The Best Air Purifier for Removing Fine Particles from the AirThe Best Air Purifier for Removing Fine Particles from the Air

The Best Air Purifier

Or how to boost your at-home wellbeing.
Sarah Idle
Words by 
Sarah Idle
Updated 
Jun 26, 2020
Sarah Idle
Words by 
Sarah Idle
Updated 
Jun 26, 2020

There are a lot of things that can have an impact on your wellbeing. Committing to daily meditation sessions. Hitting the gym every other day. Whipping up spinach-packed green smoothies (and actually drinking them). Removing that 70s trippy wallpaper from your bedroom.

But, let’s face it, they all involve a lot of effort. For another at-home wellbeing boost that doesn’t involve physical or mental labour, consider an air purifier. 

The best air purifier does 1 thing well: removes tiny particles from the air that can be irritating, especially to your lungs, eyes and skin. This makes cleaner, and possibly healthier, air. Compact, or easy to move, it’s quiet and simple to use. We’ve scoured the web to bring you the top air purifiers in Australia, backed by real Aussie consumer insights.

Affiliate disclosure
Best for most

Ausclimate Winix ZERO+

Serious about clean air? The Ausclimate Winix ZERO+ PRO 5 Stage Air Purifier boasts a 5-stage air filtration system, which includes a true HEPA filter, a dedicated pet filter, and a pre-filter. It also has an auto mode, sleep mode, 4 fan speeds and plenty of happy Aussie fans.

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Ausclimate Winix ZERO+
Top
Pick
Best for salt therapy

Salin Plus Salt Therapy Device

The Salin Plus Salt Therapy Device doesn’t have the purifying power of the Ausclimate, it’s more focused on delivering you the perceived benefits of salt therapy. Compact and quiet, it’s ideally bedroom sized. A lack of features makes it very simple to use and it’s adored by hundreds of Aussies.

Shop now
Salin Plus Salt Therapy Device
Best for personal use

Dyson Pure Cool Me

A compact air purifier slash fan, the Dyson Pure Cool Me is small enough to fit on your desk or bedside table. It’s got a HEPA filter, 10 fan speeds, a timer and a remote control and comes in 2 modern colour options. It’s not cheap, coming in around $500.

Shop now
Dyson Pure Cool Me

How we picked

We started in our usual spot: CHOICE, Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group. This gave us a list of air purifiers that CHOICE put through their paces in their expert testing labs.

We then consulted the other experts: real Aussie consumers. We turned to ProductReview.com.au, Australia’s first consumer opinion website, to see which air purifiers perform well in Aussie homes. This gave us a shortlist of almost 50 options.

To narrow it down, we looked for at least 3.5 stars from a decent number of reviews, ideally more than 50. 

We didn’t pay too much attention to the technical specs of the air purifiers, instead preferring to focus on their features. We wanted easy to use air purifiers, either ones with very few controls or ones that would do all the hard work for you with auto modes. We paid attention to whether the air purifiers were backed by the National Asthma Council Australia's Sensitive Choice programme. This programme lets you know which products are more asthma and allergy aware.

Handy features, like timers, remote controls and night-mode, were considered nice-to-haves. Finally, we wanted a good range of prices that would suit those looking for very affordable air purifiers to those willing to pay over $1,000 for one. 

This gave us 7 air purifiers we think are worth considering.

Best for most -> Ausclimate Winix ZERO+ PRO 5 Stage Air Purifier

Ausclimate Winix ZERO+

Serious about clean air? The Ausclimate Winix ZERO+ PRO 5 Stage Air Purifier boasts a 5-stage air filtration system, which includes a true HEPA filter, a dedicated pet filter, and a pre-filter. It also has an auto mode, sleep mode, 4 fan speeds and plenty of happy Aussie fans.

Buy now

The Ausclimate Winix ZERO+ PRO 5 Stage Air Purifier’s name gives away its main point of difference and one of the reasons we reckon it’s Australia’s best air purifier: air goes through a 5-stage filtering process. 

This includes a pet filter (more on that in a bit), washable pre-filter, deodorisation activated carbon corrugate filter, a HEPA filter and finally, PlasmaWave technology 2.0. According to Ausclimate, this technology “creates Hydroxyls to instantly neutralise bacteria, odours, VOCs (chemical vapours and harmful gases) and viruses including Influenza A (H1N1), Cat Calicivirus, Dog Coronavirus, H5N1 Influenza A Subtype, Avian Influenza (H7N9), Zika virus - without producing harmful ozone”. Phew.

The HEPA filter, like all genuine HEPA filters, captures 99.97% of airborne pollutants as small as 0.3 microns. This is further helped by the deodorisation activated carbon corrugate filter, which captures chemical vapours as well as offensive odours.

Ausclimate reckons this is “the only air purifier on the Australian market with a dedicated ‘Pet Filter’”. The pet filter captures large particles, dander and pet hair. Meaning it’s great if you love your pet but not-so-love their sneeze-causing hair that they shed everywhere. Ausclimate points out the Winix ZERO+ PRO 5 Stage Air Purifier is great for your pet too, as the PlasmaWave technology 2.0 neutralises pet viruses. 

Aside from the technology it’s packing, it’s got some great features too. These include a triple smart sensor to monitor dust, odour and light levels, before automatically controlling them. It also includes an auto mode smart sensor. This allows you to ‘set and forget’ your air quality control. It has a sleep mode too. This dims the lights and runs the purifier in quiet mode. The smart air quality LED display measures and displays your current indoor air quality in an easy to understand way. Blue means good, green means average, amber means fair and red means poor.

If you’d rather not run it 24/7, you can set the timer to run it for 1, 4 or 8 hours. If you need to run it constantly, Ausclimate states that it’s very energy efficient -  “up to 12 times more efficient than a typical 60w household light bulb” in fact.

It has 4 fan speeds, including a turbo speed to clean the air quickly. It works best in rooms around 50m2 and it has a child lock to stop little fingers messing with the settings.

Keeping it running effectively is simple, thanks to the replace filter indicator which lets you know when to replace the air filters. It comes with a 2-year warranty and start-up filters included, which should last you about a year.

If that’s not enough to tempt you, the Ausclimate Winix ZERO+ PRO 5 Stage Air Purifier is approved by the Sensitive Choice Programme. Developed by the National Asthma Council Australia, the programme encourages companies to produce products that are more asthma and allergy aware. It’s also been reviewed by CHOICE, is proudly quality tested and manufactured just for Australia, and is a 2020 ProductReview.com.au award winner, where it gets almost 5 stars.

All this comes in under $800.

Why buy the the Ausclimate Winix ZERO+ PRO 5 Stage Air Purifier

5 stages of air filtration

Which should get the air in a room up to 50m2 feeling pure and clean.

Pet filter

Sensitive to your pet or want to help protect them against viruses? Ausclimate reckons this is the only air purifier on the Australian market with a dedicated pet filter.

HEPA filter

It’s got a certified Australian hospital-grade true HEPA filter, which means it can trap at least 99.97% of particles of 0.3 microns.

Smart air quality display

Wondering what the air quality is like? Look at the LED display and its easy to understand light system where blue means good and red means poor.

Timer

If you don’t want to run the purifier 24/7, use the 1, 4 or 8-hour timer. 

Washable filter

To extend the life of the pre-filter, you can wash and reuse it. 

4 fan speeds

So you can choose the speed that suits you and the room best.

Pre-filter

This extends the life of the HEPA filter by capturing larger airborne pollutants. 

Air quality triple smart sensor

Let the purifier do all the hard work for you thanks to its air quality triple smart sensor. This monitors dust and odours and automatically controls them, as needed.

Auto mode smart sensor

If you’re not sure what settings are best, you can ‘set and forget’ with this handy feature.

Sleep mode

If the purifier is in your bedroom, you can ensure a quiet, dark night’s sleep with its sleep mode. This turns down light and noise levels.

Replace filter indicator

Never get caught short with a non-functioning filter – you’ll know ahead of time when you need to change it. 

Sensitive Choice Programme-approved

This means it’s approved by the National Asthma Council Australia as an allergy- and asthma-friendly product.

2-year warranty

Which gives you peace of mind for your investment. 

ProductReview.com.au award winner

It has almost 5 stars on ProductReview.com.au and is a 2020 award winner, making it popular with Aussies. 

The not-so-good bits

None, although the price of nearly $800 and the cost of replacement filters is steep.

In summary 

The Ausclimate Winix ZERO+ PRO 5 Stage Air Purifier is a technology- and feature-packed air purifier, designed to make your life a little easier. We love its 5-stage air filtration system, which includes a true HEPA filter, a dedicated pet filter, and a pre-filter to extend the life of the HEPA one. The auto mode smart sensor allows you to ‘set and forget’ and it has a smart air quality display too for at-a-glance understanding of the air quality in the room. It also has a dedicated sleep mode, 4 fan speeds, is Sensitive Choice-programme approved, is a ProductReview.com.au 2020 award winner and comes with a 2-year warranty.

Best for salt therapy -> Salin Plus Salt Therapy Device

Salin Plus Salt Therapy Device

The Salin Plus Salt Therapy Device doesn’t have the purifying power of the Ausclimate, it’s more focused on delivering you the perceived benefits of salt therapy. Compact and quiet, it’s ideally bedroom sized. A lack of features makes it very simple to use and it’s adored by hundreds of Aussies.

Buy now

If you’re after something a little simpler than our winner, meet the Salin Plus Salt Therapy Device. It works like an air purifier, but with the addition of releasing tiny salt ions. Because it’s not strictly an air purifier, it doesn’t have a HEPA filter. Instead, it has a microcrystalline filter where airborne pollutants are trapped. As air is drawn into the device, it’s also blown out through the filter which contains tiny crystallised salt particles. These salt particles are then blown into the air. 

Advocates of salt therapy, like Salin Plus, believe salt has “the ability to fight anaerobic respiratory infections – and – through osmosis, draws mucus away from the airways, allowing easier breathing”. Although there are plenty of salt therapy devotees, it’s important to note that Lung Foundation Australia says there’s no scientific evidence that salt therapy improves asthma or other lung conditions. 

The Salin Plus Salt Therapy Device has a controllable fan speed and the ability to cover a room of up to 150m2. With a maximum noise level of 40db, it’s also super quiet. One filter cartridge is included – for best results, change it every 4-6 months. A cartridge costs around $55. 

As well as a 1-year warranty, is has a 60-day money back guarantee. What really appealed to us are 2 key things. The first is price – at RRP $199.95 it’s by far the most affordable air purifier we reviewed. The second is how loved it is by Australians. It has almost 350 positive reviews on ProductReview.com.au with an average rating of 4.6. 

Why the Salin Plus Salt Therapy Device is worth considering

Size

At just 23.5cm x 18.1cm x 16.5cm, it’s a handy bedroom size air purifier.

Room coverage

It claims to cover up to a huge 150m2.

Quiet

Given that it’s intended to live in your bedroom, it’s great to see low noise levels – just 40db.

Simple to use

There are no LED displays or tricky settings to master here. Simply turn the fan speed dial and you’re away.

Adjustable speed settings

You can dial the fan speed up or down, as needed.

Salt therapy

It comes with the bonus of salt therapy. Although not scientifically backed, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence of people’s experiences with this. 

60-day money-back guarantee

If you’re not sure it’s going to live up to the hype, you’ve got 60 days to try it.

Price

With a RRP of $199.95, it’s very affordable.

Loved by Aussies

Almost 400 of you rave about it on ProductReview.com.au.

The not-so-good bits

Ongoing costs

You need to replace the cartridge every 4-6 months to ensure its effectiveness, so that’s around an extra $100 a year.

No HEPA filter

The Salin Plus Salt Therapy Device doesn’t claim to have the purifying power of our winner, so it doesn’t have a HEPA filter. With most of the reviews focused on the salt therapy and its perceived benefits, it’s hard to quantity how good it is as a purifier. 

In summary 

For an alternative air purifier, consider the Salin Plus Salt Therapy Device. Without the purifying power of our winner, it’s more focused on delivering the perceived benefits of salt therapy to your home. Compact and quiet, it’s ideally sized for your bedroom. A lack of features makes it very simple to use. With an affordable RRP, it’s adored by Aussies and comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee allowing you to try it at home before committing to it.

Best for personal use -> Dyson Pure Cool Me

Dyson Pure Cool Me

A compact air purifier slash fan, the Dyson Pure Cool Me is small enough to fit on your desk or bedside table. It’s got a HEPA filter, 10 fan speeds, a timer and a remote control and comes in 2 modern colour options. It’s not cheap, coming in around $500.

Buy now

The Dyson Pure Cool Me delivers more than purified air. As the name suggests, it delivers cool air too. Which means it’s an air purifier and cooling fan in one. The ‘Me’ part of the name tells you this is a compact personal fan. It’s ideally suited to your bedside table or desk. It’s around 40cm H x 24.5 W and weighs 2.8kg, so it’s easily portable. 

Size aside, it’s packing an activated carbon and glass HEPA filter which removes gases and 99.95% of pollutants from the air. Dome-shaped, you can direct airflow exactly where you need it. It has 10 different fan speeds. It can also slowly rotate side to side, across a 70 degree range. It has a filter change reminder so you’ll always know when it’s time to change the filter. That’s thanks to the small LED display that also shows you the fan speed, timer and oscillation settings.

If you’re using it in your bedroom, there’s a 15 minute to 9 hour sleep timer. Bonus, it has a remote control too so you can operate it without leaving your bed. It’s curved and magnetised so you can stick it to the purifier when you’re not using it. 

It’s Sensitive Choice-approved, gets great consumer feedback on ProductReview.com.au and comes in 2 modern colour options (white / silver or gunmetal / copper). It’ll set you back around $500.

Why buy the Dyson Pure Cool Me 

Size

It’s compact and lightweight, making it ideal for personal use on your desk or bedside table.

Cooling

As well as an air purifier, it’s a cooling fan too.

HEPA filter

It contains a genuine HEPA filter.

Dome design

You can direct the airflow exactly where you need it thanks to the unique dome design.

10 different fan speeds

To suit a variety of cooling needs.

Oscillation

Fill the area with cooled air - it slowly rotates side to side through 70 degrees.

Filter change reminder

So you know when it’s time to change the filter to keep it working effectively.

Sleep timer

Rather than running it 24/7, there’s a 15 minute to 9 hour timer.

Remote control

For lazy use. It’s magnetised too, so it sticks to the machine when it’s not in use. Smart.

The not-so-good bits

Price

It’s a Dyson, which means a top-end price. At $499 for a small air purifier, it’s not cheap.

Warranty

For that price, you’re getting a 2-year warranty. Which we think is ok, but not great.

In summary

If you’re looking for a compact air purifier slash fan, consider the Dyson Pure Cool Me. Small enough to fit on your desk or bedside table, it’s got a HEPA filter and 10 fan speeds. It’s easily controlled by the remote control that sticks to the machine for smart storage. It can move slowly side to side to help spread air nearby. You can also manually adjust the unique dome design for more or less airflow. It has a timer too. It comes in around $500 so it’s an investment.

The competition

Here are the other air purifiers we found that are worth considering. 

InovaAir AirClean E20 Plus

If you’re serious about air purifying, here’s a serious price: the InovaAir AirClean E20 Plus comes in at a huge RRP $1,595.00. It’s the most expensive air purifier we reviewed, by a long way. So, what do you get for your investment? An impressive looking air purifier that’s 100% Australian made.

It has a medical-grade HEPA filter plus a 6kg activated carbon filter. The HEPA filter is expected to last between 3-5 years, making your ongoing investment costs not too painful. It can cover up to 100m2 and is simple to use – you can adjust the speed settings, but that’s it. It’s approved by the Sensitive Choice Programme and has a 5-year parts and labour warranty and a 10-year housing warranty. 

Although it’s quite big and bulky, it has wheels that allow you to move it around easily. It has good, but limited, consumer reviews, racking up around 4.5 stars. 

Choose this if...

You want a purifier that has 1 function (to purify your air), you’re serious about the kit it uses to do this (that 6kg activated carbon filter) and you’re not looking for extensive functionality beyond adjusting the speed settings. You also need to be ok with spending over $1,500. 

Ausclimate Winix ZERO 4 Stage 

This is a step down from our other Ausclimate pick. For around $100 less, the Ausclimate Winix ZERO 4 Stage gives you 1 less filtration stage (bye bye pet filter) and a slightly different process. You get PlasmaWave technology, rather than PlasmaWave 2.0 technology. The difference? This PlasmaWave technology doesn’t neutralise pet viruses. It also has an air quality dual smart sensor that monitors dust and light levels. The ZERO+ PRO 5 has a triple smart sensor that monitors odour too.

Otherwise it has the same smart air quality display, sleep mode, timer, auto mode, 4 fan speeds and replace filter indicator. As you’d expect, it covers less area too. Around 40m2 to the ZERO+ PRO 5’s 50m2.

It’s also Sensitive Choice Programme-approved and has the same 2-year warranty. It has a bunch of international certifications and awards too. This includes activated carbon filter VOC Air Quality testing (which found it captures up to 99.9% of airborne VOCs within 2 hours) and PlasmaWave Technology Testing Certification (which found it neutralises 99.6% of the influenza virus within 1 hour). It gets glowing consumer reviews, from a very limited number of them. 

Choose this if…

You like the look of the ZERO+ PRO 5 but you’d rather save yourself $100 and settle for 4 stages of filtration with no pet filter and a smaller coverage area.

Daikin MC70LPVM

If 4 or 5 stages of air filtration aren’t enough for you, the Daikin MC70LPVM could be the right choice: it has a 6-stage system. However, this doesn’t include a HEPA filter. 

It offers 5 operating modes, including silent mode for overnight use; dust and odour indications so you can see the air quality in the room; and a timer. It comes with a remote control, an impressive 5-year warranty and the backing of the Sensitive Choice Programme. 

It’s got great, although limited, consumer reviews and costs around $450. 

Choose this if...

You’d like 6 stages of filtration, without an HEPA filter, and a long warranty.

Xiaomi Mi Air Purifier 3H

For the modern home, there’s the Xiaomi Mi Air Purifier 3H. Unlike any of our other picks, it can be controlled by an app. It’s also compatible with other smart home systems, like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. As you’d expect, you can control it from your smartphone. This includes monitoring the air quality, temperature and humidity and adjusting the fan speed or setting a timer. It’ll also alert you when the filter needs replacing.

Smart home tech aside, it has a true HEPA filter and triple filtration. This includes a primary filter to remove large airborne particles like dust and hair; the HEPA filter; and an activated carbon filter. The LED touch display lets you change settings easily. These settings include 3 fan speeds, an auto mode, favourite mode and sleep mode. The display also shows you the air quality using green, orange and red lights.

Xiaomi reckons it can cover an area between 25-45m2. This is helped by its 360 degree filtration feature. It’s been reviewed by CHOICE and gets great, but very limited, consumer reviews. It comes in around $300 and with a 1-year warranty. 

(Oh, and we rate the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum too, which also falls on the more affordable end of the price scale.) 

Choose this if…

You want an air purifier that’s compatible with your smart home and includes a HEPA filter but no timer.

How we picked

We started in our usual spot: CHOICE, Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group. This gave us a list of air purifiers that CHOICE put through their paces in their expert testing labs.

We then consulted the other experts: real Aussie consumers. We turned to ProductReview.com.au, Australia’s first consumer opinion website, to see which air purifiers perform well in Aussie homes. This gave us a shortlist of almost 50 options.

To narrow it down, we looked for at least 3.5 stars from a decent number of reviews, ideally more than 50. 

We didn’t pay too much attention to the technical specs of the air purifiers, instead preferring to focus on their features. We wanted easy to use air purifiers, either ones with very few controls or ones that would do all the hard work for you with auto modes. We paid attention to whether the air purifiers were backed by the National Asthma Council Australia's Sensitive Choice programme. This programme lets you know which products are more asthma and allergy aware.

Handy features, like timers, remote controls and night-mode, were considered nice-to-haves. Finally, we wanted a good range of prices that would suit those looking for very affordable air purifiers to those willing to pay over $1,000 for one. 

This gave us 7 air purifiers we think are worth considering.

Important features to consider

These are the key features that every air purifier should have. 

Speed settings

Adjustable speed settings allow you to choose the right fan level for the room – lower when you’re sleeping or working, higher when pollen season kicks in. 

Carrying handle

With most air purifiers working best in 1 room, choosing a light and compact purifier with a decent carrying handle means you can move it around easily.

What you get if you spend more

We found the more you spend, the more features you get. Apart from the HEPA filter, which we think is worth the extra expense if you’re serious about pure air, we reckon most of these are nice to haves.

LED display or apps

Want to know what temperature the room is or what the particle level is? Look for LED displays or apps that’ll provide you real-time reporting. Which, to be honest, you don’t really need.

Timer

If you don’t want to run your air purifier 24/7, or you’re likely to forget to turn it off, opt for a timer. This allows you to set it to run for a certain amount of time, like 1 or 8 hours.

HEPA filter 

If an air purifier claims to have a true or absolute HEPA filter, they must be tested and meet a specific standard. To know whether your air purifier’s HEPA filter is legit, look for their serial number and test results that should be printed on the filter. They must have been proven to trap at least 99.97% of particles of 0.3 microns. 

True or absolute HEPA filters are usually more expensive than other ‘HEPA’ filters but you know that a true or absolute one has been proven to perform at a high standard. Five out of seven of our picks have true HEPA filters.

Night mode

If you’ll use your air purifier in your bedroom, a night mode can be a handy feature. It’ll dim any lights and use the quietest setting. 

Remote control

Don’t want to move across the room to adjust your air purifier? Get one with a remote.

Auto modes

For maximum results, and no manual input, look for auto modes. These automatically adjust the fan speed according to the dirt or dust levels in the air. 

Washable pre-filter

A washable and reusable pre-filter collects large particles which can help extend the life of the main filter. Because it’s reusable, it’ll also save you money on the long-term running costs.

Filter replacement indicator

To ensure your air purifier always works effectively, a filter replacement indicator will let you know when to replace the filter.

The bottom line

An air purifier can help clean your home’s air. This is helpful if you smoke inside, live near polluted areas, including bushfire-prone ones, or you or a loved one suffer from asthma or allergies.

We reckon the Ausclimate Winix ZERO+ PRO 5 Stage Air Purifier is Australia’s best air purifier. It has a 5-stage air filtration system, which includes a true HEPA filter, a dedicated pet filter and a pre-filter to extend the life of the HEPA one. The auto mode smart sensor allows you to ‘set and forget’ and it has a smart air quality display too. It also has a dedicated sleep mode, 4 fan speeds, is Sensitive Choice-programme approved, is a ProductReview.com.au 2020 award winner and comes with a 2-year warranty.

For a more affordable alternative that isn’t strictly just an air purifier, consider the Salin Plus Salt Therapy Device. RRP $199.95, it focuses on delivering the perceived benefits of salt therapy to your home. It’s compact and quiet, making it ideal for your bedroom. It’s also super simple to use. It’s adored by almost 350 Aussies and comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee. 

If you’re looking for a compact air purifier slash fan, meet the Dyson Pure Cool Me. Small enough to fit on your desk or bedside table, it’s got a HEPA filter, 10 fan speeds and a timer. It’s easily controlled by the remote control that sticks to the machine for smart storage. It can move slowly side to side to help spread air nearby. You can also manually adjust the unique dome design for more or less airflow. It comes in around $500 so it’s an investment.

Frequently asked questions

What does an air purifier do?

An air purifier is designed to improve indoor air quality. It does this by minimising pollutants in the air, like cigarette smoke, dust and pet dander. Many people who use air purifiers do so because they want to ease asthma or allergies, or to sleep better. But there’s little medical evidence that air purifiers help to relieve respiratory symptoms. 

Because your home isn’t airtight and particles are constantly being drawn in through windows, doors and more, to be most effective your air purifier needs to run 24/7. So, pay attention to the energy usage of your air purifier. Plus, you need to regularly change your air purifier’s filter. Be sure you know the cost of the replacement filters so you can factor that into the ongoing running costs. 

Do I need an air purifier?

Maybe. We tend to think of pollution being an outdoor thing but we let outdoor air into our homes all the time. And that air can contain exhaust fumes, airborne dust and pollen and even bushfire smoke. Add in pollution that’s already in your home, like dust, cigarette smoke and pet hair, and you can be breathing in some not-so-great stuff. Indoors, this can build up and potentially irritate breathing, eyes and skin.

You might buy an air purifier if:

  • You have asthma and allergies, especially to dust or pollen. (You’ll still need to dust or vacuum furniture and floors to get rid of non-airborne dust.)
  • You’ve got sick or vulnerable people at home and want to help reduce the amount of bacteria and viruses in the air.
  • You smoke inside your home.
  • You live near to polluted areas, like busy roads or bushfire-prone areas.

How does an air purifier work?

An air purifier works through 3 basic steps.

  1. It pulls in air which then passes through a filter. This might be a HEPA filter (more on that below) or another type of filter. It might have more than 1 filtration stage. Like our Ausclimate Winix ZERO+ PRO 5 Stage Air Purifier has 5 stages.
  2. This filter catches contaminants and pollutants that hang out in the air in our homes, like dust, pollen, pet dander, smoke and odours. This means the air that’s pushed out is clean and free of these pollutants. This step is repeated over and over as the air purifier continues to circulate the air.
  3. Every time the air passes through the filter(s), more contaminants get caught so the air becomes cleaner. 

Do air purifiers catch and kill viruses and bacteria?

Visit any air purifier manufacturer’s website and you’ll see claims thrown around about how they catch and kill viruses and bacteria. 

CHOICE has done a pretty thorough debunking of that but the upshot is: yes they can - to a limited degree. The first thing to understand is that airborne viruses are tiny. They can range from 0.02 microns to around 0.4 microns. A HEPA filter claims to filter particles down to 0.3 microns. Which means, some viruses are too small to be caught by a HEPA filter. 

The second thing is the filter may trap the virus, but it probably won’t kill it. Viruses can survive on surfaces for several hours or days. So, it’ll probably die there unless you remove the filter in the meantime, which might release it.

The third thing is that air purifiers only filter particles from the air. But viruses tend to hang around on skin or hard surfaces more than they’re airborne. An air purifier can’t do anything about those. 

Do all air purifiers have HEPA filters?

No, they don’t. But it’s thought that air purifiers with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters can purify the air better than non-HEPA filters. That’s because they’re very good at removing fine particles from the air, including dust, pollen, mould spores, exhaust soot and smoke. However, they don’t catch gases or any larger allergens, like dust mites and pet hair, that can remain in the environment even after the air’s been purified. 

There are no regulations that air purifiers legally need to meet before they go on the market, unless they claim to have a true HEPA filter. 

Wondering if your air purifier has a HEPA filter, or they’re just claiming to? This is tricky as there isn’t any regulatory body to monitor this. To know whether your air purifier’s HEPA filter is legit, look for their serial number and test results that should be printed on the filter. They must have been proven to trap at least 99.97% of particles down to 0.3 microns. 

One way of feeling confident that an air purifier performs well is to choose one that’s got the approval of the National Asthma Council Australia's Sensitive Choice programme. This programme helps consumers identify asthma- and allergy-friendly products. Five out of seven of our air purifiers have this backing. 

Should I buy an air purifier, air conditioner, humidifier or dehumidifier?

Wondering whether you need an air purifier, air conditioner, humidifier or dehumidifier?

Here’s a quick cheat sheet:

  • An air purifier can help clear and clean the air in your home. They’re useful if you smoke, live near bushfire areas or busy roads, or someone in your home struggles with asthma and allergies, especially to dust or pollen.
  • An air conditioner cools the air in your home (check out Australia’s best portable air conditioners).
  • A humidifier ups the moisture levels in your home, which is helpful if your air is really dry, which can lead to dry skin and other issues (check out Australia’s best humidifiers).
  • A dehumidifier removes moisture from your home, which can cause dampness and mould (check out Australia’s best dehumidifiers).

Basically, if your home is hot or stuffy, try an air conditioner. If your home is too dry, opt for a humidifier.

If you’re worried about mould, try a dehumidifier to help maintain the best moisture levels in your home. Air purifiers don’t prevent mould growth – you need to remove the moisture that’s allowing it to grow. 

But if you want clean air, an air purifier is the best choice.

References +