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Not all of us can get (or want) a hypoallergenic dog breed, even when we are prone to pet allergies. Pet dander isn’t the only allergen that your dog or cat increases in your home. If they spend any time outdoors, they may bring in pollen, along with dirt, germs, and untold grime from the streets. While a quick cleaning of their paws with a wet cloth can help, if you really want to keep your home—and the air you (and your pet because they too can have allergies, Brachycephalic breed-prone snoring and pet asthma!) breathe—as clean as possible, an air purifier is the way to go.
As you shop for an air purifier, you’ll want to select one that has the capacity for the size of the room where you’ll be using it. Most models indicate a recommended room size and it can vary from as little as 150 square feet to 1,000 square feet or more. You’ll also want to decide if you need any other features, like odor control, sleep mode, or air quality indicator lights. It’s also good to pay attention to how loud the machine is when it’s turned on. Some air purifiers provide white noise or pink noise that is intended to lull you to sleep, while other models are rather noisy.
We’ve rounded up the best air purifiers for pet owners.
Best Overall: Honeywell InsightTM HPA5300B 500 Sq. Ft. HEPA Air Purifier
Coverage Area: 500 square feet | Dimensions: 19.1 x 10.8 x 22.30 inches | Filter Type: HEPA | CADR Rating: 323 for smoke, 355 for dust, 335 for pollen | Smart Capabilities: No
Pet-specific filters available
See air quality info at a glance
Only available in black
Stores can barely keep the recently launched Honeywell HEPA InSight Series in stock; its powerful HEPA filtration is that good. Why? It circulates and cleans the air five times every hour in rooms up to 500 square feet, removing up to 99.7 percent of even the tiniest microscopic allergens (looking at you, pet dander) as well as certain airborne viruses, bacteria, and mold spores.
Used in conjunction with the Honeywell Enhanced Pet Odor Reducing Air Purifier Filter (sold separately, view at Walmart), which is loaded with activated carbon and zeolite, pet odors will be captured and absorbed. We only wish the air purifier came in white in addition to black.
"Make sure that the system uses a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, which is the most effective at removing airborne particles and allergens from indoor air. While these filters also need to be replaced, they are generally easier to replace than HVAC filters, and their replacement helps ensure maximum effectiveness."
—Dr. Payel Gupta, President of the New York Allergy and Asthma Society
Best Budget: Hamilton Beach TrueAir Compact Pet Air Purifier
Coverage Area: 140 square feet | Dimensions: 13.5 x 6 x 6 inches | Filter Type: HEPA | CADR Rating: 160 | Smart Capabilities: No
Place vertically or horizontally
Primary filter can be vacuumed instead of needing replacement
Can be noisy on high
Only suited for small spaces
The small but mighty Hamilton Beach TrueAir Compact Pet Air Purifier is affordable to start with, plus it comes with a reusable, permanent filter (simply vacuum to clean), making it a doubly smart buy for the money. The air purifier has three different speed settings to meet your needs and the HEPA-grade filter captures 99.97 percent of pet dander, along with dust mites and pollen.
It also comes with two replaceable carbon zeolite filters to eliminate pet odors. It works for rooms up to 140 square feet and can be set horizontally or vertically to fit in any space.
"Within just one day, we noticed we were breathing easier, and within a week, we were sleeping better. After a quick vacuum of the house, we realized how much dust and pet hair the purifier had eliminated."–Katie Begley, Product Tester
Best Splurge: Alen Breathesmart Classic Pet Dander/Odor
Coverage Area: 1,100 square feet | Dimensions: 10 x 17.75 x 21 inches | Filter Type: HEPA | CADR Rating: 300 | Smart Capabilities: No
Features a color-coded air quality sensor light
Available in various finishes and colors
Filters up to 1,100 sq. ft. in 30 minutes
Produces more noise than expected at higher speeds
While most air purifiers work on pet dander only, the Alen Breathesmart Classic claims to also filter out pet fur from the air, potentially preventing it from landing on your furniture, carpet, and clothing. Given that this beauty is designed by NASA airflow engineers, we’re inclined to believe them. Outfitted with a medical grade H13 True HEPA layer that removes 99.99 percent of airborne particles larger than 0.1 micron (most other air purifiers only remove particles larger than 0.3 microns), including dander, bacteria, and aerosolized viruses, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.
It’s super quiet even as it cleans the air in a room up to 1,100 square feet every 30 minutes. We also like the air quality sensor light that’s easy to read from across the room and that it comes in your choice of eight finishes.
Best for Odors: Bissell MyAir Personal Air Purifier
Coverage Area: 100 square feet | Dimensions: 8.27 x 8.27 x 12.2 inches | Filter Type: 3-stage | CADR Rating: Not available | Smart Capabilities: No
Sleep mode has lower fan speed for reduced noise
Night light can be turned on or off
Filter is not washable
No HEPA filtration
This Bissell MyAir purifier doesn’t just clear pet dander and other small particles from the air, with an activated carbon filter, it also works to remove pet odors (along with cooking and smoke odors, too). It has three levels of fan speeds and runs fairly quietly even on high, or set it to “sleep” at nighttime to engage its whisper-quiet mode. It even has a soft night light.
The small, portable unit works in rooms up to 100 square feet and moves the air 5 times every hour. Set it right next to your dog’s crate or bed or cat’s litter box to stop the odors as close to the source as possible.
Best for Allergies: Lasko Pure Platinum Slim Profile Air Purifier with HEPA-Type Filtration and Auto Clean
Coverage Area: 160 square feet | Dimensions: 5 x 16.6 x 25.3 inches | Filter Type: HEPA | CADR Rating: 161 | Smart Capabilities: No
Features include UV light filtration
Includes year supply of filters
LED lights only dim to 50 percent
With its air quality sensor, auto-clean function, and three-stage filtration, you can rest assured that the air you’re breathing in your home is clean. This small HEPA air purifier removes pet dander, dust, and other common allergens from the air around you.
It also has a carbon filter to remove odors from the air and a UV-A light to tackle mold, bacteria, and viruses. Its slim silhouette looks attractive and it works for rooms up to 160 square feet.
Best for Small Rooms: LEVOIT LV-H132 Compact True HEPA Air Purifier
Coverage Area: 86 square feet | Dimensions: 8.5 x 8.5 x 14.50 inches | Filter Type: HEPA | CADR Rating: Not available | Smart Capabilities: No
Offers true HEPA filtration
No timer or eco-mode function
Lacks air quality monitoring
In small rooms where space is at a premium, the Levoit LV-H132 Air Purifier will only take up a small space on your bedside table or desk—its base is 8.5 inches around. Using a three-stage filtration process, its HEPA filter screens pet dander, pollen, mold, and other dog and cat allergensfour times per hour in a space that’s up to 129 square feet. It’s quiet enough to sleep through, even on high speed, and has a sleek design that looks attractive anywhere you place it. The only downside to this affordable unit is that it can be hard to tell if it’s working.
Best for Large Rooms: Coway Airmega 400 Smart Air Purifier
Coverage Area: 1560 square feet | Dimensions: 14.8 x 22.8 x 14.8 inches | Filter Type: HEPA | CADR Rating: 328 for dust, 328 for smoke, 400 for pollen | Smart Capabilities: No
Suitable for spaces larger than 1,000 square feet
Dual air intake design for faster filtration
Sleep mode automatically reduces fan speed when lights dim
Doesn't offer app control
Replacement filters are pricey
If your HVAC wasn’t installed with an air filter or you live in a larger apartment, it’s worth investing in a powerful air purifier like this Coway Airmega that’s designed to filter up to 1,560 square feet. This Energy Star rated air filter uses a True HEPA filter along with activated carbon to both capture and reduce pet dander and other particles up to 0.3 micron while reducing odor.
It comes with a washable and permanent pre-filter. With a brightly colored LED ring that changes color based on the air quality, you’ll always know how clean your air is. It has five fan modes, and the sound of the strongest is equivalent to the noise in a library, meaning it’s pretty darn quiet.
Best Portable: Pure Enrichment PureZone Mini Portable Air Purifier
Coverage Area: 54 square feet | Dimensions: 8.5 x 3.3 x 2.7 inches | Filter Type: HEPA | CADR Rating: 45 | Smart Capabilities: No
Runs on a lithium ion battery for up to 12 hours
High-quality filtration in compact design
Comes with USB cable only; must supply charging plug
You and your pet don’t stay in the same place all the time, so it follows that you’ll want an air purifier you can take with you. This mini option from Pure Enrichment weighs under 1 pound and has a rechargeable battery with up to 12 hours of battery life.
It’s sized just right to fit in your car’s cup holder, making it perfect to take on road trips with your best four-legged friend. It offers two-stage air purification with an activated carbon pre-filter and a True HEPA filter.
Our top pick is the Honeywell Insight Air Purifier (view at Kohls) since it uses a True HEPA filter and when used with its Honeywell Enhanced Pet Odor Reducing Air Purifier Filter (view at Walmart) (sold separately), it reduces pet dander and odors in spaces up to 500 square feet. For those in smaller spaces, the Hamilton Beach TrueAir Compact Pet Air Purifier (view at Office Depot) is an affordable option that works well.
What to Look for in an Air Purifier
Some air purifiers are more powerful than others, and just how much power you’ll need will depend on the size of the room, how many pets you have, and what, if any, allergies your family members experience. Be sure to check the coverage area to be sure it meets your needs.
"Filters are also marked with a CADR (clean air delivery rate), which describes the cubic feet per minute of airflow through the device. Be sure to match the filter’s CADR (clean air delivery rate) with the size of the room where you plan to use the filter."
—Dr. Payel Gupta, President of the New York Allergy and Asthma Society
Besides cleaning the air, some air purifiers come with additional features, including odor and temperature control. You may also want to consider the look of the air filter if it’s going to be in a visible spot. Some come in a variety of colors, so you can choose one to complement your decor.
While some love the white-noise hum of typical air purifiers, others are annoyed by it. Fortunately, there are machines that are ultra-quiet and others that allow you to adjust the volume. On some models, you can preset runs to operate at different volumes during different times of the day.
How do air purifiers work?
Most air purifiers work in one of three ways and some utilize all three modes of cleaning the air:
- High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter: These are pleated mechanical filters that work by forcing air through a very fine mesh to remove pet dander, dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and other airborne particles. HEPA filters are the gold standard.
- Activated carbon filters: These work to remove odor from the air by absorbing it.
- UV filters: These use lights to inactivate germs and bacteria. They’re often used in conjunction with HEPA filters.
Do air purifiers reduce pet dander?
When it comes to removing pet dander, an air purifier with a HEPA filter is your best choice. It filters the air and can remove tiny particles as small as 0.3 microns. For reference, pet dander is usually between 5 to 10 microns, so HEPA filters are good at clearing it from the air.
Do air purifiers remove dog or cat hair?
If you have pet hair floating around your room, HEPA filters can remove them. Unfortunately, as most pet owners know, that hair is more likely to get lodged on your clothing, bedding, carpet, or sofa. That’s why you may still want to invest in pet hair removers.
Where is the best place to keep your air purifier?
The closer air purifiers are to the source of the pollutant, the more effective they are. In the case of your pooch, keep it close to their bed, crate, or wherever else they spend the most time. Have a cat? Place it near their litter box to help clear the air of unwanted odors.
How do you maintain an air purifier?
Always follow the instructions in the owner’s manual for your specific air purifier. Some have permanent or reusable filters that can be vacuumed or washed with soap and water. Others have replaceable air purifiers that should be swapped out every few months. Your air purifier may have a special light to tell you when it’s time to replace the filer otherwise, keep an eye on it after three months of use.
Why Trust The Spruce Pets?
This piece was written by Anne Fritz, who has been researching pet products for The Spruce Pets for more than two years. Before writing this article, she gathered information from customer reviews and third-party articles. To make this list, she also considered the strength, sound, and features of each air purifier. She is the proud owner of two rescue dogs.