As autumn and the cooler weather arrive and we continue switching our homes from airy sanctuaries to cosy caves, one thing we don't tend to think about enough is the quality of the air in our environment. The best air purifiers are an easy fix, gaining in popularity due to their promise of eliminating odours, pollutants and bacteria from the air.
Of course, 2021 has also been a year of thinking more about our health, as well as the health of those around us. For example, air purifiers are designed to eliminate nasty irritants, from smoke and pollution to dust and pet hair.
Some can also serve multiple purposes, which will comfort anyone reluctant to incorporate yet another bulky gadget into their living area. Instead, save space with something like the Dyson Pure Cool Me, which acts as a cooling fan, or something compact, like the Blueair Blue 3210.
Scroll down to see how we ranked the best air purifiers on the market right now or if you want cooling power without the purification element, check out our guide to the best fans.
The best air purifiers 2021
Our pick for the best air purifier overall, the Dyson Hot+Cool Smart Air Purifier has everything. Working as a fan and heater in addition to cleaning the air in your home, it can be used year-round and completely integrated with your smart home.
The purifier is compatible with Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomeKit, so it doesn't matter which smart assistant your household has sworn allegiance to. You can use voice control or the Dyson Link app to view detailed air quality reports or change things like mode and speed - or you can use the remote.
The LCD screen on the device also displays some of this information, though it's a little hard to decipher and we much prefer the app view.
The company promises the removal of 99.95% of dust, allergens and bacteria from your indoor air, and also claims to be the only air purifier that adheres to the HEPA H13 standard that prevents captured pollutants from leaking back out.
It's not the quietest air purifier on our list, but it does have an 8 hours timer that will be useful if you want to use it in the bedroom at night. Simply set it to auto shut-off after a certain time, and you can rest peacefully knowing you won't be wasting electricity. Night mode also dims the display.
Unfortunately, the device isn't perfect, and the fan mode struggles to measure up to the efficiency and power of the heating and purification modes. Still, if you want cleaner air without messing with the temperature, you can set it to expel air gently from its rear, rather than blowing it into the environment.
Aesthetically, the Dyson Hot+Cool makes its presence known, so won't fit in with most decor styles, but it's otherwise fairly low maintenance, with the app letting you know when it's time to change the filter.
Real Homes rating: 5 out of 5 stars | read our full review of the Dyson Hot+Cool Smart Air Purifier
A lovely-looking update from Blueair, the Blue 3210 prioritises style along with functionality, promising to rid the air in your home of allergens, dust, mould, pet dander, microplastics and any other tiny nasties floating away in the environment.
Many air purifiers claim to be ‘whisper quiet, but the Blueair Blue 3210 actually means it. While testing, we barely noticed the device working away, even when it was working hard to clear the air after cooking or a spray of air freshener around the room (if you ever want to make sure your air purifier is doing something, that's the way!).
Often a lack of disturbance can make it hard to determine how much a purifier is actually doing. Still, we noticed a marked difference in food smells (tested in the kitchen area) and dust levels when using the Blue Pure 3210.
All in all, this offering from Blueair is one of the simplest air filters we've tested, and it's honestly the better for the lack of bells and whistles. Quiet and low on additional features, it might not suit those who like to look at data or connect their devices to their smart home, but it's a winner for everyone else.
It does all of this with the help of lovely interchangeable pre-filters (in dark grey, light grey, pink, green or blue), which add a pop of colour to your tech. This was absolutely the cherry on top for us, allowing us to switch up the look depending on where it was or just how we felt that day!
The colourful, elasticated pre-filters slip over the device to make it far more aesthetically pleasing than Blueair’s previous vibrant primary coloured machines and make it possible to match your device to the rest of your décor. Blueair also claims that the pre-filters (which can be vacuumed and machine washed when they get grubby) help to extend the life of the other filters.
The colours are very Scandi-style, inspired by a muted fabric that enhances the purifier’s appearance without sticking out too much in their environment.
Real Homes rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Blueair will feature more than once on this list, but this original, smaller Blue Pure 411 air purifier still ranks highly for us.
The purifier is basic with no smart features or even any data on air quality available to the user (though it does claim to monitor this), but it makes up for this by using a fraction of the energy of its peers and being simple to use for beginners and the tech adverse. Following this same idea, there is just one button on top of the device, which can be used to switch between four speed settings.
Surrounding this touch control is a light that will become red when it's time to swap out your filter, which the company says should happen every six months or so. In the meantime, you can give the pre-filter a clean by running the vacuum over it or popping it in the washing machine.
The filtering happens in a few stages, with the pre-filter on the outside catching larger particles, the activated carbon layer tackling odours from pets, smoke, cooking and smog from outside, and HEPASilent technology taking on dust, pollen, mould and even bacteria and viruses (though it has not been tested against Covid-19).
It doesn't use a true HEPA filter, which is disappointing, but it should perform well for smaller tasks. The Blueair Blue Pure 411 is primarily designed for smaller spaces up to 15m2, so it probably won't do well against bigger jobs.
Blueair always seems to make sure that its products look nice in the home, and the Blue Pure 411 pre-filters are available in Diva Blue, Dark Shadow and Saffron Red. Unfortunately, you will need to pay extra for the latter two variations.
We're personally not huge fans of the rather loud colours here, especially when compared to the Scandi-style of the Blueair Blue Pure 3210 (below), but if you like them, it's nice to have the option to change things up.
And if you suffer from hayfever or other allergies then, with a pollen CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) of 220, this is a great choice.
Real Homes rating: 4 out of 5 stars
With the best dust-busting rating on our list, the Philips AC3033/30 Expert Series 3000i Connected Air Purifier is a smart addition to the home that has a huge amount of air purification power.
Designed to be used in spaces up to 104m2, the AC3033/30 is a great choice for larger homes - even more so because the device itself is relatively large and heavy when compared with its peers. This could work in the user's favour, however, with it capable of 360-degree airflow for easier placement.
Noise levels are kept low, with the minimum stated as 34dB, and it is Quiet Mark certified. The HEPA and carbon filters work together to capture everything from pollen and odours to bacteria and the smallest dust particles. You can monitor air quality in your home via the digital display on top of the device or with the Philips Clean Home+ app.
This app also allows the air purifier to work with Alexa voice control, making it super easy to control in a variety of ways. There are only three modes - auto, night and turbo - but night mode pushes the purifier down to its quietest and dims the lights so as not to disturb.
But, as the in-built air quality sensors allow the AC3033/30 to adapt to the environment in real-time, you might not even need to think about it. That is until the filter needs changing, which should only be once every 36 months!
Real Homes rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The Levoit Core 300 True HEPA air purifier might be free of fancy features like smart home compatibility, but it still rates highly as a solid, reliable, basic model for those curious about how an air purifier can improve their indoor air quality.
Thanks to QuietKEAP technology, on its lowest level the machine is quiet enough to sleep to, making it the perfect choice for placing in the bedroom at night. It's also light enough to move around should you want to try it out in a few different areas. You can also turn off the display light so it won't disturb you, and you can set the timer if you don't want it running all night.
Customisable filters are a unique selling point of the Levoit Core 300, and you can choose the one that best fits your needs. Filters include those specialised for pet allergies, toxin absorption, mould and bacteria. The air purifier comes with the original filter, which is a good all-rounder that will suit most people.
The filters will last an average of 6-8 months, so you can easily switch it out for another variation when the time comes.
All in all, while the Core 300 doesn't cover as much ground as some other air purifiers on this list, it impressed us with its stripped-back functionality compared to pricier models.
Real Homes rating: 4 out of 5 stars | read our full review of the Levoit Core 300
If you want to ensure you keep cool as your indoor air is being filtered, then the Dyson Pure Cool Me Purifying Fan could be the best option for you. The idea is that recycled air from ordinary fans isn't necessarily that good for us, so why not breathe air that's squeaky clean even in warmer months?
The device has been engineered to help improve air quality with a sealed filter that combines an activated carbon and glass HEPA layer capable of catching gases and 99.95% of ultrafine particles.
Like other Dyson products, the fan boasts 10 speed settings, and Dyson Core Flow technology directs airflow just right. The oscillation function allows it to move 70 degrees from side to side, and you can change the direction of airflow by manually adjusting and angling the middle of the dome.
The timer, compact size and Quiet Mark certification make it a good choice for the bedroom, especially if you tend to run warm at night, but it's also portable enough to be moved from room to room as needed.
Real Homes rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Recommended for those looking for an effective air purifier that won't cost the earth, the Dimplex DXAPV3N is a compact and well-designed machine that enlists carbon and HEPA filters to rid small rooms of unwanted elements in the air.
It's small enough to sit on a bedside table, but be aware that it's not the quietest on our list. Plenty of reviewers pointed to unwanted noise levels coming from the interior fan, suggesting a cheaper build. But that has thankfully translated into savings for the user, as it's the cheapest air purifier in our guide.
The filters promise to remote particles including dust, cigarette smoke, bad odours, spores, bacteria, pollen, dust mite residues and pet dander, and to do this it uses something called enviro-neutralising technology to produce negative ions.
The light blue design of the Dimplex looks great, with a carry handle for portability and a small on/off switch on the side. The removable filter is situated at the back of the machine for easy access.
This all makes it super simple to use and manage long-term, but those who are more interested in a smart purifier or something with more settings might want to look elsewhere.
Real Homes rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
How to choose the best air purifier for your home
How large/small does my air purifier need to be?
It’s a question on many buyers' minds since we only have so much real estate to dedicate to another smart device. The thing to pay attention to here is the capability of the air purifier rather than its physical bulk. So the best thing to do is measure the space in which you wish to place your purifier (in m2) and use that as a guide. Broadly speaking, the price moves up at the same pace, but there are bargains to be found.
Of course, if you’re lucky enough to live in a grand Edwardian or Victorian home, then it may also be worth allowing for this when you hone in on your options.
Do air purifiers remove smells?
While the best air purifiers do a good job of removing a whole host of unwanted things from the air around us, many people are keen to know how effective they are against smells. Whether that's cooking smells or the odours that come from our pets, if this is a problem in your home, you should look for a charcoal or carbon filter - both known to trap and eliminate common odours in the home.
How much should I spend on an air purifier?
The cost of the perfect air purifier is, again, very much dependent on how much you want it to do. If you already use a fan and/or heater in hot and cold months, respectively, then it could actually be better value for money to invest a little more in a multifunctional device.
Similarly, for a single room, we would recommend a budget of around £150 but, if your space is much larger, then £500-or-so should do the trick.