How to create better air quality in your home

A good air filter can make a world of difference to your home’s air quality.

Indoor air pollutants rate among the top five environmental health risks today, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Air-tight construction and home insulation contribute to poor indoor air quality. Although these home improvements stop drafts and save on energy costs, they stop fresh air from coming into your home and pollutants from leaving.

Consequently, you have two options to improve indoor air quality: allow clean exterior air into the home to provide ventilation, or use an air cleaning device that removes indoor pollutants.

You can choose between two types of air cleaning devices for the removal of airborne pollutants: electronic air cleaners and mechanical air filters. Air filters consist of porous membranes that allow air to flow through while trapping dust, pollen, dust mites, pet dander and some mold spores.

To help measure the efficiency of filters installed in the duct work system of heating and cooling units, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has a rating system called the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). These ratings range from 1 (lowest) to 20 (highest), and shows three things:

  • The ability of the air filter to remove particles
  • The ability of the air filter to resist airflow
  • The product’s expected operating life

To choose the best furnace filter, you should familiarize yourself with the four main types.

Graphic of the four main types of furnace air filters: flat-panel fiberglass, pleated media, HEPA and washable.

(Graphic by Matt Mukerjee)

Flat-paneled fiberglass air filters

Usually carrying ratings of 1 to 4, flat-paneled fiberglass air filters consist of a disposable filter made of layered fiberglass fibers. A metal-like grating reinforces and supports the fiberglass material and helps prevent the filter from collapsing.

These inexpensive air filters mostly provide protection for heating and cooling components and not for cleaning the air. The filters have a medium efficiency rating for capturing larger airborne particles and a low efficiency for filtering dust mites, viruses, bacteria and dander.

Pleated media air filters: catch more particles than fiberglass

Similar to fiberglass filters, disposable pleated polyester filters have a sizable surface field and a rating of 5 to 13. The pleats increase the surface area and make the furnace filters more efficient at capturing airborne particles. A pleated air filter with a medium efficiency rating can filter small to large particles. Filters with a rating of 7 to 13 provide a level of effectiveness compatible with absolute high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, but at a lower price point.

furnace technician installs filter

Dave Mejean with B&W Heating and Air Conditioning in Indianapolis, Indiana, installs a MERV 11 pleated air filter. (Photo by Brandon Smith)

Because some pleated filters are large enough to have the physical appearance of true HEPA filters, they are often confused with HEPA products. However, pleated HVAC filters have less airflow resistance compared to HEPA filters and support quieter operation of the blower fan. They also come in higher efficiency models with a rating of 14 to 16.

HEPA air filters: best air quality control

HEPA filters are recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and EPA as the ultimate product for removing airborne particles. HEPA products filter air at a very fine level, blocking elements that are 0.3 microns or larger. These filters catch 99.97 percent of all particles.

HEPA air filters have an efficiency rating of 17 to 20. However, most residential HVAC systems can’t accommodate HEPA filters because they are too large or restrict airflow. Switching to HEPA filters will significantly improve your indoor air quality, but doing so will probably require calling a heating and cooling professional to retrofit your furnace.

Washable air filters: reusable if properly maintained

Permanent and washable furnace filters are made from plastic or metal frames. These products have a few layers of polypropylene weave or wire mesh material that stops certain pollutants. The durability of the filtration material allows you to clean it and makes it reusable.

man removes a electronic air cleaner from furnace.

Washable furnace filters use static electricity to trap airborne particles. With proper maintenance, they are designed to be permanent filters. (Photo by Summer Galyan)

However, Daniel Sinclair, owner of Sinclair Heating, Cooling & Plumbing in Lubbock, Texas, says washable air filters come with some drawbacks:

  • They’re usually rated only 1 to 4 on the MERV scale. “If your house is exposed to smaller particles like pet dander, cigar smoke or hair spray, a washable air filter may not be as effective as a higher-rated disposable filter,” Sinclair writes on his website.
  • Maintenance is a pain. “Once you’ve washed them, you’re not supposed to simply dump the water out,” he writes. “Because that water was exposed to bacteria and other particulates, it’s considered a wastewater hazard and should be disposed of appropriately — creating extra work for you.
  • The filter can attract mold. When you wash these filters, they’ll take a long time to dry. If you re-install them while they’re still damp, they may develop fungi that your HVAC system can blow througout your home.
  • They cost more than a disposable filter. According to Sinclair, this means you’re paying more for a filter that requires a lot of maintenance.

An air purifier for pets will help filter out odors and dirt from your home. They are a handy device for any pet owner to have, as they will help to purify the air that you and your animal breathe. However, with a lot of different options knowing what features to look for when shopping can be a challenge. Let’s take a look at the most important specs to look for.

best air purifier for pet hair

HEPA Filter

The best air purifier for pet allergies and odors will come equipped with a HEPA filter to clean out impurities in your environment. HEPA is the highest standard of air purification and will get the job done.

air purifier for pet odors

Room Coverage

An air purifier for pet odors and allergies will have a maximum room coverage limit, so ensure the one that you buy has the power to cover an appropriate area of your home.

best air purifier for pet allergies

Air Ionizer

An air ionizer is a device that electronically charges (ionizes) air molecules. This has the advantage of attracting and trapping airborne particles, resulting in cleaner and fresher air.

pet hair air purifier

Size

Take into consideration the size of the pet hair air purifier you are considering buying. These products come in all shapes and sizes, so ensure that it is not too big for your space.

Pet Air Purifier Reviews and Buying Guide

Let’s get right to the best air purifier for pet hair. All winning products featured here are great choices, offering excellent air cleaning power, high quality, and affordable prices. In short, you cannot go wrong with any of these products. They work very well for all kinds of pet hairs and pet allergies, keeping the air in your home clean and fresh.

Rabbit Air MinusA2 SPA-700A Pet

best air purifier for pets - hair odors allergies

HEPA Filter

HEPA Filter
Yes

Room Coverage

Room Coverage
700 sq ft

Air Ionizer

Air Ionizer
Yes

Size

Size
7 x 21.4 x 20.2″

The Rabbit Air MinusA2 SPA-700A pet odor air purifier features a state-of-the-art BioGS HEPA air filter that offers six stages of purification and deodorization for your home. The room coverage is up to 700 square feet, high enough for several large rooms.

The purifier allows you to customize your choice of filter options so that you can choose the one that works the best for you. Being only seven inches in depth, its slim profile will not interfere with your interior design. It is whisper quiet, too, and virtually silent in sleep mode so you can be guaranteed a good night’s sleep. The filtration system can be customized with four filter options: pet allergy, germ defense, toxin absorber, and odor remover. The purifier is very easy to clean – simply vacuum the surface of the pre-filter once a month and change the filters every two years.

Last but not least, the Rabbit Air offers an excellent auto mode which turns up air purification when pollutants are detected. Rabbit Air’s MinusA2 SPA-700A is a very good choice for pet owners who want to rid their environment of odors and airborne pet hairs thanks to its powerful purifying ability and easy maintenance. It is the overall best air p[urifier we have tested and offers fresh air for years to come.

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Hamilton Beach TrueAir

best air purifier for pets - hair odors allergies

HEPA Filter

HEPA Filter
Yes

Room Coverage

Room Coverage
160 sq ft

Air Ionizer

Air Ionizer
No

Size

Size
10.8 x 8.1 x 16.4″

One of the best air purifiers for pet allergies, Hamilton Beach’s TrueAir compact purifier incorporates a permanent HEPA filter allowing you to save money on replacement filters. In addition to the HEPA filter, the TrueAir features two replaceable carbon zeolite filters which are designed specifically to eliminate pet odors. It will work well in rooms up to 140 square feet, perfect for offices, living rooms, and bedrooms.

The HEPA filter can be easily vacuumed to be kept in top operational form. The purifier is designed to capture particulates from pet dander, as well as dust, pollen, spores, and debris. Moreover, it will operate horizontally or vertically, so it can be adjusted to suit your decor. The Hamilton Beach TrueAir purifier brings excellent HEPA purification technology to the table, making it a premier air filtration product for pet owners.

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GermGuardian AC5250PT

best air purifier for pets - hair odors allergies

HEPA Filter

HEPA Filter
Yes

Room Coverage

Room Coverage
186 sq ft

Air Ionizer

Air Ionizer
No

Size

Size
6.1 x 9.5 x 27.2″

The GermGuardian is more than just a great air purifier for pets. It features antimicrobial agents that can be added to the filters to safeguard against all manner of airborne particulates. The three-in-one HEPA air filter captures 99.7% of allergens such as pet dander, dust mites, and pollen. Moreover, UV-C light and titanium dioxide work together to kill germs while a charcoal filter is ready to eliminate pet odors.

The purifier is exceptionally easy to maintain, as filters only need to be replaced every six to eight months. Standing only 28 inches tall, the lightweight GermGuardian is the perfect unobtrusive helper for any room of your home. It’s a stylish and highly effective pet odor air purifier thanks to its HEPA filters and advanced purification technologies.

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Winix WAC9500

best air purifier for pets - hair odors allergies

HEPA Filter

HEPA Filter
Yes

Room Coverage

Room Coverage
283 sq ft

Air Ionizer

Air Ionizer
Yes

Size

Size
21.9 x 16.5 x 8.9″

The Winix WAC9500 pet odor air purifier captures 99.9% of airborne pollutants thanks to its HEPA filter, down to a size of 0.3 microns. A washable pre-filter captures large particles such as pet hairs, and an advanced carbon filter controls odors from pets, cooking, and smoke.

The PlasmaWave ionization technology attacks pollutants at a molecular level and can even be effective against viruses, bacteria, and gasses in the air. The purifier also features smart sensors with an auto mode to automatically adjust the purification actions according to your environment’s needs. With advanced cleaning technology, smart sensors, and excellent particulate capture, the Winix WAC9500 is the tool you need to keep pet odors and hairs at bay.

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Rabbit Air BioGS 2.0

best air purifier for pets - hair odors allergies

HEPA Filter

HEPA Filter
Yes

Room Coverage

Room Coverage
550 sq ft

Air Ionizer

Air Ionizer
Yes

Size

Size
16.6 x 9.8 x 22.2″

The Rabbit Air BioGS 2.0 is a fantastic pet odor air purifier that relies on advanced technology to deliver incredible results. It will filter all air in a room up to 550 square feet, twice in an hour at the highest setting. The Rabbit Air offers four stages of purification and deodorization thanks to a pre-filter, activated carbon filter, HEPA filter, and finally with negative ions. This ensures excellent purification of your home’s air.

The ultra-quiet motor operates at five speeds and is virtually silent at the lowest setting, perfect for night-time. This purifier is also Energy Star certified so it will not make a huge dent in your energy bills. Exciting technology and an excellent four-stage purification process highlight the power of the Rabbit Air BioGS 2.0. It is an all-around excellent product.

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GermGuardian AC4100

best air purifier for pets - hair odors allergies

HEPA Filter

HEPA Filter
Yes

Room Coverage

Room Coverage
200 sq ft

Air Ionizer

Air Ionizer
No

Size

Size
7.5 x 6.5 x 11″

GermGuardian’s AC4100 air purifier for pet odors will effectively remove all types of particles from your environment. Dust mites, pollen, debris, mold, and pet dander are no match for the HEPA filter that removes 99.9% of these particles, down to a size of 0.7 microns.

An included charcoal filter will remove most odors from the air, from pets to food to smoke. GermGuardian’s UV-C light technology with titanium dioxide works in concert to sterilize and neutralize harmful chemicals and even gasses. Remove unhealthy particles and toxins from your home with the AC4100’s suite of purification tools, and breathe a little easier.

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O-Ion B-1000

best air purifier for pets - hair odors allergies

HEPA Filter

HEPA Filter
Yes

Room Coverage

Room Coverage
500 sq ft

Air Ionizer

Air Ionizer
Yes

Size

Size
5.5 x 6.5 x 17″

The O-Ion B-1000 offers ionized air purification that’s second to none. The negative ions it generates help to remove airborne pollutants such as allergens, pollen, dust, mold, smoke, and pet dander – all the way down to a size of 0.01 microns. The purifier’s attractive design is augmented by its whisper-quiet operation as it silently draws in air and cleans it.

Carbon filter technology features ozone power to reduce odors and absorb pollutants to a level of 0.05 ppm. O-ion’s B-1000 uses powerful ionization technology to clean and sanitize the air in your home or office, making it a fantastic purifier for pet owners and anybody who wants to breathe fresh air.

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Gideon Air Purifier

best air purifier for pets - hair odors allergies

HEPA Filter

HEPA Filter
No

Room Coverage

Room Coverage
150 sq ft

Air Ionizer

Air Ionizer
Yes

Size

Size
10.1 x 5.4 x 4.1″

The Gideon Air Purifier uses a combination of air ionization and ultraviolet light to kill 98% of airborne bacteria and viruses. The UV light works by destroying biological agents, while negative ions help to eliminate odors. Incredibly energy efficient, the product only uses eight watts of power, so it is suitable to use 24/7 without a significant impact on your power bill.

The purifier’s whisper-quiet technology circulates air in virtual silence. It is ideal for small rooms such as bedrooms and offices and comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. Experience the joy of clean air thanks to the ultraviolet and ionization technology that has become a hallmark of Gideon purifier products.

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