We love our four-legged friends, but one issue that tends to arise? Pet dander in the air — and sometimes a smell or two that is more on the “odor” end of the scent spectrum. For that, there are air purifiers: They act as filters for your room or house (different air purifiers cover different amounts of airspace, usually measured in square feet) and help remove irritants from the air.
But air purifier talents don’t end with pets. Air purifiers also help to remove germs and pollutants, which is great, but be careful of those germ claims: The EPA says: "When used properly, air purifiers can help reduce airborne contaminants including viruses in a home or confined space. However, by itself, a portable air cleaner is not enough to protect people from COVID-19." (Emphasis theirs.) And honestly, it makes sense: It seems highly unlikely that an air purifier can trap germs in time to prevent infection.
But air purifier aficionados will tell you that they do really help with all sorts of allergens and with reducing the impact a city’s air quality has on your indoor living conditions. Air purifiers with HEPA filters can remove particles as small as .3 microns, much smaller than the usual dander that floats around your home — they’ll even suck pet hair out of the air.
The best place to keep air purifiers in your home is as close as possible to the source of the odor and dander — if you have a dog or cat that spends a lot of time snoozing in their beds, put the air purifier close by there so the dander and allergens are filtered out right at the source. The most important thing is to match the air purifier to the size of the room (or area, if it’s a super-open floor plan) so you know that the air purifier is covering an adequate volume of space.
One thing to keep an eye on? The air filters inside the machines. Some machines have removable ones that you just vacuum off; other machines have you replace the filters every so often, such as those with odor and/or HEPA filters. While just vacuuming or wiping them off with a cloth is a more eco-friendly option, many pet owners want to start fresh every so often with a just-out-of-the-package filter. And carbon filters do help much more with odor. As far as the rest of the maintenance goes, it’s up to the manufacturer’s instructions, which you should be sure to read before your air purifier kicks into high gear.
What do air purifiers do?
Air purifiers are designed to remove particulates from the air, which range from pollen to dust but also include pet dander and fur. For people sensitive to or allergic to some particles in low-quality air like smoke, pet dander, or pollution, this decreases the appearance of allergic symptoms and generally makes it a bit easier to breathe.
What makes an air purifier good for pet owners?
For families or living situations where someone has a pet but someone else has an allergy, air purifiers can help keep the air clean and reduce allergy symptoms like sneezing and headaches by filtering particulates like dander, fur, and dust from rabbit or guinea pig bedding. They can also help eliminate pet odors, so if you have a few pets, the air in the house will be a little fresher. Not every air purifier removes dander and fur, though, so be sure to check and make sure the one in your cart does before buying.
What kind of filters should my air purifier come with?
There are a lot of different types of filters used in air purifiers. Some are reusable (often by vacuuming or wiping them down), others you have to replace every six to eight months or so. Many air purifiers use HEPA filters, which are among the type that catch particulates down to micron-level size, but there’s no reason that’s a must-have — some air purifiers, including some of this list, have their own proprietary filtration system that remove particulates even a HEPA filter can’t.
We’ve rounded up some of the best air purifiers for people with pets — check them all out below.