“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened,” once said famed French poet Anatole France, and we must agree that our pets are the best.
But what we can’t overlook about our furry or hairy or scaly or feathery friends (we don’t discriminate), is that while they bring the fun, they also bring the smells, flying fluff, hard-to-ignore dander, litter box bacteria, and allergens directly into our homes.
You can sweep, dust, and mop all you want, but once you’re done sneezing, make peace with the fact that it’s important to treat yourself, and man’s best friend, to a high-quality air purifier. In fact, Laura Daily of The Washington Post reports that medical professionals even say air purifiers “work best for people [with pets] and animal allergies.”
Great! But, where to start looking? There’s a lot to consider, but by the time you’ve read below, you’ll be ready to purchase with confidence.
Note: We are not an affiliate website, and therefore do not promote products that generate a commission if you purchase. This is a highly-researched roundup of the best purifiers specifically for pet lovers (and their specific issues and needs) from respected publications, as well as our in-house team of NASA award-winning experts. If you have a suggestion, we’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do I really need an air purifier for pets?
Whether or not you need an air purifier really depends on 3 things:
1. How much clean air flow you achieve everyday. Do you live in a sealed space most of the day due to extreme temperatures or weather, or can you leave doors and windows open for an hour or two throughout the year?
2. How much of a problem dust, odors and airborne particles such as mold are in your home. Aka the more you have to dust, or the smellier your house, or the more sensitive your allergies, the more need for an air purifier.
3. How often your air filter needs to be replaced. Ex: If you’re using an air filter that changes color when it’s reached max odor absorption capacity, and it’s changing before the normal 3 month mark, an air purifier will help assist with keeping your air clean in collaboration with your hvac system.
Laura Daily of The Washington Post reminds us, “Your [HVAC] is essentially a whole-house filtration system and may negate the need for an air purifier.” However, Daily goes on to say, “The problem is many homeowners use cheap, thin filters that cost a few bucks and do little to actually filter the air.”
HVAC air filters that utilize color-shift ™ technology allow you to see the filter working to remove chemicals and odors from your home. Pretty nifty and 1/10th the cost (or less) of an air purifier.
That being said, a quality air purifier is a sophisticated machine in its own right. One that sanitizes the air by trapping particles and microns, like viruses or bacteria, and neutralizes them. So, when put to work in conjunction with a high-quality air filter, you’re ensuring a top air-quality rating inside your home. It’s a “more is more” situation.
Note that, while air purifiers offer many benefits for pet parents, they perform best in a closed room. The true performance of the machine really varies by the size of space, how contained the space is (like if the space has windows or people walking through it), and the strength of the unit’s fan. The best air purifiers for pets will have a very strong fan so the air purifier can constantly move and circulate air; minimizing dust buildup and odors.
Why does air quality matter when it comes to pets?
If you’ve ever had an allergy attack, this question is easy for you to answer. But for those that may be experiencing way sneakier side effects (in you or your pet) of bad air quality and pollutants, the EPA lists:
- Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
- Headaches, dizziness, and fatigue
- Respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer
Explains Forbes’ Dave Johnson, “Indoor air can be more polluted than the air outdoors...and if you’re spending more time at home these days...you might be concerned about the risk from contaminants.”
Contaminants like bacteria from doggie outings at the park or even your outdoor cat’s secret adventures. That’s because even the most adorable pets come with a full portfolio of Things To Clean. Raise your hand if you’ve ever scoured the house trying to figure out where that smell is coming from. Says Johnson, “Good ventilation can help, but the best air purifiers can make an enormous difference in the quality of the air in your home.” Who would say no to the removal of pet odors and allergens? It’s a win-win.
What should pet lovers look for in an air purifier?
When shopping for the best air purifiers for pets, most people look for:
- An air purifier that removes pet hair which requires strong air circulation.
- An air purifier that removes pet odors which requires specific, high-tech materials like “activated carbon.”
- An air purifier that filters particles which requires a HEPA filter to capture super small microns, like viruses.
Buying an air purifier as a pet-owner means the machine needs to go over and above simply having a good MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating.
While a MERV rating is important since it tells you the machine’s proficiency for capturing small particles like dust, dander, hair, and pollen, what it won’t tell you is if it actually removes pet odors. As The New York Times’ air purifier guru Tim Heffernan explains, “air purifiers aren’t magic, do-it-all devices.” In fact, Heffernan notes, “Most of them don’t remove VOCs (volatile organic compounds AKA odors) from the air very well at all.”
That’s why when shopping for the best air purifiers for pets, you should look for “heavy-duty [activated] carbon filters,” says Daily, which not only remove pet odors and other smells but remove gases. Just beware, Daily warns, “while effective, they are pricey.”
The good news? Highly effective air filters like Colorfil are 5x more effective than the leading brand at removing all odors and cost just $18/each or less. They even won an award from NASA, if you need more reasons to believe.
The Top 5 Best Air Purifiers for Pets
For pet-owners looking to outfit their homes with air purifiers, we’ve rounded up the best of the best to see how they stack up. We’ve done our research and sourced from respected publications like The New York Times and Forbes (as well as our own in-house NASA award-winning team of experts) to bring you a round-up of the best-selling air purifiers that solve key issues related to pets. We skipped over the Amazon-affiliate websites getting kickbacks for promoting expensive air purifiers to bring you a true and honest look at what’s available to you.
1. Aair Lite by AerisHealth ($499)
Why we love it: The Aair Lite is HEPA 13 (!), but then it goes a step further: the purifiers are coated with zinc pyrithione, which kills trapped bacteria and viruses. This is a well-designed, modern system that comes in colors like light gray, baby pink, and teal while boasting the performance data to warrant the price tag.
- Eliminates 99.95% of odors from VOC's, cigarettes, animals, mold, & more based on three rigorous tests
- Activated Charcoal filter removes particles down to 0.1 microns, including formaldehyde.
- HEPA H13 Filter
- For rooms up to 350 ft².
What’s not to love:
- No ‘sleep’ button
- The fan can be loud
2. Levoit LV-H132 ($90)
Why we love it: The price! Sure, it covers a smaller area, but for those looking for an office or second bedroom-only solution, this is it. It’s also ultra-quiet and has a night light. Plus, it’s super compact and cute.
- Electronic controls and super-quiet operation!
- 129 sq ft, true HEPA + carbon filter
- Touch controls, night light, and memory feature
What’s not to love:
- Not for big rooms
- Can get hot after continuous running
- No timer or sleep mode
3. RabbitAire ($750)
Why we love it: Talk about high-tech: this patented BioGS HEPA filtration system sees HEPA and raises it a few notches. While traditional HEPA filters can allow bacteria and viruses to grow over time, the RabbitAire catches and neutralizes common allergens and bacteria trapped on the filter.
- Made of high-grade granular activated carbon
- Built-in detector analyzes the amount of pollutants in your environment and adjust the fan speed accordingly
- Our A3's light sensor automatically defaults to a low-energy, dimmed sleep lighting when the room darkens
Advanced BLDC Motor with inverter control operates at five different speeds
What’s not to love:
- Does not include the Custom Odor Remover filter
- Big and certainly a statement piece if you’re into that kind of thing
- Only comes in one color
4. Austin Air Healthmate ($595)
Why we love it: This is truly a professional, medical-grade air purifier. In fact, the Austin Air HealthMate® was selected for use in a clinical trial at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre for a clinical trial involving indoor air quality that resulted in a 20% decrease in allergy-related hospital visits.
- Eliminates odors for fresher, pleasant-smelling air
- Reduces the viral load to minimize risk of infection or severity of disease
- Lessens nighttime allergies and asthma attacks
What’s not to love:
- Difficult to replace filter
- Clinically evaluated…but also looks like it belongs in a clinic (aka ugly)
- Activated Carbon for Odors/VOCs
- 3 stage filtration system to to capture dust, pollen, and pet dander
- Easy on the eyes design-wise
What’s not to love:
- The ‘High’ fan setting can make the unit wobble
- Did we mention it’s loud? It’s really loud.
Did you buy an air purifier? Tell us how it helped in the comments!
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