The best car air purifiers
Many people put air purifiers in their homes but don’t ever consider their car may need one too. Whether you drive with the windows up or down, pollutants like pollen, smog and road dust can enter the vehicle easily. When you think about how much time you probably spend running errands and sitting in traffic in your car, the damage adds up and the need for an air filter becomes apparent.
In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about car air purifiers to make an informed purchase, including our favorite model, the IQAir Atem. This Bluetooth-equipped option offers HEPA filtration and is powerful enough for vans and large SUVs.
Types of car air purifiers
When it comes to air purifiers for vehicles, you can choose from either physical filtration or ionization for your purification methods.
Air purifiers that utilize filtration feature a physical filter to trap particles, much like your home air conditioner or vacuum. The most effective models often have HEPA filters to catch tiny contaminants, which combine with active carbon to absorb odors or ionization.
Air ionizers create negatively charged ions that bind to the positively charged ions carrying bacteria, dust and other allergens. These newly formed particles are larger and heavier, so rather than float around in the air, they settle on the floor and other surfaces. They are also easier to trap in filters.
Features to consider when buying a car air purifier
Air ionizers and any purifiers with a fan used to suck in the air will require a power source. Most often, this will be a USB slot of a 12-volt adapter. Some models available are equipped with rechargeable batteries for those who prefer a cordless design. If you would rather not use up one of your power ports in your car, you can opt for a non-powered model that is essentially a bag of active charcoal. However, it is worth noting that these are often the least effective options.
Size and installation
The physical size of any air purifier, as well as where and how you mount it, should play a role in your buying decision. If you have a small car, you may want to avoid a large, dashboard-mounted option that blocks your view and takes up many spaces. In this case, something that hangs over the back of the seat would probably be a better choice. Another option is to choose a small model that fits in the cupholder or sticks out of the 12-volt adapter.
If you have a large vehicle, the effective coverage area of an air purifier will most likely be more important than the unit’s physical size. Most manufacturers exaggerate how large of a place their purifiers will cover, so it is always wise to buy one rated for a bit more square feet than the size of your vehicle’s interior. As touched upon previously, models equipped with fans to draw in the air will have more significant coverage than non-powered purifiers.
Any air purifier with a fan will make some noise. However, some are considerably louder than others. If you are sensitive to noises and worried that the sound of a constantly running fan would annoy you while driving, make sure to read the reviews of any model you are considering to get an idea of how loud it is. Another option is to choose an air ionizer that doesn’t have a fan, or a non-powered bag of active charcoal, though you may be sacrificing on effectiveness.
How much you can expect to spend on a car air purifier
You can find simple air purifiers for $15-$25, HEPA-equipped models for $20-$50 and bags of active charcoal for as little as $10. There are also highly advanced purifiers that cost well over $100.
Car air purifier FAQs
Do air ionizers release ozone?
A. Ozone generation is an unavoidable result of releasing an electrical charge into the air. For most people, the amount of ozone generated by ionizers is negligible enough not to cause concern. However, people sensitive to ozone or with lung issues should opt for an air purifier that relies on filtration rather than ionization.
Will an air purifier get rid of odors in my vehicle?
A. Air purifiers should help reduce and potentially eliminate unwanted odors in your car. Strong scents such as those caused by smoking and pets may be too much for most car air purifiers. To get rid of these, you will need to air out your car regularly and shampoo all fabric surfaces, sometimes more than once.
What is the best car air purifier to buy?
Top car air purifier
What you need to know: A practical and highly advanced model, the Atem is controlled via a smartphone app and features HEPA filtration.
What you’ll love: Thanks to a powerful centrifugal fan, it cleans the air in a standard-sized vehicle up to 20 times per hour.
What you should consider: It is notably expensive.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top car air purifier for the money
What you need to know: The Queenty Air Purifier utilizes a three-stage filtration process that includes activated carbon to trap small particles and rid the air of unpleasant odors.
What you’ll love: It can double as an essential oil diffuser, and, despite having two fans, it doesn’t create a lot of noise.
What you should consider: The large size and dashboard mounting make it unsuitable for small vehicles.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: A small and discreet option, the Moso Air Purifying Bag can easily be placed anywhere.
What you’ll love: Not only is it very affordable, but it absorbs both odors and moisture.
What you should consider: It’s less effective than fan-equipped models.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Brett Dvoretz is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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