The 9 Best Air Purifiers for Pets
Our experts picked the best air purifiers for pet owners. Here's how they can rid the air in your home of pet dander (plus allergens like dust, pollen, and mold) and what to look for before you buy.
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What is pet dander?
We love our furry friends. They lick us, snuggle with us, and give us reason to smile even on hard days. One thing they don’t do, however, is help keep our homes clean. Even the most polished pooch leaves hair, pet dander, and outdoor allergens circulating throughout our home, all of which can lead to allergies and asthma symptoms.
(Beware of these common indoor allergens.)
Pet dander isn’t something that you can see. In fact, it’s microscopic and it comes from skin that sheds from a myriad of animals that we’ve come to love, including dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, and pretty much any other animal that has feathers or fur. “Both cat and dog allergens can remain airborne for extended periods of time and, because of their small size, settle slowly,” says Robyn Kreiner, MD, an allergist and member of the Allied Physicians Group.
The allergens on our dear pets can wreak havoc for those of us who are prone to pet allergies—an estimated 30 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Though typically harmless, allergens trigger an immune response in people with allergies, causing symptoms like itchy eyes, sniffling, and sneezing. Allergies are more common in people who have asthma.
Unfortunately, there are few tried-and-true solutions for getting rid of these allergens, aside from removing the animal from the home. This isn’t always realistic, given that pets are members of the family. The next-best solution is to use air purifiers for pets, which work to filter out allergens, including pet dander.
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What is an air purifier?
An air purifier is a device that works to remove allergens and contaminants from an area of your home—the size of the area dependent on its size and capabilities—to improve air quality.
“These air filtration systems trap airborne allergen in the room and reduce allergen load in the environment, thereby reducing the amount of allergens airborne in the room as well as the level of pet allergen exposures,” explains Kanao Otsu, MD, allergist and immunologist at National Jewish Health. “These should be used with other mitigation practices, such as removing the animal from the house or, at minimum, keeping the animal out of the patient’s bedroom.”
(Here’s how to tell who needs an air purifier.)
What to look for in air purifiers for pets
There are various different categories of air purification systems.
“If your home has a central heating, ventilation, and air conditioning [HVAC] system, this system can be turned into a whole-house filtration system through the installation of disposable air filters with a high MERV [minimum efficiency reporting value] rating,” explains allergist Payal Gupta, MD, associate clinical professor at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and a national spokesperson for the American Lung Association.
“There are also individual room air purifiers that are another option for air purification in homes without forced-air HVAC systems,” he says. While a single device will not filter a whole home, Dr. Gupta notes that multiple personal air purifiers can be used throughout various rooms in the home.
An air purifier for a home with pets should have the following features:
A high-efficiency particulate air filter—often called a HEPA filter—is the most effective at removing airborne particles and allergens from indoor air, according to Dr. Kreiner. “This type of mechanical air filter works by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps harmful particles such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke,” she says.
Most air purifiers that contain a HEPA filter are able to remove 99.97 percent of pollen, dust, mold, bacteria, and airborne particles that are as small as 0.3 micrometers, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
CADR suitable for room size
“Filters are marked with a CADR [clean air delivery rate], which describes the cubic feet per minute of airflow through the device, so be sure to match the filter’s CADR with the size of the room where you plan to use the filter,” says Dr. Gupta. “While these filters also need to be replaced, they are generally easier to replace than HVAC filters, and their replacement helps ensure maximum effectiveness.”
It’s important to check the certification on any air purifier that you purchase to ensure that it is doing the job that it promises and is backed by industry standards. A popular certification is Energy Star, which ensures a product meets strict energy-performance standards set out by the EPA. Another certification to look for is the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), which advises on the most suitable size of room for that purifier. Products with a Certified Asthma & Allergy Friendly seal have met standards set by the AAFA.
(Here’s what to know about ozone air purifiers.)
The best air purifiers for pets
Ready to shop? Read on for the air purifiers best suited for getting rid of pet dander in your home.
Winix HR900 Ultimate Pet 5-Stage True HEPA Filtration Air Purifier
This next-generation purifier in this line from Winix has the HEPA capacity to capture 99.97 percent of airborne particles. That includes pet dander as well as other allergens as small as 0.3 microns. Particularly designed to tackle homes with pets, it comes with a pre-filter that defends against pet hair, dander and other particles brought in from outside. It is AHAM-verified to handle up to 300 square feet in capacity, so this purifier is most ideal for smaller apartments or large rooms.
Honeywell InSight Series HEPA Air Purifier
If you’re looking for variety, Honeywell air purifiers come in lots of different sizes and price points. “Some models come with a permanent washable filter and others have filters that need to be replaced after some time,” says Dr. Gupta, who notes that the brand is well trusted within the allergy community. The company’s recently-launched Honeywell HEPA InSight Series offers powerful HEPA filtration, a boost in performance as well as square footage coverage, and specialty filters that tackle pet dander. Its most notable quality, however, is its cutting-edge design that displays key information from a distance.
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Medify Air MA-40 Air Purifier
Thanks to a higher-grade HEPA filter than you’ll find in most comparable air purifiers, this purifier from Medify can remove 99.9 percent of harmful particles lurking around your home. It has the ability to clean large rooms (up to 1,600 square feet) in just an hour and a room that’s 420 square feet in under 15 minutes. One feature that Dr. Gupta appreciates is the sound machine-like noise that comes on during “sleep mode,” which can be quite peaceful, especially if you’re living in a work-from-home environment.
Its tempered glass panel on top makes for an easy wipe-down and its eight-hour timer is ideal for days when you’ll be out of the house. Another perk: It comes with a lifetime warranty.
Levoit Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier
This smart air purifier from Levoit is another budget-friendly option that can cover the small spaces in your home—a total of 183 square feet. The new smart model has Wi-Fi capability, so you can control it remotely, making it easy to set a schedule or fan speed via smartphone. It also contains an H13 True HEPA Filter, which means it captures 99.97 percent of airborne pollutants that are 0.3 microns in size.
Aside from its impressive capabilities, the air purifier has customized noise levels as low as 24 decibels so you can sleep soundly at night. Plus, it’s compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, so you can turn it off or on with your voice.
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Molekule Air Purifier
For those looking to invest in a more stylish option that won’t skimp on efficiency in any way, Dr. Gupta recommends the Molekule air purifier. “This air purifier is more expensive, but it is more stylish, comes in various sizes, and is very quiet,” she says. Molekule kills a wide range of pollutants in addition to pet dander, including bacteria, mold, viruses, other allergens, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from products like paint, aerosol sprays, and other household chemicals. It’s the only air purifier to use what’s known as PECO technology, which the company claims can destroy pollutants 1,000 times smaller than what is required for standard filters to qualify as HEPA.
Air Doctor 4-in-1 Air Purifier
Carol Osborne, an integrative veterinarian and founder of Chagrin Falls Veterinarian Center in Ohio, recommends this air filter from Air Doctor, which helps filter out the pet dander that triggers human allergies. It contains an UltraHEPA filter, which is 100 times more effective than a standard HEPA filter and has been independently tested to filter out particles at 0.003 microns as compared to the standard 0.3 microns. Other impressive features include an auto sensor that measures and adjusts the filtration level and powerful intake fans that purify air three times per hour.
(Looking for different options? Here’s what’s know about UV air purifiers.)
Hatha Space Smart True HEPA Air Purifier 2.0
Another top-recommended purifier by Dr. Osborne is this one by Hathaspace. It too has a medical-grade HEPA filter that tackles more microns than most—between 0.3 and 0.1 microns—as well as a five-in-one filter system that removes pet dander, pollen, dust, VOCs, tobacco smoke, and even odors in your home. This is a great air purifier for large spaces, seeing as it covers 1,500 square feet in a given hour. It also comes with a five-year warranty and, according to Amazon reviews, a responsive customer support team.
NuWave OxyPure Smart Air Purifier
Although this air purifier is on the pricey side, it has some pretty unique capabilities that make it a worthy option. For starters, the NuWave smart purifier has Wi-Fi capabilities, so you can control it from your smartphone. It can rid the air of allergens like pet dander, mold, dust, pollen, smoke, bacteria, viruses, gases, and VOCs. It’s energy-efficient, too; in “Eco Mode,” the purifier will run on its lowest fan speed until it senses poor air quality.
(Here’s how to cope with allergy symptoms while you work.)
Oransi Mod HEPA Air Purifier
Veteran-owned air purifier company Oransi creates best-in-class HEPA air purifiers that get rid of pet dander, dust, pollen, bacteria, viruses, VOCs, smoke, and mold in your home or business. It utilizes a medical-grade HEPA filter that removes 99.4 percent of particles between 0.02 to 0.10 microns in rooms as large as 1,250 square feet. One of the features reviewers love most is the quiet sound, which makes it ideal for a nursery or child’s room.
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Pet Allergy: Are You Allergic to Dogs or Cats?"
- Robyn Kreiner, MD, allergist with Allied Physicians Group
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: "Pet Allergy"
- Environmental Protection Agency: "What Is a HEPA Filter?"
- Certified Asthma & Allergy Friendly: "Certified Asthma & Allergy Friendly"
- Kanao Otsu, MD, allergist and immunologist at National Jewish Health in Denver
- Payal Gupta, MD, allergist, associate clinical professor at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and national spokesperson for the American Lung Association
- Carol Osborne, DVM, integrative veterinarian and founder of Chagrin Falls Veterinarian Center & Pet Clinic in Chagrin Falls, Ohio