Airborne allergens. If you have an allergy or are prone to allergies, your best bet is to reduce airborne allergens such as dust, pollen, dust mites, and animal dander as much as possible. How do you do that (if it’s even possible)? The best way to reduce indoor air pollutants is by choosing the best air purifier for allergies.
According to Mayo Clinic, the ‘Common allergy triggers include: Airborne allergens, such as pollen, animal dander, dust mites, and mold‘. The best air purifiers for allergies use filters to minimize the concentration of these allergens in indoor air.
So, your task is fairly simple: If you want to minimize the amount of all the allergens floating around in your home, just get the best allergies air purifier, and be done with it.
We all know it’s not that simple. There are literally 1000s of air purifiers on the market in 2021. Some reputable ones are not good for allergies. Others have good but not the best HEPA filters for capturing airborne allergens. The best air purifier for odors, for example, might be the worst one to use if you have allergies like asthma, allergic rhinitis, pollen allergies, and so on.
To help everybody suffering from allergies out, we analyzed which air purifiers are the best at minimizing allergy-causing airborne allergens. As we’ll see, it basically comes down to one thing:
The quality of HEPA filters in individual air purifiers. In short, medical-grade H13 HEPA filters are the best; that’s why they are used in medical settings like hospitals and clinics.
On another point, a sufficiently large air purifier is also of utmost importance. To reduce the concentration of indoor airborne allergens as much as possible, the best air purifiers for allergens have to change all the air in the room within 12 minutes (we talk about 5 Air Changes per Hour or 5 ACH).
Coverage are on most air purifiers’ specification sheets presumes only 2 ACH (changing all the air in the room every 30 minutes). This is not sufficient for allergy-prone people.
You can find the complete list of 5 selected best air purifiers for allergies (including pollen, dust mites, hayfever, animal dander, and so on) further on. It is complete with the spec-by-spec analysis (high CADR rating is the single most important specification) and individual reviews. You can skip to the list, comparison table, and reviews here:
First, however, we will cover how to determine which air purifiers are actually good for allergies. This is done by spec-by-spec analysis; we will give you a little bit of insight into 3 rules (key specifications) you should apply before buying an air purifier for allergies.
We will start with the key question anybody with allergies should be asking themselves:
Do Air Purifiers Really Help With Allergies?
It seems like answering if air purifiers help with allergies is fairly simple (it actually is). Here’s the reasoning:
- Allergies are caused by airborne allergens. According to Mayo Clinic, WebMD, and NHS, airborne allergens include dust, pet dander, dust mites, and so on.
- To help with allergies at home, it makes sense to minimize the concentration of said airborne allergens in indoor air. That sounds about right, doesn’t it?
- Air purifiers with special filters (including the all-important HEPA filters) capture indoor air pollutants. In fact, the CADR rating (Clean Air Delivery Rate) includes dust CADR, pollen CADR, and smoke CADR specifications for an air purifier. These indicate how thoroughly does any individual air purifier reduces the amount of dust, pollen, and smoke, respectively, in our homes.
There you have it. In theory, air purifiers seem to be more than capable to improve indoor air quality. That, in turn, suggests that they may help with allergies.
But that’s the theory; how about air purifiers and allergies in practice, in the real world?
To find that out, we have looked at several studies, cited by Mayo Clinic and WebMD to confirm if air purifiers actually help with allergies:
Scientific Studies Of Effect Of Air Purifiers On Allergies
No one is really doubting that air purifiers are capable of capturing air pollutants such as dust, pollen, and smoke. As we’ll learn in the section about filters, standard H10-H12 HEPA filters alone are, by definition, capable of capturing more than 99.97% of even the smallest air pollutants that are only 0.3 microns in diameter. Medical-grade H13 HEPA filters are even better.
Several studies of how the use of air purifiers can affect specific health conditions were conducted during the last 20 years. Let’s look at some of them to see if air purifiers really do help with allergies:
“The spread of respiratory allergies is increasing in parallel with the alarm of the scientific community,” is the first sentence in an Italian respiratory allergies overview study.
Pretty everybody has an allergy to something. Sneezing, wheezing, itching, or shortness of breath are all symptoms of respiratory allergies, like asthma, allergic rhinitis, and other pulmonary allergies.
Air purifiers do promise (and actually deliver on that promise) to capture airborne allergens, like dust, pollen, mold, smoke, or pet dander. Does that mean that air purifiers can help with allergies?
A Korean asthma study about the effects of air purifiers on children with asthma has found that “…the indoor PM2.5 concentrations significantly decreased through the use of air purifier for 3 weeks” and concluded the following:
“We concluded that air purifiers can have a positive effect on the health of asthma patients by filtering fine dust and microbes from indoor air.” (Korean Asthma Study)
This study clearly suggests that air purifiers can help with asthma. Other studies like the 2016 asthma management study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that air purifiers are better at capturing allergens like smoke, but are less effective at removing other allergens, such as animal dander.
Despite studies showing a positive correlation between the use of air purifiers and the reduction in allergies, nothing is yet conclusive. It’s increasingly difficult to separate the increase in indoor air quality brought on by the actions of air purifiers are other factors, such as genetic and other environmental factors.
As such, it’s worth noting that are purifiers are not recognized as medical devices, according to the FDA guidelines. If they were, they would need to be categorized as Type IIa medical devices.
Regardless, there are air purifiers that decrease the concentration of indoor airborne allergens more than others. If you have allergies, your best bet is definitely to choose the best air purifier for allergies, right?
Here’s how you do it:
3 Most Important Specifications To Check (CADR, Coverage Area At 5 ACH, And Quality Of HEPA Filters)
When it comes to reducing the concentration of indoor airborne allergens, you basically need 2 key things from your air purifier:
- To be sufficiently thorough. That comes down to the quality of filters used.
- To be sufficiently large (to be able to change all the air in the room every 12 minutes). That comes down to airflow.
Both of these requirements are ultimately derived from the quality of HEPA filters. Not activated carbon filters; those are for gases such as odors, smell. Not ionizing filters; those might be even harmful to allergy-prone people.
We will look at CADR rating as the key specification. Based on CADR rating and airflow, the air purifier manufacturers can specify the coverage area. We need to calculate the coverage area for 5 ACH.
Ultimately, however, the reduction in airborne allergens concentration comes down to HEPA filters. We will look into which HEPA filters are the best for allergies (and why).
Let’s start with the #1 specification:
1. Air Purifiers For Allergies Should Have 200+ CADR Rating
The easiest way to figure out which air purifiers are good for allergies is simply by checking the CADR rating on the specification sheet.
CADR stands for Clean Air Delivery Rate. CADR rating tells you how much air is adequately filtered by any air purifier in a minute. Air purifiers with higher CADR ratings are better at capturing airborne allergens.
The overall CADR rating is constituted from dust CADR, pollen CADR, and smoke CADR rating. According to the ANSI/AHAM AC-1-2006 directive, all CADR testing must be conducted in a 1008 ft3 test chamber. This is a representation of a 12×12 room with a 7 ft high ceiling.
In simplified terms, CADR tells how effectively an air purifier can reduce:
- Smoke particles with sizes between 0.9 and 1.0 μm (Smoke CADR).
- Dust particles with sizes between 0.5 and 3 μm (Dust CADR).
- Pollen particle with sizes between 5 and 11 (Pollen CADR).
How to use CADR rating in practice when choosing the best air purifier for allergies?
Check the specification sheet. If you see a CADR rating of 100, 150, or 200, for example, you know that an air purifier is not good for allergies. It just doesn’t have the air cleaning capacity to minimize the airborne allergens concentrations as thoroughly as high CADR allergy air purifiers.
If you see an air purifier with a CADR rating of 300, 400, even 500, you know you are looking at a good air purifier for allergies.
A high CADR rating obviously stems from the quality of the HEPA filter. If you want to pick the best air purifier for allergies, it has to have a high CADR rating. But that’s only a prerequisite for such a unit to be great at removing airborne allergens. We need a sufficiently enough fan capacity as well:
2. Big Coverage Area At 5 ACH; For Allergies, Air Should Be Changed Every 12 Minutes
You might see some air purifiers manufacturers boasting their unit can cover areas up to 2,000 sq ft. That may be true; but only if you calculate that the fan motor (and airflow delivery) is strong enough to change all the air in that coverage area every 30 minutes.
Every 30 minutes is not sufficient for allergy-prone people. One of the biggest mistakes people buying air purifiers for allergies make goes along the way of ‘We have a 1,000 sq ft home; we need a 1,000 sq ft coverage air purifier to help with the allergies’. In reality, that 1,000 sq ft unit has only 400 sq ft coverage if you indeed want to use it for adequate indoor airborne allergens reduction.
According to the AHAM Verified ACH factsheet, Harvard’s IAQ researchers have found out that you should be looking at at least 3 ACH coverage areas. In general, it is recommended that allergy-prone people buy sufficiently large air purifiers that satisfy the ‘5 ACH’ criteria.
What does all that mean?
Well, for standard air cleaning, the air purifier should be capable to change all the air in a certain coverage area in 30 minutes (2 air changes per hour or 2 ACH) or 20 minutes (3 air changes per hour or 3 ACH).
For allergy-prone people, it is recommended that an air purifier has the capacity to change all the air in a room every 12 minutes (5 air changes per hour or 5 ACH). Anything beyond that is a plus.
That means for allergies, you should pretty much buy the biggest air purifier possible. The more air changes the unit can do per hour, the more thoroughly can airborne allergens like pollen, animal dander, dust, and so on, be eliminated.
Now, let’s focus on the key aspect of every air purifier and especially important for allergy air purifiers:
3. Quality Of HEPA Filter (H13 Medical-Grade Is The Best HEPA Filter For Allergies)
Air purifiers, for allergies or for other purposes, can have anywhere from 3 to 8 filters. A common misconception is that an air purifier with more filters is better for allergies. That’s not true at all. In fact, the ones with 3 filters are usually ranked at top-rated air purifiers for allergies. Why is that?
Well, every filter in an air purifier has a specific purpose. The pre-filter captures larger air particles like human and dog hair, even animal dander.
Activated carbon filter removes (by the process of adsorption on porous material) gaseous air pollutants like kitchen smells or pet odors. Some exotic filters use UV lights or photoelectrochemical oxidation to destroy mold.
For airborne allergens, by far the most important filter is the HEPA filter. You don’t have to deal with all those exotic filters that just add to the cost. In fact, the 3-stage air purifiers with HEPA filters are the best for allergies precisely because all the focus is on the quality of the 1 filter that matters; the HEPA filter.
As defined by the US Department Of Energy according to the EPA, a HEPA filter is a pleated mechanical air filter. ‘This type of air filter can theoretically remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns (µm).’
Almost all air purifiers have a HEPA filter that satisfies this DOE’s definition. These are categories as either H10, H11, or H12 HEPA filters. They are very good at removing airborne allergens but they are not the absolute best for allergies.
Which HEPA filters are the absolute best for allergies?
Medical-grade HEPA filters, of course.
These filters are by a number of orders of magnitude more thorough than True HEPA or 10-12 HEPA filters. They are classified as H13 HEPA filters. They are also known as medical-grade filters because they are employed in hospitals and clinics.
H13 HEPA filters remove at least 99.95% of airborne particles 0.1 micrometers (μm) in diameter. While standard HEPA filters will effectively pick up particles with 0.3 μm diameter, they will be less effective at capturing airborne allergens that as smaller.
This is the true power of H13 HEPA filters. They can very effectively (more than 99.95%) at capturing even the smallest 0.1 μm allergens.
Here’s the bottom line: The best air purifiers for allergies utilize H13 HEPA filters. They have a very high CADR rating and sufficient airflow to minimize the concentration of the airborne allergens even in larger rooms (with at least 5 ACH).
With all this said and done, let’s have a look at which models of air purifiers have the best specifications to fight allergies:
Best Air Purifiers For Allergies (Comparison)
- Best HEPA Air Purifier For Allergies: Medify MA-112 (H13 HEPA)
- Best Multi-Filter Air Purifier For Allergies: Air Oasis iAdaptAir L (5 Filters)
- Best Air Purifier For Pet Allergies (Dander): Blueair HealthProtect 7770i
- Cheapest Air Purifier For Allergies: Medify MA-40 (H13 HEPA)
- Quietest And Best Bedroom Air Purifier For Allergies: Alen BreatheSmart 75i
(scroll right, and down)
1. Best HEPA Air Purifier For Allergies: Medify MA-112 (H13 HEPA)
|Max. Coverage (2 ACH):||Up to 2,500 sq ft|
|Allergy Coverage (5 ACH):||Up to 1,000 sq ft|
|CADR Rating:||559 CFM|
|HEPA Filter Quality:|
|Noise Levels:||Below 70 dB|
|Dimensions (HxWxD):||28.3″ x 15.7″ x 15.4″|
Of all the air purifiers on the market, Medify MA-112 is by far the most appropriate for allergies. The triple combo of record-level CADR rating, incredibly high 5 ACH coverage area, and, above all, the inclusion of the H13 HEPA filter, makes Medify MA-112 the best air purifier for allergies.
First of all, any air purifier for allergies should have a 200+ CADR rating. We talked about 300, 400 and 500 CADR-rated units to be the best. Medify MA-112 outranks all of them with a record-level 559 CFM CADR rating. That means it can deliver 559 cubic feet of remarkably clean every minute.
With such capability, it has an allergy-friendly 5 ACH coverage area of up to 1,000 sq ft. In short, it’s a powerhouse. In comparison, most allergy-friendly air purifiers are capable of adequately minimizing the concentration of indoor airborne allergens in areas below 500 sq ft. On top of that, if you place the Medify MA-112 in a small or standard room, it will surpass the 5 ACH; that’s considered even better for allergy-prone people.
The key part that gives the Medify MA-112 all these outstanding specifications is, of course, the H13 medical-grade HEPA filter. All Medify air purifiers have this upgraded and super thorough filter to pick up the absolute maximum number of even the smallest (down to 0.1 micrometers in diameter) allergens.
This remarkable filter can withstand 3,000 hours of use. That means you will be able to use it for 4-5 months; an above-average lifespan for an H13 HEPA filter.
All that power, however, comes at a price. In the case of Medify MA-112, the price is higher-than-average noise levels. The most powerful fan pushing air through the most capable H13 HEPA filter can create some noise. The noise levels, however, are kept under 70 dB even if you set this unit on the maximum fan speed setting.
All in all, the Medify MA-112 is the quintessential air purifier for allergies. With a 559 CADR rating, up to 1,000 sq ft coverage area (at 5 ACH, mind you), and the advanced H13 HEPA filters this is the best HEPA air purifier for allergies by a large margin:
2. Best Multi-Filter Air Purifier For Allergies: Air Oasis iAdaptAir L (5 Filters)
|Max. Coverage (2 ACH):||Up to 850 sq ft|
|Allergy Coverage (5 ACH):||Up to 340 sq ft|
|CADR Rating:||237 CFM (PM 2.5)|
|HEPA Filter Quality:|
|Noise Levels:||25-52 dB|
|Dimensions (HxWxD):||37″ x 11.2″ x 11.2″|
All Air Oasis iAdaptAir air purifiers come with a ‘Best for Allergens & Viruses’ tagline. The best one to pick for allergies is the ‘L’ size. It has an 850 sq ft coverage area at 2 ACH (considered large) but, if you want to use it for allergies, you have to take into account 5 ACH and thus 340 sq ft allergy-friendly coverage.
Thus the Air Oasis iAdaptAir L is considered to be one of the best small air purifiers for allergies. If you look at the coverage specs, CADR rating, and the quality of HEPA filters, you would think this is a good air purifier for allergies, yet it’s definitely not the best one.
That’s because while most HEPA air purifiers for allergies derive their airborne allergen removal capabilities just from the HEPA filters (which boost the specs), the Air Oasis iAdaptAir’s secret recipe is the 5-stage multi-filter approach.
Most allergy-friendly air purifiers will have the standard 3-stage filtration. Air Oasis iAdaptAir uses a total of 5 filters to fight allergens. The filtration system is comprised of a HEPA filter, carbon filter, UV, AHPCO®, and Bi-Polar® technologies. These additional AHPCO® and Bi-Polar® filters are patented by Air Oasis and constitute a new way of how to maximize the reduction of indoor air pollutants.
On top of that, Air Oasis iAdaptAir is famous for having the best app. Nowadays, even air purifiers for allergies can be monitored and controlled via smartphone. Some of these apps might not be the best, honestly. Air Oasis, however, has created the best air purifier monitoring and controlling app.
In short, the multi-filter approach for fighting airborne allergens in Air Oasis iAdaptAir L works surprisingly well. Even without a H13 HEPA filter, this is one of the best allergy air purifiers for smaller rooms:
3. Best Air Purifier For Pet Allergies (Dander): Blueair HealthProtect 7770i
|Max. Coverage (2 ACH):||Up to 1,618 sq ft|
|Allergy Coverage (5 ACH):||Up to 647 sq ft|
|CADR Rating:||435 CFM|
|HEPA Filter Quality:|
|Noise Levels:||25-53 dB|
|Dimensions (HxWxD):||39″ x 18″ x 17″|
Blueair has always been known as the best European air purifier manufacturer (they are from Sweden, by the way). Their newest allergy-friendly model is the Blueair HealthProtect 7770i. It is a remarkably well-designed air purifier for pet danders.
Here’s the deal: Swedes love cats. Their laidback living room lifestyle is not complete without a cat or a small dog. Of course, all pet allergy-prone people know that cat saliva is the true source of cat allergies. When a cat licks their hair, the protein that causes allergies in humans is now on their hair and that air can easily levitate in the air.
To remove it from indoor air, the Blueair HealthProtect 7770i uses both a pre-filter and their specifically-designed HEPASilent Ultra filter.
The pre-filter is essential for capturing pet dander. Dander consists of larger air particulates that need to be filtered out by a pre-filter before they hit the HEPA filter. Blueair HealthProtect 7770i’s pre-filter captures the larger pet dander and protects the fine HEPA filter.
HEPA filter captures the smaller airborne allergens like pollen, smoke, dust, and dust mites. Blueair uses the new HEPASilent Ultra filter in the HealthProtect 7770i model. It does the same job as any standard HEPA filter while simultaneously reducing noise levels. With it, the HealthProtect 7770i can keep the noise levels low (between 25 dB and 53 dB).
Noise levels need to be reduced in all larger units (best for allergies). And HealthProtect 7770i is big; it has a 435 CADR rating and an up to 647 sq ft allergy-friendly coverage area. That means that it changes all the air in 647 sq ft space every 12 minutes.
With superb CADR rating, the best pre-filer and HEPA filter duo, the Blueair HealthProtect 7770i is a top-rated air purifier for pet dander allergies (cat, dogs):
4. Cheapest Air Purifier For Allergies: Medify MA-40 (H13 HEPA)
|Max. Coverage (2 ACH):||Up to 840 sq ft|
|Allergy Coverage (5 ACH):||Up to 336 sq ft|
|CADR Rating:||224 CFM|
|HEPA Filter Quality:|
|Noise Levels:||46-66 dB|
|Dimensions (HxWxD):||22″ x 9.9″ x 10.9″|
As we have seen, top-rated air purifiers for allergies can be quite expensive. That’s because these are big units with need tech and expensive filters. On the contrary, the Medify MA-40 is the ultimate price-performance air purifier with an allergen capturing H13 HEPA filter. With a price tag of below $350, it’s pretty much the cheapest air purifier for allergies.
The budget-friendly price tag is one of the reasons why Medify MA-40 is perhaps the most popular choice for allergy-prone people. But you can find even cheaper air purifiers. What’s the catch here?
The catch is that most cheap air purifiers are not good for allergies. We’re not talking about air purifiers making allergies worse; these cheaper low-quality units simply don’t have the capacity to filter enough airborne allergens.
The centerpiece of Medify MA-40 is, of course, the advanced Medify H13 HEPA filters. This is the filter that is employed in hospital settings; ie. a medical-grade filter. These filters are expensive but Medify make them themselves and uses them exclusively in their air purifiers. That’s why every Medify air purifier is superb for allergies.
Here are the specs as a result of the use of the H13 HEPA filter. This is a below $350 air purifier with a 224 CFM CADR rating and up to 336 sq ft coverage area. In such an area it changes the whole air every 12 minutes. And every cycle is very thorough thanks to the medical-grade HEPA filters.
Medify MA-40 has one major flaw, shared by all Medify air purifiers for allergies: higher-than-average noise levels. Noise levels range from 46 dB at low fan speed setting to 66 dB at high fan speed setting. That’s not ideal.
Nevertheless, if you don’t want to spend $500+ for the top-of-the-notch air purifier for allergies, the Medify MA-40 is an ideal compromise between price and performance:
5. Quietest And Best Bedroom Air Purifier For Allergies: Alen BreatheSmart 75i
|Max. Coverage (2 ACH):||Up to 1,300 sq ft|
|Allergy Coverage (5 ACH):||Up to 520 sq ft|
|CADR Rating:||347 CFM|
|HEPA Filter Quality:|
|Noise Levels:||25-49 dB|
|Dimensions (HxWxD):||27″ x 18.5″ x 11.5″|
Most people use anti-allergen air purifiers in their bedrooms. Ideal specs for such a unit would be the standard trio of high CADR, large square footage at 5 ACH, and superb H13 HEPA filters; and low noise levels. If you’re looking for the ideal bedroom air purifier for allergies, you should pick the quietest one. And that’s the Alen BreatheSmart 75i.
Here’s what Alen BreatheSmart 75i can do that no other top-rated air purifier for allergies can do: Run at full fan speed setting and generate less than 50 dB noise levels. Alen BreatheSmart 75i is the most silent bedroom air purifier for allergies; it has only a 25-49 dB noise levels range.
That’s an absurdly low number. However, the fact is that the whole Alen BreatheSmart series was created specifically for bedrooms (with low noise levels and sleep quality in mind). The Alen BreatheSmart 75i model is the biggest model with the highest CADR rating.
Even at 5 air changes per hour, the Alen BreatheSmart 75i can cover areas up to 520 sq ft. That’s because it has a high 347 CFM CADR rating. What is even more surprising is that it can achieve these specs with only 45 watts of power input. This makes it the most energy-efficient air purifier for allergies. You can read a bit about how much does it cost to run an air purifier here.
On top of that, Alen BreatheSmart 75i has a medical-grade H13 HEPA filter at its core. As we know, this is the best HEPA filter for allergies since it can effectively capture airborne allergens that are 3 times smaller than what an ordinary HEPA filter can capture.
Of course, the Alen BreatheSmart 75i doesn’t have the highest CADR rating, nor the highest coverage, but it does have the highest price of all ranked air purifiers for allergies; that’s the ideal.
Nonetheless, all in all if you want the best bedroom air purifier for allergies, the Alen BreatheSmart 75i is definitely the quietest one and most appropriate to be used in bedrooms:
This has been a broad overview of how to fight allergies with air purifiers. If you have any questions about the specifications that make air purifiers a good fit for allergy-prone people, you can pose them in the comment section and we’ll try to help you out.