Best desktop air purifier


Some of the earliest air purification technology emerged during the 1800s, including the 1823 Smoke Helmet for firefighters invented by Charles Anthony Dean for use in smoke-filled rooms.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which desktop air purifier is best?

With air quality and filtration being more important than ever before, it only makes sense to purchase air purifiers for your home, work and even your car or other motor vehicle. 

If you take concerns over air quality seriously, you may consider purchasing a personal air purifier that can easily fit on your desktop or other workspace. Our top choice, the LEVOIT Core 3 Air Purifier for Home Allergies, can help protect you from a variety of pollutants, irritants and contaminants while its whisper-quiet operation runs safely in the background.

What to know before you buy a desktop air purifier

How they function

Air purifiers work by drawing air in through a filtering system that removes airborne particles, pollutants and other contaminants, like viruses, then releasing the purified air back into the room. The model’s design dictates how large of a space it can protect. The EPA says that using a portable air cleaner is an effective way of improving the quality of air indoors. A desktop air purifier does just that.

Not all purifiers are created equal

While this may not come as a surprise, not every air purifier offers the same level of protection. For instance, just because your desktop air purifier is great at filtering out larger particles such as airborne dust and debris does not mean it will work well against substances such as pollen and smoke. It pays to read manufacturer labels carefully to ensure the desktop air purifier you choose gives you the level of protection you expect.

Size and design matter

A significant part of your day is spent on the job, so it’s important to work in a space with good air quality. Larger models of air purifiers can be loud and annoying for coworkers. A desktop air purifier is designed to provide adequate coverage for many office spaces with minimal noise, which is a plus if you share an office space. They are typically designed to either enhance or blend in with your decor. Sizes usually range between 11-16.5 inches tall and 6.5-10.5 inches wide, making them ideal for desktops of virtually any size.

What to look for in a quality desktop air purifier

Handles small particles and odors

The size of particles and contaminants in the air are measured in micrometers, more often referred to as microns. For scale, it takes a full 25,400 microns to make up a single inch. A desk air purifier that offers protection from airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns is some fairly impressive technology

In addition to protection from more obvious threats, such as mold, mildew, smoke and dust, some desktop air purifiers are even powerful enough to filter out offensive odors, pet dander and even cooking smells. If you happen to have the office closest to the shared kitchen area and have been looking for a solution for cascading odors, then a new desktop air purifier might just be your new best friend.

Offers protection from serious threats

Since the traditional office environment offers plenty of opportunities for microbes to go about their dastardly business, any desktop air purifying solution needs to account for potentially hazardous particles. A good desktop air purifier offers protection from germs, VOCs and other more serious threats.

The use of UV-C light in conjunction with a well-designed filtration system can significantly reduce the transmission of airborne diseases. UV-C light has been scientifically proven to kill a number of harmful airborne viruses including rhinovirus, influenza and staph. It is an increasingly common feature in modern desktop air purifiers.

Finally, some air purification systems also include the use of titanium dioxide to help quickly break down airborne volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which are often present in items such as office supplies, crafting materials, solvents, cleaning products and much more.

HEPA-grade materials and third-party certification 

While you have likely heard the term “HEPA filter” several times, what you may not realize is that it stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air filters and represents an extremely rigorous standard of air purification quality. According to the US Department of Energy, in order to be legally compliant with HEPA standards and certification, a filter must be able to “theoretically remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns (µm).” Make certain any desktop air purifier you purchase has HEPA-grade materials and replacement filters.

By choosing a desktop air purifier that exclusively uses products which have been certified by a reliable third party, you can rest assured that you are enjoying the benefits of some of the best air filters on the market. In addition, any manufacturer of air purifiers should be able to point to independent laboratory testing that proves the efficacy of its product in eliminating harmful particulate matter of all kinds.

How much you can expect to spend on a desktop air purifier

Depending on the desired features and any budgetary considerations, a quality desktop air purifier can cost $55-$123, and sometimes more. This does not include the costs of replacement filters and UV lights.

Best desktop air purifier FAQ

Can you run your air purifier with an open door or window?

A. You can hardly argue that the introduction of fresh air into your office will improve the overall air quality. However, many air purifiers are designed to filter air as it is being introduced, so unless you happen to be in an area with significant airborne pollutants, there should be no issue with cracking the window or door.

Is it all right to run your air purifier either overnight or 24 hours a day?

A. Given that harmful air particulate matter is an ever-present concern, there should be no issues with running your air purifier as much as you want, as long as you replace or clean the filters on a regular basis.

What’s the best desktop air purifier to buy?

Top desktop air purifier

LEVOIT Core 3 Air Purifier for Home Allergies

LEVOIT Core 3 Air Purifier for Home Allergies

What you need to know: This bestselling desktop air purifier has True HEPA filters and multiple filter selections.

What you’ll love: This unit features HEPA filters that capture 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 microns, along with specialized filters for pet dander, smoke, bacteria and dust. It has the capability to refresh the air five times per hour in rooms as large as 219 square feet. Additionally, it has Sleep Mode QuietKEAP Technology that reduces noise levels to 24dB and a filter-life indicator.

What you should consider: Users have reported issues with some units issuing an offensive, plastic odor and not trapping other odors well.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top desktop air purifier for the money

GermGuardian AC4100 4-in-1 Air Purifier

GermGuardian AC4100 4-in-1 Air Purifier

What you need to know: Affordable and dependable, this desktop air purifier is great for dorm rooms, homes and offices.

What you’ll love: This unit features filters with Titanium Dioxide to reduce VOCs. It also has UV-C lights to assist in killing airborne viruses such as staph, rhinovirus and influenza. An activated charcoal filter helps to reduce undesirable odors.

What you should consider: Users have reported issues with the unit ceasing to work within a year of purchase and operating more loudly than expected.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

SilverOnyx Air Purifier for Home

SilverOnyx Air Purifier for Home

What you need to know: This stylish desktop air purifier is ideal for larger rooms and offices.

What you’ll love: This unit offers the capability of purifying air in an room up to 500 square feet via a five-step process, which includes a filter cartridge with mesh pre-filter, HEPA H13 activated carbon UV light and ion generator, as well as a 2.5 Pm sensor which can automatically adjust the airflow as needed.

What you should consider: Users have reported issues with the unit ceasing to work within a year of purchase and causing a bad smell.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Daniel Martin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.

Trending Stories