wood smoke, pollen and pet dander. We then run standardised tests, spraying a test aerosol inside a small room for five seconds and using an air quality meter to record particulate levels. We time the period it takes to return the room to a normal level (25 micrograms per square metre) to get a base rate of purification. During testing we also measure noise levels at low, medium and maximum power settings, plus sleep settings where available, and measure power consumption.

The best air purifiers for small rooms

1. Russell Hobbs RHAP1001B Clean Air Compact: The best budget air purifier

Price: £70 | Buy now from Robert Dyas

This pint-sized purifier doesn’t pack in many features, but it’s effective where it counts. It comes in black or grey and stands just 40cm high – roughly the size of a small pedal bin – with the intake at the bottom and a fan blasting air out at an angle at the top. With just three speed settings, three timer settings and a sleep mode, the controls are fairly basic, and the only indicator is an LED ring that fades from red through amber to green as the filters do their work.

It’s really designed for small spaces of around 10m², but we found its performance better than the 80m³/h CADR might imply. Spraying antiperspirant into a small room with the purifier at maximum speed, the Clean Air Compact brought PM2.5 particulates down to safe levels within three minutes and six seconds. At that speed it’s fairly noisy, with sound levels reaching around 48dBA, but in general use the low setting will be fine, and this takes the noise levels down to 36.2dBA, where the sound is noticeable but hardly aggravating.

Spending more will get you something quieter with more power, but this is a decent little purifier for a small lounge, home office or bedroom if you’re working to a similarly sized budget.

Key specs – CADR: 80m³/h; Max room size: 10m²; Power settings: 3; Dimensions (HWD): 40.3 x 19.5 x 19.5cm; Weight: 2.3kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 2 years

2. HoMedics TotalClean 5-in-1 Tower - Small: The best compact air purifier for features

Price: £99 to £249 | Buy now from Amazon

With three sizes to choose from, the HoMedics Total Clean 5-in-1 tower range is fit for duty in rooms of up to 109m², although we tested the Small version, recommended for spaces of up to 75m². It’s a well-designed unit in white, with a softly glowing blue nightlight ringing the circumference, just below the touch-sensitive control panel. Here, you can switch between the three fan speed settings or set the off timer, with two-, four-, six- and 12-hour settings. You can also evaporate essential oils by adding an absorbent pad into the tray just above the output fan.

The HoMedics stays quiet at its lowest two settings, but noise levels ramp up on its highest setting to around 54.1dB, making it louder than some larger models. It uses between 16W and 34W while in use. Performance is in line with other small purifiers, taking just over four minutes to bring our PM2.5 particulates down to safe levels from a high of 387 micrograms per square metre. However, with an HEPA filter, a carbon odour filter, an ioniser and UV-C treatment to combat germs, the HoMedics has a more robust set of air treatment features than other purifiers in its class. It’s affordable, but not at all basic.

Key specs – CADR: 184m³/h; Max room size: 75m²; Power settings: 3; Dimensions (HWD): 43 x 21.3 x 21.3cm; Weight: 3kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 3 years

3. Ikea Starkvind: The best air purifier for style

Price: £135 | Buy now from Ikea

Where most air purifiers are utilitarian white plastic units, Ikea has given its new model a more living-room-friendly Scandinavian look, with a circular design and a fabric-covered baffle in front of the fan. What’s more, you can buy it in a cool side-table format, complete with wooden legs and top. Either way, it keeps things simple, with a single control knob, a default Auto setting and five fan speeds on demand.

It uses a three-stage filter to capture larger particles and odours as well as the usual PM2.5 pollutants, and while our tests show that it’s not especially powerful, it has enough air-clearing power to handle the average-sized living room and performed especially well in a well-used kitchen/diner. It’s also reasonably quiet, with barely any noise at lower settings, although it reached just over 50dB at full tilt. It connects to Ikea’s Tradfri smart ecosystem, so if you’ve invested in Ikea's smart bulbs and speakers, you can hook up your purifier, check the air quality and change the current settings via an app.

Key specs – CADR: 240m³/h; Max room size: 20m²; Power settings: 4; Dimensions (WDH): 51 x 19 x 53cm; Weight: 5.9kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 1 year

Buy now from IKEA

4. Sharp UA-HD40U-L: The best purifier and humidifier for smaller rooms

Price: £283 | Buy now from Amazon

This compact unit packs in three ways to improve your air quality. It uses a triple air-filtration system to remove microscopic irritants and pollutants – not to mention odours – and can also humidify your air, adding tiny droplets of moisture from the 2.5l water tank to maintain a constant level. Finally, it features what Sharp calls “Plasmacluster ion technology” to emit positive and negative ions, which, Sharp claims, can eliminate bacteria, viruses, odours and static electricity.

We’re not sure how well that works in practice, but the UA-HD40U-L is impressively efficient at filtering out impurities and very quiet at its automatic and low-power settings. A strip on the top turns from red to orange to green to indicate the current air quality, and there’s a humidity readout so you can monitor humidity levels, although both this and the “ion shower” feature can be turned off if you just want air purification. Well designed and easy to use, this is a great air purifier for smaller rooms.

Key specs – CADR: 216m³/h; Max room size: 26m²; Power settings: 6; Dimensions: 39.9 x 23 x 61.5cm; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 1 year

5. Blueair Blue 3210: The best compact air purifier

Price: £179 | Buy now from Amazon

Like the Ikea Starkvind, the Blueair Blue 3210 wins serious points for style. With the main filter covered by a grey fabric sleeve, it looks more like a supersized Scandinavian wireless speaker than something that sucks pollutants from your immediate atmosphere. The sleeve has an elastic section with a Velcro closing that you remove to change the filter, and getting it back on again can be a faff. Still, it’s a small price to pay for such a cool design.

The minimalist aesthetic extends to the controls, with just a single button that you use to toggle through the Auto, Everyday, Night and Boost modes, surrounded by a ring of four indicators to let you know which mode you’re in. Meanwhile, the coloured indicator on the front gives you a quick appraisal of the current air quality, glowing blue to red. It’s practically silent at its lowest settings, although it creeps up to nearly 50dB in Boost mode. Still, with the Auto mode so effective, it’s unlikely you’ll use Boost all that often; it constantly measures the air quality and applies whatever speed it thinks is needed to keep things clean

We were impressed with the air-cleaning performance for such a small unit. During our anti-perspirant PM2.5 test it brought the levels down to double figures within a minute, and they kept on ticking downwards, where other compact purifiers seem to struggle the closer the count gets to safe levels. Throw in low power consumption – just 2.2W to 9.1W depending on the mode – and you’ve got a superb, if expensive, compact purifier.

Key specs – CADR: 181-210m³/h; Max room size: 41m²; Power settings: 4; Dimensions (HWD): 42.5 x 20 x 20cm; Weight: 1.7kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 1 year

6. Princess Smart Air Purifier 280: The best smart purifier for smaller rooms

Price: £170 | Buy now from Currys

It’s more expensive than comparable compact purifiers, but the Princess Smart Air Purifier 280 has two big points in its favour. First, it’s a smart purifier, connecting to the same HomeWizard Climate app as the smart heaters, fans and dehumidifiers in the Princess range. With it, you can schedule the purifier to turn on and off at certain times, check the PM2.5 levels, temperature and humidity, and operate the device through remote control. It’s not particularly sophisticated, but it’s easy to set up and it works.

Second, the 280 turns out to be something of a pocket rocket. It’s not brilliant in larger rooms, but put it in a small space and it puts through air at a prodigious rate, clearing our test aerosol at similar speeds to the mighty Hoover H-Purifier 500. The downside is that it can be noisy, putting out 35dB even at its lower speeds and nearly 53dB at peak, although on Sleep mode we found it hard to hear over ambient noise levels. That aside, it’s a great option for small and even mid-sized rooms.

Key specs – CADR: 280m³/h; Max room size: 35m²; Power settings: 4; Dimensions (WDH): 25 x 25 x 45cm; Weight: 3.8kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 2 years

The best air purifiers for mid-sized rooms

1. Sharp UA-HD50U-L: A great purifier and humidifier for mid-sized rooms

Price: £328 | Buy now from Amazon

The bigger brother of the UA-HD40U-L, the UA-HD50U-L combines the same impressive feature set with a bigger airflow to cover rooms of up to 38m², giving you enough purifying power to cover larger living rooms or open-plan spaces. It’s quiet, too, putting out little more than a whisper at its lowest settings or when set to its advanced auto mode. In fact, the loudest noise it makes is when the rear vent opens just after you turn it on.

Otherwise, this has the same advantages as the smaller version: effective three-stage filtering, a built-in humidifying function and Sharp’s Plasmacluster ion technology, which – while it sounds like a weapon from a Halo game – works to kill odours, bacteria and mould. While the Vax PureAir 300 gives you even more airflow and covers larger rooms for less, the Sharp hits a sweet spot for price, performance and features, making it a great mid-range purifier for mid-sized rooms.

Key specs – CADR: 306m³/h; Max room size: 38m²; Power settings: 6; Dimensions: 39.9 x 23 x 61.5cm; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 1 year

2. Philips AC3829/60: The best for removing dust, pollen and smoke

Price: £550 | Buy now from Amazon

The Philips AC3829/60 easily justifies its steep price, thanks to both its excellence at purifying the air in your home and its abundance of bells and whistles. In terms of the main job at hand, it’s easy to set up and use and, crucially, it removes dust, pollen and smoke at a rate of knots. The purifier is also energy-efficient and quiet on the low speed setting, and although it’s louder on the highest of its four fan speeds, it has a night mode to quieten it down when you’re trying to get some shut-eye.

The AC3829/60 can be controlled using a smartphone app where you can set it to “general”, “allergen on” or “sleep mode”. You can also find real-time pollution data both inside and outside, and get weekly forecasts, among other things. There’s a timer and an automatic mode, and this model even acts as a humidifier.

All in all, it’s hard to fault, but be warned that it’s big – even if it does have wheels. Our one complaint would be that replacing filters could be easier. If you’re not fussed about dehumidification, you can save a little cash by going for the similar – and cheaper – AC2889/60.

Key specs – CADR: 310m³/h; Max room size: 95m²; Power settings: 8; Dimensions (HWD): 80 x 49 x 39cm; Weight: 13.6kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 2 years

3. Daikin MC55VB: The best for low noise and long-lasting filters

Price: £350 | Buy now from Marks Electrical

Where most purifiers tend to oversell their capabilities, the Daikin MC55VB seems to do the opposite; in our tests, it cleaned as quickly and effectively as some models designed for larger spaces. What’s more, it’s quiet while it does it. At full power, it still dishes out a 52.2dB racket, but at its medium settings it’s closer to 34dB, where many competitors go over 40dB.

This one also has some interesting features. Its Flash Streamer technology is designed to break down pollen, fungal spores and odours with electrons, while its main HEPA filter is specified to last a full ten years. The secondary pre-filter and odour filters can just be vacuumed clean. Meanwhile, you can set the sensitivity of the PM2.5 sensor or switch to a customisable energy-saving eco mode. It’s not the most attractive unit and the controls are quite complex, but if you’re looking for a quiet, powerful air purifier, this is one of the best.

Key specs – CADR: 330m³/h; Max room size: 41m²; Power settings: 4; Dimensions (WDH): 27 x 27 x 50cm; Weight: 6.8kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 1 year

4. Proscenic A9: High-tech features at a low-end price

Price: £159 | Buy now from Amazon

For a low-cost, compact air purifier, the Proscenic A9 packs in a lot of features, and it’s also capable of handling spaces of up to 90m² in size. Its four-stage filter is designed to absorb particles as small as 0.3 microns, and it includes an infrared sensor to display air quality and adjust the power level in response to any changes. This proved thoroughly effective in tests, ramping up the fan speed to deal with smoke from an open woodburner – while also ramping up the noise.

In normal operations, though, fan noise won’t be a problem. While the racket is pretty awful at the highest speed, it’s barely noticeable at the lowest setting and the A9 has a sleep mode that drops it down even further and turns off the display and any LED indicators.

And, if you don’t fancy using the buttons on the top of the unit, you can also set timers and change the settings over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi using Proscenic’s smartphone app (though why this needs access to your location and your phone’s cameras and photo library is a bigger question that will put some users off). Still, with or without the app, this is a great-value purifier that makes some bigger-brand models look cumbersome and dated.

Key specs – CADR: 460m³/h; Max room size: 90m²; Power settings: 4; Dimensions (HWD): 52 x 26 x 26cm; Weight: 5.94kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 1 year

5. Blueair DustMagnet: The best living-room air purifier

Price: £330 | Buy now from Argos

The Blueair DustMagnet is cleverly designed to double as a kind of side-table and this, plus the grey fabric that works as a pre-filter, give it an understated style that’s ideal for the living room or bedroom. To add to the appeal, it’s also nearly silent, putting out just 29.3dB at its lowest speed setting and only hitting 47.7dB at full tilt. You can also put it in Night mode to keep the noise down, or switch it to Auto and have the purifier adjust its own speed to keep the air clean.

The controls are simple, but BlueAir has also fitted Wi-Fi to the unit so that you can use it with the company’s smartphone app. This works as a remote control, but also allows you to schedule when to turn it on and off, plus which mode to use, and set different schedules for different days of the week. You can also track its operations and your air quality over time. There’s no fancy programmable IFTTT stuff, but this is streets ahead of other purifiers with apps.

The icing on the cake is excellent performance. In our standard anti-perspirant spray test, the DustMagnet got us down to safe levels within two minutes, with most of the work being done within the first 60 seconds. And while we had our doubts about its claims of capturing airborne dust before it settles, we did notice a lower build-up over a couple of days of testing. Normally we wouldn’t want to leave it on so long, but with the DustMagnet using around 4W to 10W when set to Auto, power consumption is relatively low. Quiet, efficient and effective, it’s the perfect purifier for your living room.

Key specs – CADR: 226-238m³/h; Max room size: 48m²; Power settings: 5; Dimensions (HWD): 52 x 22 x 22cm; Weight: 4.5kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 1 year

The best air purifiers for larger rooms

1. Hoover H-Purifier 500: The best quiet purifier for larger rooms

Price: £216 | Buy now from Amazon

The mid-range model of Hoover’s new purifier range, the H-Purifier 500 comes packed with features and thoughtful design touches, including the retracting power cord, digital display and an LED ring that changes colour for an at-a-glance update on your air quality. It’s easy to use, too. Just set it in its Auto mode and it will run, continuously adjusting the fan speed, until the air quality stays in the safe green zone for over 30 minutes, at which point the fan will turn off. And if it gets worse again? No problem. It kicks straight back into action automatically.

This one has sensors for PM10 and PM2.5 pollutants along with VOC gases, and can also track temperature and humidity through the display. What’s more, link it to the hOn app over Wi-Fi, and the H-Purifier 500 will respond to other changes, including high pollen levels, soaring temperatures or pollution.

What we really like about this purifier, however, is that it’s both effective and pretty quiet about it. At full tilt, it’s as noisy as most rival air purifiers, but in its sleep mode you’d struggle to hear it above ambient sound levels – we measured the output at just 31dBA. In our deodorant spray test, the H-Purifier 500 got the PM2.5 concentration down to safe levels within two minutes and eight seconds, and Hoover’s three-filter purification system has been approved by the Allergy UK charity. We’re not 100% sure about the option to add essential oils to the airflow, but the options include an H-Biotics bottle that adds probiotic “good” bacteria to the atmosphere. All in all, it’s a superior purifier that’s perfect for mid-sized and larger rooms, with a price tag that won’t leave you gasping.

Key specs – CADR: 330m³/h; Max room size: 110m²; Power settings: 3; Dimensions (HWD): 57.5 x 28 x 32cm; Weight: 6.9kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 2 years

2. HoMedics TotalClean PetPlus 5-in-1: The best purifier for homes with pets

Price: £250 | Buy now from Amazon

You don’t necessarily need any four-legged friends to use the HoMedics TotalClean PetPlus, but if you struggle with doggy smells, cat hair and dander allergies, this purifier should definitely help. It’s designed to handle large rooms of up to 125m², and combines a pre-filter for large particles with a HEPA filter for dander, dust and smoke, plus a carbon odour filter for smells and VOCs. In tests we found it effective at easing mild pollen allergies and reducing cat food smells – unless emanating from the cat itself.

This isn’t all the PetPlus has going for it. Its power consumption is surprisingly frugal – just 3.3W at the lowest of its three fan speeds – and quiet at 33dB. With the speed ramped up to max you’re looking at around 48.8W and 57dB, but you can keep it on low or medium most of the time. As for air-cleaning performance, it’s exceptionally good, bringing us down to safe levels of PM2.5 within two minutes in our tests. That’s one of the speediest results we’ve ever seen. While not quite as beefy or as feature-packed as the Hoover H-Purifier 500, it’s a great alternative for anyone with pets.

Key specs – CADR: 303m³/h; Max room size: 125m²; Power settings: 3; Dimensions (HWD): 60 x 28.6 x 28.6cm; Weight: 4.1kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes; Warranty: 3 years

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