I am the only one in my family spared the curse of allergies and asthma but it hardly matters. It’s springtime, the season of Visine and Claritin and the tiny little particles that wreak havoc on my child’s sleeping schedule, wreak havoc on mine too. Thankfully, in the last 50 years —and really in the last few — technology has been developed to render the air in your home nearly particulate- and allergen-free.
Most air purifiers use what’s called HEPA filters, which stands for High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance. The technology was developed by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in the 1940’s to filter out radioactive material back when we thought we were all gonna die in a nuclear war. (Ha!). To be considered a true HEPA filter must filter out 99.97 percent effective in capturing particles as small as 0.3 microns. Since then, the technology has been expanded to everything from patient isolation chambers to vacuum cleaners to, of course, air purifiers. Most recently, thanks to technological advances by such companies like Dyson and Molekule, air has gotten even purer. New purifiers are quieter, more beautiful and more effective than even what was on the market a decade ago. High-end models are going to cost you but I think of these purifiers as part-sculpture, part-furniture, and part-guarantee that my kid won’t wake up at 2 a.m. Here are four models of varying price that are more than capable of eradicating dust, pollen, dander, and any other pesky particles.
The (Very) High-End: Molekule
Head-and-shoulders above any other air purifier is the Molekule, Dr. Yogi Goswami’s innovative tube. (Heh-heh. “Innovative tube.”) Unlike any other air purifier on the market, Molekule doesn’t use a HEPA filter, it uses a PECO filter. The difference is that instead of trapping particles on a filter, Molekule destroys them on a, wait for it, molecular level. The story is this: Goswami is a mechanical engineer by training but when his son Dilip — now the CEO — developed severe asthma and allergies, his dad spent 20 years developing the technology behind this product.
When it launched in 2017, it quickly sold out and even now, the product is mildly back-ordered. But when it arrives you can see why. First of all, it’s beautiful. A matte aluminum 23-inch tube with a leather handle. Secondly, it’s quiet AF. There’s no high-powered fan to the thing literally just sits in the corner, looking like a Bluetooth speaker, or the world’s sexiest trash can. Thirdly, the first night I put in my son’s room, the kid didn’t wake up once wheezing or complaining of itchy eyes. Molekule filters the air in a 600 square foot room — and my kids room is much smaller — in an hour. That’s just enough time for my son to dilly-dally, procrastinate going to pee and then, finally, fall blissfully, unasthmatically asleep.
The High-End: Dyson Pure Cool
More affordable but no less impressive than the Molekule, is Dyson’s Pure Cool. Dyson, the company that made vacuum cleaners seem like something sexy and disruptive, turned their focus to air purifying fans in 2015. A little flashier than the Molekule, the Pure Cool combines Dyson’s annular loop — that makes their blade-less fans look so cool — with both HEPA and activated-carbon filters. Unlike Molekule, the particles do still hang out on the filter once they’re out of the air. However, there are so many other baller bells-and-whistles on this baby, to me it hardly matters.
For instance, an LED display provides real-time updates on air quality, utilizing three separate sensors, one for ultra-fine particles (damn particles, you’re ultra fine), another for VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) like benzene and formaldehyde, and a third for humidity and temperature. The remote is magnetic (so it attaches to the top of the machine). The other rad thing about Dyson, in general, is that in this dumb-ass world of smart homes — I do not need an app to turn on the lights! — the Dyson app actually works and makes sense. With Dyson Link, I can check to see air quality remotely. So when it’s not my night to be in, and I get a frantic call about the kid wheezing, I can calmly and knowledgeably say, “Well, did you turn on the Pure Cool? ”
The Mid-Range: Coway AP-1512HH
This small beauty from Korean water-purification company Coway was chosen as The Wirecutter’s best Air Purifier in 2018. At only $180, it is a genial bargain. Though rated for smaller spaces — ideal, sayeth the website — for rooms of 528 sq. ft., the powerful Coway, which resembles a gargantuan iPod mini, can handle larger spaces with ease. Just give it some more time. There are four filters in this machine — which are meant to filter out large and small particles, ions and odor — and a three-level fan that automatically shuts off when high-quality air is reached.
The Budget: Holmes Egg Air Purifier with Permanent HEPA-Type Filter
For less than $50 — when you buy it directly on the Holmes website — this small egg-shaped purifier is your best bet. Of course, what you get is a HEPA-type filter, meaning it doesn’t quite hit the specifications for a true HEPA. But it’s still good enough to filter out 99% of particulate matter in the air. Ideal for smaller spaces of up to 120 square feet, the Egg also has a permanent filter, which cuts down obviously on replacement costs, though cleaning it can be a hassle (and release all those particles back into the atmosphere!)