The 8 Best Air Purifiers for Wildfire Smoke, According to Experts

Doctors explain why an air purifier is a worthwhile investment.

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Air purifiers are designed to improve the air quality in your home so it's cleaner and easy to breathe. So for those who live in areas affected by wildfires, an air purifier can be pretty vital. The key, however, is making sure you have a device that's as effective as possible.

These are the best air purifiers for wildfire smoke, according to experts:

"When we breathe in lots of particles—as occurs with wildfire smoke—the upper airways of our lungs can get overwhelmed," says David Edwards, PhD, aerosol scientist and inventor of Fend. "The mucus of the upper airways begins to break up and little droplets can carry the particles deep into the lungs, where they can promote infection. Breathing air from wildfires therefore increases the chance of respiratory disease—from long-term chronic diseases such as asthma and COPD to acute diseases such as COVID-19."

There can be additional risks, too. "Wildfire smoke also causes inflammation in the lungs, and from there, can inflame other parts of the body, including the brain," says Santa Barbara-based internist John La Puma, MD. Children, pregnant women, and people with preexisting respiratory and cardiovascular conditions are most at risk of developing health issues as a result of smoke inhalation, he adds.

One solution that can keep your home as smoke-free as possible? Using an air purifier—in particular, one with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which removes over 99.97 percent of particulate matter from the air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

"These filters can help trap smoke particles to reduce a person's exposure while indoors, especially when particles are more likely to be airborne (while vacuuming, using a fan, or using central heating or air conditioning)," Sanjeev Jain, MD, PhD, board-certified allergist and immunologist at Columbia Allergy, tells Health. "When there is reduced exposure to the smoke particles, a person will be less likely to experience symptoms such as sneezing, itchy and runny nose, cough, itchy and watery eyes, and postnasal drip."

While it's important to choose an air purifier with a HEPA filter for best results, it's also crucial to replace the filter as needed (most manufacturers give relative guidelines for how often this should be) since dirty, clogged filters are less effective, Dr. Jain adds.

With these guidelines in mind, you can pick the best air purifier to reduce the risk of wildfire smoke in your home. Here are eight options that satisfy expert recommendations.

Best Expert-Recommended: Levoit MetaAir 538 Sq. Ft True HEPA Air Purifier

Air Purifier
Best Buy

Dr. Jain recommends this model that's designed to work in rooms up to 538 square feet large. It has a particle sensor, which allows it to adjust fan speed automatically, and an activated carbon filter (in addition to a HEPA filter) to eliminate odors and fumes. Reviewers say it's "very silent" and "dependable." Two shoppers who bought the purifier specifically to help with wildfire smoke said their homes smell noticeably better since getting the device.

Best Budget-Friendly: Germ Guardian True HEPA Filter Air Purifier

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Amazon

For an under-$100 option, consider this highly rated Germ Guardian HEPA air purifier, which can effectively clean air in rooms up to 743 square feet. In addition to a HEPA and charcoal filter (which absorbs odor and traps dust and hair), it also has a UVC light to help kill airborne germs and viruses, like influenza, rhinovirus, and staph. Shoppers say it's great for wildfire smoke, too. 'Bought this when we had the awful fires in Northern California," a five-star reviewer wrote. "I could smell the smoke inside my apartment. But this filter seemed to work great, because within a few minutes of turning it on, the smell went away. It's also fairly quiet, a light fan, so I barely notice it's on."

Best Design: Levoit H13 True HEPA Filter Air Purifier

Air Purifier
Amazon

Here's the thing about air purifiers: They can take up a lot of space, especially if you're investing in a heavy-duty model that's guaranteed to be effective for large areas. While this option from Levoit stands at just over a foot tall and has a narrow profile that makes it easy to tuck away, reviewers say it really works. "The smoke here from the Colorado fires was making me wake up congested with a headache," wrote one person. "Within 24 hours I was breathing better and my roommate came home from work and said he couldn't smell my dogs anymore."

Best Fast-Acting: Honeywell HPA300 HEPA Air Purifier

Air Purifier
Amazon

Honeywell's air purifier has a 465-square-foot capacity and four fan settings, including a "turbo" feature that can be used in instances when you need to deep clean the air stat. The device uses a HEPA filter and a pre-filter that, combined, catch both small and large particles. Reviewers who purchased the device to clear their homes of wildfire smoke were especially impressed by how quickly it works. "This summer we were in the direct path of smoke from the Cameron Peak fire in Colorado, so I used my air quality monitor to test the HPA300's effectiveness. After running less than 10 minutes, the AQI [air quality index] in our bedroom dropped from 68.7 to 25," wrote one. Another person who used the device during a wildfire in Oregon called it "essential" and "priceless."

Best Energy-Conserving: Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier with True HEPA and Eco Mode

Air Purifier
Amazon

If you're concerned about your electric bill, consider this air purifier from Coway, which features a handy "Eco mode." Basically, the purifier automatically changes the fan mode depending on your air quality; when no pollution is detected for 30 minutes, it stops running to conserve energy. It also has an indicator light that displays the current air quality. "The air quality where I live has been horrible recently because of wildfires. I noticed that I was having post-nasal drip, a sore throat, and my lungs felt weird. I started sleeping with this air purifier in my room and my symptoms are almost gone," one reviewer wrote. "I also feel very impressed by the automatic setting. My purifier was on the lowest fan setting and about 10 feet away I blew out a medium sized Yankee Candle and the purifier immediately kicked up to the highest fan setting for a couple of minutes until it cleared the smoke. That is pure magic."

Best for Small Spaces: Medify MA-14 Air Purifier with H13 True HEPA Filter

Air Purifier
Amazon

If you don't have a ton of space for an air purifier, this model by Medify is small enough to fit on a nightstand—and it costs less than $100, so it's great for shoppers on a budget, too. It can clean 400-square-foot rooms in about an hour, and 200-square-foot rooms in just 30 minutes. It has three different fan speeds that vary in intensity. "On high it is a noticeable sound but with the northwest forest fires these have been a life saver for me," wrote one customer. "I have severe asthma and these babies have kept me breathing. I love them so much I have four one for each room. Filter is easy to replace!"

Best for Large Rooms: Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Auto Large Area Air Purifier

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Amazon

Dr. La Puma recommends air purifiers from Blueair, like this option that can clean the air in rooms up to 550 square feet. The brand says it can remove 99 percent of small particles from wildfire smoke in as little as an hour, and Amazon reviewers testify to its effectiveness. "I figured the air quality in my room wasn't the greatest, especially after some pretty bad wildfires in our area," wrote one customer. "Once it arrived I put it on it's highest setting and left the room for maybe 30 minutes and when I came back the air was noticeably better, it was honestly shocking how efficient it worked."

Best Splurge: Dyson Air TP01 Multiplier 40-Inch Bladeless Tower Fan

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Bed Bath and Beyond

If you're open to a bigger investment, Dr. Jain recommends this option from Dyson, especially when you're also dealing with summer heat. The fan circulates air while removing 99.97 percent of allergens, dust, and mold, according to the brand. With 10 different airflow settings and preset intervals that range from 15 minutes to 9 hours, it's one of the most customizable air purifiers. Even reviewers with respiratory conditions swear by it. "I have asthma triggered by allergies with dust and mold being the top two. I have it on at work in an old building with ventilation issues and windows that do not open," wrote one. "I leave it on all week and turn it off for the weekend. Monday mornings one can definitely tell the difference in the air….The filter lasts a little over a year. Glancing at the dirty filter I just changed, seeing is believing."

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