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If you’re trying to prevent mold from messing with your lungs, there are air purifiers that are made just for that. Mold has been around for millions of years, and it’s not a stretch to say it’s already in your home or the buildings you enter. You find mold in places that encounter a lot of contact with water, like roofs, windows, and pipes. Mold can also be found on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood products, dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery. Although that’s an overwhelming number of possible things that can become moldy, you can take quick action. It’s easy to remove on non-porous surfaces and food—a simple wipe down or journey to the trash can fix that. However, it’s hard to remove in the air, which is not the best news since mold can cause respiratory issues or a skin rash. However, the best air purifiers for mold let you breathe easy, no longer worrying about the air in your home.
How we chose the best air purifiers for mold
We’ve written about air purifiers before, so we took what we knew about them and went a bit further with testing. We weren’t looking at its ability to prevent mold, since that’s what dehumidifiers are for. We looked for features like HEPA filtration and the percentage of micro-sized particles it can trap. In order to find the best air purifiers for mold, we also looked at critical reviews and user recommendations and conducted first-hand research.
The best air purifiers for mold: Reviews & Recommendations
When it comes to AQI (the Air Quality Index), it’s like the game of Limbo: How low can you go? Keeping particulates out of our body is the goal of these selections, as mold is only good in blue cheese, penicillin, and tempeh—and that’s only if you’re not allergic or intolerant to any of them. Leave the fuzziness to those old raspberries in your fridge, not your lungs (OK, clear out the raspberries, too).
Best overall: PuroAir HEPA 14 Air Purifier
Recommended room size: 1,115 square feet
Dimensions: 8.5 x 8.5 x 14.25 inches
App connectivity: No
Weight: 8 lbs.
Detects air quality in home
Powerful H14 HEPA filter
Replacement filters are expensive
The PuroAir HEPA 14 Air Purifier covers a massive 1,115 square feet and includes a powerful HEPA 14 air filter, which is ten times more powerful than HEPA 13. What you get is a hospital-grade air purifier under $200 that removes 99.99% of fine particles down to .1 microns in size. Mold? Sorry, you won’t find any here. It’s third-party lab tested and certified, meaning you’re getting a scientifically-developed air purifier from scientists and virologists at Harvard, MIT, Johns Hopkins, and Oxford universities that are backed up by other scientists.
A smart particle sensor monitors air quality and increases power if polluted air is detected. A flat, touch-controlled panel includes settings for timer, fan speed, a sleep mode that turns off all lights on the unit, filter replacement indicator, and child lock. It’s incredibly quiet even when running at its highest speed, and they’re incredibly intuitive to use. The replacement filters are a little expensive, but we think it’s a price worth paying.
Best smart: MILA Air Purifier with Overreactor filter
Recommended room size: 560 square feet
Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 15 inches
App connectivity: Yes
Weight: 12 lbs.
Easy to set up
Lots of customization
If you’re looking for an air purifier that is a bit more customizable, consider the Mila. Instead of offering one filter that does everything OK, the Mila gives you seven filters, each aimed at solving a particular need. We’re a fan of the Overreactor, which eliminates food odors, formaldehyde from furniture and flooring, and almost 98 percent of nine types of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Plus, the integrated hospital-grade HEPA 14 filter with modified granular carbon gives new meaning to “fresh air.”
The unit also has eight environmental sensors, including CO2 and humidity sensors, which are important for mold prevention. It’s literally as quiet as a library, thanks to its 24-decibel output. It’s also super sensitive: the air purifier kicked into high gear when I sprayed an aerosol air freshener in the room.
Mila’s app is where this connected smart-home device shines, however. Available for Android and iOS, the app gives you more preset modes like Bubble Boy (which keeps the AQI as low as possible, no matter the setting), sleep, white noise, energy save, Turndown Service, and child lock. The air purifier is also incredibly stylish. Its cube shape gives “technologically advanced fancy marshmallow” compared to “bleak, unaesthetic cylinder” like many others on the market. The Mila is expensive, but you get lots of perks and flexibility.
Best for large rooms: Shark HP302 NeverChange Air Purifier MAX
Recommended room size: 1,400 square feet
Dimensions: 13.2 x 13.2 x 22.5 inches
App connectivity: No
Weight: 12.27 lbs.
Checks air quality
Four levels of filtration
Built-in odor neutralizer
Large compared to other air purifiers
If you want to keep mold out of the air but want something that can cover a wide area, or you want to purify multiple rooms at once, the Shark HP302 NeverChange Air Purifier MAX has the largest square footage of coverage out of all the air purifiers we tested. A five-year HEPA filter means you don’t have to worry about reordering one shortly after purchasing. The filter itself can trap 99.98% of particles of all sizes, and debris defense protection prevents build-up fox maximum performance. We especially love its included odor neutralizer that releases a fresh scent in your home. It’s something we’ve seen implemented in the company’s Stratos Cordless Vacuum; we loved how it performed with the vacuum, and we’re happy it’s in this air purifier.
Clean Sense IQ constantly adjusts power based on air quality throughout your home, which you can see when tapping the Air Info symbol on the touch panel. Speaking of, if you’re not in the mood for auto mode, the touch panel includes settings for timer, brightness control, and fan speed. It’s taller compared to other air purifiers, but it’s a small price to pay for never having to change the filter.
Recommended room size: Over 1,000 square feet
Dimensions: 30.47 x 23.37 x 17.32 inches
App connectivity: Yes
Weight: 26.2 lbs.
Remote control included
Quiet at full power
Wheels to easily move around
This extra-large air purifier from Dyson resembles a dish antenna, but don’t let its unconventional shape fool you. This large format device means business. It projects air over 32 feet, easily purifies large spaces, and has adjustable airflow. If you’d like to conjure a spring wind in the comfort of your own home, consider this a breath of fresh air thanks to Breeze Mode, which brings the outdoor breeze feeling inside. The H13 filter can last up to 5 years, and a hygienic replacement mechanism lets you replace it in one click, relatively germ-free. The purifier itself is acoustically engineered to operate quietly, even when it’s working to the max.
It comes with a remote—hello, convenience—and can also be controlled using the MyDyson app (available for Android and iOS). Do Not Disturb mode purifies the air while using the quietest settings and dims the display so you can get the darkest environment for the best sleep. It’s pricey, but being able to emulate fresh air in your own home is priceless. Scooting around your silly-shaped air purifier on its included hidden wheels? That is some Smart House tech I can get behind.
Best budget: Levoit Core 300
Recommended room size: 219 square feet
Dimensions: 8.7 x 8.7 x 16.25 inches
App connectivity: No
Weight: 7.48 lbs.
Have to pay more for WiFi-enabled model
This sub-$100 air purifier packs a punch well beyond its price. It’s incredibly quiet, easy to use, and lightweight for moving around the house. Its touch panel comes with three airflow presets (I, II, III), a quiet mode, a timer, a child lock, and a “lights off” button that turns off the panel lights without shutting down the air purifier. Each filter lasts for six months, and they come in a two-pack so you only need to order them once a year. I’ve purchased this air purifier twice and would buy it again for every room in my apartment. I’ve used the general filter that comes with it and have had no problems, but the toxin absorber filter (sold separately) is a perfect match for mold catching. If you’re looking to pay extra for a WiFi-enabled model, it’s your lucky day.
What to consider when buying the best air purifiers for mold
Mold exposure can lead to a stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing or wheezing, burning eyes, or rash. People with asthma or who are allergic to mold may have severe reactions like shortness of breath or chest tightness. Immunocompromised people and people with chronic lung disease may get lung infections from mold. With all this considered, it’s important to find an air purifier that works. Here’s what features you should consider before hitting “add to cart”:
Size of space
Most air purifiers are designed to clean the air in a single room. Because of this, many models include a Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) to show how fast it can purify the air in the room. The higher the CADR, the larger area an air purifier is able to clean. Generally, you should look for an air purifier with a CADR of 2/3 the square footage of a space. If you’re looking to put an air purifier in a 100-square-foot room, you’ll need a minimum CADR of 65, per Energy Star.
HEPA stands for “high-efficiency particulate air” and has been used since World War II. That’s pretty neat. If you’re looking for a filter specifically for mold, look for H13 or H14 HEPA filters. They’re the highest tier of filtration and are considered medical or hospital grade.
Additionally, if you don’t want to think about filter speed or changing settings as air quality changes, consider an air purifier with sensors that increase the amount of air filtered for you. A higher fan speed for a longer time increases the amount of clean air in your home.
The best air purifiers for mold only filter out spores already in the air. The CDC recommends keeping humidity levels no higher than 50% in your home to prevent mold. An air conditioner or dehumidifier can help, and you can buy a humidity meter to monitor levels in your home. Fix any roof, wall, or plumbing leaks, and add mold inhibitors to paint or use a mold-inhibiting primer before painting. You should also dry out your home 24-28 hours after a flood and remove or replace carpets and upholstery that have been soaked and cannot be dried right away.
Bathrooms and basements often harbor the most mold since they get moist easily when not built properly. Surface mold growth, like on the tile or in the caulk, is easy to clean. Use a mold-killing cleaner or remove the caulk and replace it with the highest quality caulking you can find. However, removing mold growing behind the shower is a job for a contractor, unless you are the handyperson in your home.
Should you test your home for mold? The CDC says no since the health effects of mold are different in everyone. Good mold sampling is often expensive, and there are no set standards for acceptable kinds and qualities of mold in homes. Color also isn’t an indication of mold danger. Save your money to remove any mold in your home and keep it at bay.
So, should you be constantly vigilant of mold? According to the CDC, probably not. There is a little mold everywhere. Molds that may be toxigenic—a.k.a., they produce toxins, specifically mycotoxins—are as hazardous as the common molds in your home. There are few reports that toxigenic molds in homes can cause pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss. A link between the two has not been proven, and these reports are rare.
If you have asthma, are allergic to mold, are immune-compromised, or have chronic lung disease, talk to your doctor about what you can do to protect yourself against mold.
Some air purifiers can be controlled via an app that gives you deeper insights into the air in your home. Some have internal sensors that detect the air quality in your home and adjust the filter speed accordingly. However, these features can hike up the price.
If you get annoyed with air purifiers beeping when the air quality is poor, look for something that lets you turn the signal off, or consider a model that is beep-free. You already can’t stand when you set the fire alarm off while you’re cooking. You don’t need any more unnecessary beeping in your life.
Q: Where is the best place to position an air purifier?
If your air purifier is in a corner or behind a piece of furniture, you should move it. You should stick your air purifier near a particular pollutant that’s bothering you. It should also be 3-5 feet off the ground if it’s not tower-styled. Brownie points for putting it by places with good airflow, like doorways and windows. Moving your air purifier from place to place also helps with efficacy.
Q: Will an air purifier affect my plants?
Purified air is just as good for plants as it is for humans. They’ll be fine unless your model expels ozone. Your plants should be safe and sound in the presence of an air purifier otherwise.
Q: Should I sleep with the air purifier on?
There’s no reason not to sleep with the air purifier on. Many models come with an overnight mode to help you sleep—unless the white noise of an air purifier is up your alley. Regardless, creating an overall healthy home environment is something you won’t lose rest over.
Final thoughts on the best air purifiers for mold
You can stop mold on surfaces with a quick wipe of a powerful cleaner. Mold in the air is a different story. When looking for an air purifier made specifically for getting rid of this particular allergen, ensure it comes with a hospital-grade H14 HEPA filter to get all the lung irritants out of the air. Keep in mind the size of your space to maximize its efficacy and fun add-on features like app control. You can breathe easily, knowing that your lungs will be relatively mold-free with the right pick.
Why trust us
Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.
Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.