This morning I woke up in a sleeplike fog. Scratching my head as to why, I looked toward the window and realized I’d left it open overnight. As anyone with allergies knows, in the fall, this is a dire mistake. Fortunately, I’d been amassing air purifiers in our apartment for months. I have five in total, two of which lay flat on my desk while the other three take up a considerable amount of space in our home office. Still, on days like today, I’d rather be too safe than too sorry, as the best air purifiers can really make a difference.
While some tout fancy HEPA filters, others use filterless light technologies to quash airborne germs, bacteria, and of course, allergens. Certain higher-end models even double as fans or humidifiers, or in the case o my recently reviewed Dyson Pure Humidify + Cool Cryptomic (we’ll touch on this in a moment), both. Yet, despite their differences, all the top contenders for the title of best air purifier have the same goal in mind: helping you breathe cleaner, fresher air while we’re stuck indoors for the foreseeable future. Though as I’ve learned in my own testing, their effectiveness at achieving that objective varies.
Best Overall: Dyson Pure Humidify + Cool
I opened my review of the Dyson Pure Humidify + Cool Cryptomic by posing the question to our readers, “Would you pay $900 for an air purifier fan?” No? Then keep scrolling. Weighing in at an inconceivably hefty price point, the Humidfy + Cool is what I would call the de facto air purifier. You want it, this air purifier/cooling fan/humidifier combo has likely got it.
Fully commandable using a remote comparable to that of an Apple TV, its level of customization is unparalleled, made better by a mobile companion app that provides useful metrics regarding your air quality and temperature as well as humidity trends so that you can understand the weather conditions of your household enough to properly use the damn thing. To a degree, the onboard LCD screen also provides some of this information, albeit with a few less data points to reference.
As expected, the Dyson Pure Humidify + Cool Cryptomic’s performance is out of this world, too, though I’ll admit the formaldehyde-zapping “Cryptomic” technology probably isn’t worth an extra $100 over the standard Dyson Pure Humidify + Cool unless you’ve got a chemical problem in your house or apartment. The air feels immaculate, properly humid, and cooler when I need it. My only major disappointment is with the Backwards Airflow Mode, which is supposed to reduce the coolness exerted by the fan. Unfortunately, I still get cold using it on frigid nights, even with the mode enabled.
Best Ionic Tech: Sharp FXJ80UW
For a lower, but still quite high, cost, you can furnish your home with the Sharp FXJ80UW. Boasting the company’s signature patented Plasmacluster ion technology, it’s said to reduce odors, dust pollen smoke, and, naturally, germs. If Sharp’s marketing spiel is to be believed, it’s also capable of adding humidity to the air—all for $428, as of this writing. Covering rooms up to 502 square feet in size, or an entire New York City apartment, the FXJ80UW uses a True HEPA filter to rid the air of pesky pathogens—the ultimate solution for those damned fall allergies you can’t seem to get rid of.
Accompanying the True HEPA filter are a washable pre-filter and an activated carbon deodorizing filter. The former is responsible for capturing dust while the latter, as its name suggests, eliminates bad smells. Although it doesn’t come with a remote control a la the Dyson Pure Humidify + Cool, the FXJ80UW is emblazoned with a number of input switches on the front including Express Clean, Auto, and fan levels all the way down to Library Quiet Operation. You can still personalize your settings from the comfort of your own bed, too, using the Sharp Air app for Android and iOS. Best of all, it’s not a cooling fan, and is instead purely focused on clearing the air, so you don’t have to worry about scrambling for extra covers in the middle of the night to stay warm.
Best Affordable Option: Sensibo Pure
A more sensible (no pun intended) pick on this list, the Sensibo Pure is great for smaller rooms 294 square feet or smaller in size. For those of us living in smaller apartments or houses, that’s more than enough coverage. My last apartment was 550 square feet total, so I would have only needed two of these devices spread out throughout the space. On its own website, Sensibo sells the Pure in bundles of up to and more than four, complete with a discount for every additional unit you purchase. This thriftier option starts at just $159 for the solo kit or $596 for an additional set of three.
Like the Dyson Pure Humidify + Cool and the Sharp FXJ80UW, the Sensibo Pure comes with its own app too. Not only is it compatible with iOS and Android, but you can also use Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant either to control it or monitor the air quality. It syncs up to your phone or tablet over a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connection. After signing up for an account, the app holds your hand through a quick and painless process. Coupled with its trademarked Pure Boost technology—designed to wipe out even the tiniest of contaminated air particles—the Sensibo Pure gets the job done right, without asking you to plop down all your Christmas money on it.
It’s out of stock on Amazon as of this writing, but in an email to The Inventory, the company said, “We expect new stock arrival in amazon in a couple of days.”
Best for Your Office Desktop: Luft Duo
Now I know what you’re thinking: $149 for that!? Measuring just 8" x 6" x 4.2", sure, the Luft Duo is a pint-sized purifier, but it’s also an effective one. Especially as many of us are spending more time working from our desks at home, this may be the only air purifier you need. Powered by a minuscule USB-C cable, Luft Qi says its portable, filterless solution “outperforms HEPA air purifiers on the market.” Although I remain skeptical of that claim, I will say it’s helped me keep my sinuses in check during the week, when I spend most of my days rattling away at my keyboard. While connected to a power source, I can barely hear it over the sound of my typing. Best of all, setting up the Luft Duo is as easy as plugging it in, no companion app required.
Best for Your Car: Keysmart CleanLight Air Pro
Despite having a frame larger than that of the Luft Duo, the Keysmart CleanLight Air Pro is touted by its creators as the “world’s most portable air purifier.” And, in a way, they’re not completely wrong. Because it comes equipped with a removable base attachment that fits perfectly inside most cupholders, this is the ideal air purifier for cruising around in your whip. Similar to the Luft, it forgoes a HEPA filter in favor of an anion-based cleanse. It also uses USB-C for power, but unlike Luft’s device, you don’t have to keep it plugged in all the time. Instead, it’s got a rechargeable battery built-in, which lasts 4 hours on a single charge.
The CleanLight Air Pro’s main advantage, however (apart from the cupholder frill), is its dual fan modes. You can keep it quiet or crank it up to turbo by pressing the button at the top and toggling between levels. Sadly, all those added features come at a hard-to-swallow price considering its form factor. But if you’re willing to shell out more than the cost of the full-size Sensibo Pure for 160 square feet of coverage, Keysmart’s smaller air purifier can’t be beat for those on the move.
This story was originally published by Gabe Carey in March 2021 and updated with new information on 11/10/2021.