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The best air purifiers for 2024, tried and tested

best air purifier

Breathe easy and get relief from your allergies with the top air purifiers, as tested and reviewed by us

The best air purifiers can ease the symptoms of asthma, hay fever and allergies by filtering the air you breathe and removing common irritants like pet dander, pollen, dust and smoke.

Quality options are available for less than £100, but with purifiers ranging from ultra-effective to downright useless, it’s essential to do your homework before buying. That’s where this guide comes in. Over the last five years, I’ve tested 22 air purifiers, covering everything from simple budget models to more sophisticated smart appliances.

Listed below are the air purifiers I think are the best for different needs and price points. If you’re in a rush you can check the at-a-glance list with links to my favourite models. And if you’re still not sure which purifier will suit your needs, the buying guide below my product recommendations will explain all the key features to look out for.

Best air purifier: At a glance

Best for small spacesRussell Hobbs RHAP1001B Clean Air Compact (~£79)Check price at Amazon
Best purifier and humidifierSharp UA-HD50U-L (~£399)Check price at Amazon
Best for medium-sized rooms Blueair Blue Max 3250i (~£150)Check price at Amazon

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.
Measuring the audio levels of a Sharp air purifier
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 2024

1. Russell Hobbs RHAP1001B: Clean Air Compact: Best air purifier for small spaces

Price when reviewed: £79 | Check price at Amazon

Russell Hobbs RHAP1001B Clean Air Compact: Best budget air purifier

  • Great for… compact design, low price, effective filtering in small rooms
  • Not so great for… larger spaces, extra features

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 from the top. With just three speed settings, three timer settings and a sleep mode, the controls are basic, and the only indicator is an LED ring that fades from red through amber to green as the filters do their work.

The RHAP1001B is really designed for small spaces of around 10m², but I 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 was fairly noisy, with sound levels reaching around 48dB, but in general use the lowest setting still does an effective job, while taking the noise levels down to a hardly aggravating 36.2dB.

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

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

2. Hoover H-Purifier 500: Best air purifier for large rooms

Price when reviewed: £239 | Check price at Amazon

Hoover H-Purifier 500: Best quiet purifier for larger rooms

  • Great for… powerful purification, comprehensive app, Auto mode
  • Not so great for… not much. It’s a great all-rounder

The H-Purifier 500 comes packed with features and thoughtful design touches, including a retracting power cord, digital display and an LED ring that changes colour for an at-a-glance update on your air quality. Its three-filter purification system has been approved by the charity, Allergy UK.

I found it easy to use as well. You can 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. It has sensors for PM10 and PM2.5 pollutants along with VOC gases, and can also track temperature and humidity through the display. 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 I 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 I struggled to hear it above ambient sound levels – I measured the output in a quiet room at just 31dBA. Meanwhile, in my PM2.5 spray test, the H-Purifier 500 got the PM2.5 concentration down to safe levels within two minutes and eight seconds. I’m 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.

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

3. HoMedics TotalClean 5-in-1 Tower (S): Best budget air purifier

Price when reviewed: £50 | Check price at Amazon

HoMedics TotalClean 5-in-1 Tower - Small: Best compact air purifier for features

  • Great for… compact size, strong design, air treatment features
  • Not so great for… noise levels at higher settings

With three sizes to choose from, the HoMedics TotalClean 5-in-1 tower range includes models that can clean the air in spaces of up to 109m², although I 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 to the tray just above the output fan.

In my tests, I found that 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; it took just over four minutes to bring the PM2.5 particulates in the test room down to safe levels from a high of 387 micrograms per square metre. However, with a 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 any other purifier in its class. It’s affordable, but not at all basic.

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

4. Blueair Blue Pure 511: Best quiet and compact air purifier

Price when reviewed: £99 | Check price at Amazon

Blueair Blue Pure 511: Best air purifier for stylish, silent cleaning

  • Great for… quiet, unobtrusive and cost-effective air filtering
  • Not so great for… not as fast to clear the air as some rivals

The Blueair Blue Pure 511 keeps things small-scale, simple and stylish, with a design that looks more like an oversized Nordic Bluetooth speaker than an air purifier and only the most minimal controls. A touch of the on/off button controls the power, while the central fan button merely toggles between the three speeds. With a 20cm diameter and a height of just 34cm, it’s incredibly compact. What’s more, when I measured sound levels I found it close to silent at its lowest fan setting. In fact, it put out less than 47dB when running at its highest speed.

The fabric covering around the drum and the main HEPA filter isn’t just for show; it acts as a pre-filter, expanding the HEPA filter’s lifespan to a full six months. It’s washable, so you can clean it up if it attracts unsightly dust, and I found the main filter itself is easy to replace once you twist the top of the unit to unlock it and lift it off. Performance isn’t outstanding – the 511 took just over three and a half minutes to clear the test room of PM2.5 spray – but I would say it will easily cope with the average bedroom or a compact living room. Throw in low power consumption, from roughly 1.2 to 13.2W, and you have a quiet, unobtrusive purifier that’s as affordable to run as it is to buy.

Read our full Blueair Blue Pure 511 review

Key specs – CADR: 191m³/h; Max room size: 38m²; Power settings: 3; Dimensions (WDH): 20 x 20 x 34cm; Weight: 1.9kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes

5. HoMedics TotalClean PetPlus 5-in-1: Best air purifier for homes with pets

Price when reviewed: £150 | Check price at Amazon

HoMedics TotalClean PetPlus 5-in-1: Best purifier for homes with pets

  • Great for… pet smells, hair and dander, low noise,
  • Not so great for… noise levels at high speeds

You don’t necessarily need any four-legged friends to use the HoMedics TotalClean PetPlus. However, 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 my comprehensive tests, I found it effective at easing mild pollen allergies during warmer months and reducing cat food smells – unless emanating from the cat itself at close quarters.

This isn’t all the PetPlus has going for it. Its power consumption is surprisingly frugal – I measured it at just 3.3W when running at its lowest speed – and quiet at 33dB. With the speed ramped up to max you’re looking at around 48.8W and 57dB, but I found I could keep it on low or medium most of the time. As for air-cleaning performance, it’s exceptionally good, bringing my test room down to safe levels of PM2.5 within two minutes; one of the speediest results I have 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 (WDH): 28.6 x 28.6 x 60cm; Weight: 4.1kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes

6. Acerpure Cool 2: Best air purifier with added cooling

Price when reviewed: £89 | Check price at AirCon Direct

AcerPure Cozy C2: Best air purifier with added cooling

  • Great for… effective purifying and cooling, quiet, energy efficient
  • Not so great for… odd-looking, expensive

I have seen a few fans with added air purification, but the AcerPure Cool C2 takes a slightly different tack: essentially attaching a large desktop fan to the body of the AcerPure Pro P2 purifier to make something akin to a pedestal fan. As a fan, it’s fairly beefy, capable of pushing air at speeds of up to 3.8m/s at the highest of its 10 settings, or quite a healthy 2.2m/sec at medium speeds. And while it’s noisy when maxed out – peaking at over 53dB – it’s much more easy-going at lower speeds, just 31dB on the first few settings. When you factor in 80-degrees of horizontal oscillation and 90-degrees vertical, it’s very capable of moving a lot of air around a medium-sized room.

It’s just as good as an air purifier, though its CADR rating is slightly below that of the purifier-only Pro P2. In my tests, it took the PM2.5 levels in my test room from a maximum 411 micrograms per square metre to 25 in 135 seconds, bringing it down to double figures in just over a minute. Again like the Pro P2, it’s quiet, with the noise barely noticeable at the lowest speed in purifier mode. Left on Smart mode, with the front-facing display turned off, all but the lightest sleepers should be able to snooze through.

This is one of those rare dual-function appliances that’s effective at both, and if the only downside is that it’s a bit weird looking, that’s no disaster. Throw in smart features, a good remote and fairly frugal power consumption, and I would say it’s a great addition to your living room or bedroom.

Key specs – CADR: 307m³/h; Max room size: 45m²; Power settings: 4; Dimensions (WDH): 25.3 x 25.3 x 85cm; Weight: 6.34kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes

Check price at AirCon Direct

7. Blueair DustMagnet: Best air purifier for living rooms

Price when reviewed: £329 | Check price at Amazon

Blueair DustMagnet: Best living-room air purifier

  • Great for… stylish design, quiet running, useful smartphone app
  • Not so great for… high price

The Blueair DustMagnet is cleverly designed to double as a kind of side table and this, along with the grey fabric that works as a pre-filter, gives 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 whatever it needs to keep the air clean.

I found the controls really simple and intuitive, 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 the purifier turns on and off, plus which mode to use. You can even set different schedules for different days of the week. Through the app, you can also track its operations and your air quality over time. There’s no fancy programmable IFTTT stuff, but the DustMagnet is streets ahead of most other purifiers with apps.

The icing on the cake is excellent performance. In my standard PM2.5 spray test, the DustMagnet got my test room down to safe levels within two minutes, with most of the work being done within the first 60 seconds. And while I had my doubts about its claims of capturing airborne dust before it settles, I did notice a lower build-up over a couple of days of testing. Normally I 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 and it hardly makes any kind of racket. Quiet, efficient and effective, I think it’s the perfect purifier for your living room, even if it’s more expensive.

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

8. Sharp UA-HD50U-L: Best air purifier and humidifier

Price when reviewed: £400 | Check price at Amazon

Sharp UA-HD50U-L: Best air purifier and humidifier

  • Great for… built-in humidification, quiet running, good performance
  • Not so great for… size, lacks power of similarly-priced rivals

Sharp’s UA-HD50U-L might be bigger than your average air purifier, but that’s because it’s effectively a humidifier with an anti-allergen HEPA filter built in, bringing double the relief if you suffer from some allergies, respiratory conditions or asthma. It’s designed to manage spaces of up to 38m² through a CADR of 306m³/h, so it’s great for larger living rooms or even open-plan areas. It’s quiet, too. In my tests, it put out little more than a whisper at its lowest settings or when set to its advanced auto mode, which sets the fan speed according to the current air quality of the room. In fact, the loudest noise it makes is when the rear vent opens just after you turn the unit on.

Otherwise, I found the UA-HD50U-L performs well across the board, providing effective three-stage filtering, a built-in humidifying function and Sharp’s Plasmacluster ion technology. While that sounds a little like a weapon from a Halo game, it actually works to kill odours, bacteria and mould. Overall, I think 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 (WDH): 39.9 x 23 x 61.5cm; Filter replacement indicator: Yes

9. Blueair Blue Max 3250i: Best air purifier for mid-sized rooms

Price when reviewed: £149 | Check price at Amazon

Blueair Blue Max 3250i: Best compact air purifier for mid-sized rooms

  • Great for… powerful filtering, low noise, useful features
  • Not so great for… voice commands are awkward, filter is a chore to replace

The Blue Max 3250i has much in common with Blueair’s smaller Pure 511. It’s a little larger, but still very compact at just 27cm in diameter at its base and standing a mere 48cm high. I also found it pretty quiet, registering at a near-ambient 27.6dB on its lowest setting, and only hitting peaks of 49dB with the fan maxed out. It’s even power efficient; I measured power consumption at 3W to 19W depending on the fan speed and it has the same fabric pre-filter around the main drum to keep the HEPA filter up and running longer.

What you’re paying extra for here, though, is features and performance. For a start you get five power settings, including a night mode that runs at the lowest fan speed with the lights turned out, and an automatic setting that continuously adjusts the fan speed to match the current PM2.5 levels. In tests, I found it reacted within two or three seconds to any significant change. It also has Wi-Fi and smart features, so you can use the Blueair app to schedule operations and track your air quality over time. The app also allows you to change the brightness of the handy LED indicator on the front, which glows blue to red to convey the current air quality and will also throw up an alert when the filter needs switching.

As for performance, the Blue Max 3250i took my test room down from a peak 395 micrograms per square metre to a safe 25 within two minutes and 23 seconds, putting it up there with the reigning champs. I have some minor grumbles about the 3250i, in that its Alexa voice commands could be more intuitive, and the filter being a hassle to change. But if you’re after a compact purifier with some extra power and useful features, I would say this is the one to buy.

Read the full Blue Max 3250i review

Key specs – CADR: 239m³/h; Max room size: 48m²; Power settings: 5; Dimensions (WDH): 27 x 27 x 48cm; Weight: 3.39kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes

10. Levoit Core 300S: Best air purifier for ease of use

Price when reviewed: £155 | Check price at Amazon

Levoit Core 300S: Easiest to use

  • Great for… fuss-free automatic setting, low noise levels at lower speeds, smart settings
  • Not so great for… pricey for a compact purifier

Levoit’s Core 300S is an elegant, compact purifier with all the latest features. Like the Princess Smart Air Purifier, it’s Wi-Fi and app enabled, hooking up to the third-party VeSync app for remote control, air quality monitoring and scheduling operation. You can set it to turn on and off at specific times, set the mode and power settings, even set whether the display should turn on or stay off. If you’d rather go completely hands-free altogether, you can also control the Core 300S through Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands.

Even without all the smart stuff, I found this very easy to use. Clear indicators show the current mode and power setting, while a central ring glows blue through to red, depending on the current air quality readings. You can pretty much leave it on the Automatic setting and let it do its thing. I found it can get a little noisy at its highest speeds, peaking at 52.7dB in Turbo mode, but switch it down to sleep and it’s very quiet indeed. I measured sound levels at just 28dB.

As far as performance goes, it’s very respectable for a compact model. I’d take the claimed 80m² maximum room size with a pinch of salt, but it cleared my test room of PM2.5 spray, from a high concentration of 398 micrograms per square metre, in just under four and a half minutes. What’s more, it’s quick to respond to changes, thanks to a sensitive laser sensor. I also found it easy to insert and replace filters – you just twist and pull away the base – while Levoit offers colour-coded replacements to help with pet allergies, mould or airborne toxins. These are going to be particularly useful for users who have specific issues or allergies to deal with.

Key specs – CADR: 187m³/h; Max room size: 80m²; Power settings: 3; Dimensions (WDH): 22 x 22 x 36cm; Weight: 3.39kg; Filter replacement indicator: Yes

How to choose the best air purifier for you

How much do I need to spend?

Air purifiers can cost below £100 or well above £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 often have additional modes and features that cheaper products lack. And 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.

READ NEXT: Best humidifiers

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 allergens. 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 recent years about 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, though 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.

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