By Jasmine Harding | Updated Oct 3, 2022 9:45 AM
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Mold isn’t only unsightly, it can make a home smell unpleasant, and at worst, trigger health issues. An air purifier can tackle air quality when mold is a concern. Air purifiers remove airborne contaminants to improve indoor air quality. A portable unit can filter dust, pet dander, smoke, pollen, mold spores, and other small particles.
While an air purifier can filter airborne mold spores, it’s important to tackle mold at the source. Even the best air purifier for mold will not fix the root cause of the mold. The best air purifiers for mold use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration to remove mold spores, pollutants, and allergens for cleaner indoor air.
Mold can grow on almost any surface that contains organic material and moisture. Mold spores are always in the air, indoors and outdoors. An air purifier can filter the spores and keep the air inside your home clean. Air purifiers can utilize a range of filtering and air purifying technologies, including HEPA filters, activated carbon filters, ionizers, UV lights, and PCO and PECO technology.
HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) purifiers have a HEPA filter with a fine mesh that traps very small particles. The air purifier forces air through the filter to trap pollen, dust, pet dander, and mold spores. The best HEPA air purifiers capture up to 99.97 percent of particles 0.3 micrometers in diameter and can also filter larger air-suspended bits.
HEPA filters—which need to be replaced every six to 12 months—trap particulate matter but will not effectively filter gases or odors. Also note that “HEPA-type” or “HEPA-like” air purifiers often have non-HEPA filters. These filters may not meet the HEPA standard set by the U.S. Department of Energy, which is to filter 99.97 percent of particles measuring 0.3 micrometers. Instead, look for “HEPA” or “true HEPA” filters.
Mold spores can vary in size but usually fall between 3 to 30 micrometers. A HEPA filter can trap pollutants as small as 0.3 micrometers, making them a top choice for mold concerns.
Activated carbon filters are highly porous and designed to absorb certain airborne molecules contained in odor-causing gases and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Since activated carbon filters can eliminate odors, they may help with musty smells from mold.
Most air purifiers with activated carbon filters also have a particle filter (like a HEPA filter) to combat particulate matter in addition to airborne molecules. Just like with HEPA filters, activated carbon filters need replacing to stay effective (usually every three months or so).
Ionic air purifiers create electrically charged molecules which attach to airborne contaminants. The particles then attract to a collector plate, removing them from the air in the room, or the particles may attract to each other or to other surfaces, causing them to settle out of the air.
This tendency to settle on surfaces is why some evaluators offer criticism of ionic purifiers. This type of air cleaner may not actually get rid of pollutants, since they may just wind up stuck to surfaces nearby. The undesirable bits are out of the air, but they’re still in the room.
Ionic air purifiers can also produce ozone. According to the EPA, breathing in ozone is a health concern. Some manufacturers claim their purifiers only create trace amounts within industrial safety standards. But because of the health concerns of ozone, it is best to look for an ozone-free air purifier.
UVGI (ultraviolet germicidal irradiation) air purifiers contain UV lamps. The lamps are designed to kill viruses, bacteria, and spores as the contaminants move through the purifier.
UV light is effective when used properly, but its effectiveness is yet to be measured for home air purifiers. For UV light disinfecting to work, the light must have sufficient contact time with the virus or bacteria. Contact time is usually minutes to hours, not the seconds that air takes to pass through a purifier.
While UV lights have some disinfecting properties, take this feature with a grain of salt in home air purifiers. UVGI may also be a less effective pick for mold because some strains are resistant to UV radiation. Furthermore, UV light can’t trap particulate matter like dust, pet dander, and pollen.
PCO (photocatalytic oxidation) air purifiers use a UV lamp and a photocatalyst to break down gaseous pollutants. Their use in home air purifiers may be limited. The EPA asserts that most available photocatalysts aren’t effective at destroying gaseous impurities from indoor air. Be aware, too, that some units can also generate harmful byproducts like ozone. Also, since they are used to filter gases, they are not effective on particulates like mold spores.
PECO (photoelectrochemical oxidation) air purifiers use a version of PCO technology. PECO air purifiers also destroy organic matter with a photoelectrochemical reaction. Instead of only removing particles from the air, PECO purifiers can also destroy viruses, bacteria, mold spores, and VOCs. Manufacturers of PECO purifiers claim these purifiers do not produce byproducts like ozone.
An air purifier for mold should have a HEPA filter to safely and effectively filter spores and pollutants. When choosing an air purifier, consider the unit’s effectiveness, coverage rating, and energy efficiency. For air filters used in common living spaces, noise level and design are two more features to consider.
Coverage area is among the most important factors to keep in mind when choosing an air purifier. Portable air purifiers are designed to filter the air inside a room. For open floor plans or large rooms, multiple purifiers may be useful. When it comes to air purifiers, the coverage area is calculated using the clean air delivery rate (CADR).
The CADR is a measure of the amount of clean air a purifier can deliver, measured in cubic feet per minute. The CADR measures the filtration of particles (specifically pollen, smoke, and dust) and not the filtration efficiency for gases or odors. To make the rating system more consumer-friendly, most air purifier manufacturers convert the CADR rating to a maximum recommended room size for the purifier.
A higher CADR means the air purifier has a faster and more efficient filtering rate that is better suited for larger rooms. For small rooms around 100 square feet, the EPA recommends a minimum CADR of 65. For medium rooms around 200 square feet, a CADR of 130 is sufficient, and for large rooms above 400 square feet, a CADR of 260 should offer decent filtration.
The CADR value can range as high as 450 for pollen and smoke or 400 for dust. However, for most homes, such high CADR values are not necessary, except for very large rooms. The best practice is to choose an air purifier that has a CADR sufficient for the size of the room it will be used in.
For maximum effectiveness, an air purifier should run around the clock. Since they run all the time, or at least for many hours a day, consider an Energy Star-certified air purifier.
Energy Star-certified products meet EPA’s Energy Star energy-efficiency guidelines. This won’t affect a purifier’s effectiveness, but it can cut back on the energy requirements. Energy Star-certified units can be up to 40 percent more energy efficient than noncertified models. An Energy Star-certified air purifier can be better for the environment and your electric bill.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a measure for reporting air quality. The AQI measures air quality on a scale from 0 to 500; under 50 indicates good air quality, over 100 indicates poor air quality, and over 300 indicates dangerous air conditions. This system is used worldwide to measure air conditions from outdoor pollution to indoor air quality. Consider looking for an air purifier with an air quality indicator, which measures and displays the air quality in the room.
The AQI in a room can change throughout the day and as a result of different activities. For example, activities like cooking and vacuuming can temporarily worsen air quality. An air quality indicator can help measure when and exactly how well the air purifier is working. Some can also automatically adjust the purifier, depending on the air quality in the room.
Since air purifiers use fans to move air, all air purifiers will make some noise. The importance of noise level depends on where the air purifier is placed. For bedrooms and living spaces, a quieter unit might work better. For kitchens or basements, noise level may be less concerning.
The noise level depends on the model and the purifier’s fan setting. Higher fan speed settings are often louder. One way to reduce noise levels is by switching the speed settings when needed. For example, a user might run the purifier on high when the room is empty and move to a lower setting when people are in the room.
Another option is to choose a purifier certified for a larger room, which would allow the device to run at a lower setting in a smaller room while still offering enough filtration. Some portable air purifiers also display a noise rating in decibels.
For reference, most refrigerators run at around 40 decibels. Many air purifiers have a night mode feature, which usually runs quietly between 20 and 30 decibels. Louder air purifiers may run at 60 decibels, which is comparable to the sound of an air conditioner.
Air purifiers can include a range of smart technology integrations. Look for units with built-in air quality sensors that monitor real-time AQI. Automatic programs can trigger purifiers to turn on or off in response to air quality. Built-in speed settings, timers, and programmable cycles offer flexibility.
Purifiers with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity can connect to apps to allow users to remotely monitor and control the purifier. Other air purifiers can connect to interactive voice assistants, like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, for hands-free control.
Portable air purifiers are compact and lightweight for traveling. Smaller units generally have a lower CADR value, ideal for smaller rooms. For traveling, consider an air purifier suitable for rooms between 200 and 300 square feet, which is the average size of a hotel room.
At-home purifiers are larger and less portable but often have a higher CADR. Options with caster wheels or handles make them easier to move around the house. Other models are heavier and more clunky. Consider keeping these larger units in rooms where you spend the most time, like the bedroom or living room.
When it comes to filtered air purifiers, consider the frequency and replacement filter cost. Air purifiers can include disposable or permanent (but cleanable) filters. Filters can be expensive and a significant cost to consider when choosing a purifier.
Air purifiers often include multiple filtration stages. A prefilter is a cost-saving feature to consider. Prefilters trap large particles and prevent them from clogging the finer filters, which can improve the longevity of the HEPA filter. Some air purifiers also include an activated carbon filtration step. An activated carbon filter can trap gaseous pollutants and odors that the HEPA or particle filter can’t trap.
A change-filter indicator is also a feature to consider. This alert system will notify you when the time has come to replace or clean the filter. Consider shopping for air purifiers that have an easy-access design to make filter changes and maintenance simpler.
Though not all air purifiers come with ample bells and whistles, other convenient features included in some picks include remote controls, caster wheels, carrying handles, speed settings, scheduling options, and dimmable displays.
A great air purifier for mold uses effective and safe HEPA filtration to trap airborne mold spores. Look for a unit with a CADR to suit the room size where the purifier will be used. Mold air purifiers should also have a stylish, functional design since it is visible in your space.
The Levoit Air Purifier for Home Core 300 is another affordable true HEPA air purifier. This air cleaner has a simple design and an easy-to-use display that controls a range of features. For nighttime, the Core 300 has a silent mode that runs at 24 decibels for quiet operation. The display also controls the three fan speed settings, timer setting, and filter indicator.
This unit has three stages of filtration. A prefilter and a true HEPA filter trap particles. An activated carbon filter nabs odors and other pollutants. This purifier features Levoit’s Vortexair Technology to create a stronger airflow while keeping the purifier compact. This design allows this purifier to change the air up to five times per hour in rooms up to 219 square feet, ensuring a constant change of cleaner air. This affordable and sleek air purifier is Energy Star certified for efficient operation.
Get the Levoit Core 300 air purifier on Amazon.
The Levoit Smart WiFi Air Purifier Core 200S has a range of convenient features for an affordable price. This air purifier is a compact but powerful unit for small rooms. The Smart Core 200S includes a nylon prefilter, true HEPA filter, and an activated carbon filter to clean particles and odors from the air. This unit features a clean design and a small footprint and has a CADR suitable for rooms up to 183 square feet.
For nighttime, the purifier has a sleep-mode option, which runs at a quiet 24 decibels. There is also the option to turn on an ambient nightlight or turn off the display entirely for complete darkness.
To use the purifier, use the one-touch control or connect the purifier to the VeSync app for remote control. The app can be used to set timers, schedule on and off times, monitor filter life, and adjust settings. This smart purifier can also connect to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
Get the Levoit Core 200S air purifier on Amazon.
Dyson is known for its high-performance products, and the Pure Cool Link TP02 air purifier is no exception. This modern-looking air purifier has a true HEPA filter for mold removal, allergen reduction, and other particles. An activated carbon layer captures odors and VOCs. This unit also doubles as a fan in hot weather with the oscillating tower fan option. Since the unit has no spinning blades, it has a sleek look and is safe for households with children and pets.
This smart purifier can connect to the Dyson Link app and Amazon Echo for remote control. The Pure Cool Link TP02 has several convenient features, including real-time air quality reports, quiet nighttime mode, a sleep timer, and 10 airspeed settings. An auto-mode setting intelligently monitors and reacts to real-time air quality to adjust the purifier as needed.
Get the Dyson Pure Cool air purifier at Amazon and Best Buy.
This smart air purifier can connect to the VeSync app for remote control or to Amazon Alexa or Google Home for hands-free control. It also features a three-step filtering process, which includes a prefilter, true HEPA filter, and activated carbon filter.
The app allows users to remotely view and toggle through a range of convenient features. These features can also be controlled from the display on the unit. One feature is the real-time air quality indicator and auto mode. The auto mode adjusts the purifier for a consistent, clean air delivery rate among three fan settings in response to real-time air quality. Other features include a display off button, sleep mode, and a timer option.
This larger unit also offers better filtration for larger rooms. The CADR allows this Levoit purifier to filter the air 4.5 times per hour in rooms up to 360 square feet. The powerful fan is efficient but quiet, running at 27 decibels on the lowest setting.
Get the Levoit smart air purifier on Amazon.
This true HEPA purifier from Guardian Technologies features an activated charcoal filter and UV-C light option. The three-step filter includes a prefilter, true HEPA filter, and activated charcoal filter. The activated charcoal layer can help reduce odors from pets, cooking, smoke, and other daily household activities. The optional UV-C light feature helps kill airborne viruses.
This unit filters air four times an hour in rooms up to 338 square feet. The larger capacity makes this unit an ideal option for kitchens, a major source of household smells. The small rectangular unit has a very basic and unobtrusive design. A simple button display has a filter change indicator light, UV-C light control, timer setting, and three speed settings.
Get the Germ Guardian air purifier on Amazon.
The HPA300 True Hepa Air Purifier from Honeywell is a powerful air purifier from a well-known brand. The true HEPA filter in this purifier captures a wide range of allergens, including pet dander, dust, dust mite debris, pollen, and mold spores. This unit is Energy Star qualified and has a high CADR rating. The Honeywell HPA300 can filter the air five times per hour in large rooms up to 465 square feet; the high air turnover means this unit can capture more allergens.
This air purifier features four cleaning levels: Germ, General Cleaning, Allergen, and Turbo. The cleaning levels adjust the fan speed to suit each function. This unit’s touch control panel also features a filter change indicator, timer options, and control panel dimmer.
Get the Honeywell air purifier at Amazon and Best Buy.
For large rooms, the Coway Airmega 400 Smart Air Purifier offers up to 1,560 square feet of coverage and can clean the air twice an hour in rooms of this size. The true HEPA filter features an activated carbon layer to tackle both particle and gaseous pollutants. This unit also includes a permanent washable prefilter to catch larger particles and is Energy Star certified.
This purifier has a built-in air quality sensor. The front of the unit features a colored LED ring that communicates real-time air quality. The Smart-mode setting enables the purifier to automatically adjust fan speed based on the room’s air quality.
When not in Smart mode, there are four other fan modes to choose from. The highest fan mode emits only 43.2 decibels of sound, which is impressive considering the high CADR. This unit has a timer with several settings and filter indicators to let the user know when to wash or change the filters.
Get the Coway Airmega air purifier on Amazon.
This air purifier from Guardian Technologies features a tall and skinny design for a small footprint. The unit weighs just 8.6 pounds and has an indentation in the back to make it easy to move around in tight spaces. The Germ Guardian True HEPA Filter Air Purifier is ideal for small rooms and can filter air four times an hour in rooms up to 167 square feet.
The four-in-one design of this Germ Guardian air purifier features a prefilter, charcoal filter, true HEPA filter, and UV-C light. The combined prefilter and charcoal filter captures large particles and odors. The HEPA filter captures smaller particles, and the optional UV-C light helps kill airborne viruses.
The simple front display has a change-filter light, UV-C on and off button, and speed-adjusting dial. This air purifier features three speed settings, including a quiet-mode setting, which is an important feature for small bedrooms and living rooms. This no-frills air purifier is a worthy pick for small spaces.
Get the Germ Guardian air purifier at Amazon and Best Buy.
This Energy Star-certified air purifier features a compact desktop size and can be placed on a bedside table or on the floor. The CADR rating is ideal for rooms up to 250 square feet, and this purifier can cycle the air four times in an hour in most medium-size bedrooms. This purifier also has a night mode, which turns on the quiet 35-decibel fan speed. The dimmable control lights can also be turned off for a good night’s rest.
The filter has a three-stage filter design with a prefilter, true HEPA filter, and a carbon filter. Other features include three speed settings, a timer option, dimmable control lights, night mode, child lock, and filter replacement indicator. The child-lock feature locks the buttons to prevent children from changing the settings, making this unit an appropriate pick for kids’ bedrooms.
Get the Medify air purifier on Amazon.
Selected for its 3-in-1 filtration, 3 air speeds, and Energy Star certification, the Levoit Core 300 is our first pick for mold issues. With the ability to filter out fine particles, odors, and limit mold spores, this air purifier has a built-in, easy-to-use display and runs at a quiet 24-decibel noise level. But, this filter is not recommended for use in spaces larger than 219 square feet.
Alternatively, the Dyson Pure Cool can cleanse the air in spaces of 1,000 square feet and has over 10 air speed settings included. With the added benefit of smart home compatibility, you can control the device with your phone or manually with its included remote control. Plus, this unit is lightweight and easy to move from room to room.
Removing mold spores, odors, and noxious particles from the air in your home provides comfort and peace of mind. Selections for the best air purifier for mold depended upon their filtration type, noise level, square footage covered, ease of use, and portability.
When it comes to an air purifier for mold, the above units are all great options for small or large spaces with many picks including multi-layered filtration. The HEPA filters, prefilters, UV-light filtration, and activated carbon filters included all aid in removing odor, particles, pet dander, and allergens from your home. Plus, many of these units run at low noise levels or include sleep-modes for silent operation at night.
As for square footage covered, all the air purifiers listed above can purify 160-1,650 square feet based on the size of your home or rooms. Depending upon the size of the unit you need, these air purifiers are light enough to move wherever you need them. Finally, some of these purifiers are also smart home compatible, come with simple control panels, or can be adjusted with a remote control.
Mold exposure in the home can cause short- and long-term health concerns. Although air purifiers won’t completely eliminate the potentially dangerous fungus, these devices can reduce the number of unhealthy spores in the air. This can help give peace of mind when investigating or remediating contamination issues.
Mold is almost always present in the air around us. An air purifier can help reduce exposure, which is especially important for those who are sensitive to these allergens.
The best air purifiers trap numerous impurities and allergens, making the air inside the home cleaner and healthier. Air purifiers are an affordable way to improve indoor air quality and are easy to operate; once turned on, the unit does the hard work. Air purifiers are designed to run around the clock, so you can breathe easier at home.
While air purifiers won’t address the cause of a mold issue, these devices can filter mold spores and other pollutants. Most air purifiers are easy to operate and maintain and only need occasional cleaning and filter changes. Here are some questions to consider when using an air purifier in your home.
Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air and do not have a filtering step. Air purifiers have filters or other methods to remove contaminants from the air.
Portable air purifiers have a fan that sucks air in and moves it through a purifying filter or system. The cleaner air is then pushed out into the room.
A true HEPA filter is fine enough to filter airborne mold particles; however, an air purifier will not remove the source of the mold.
Air purifiers can last for many years with proper maintenance. Consider looking for a new air purifier at the five-year mark, since new features and more energy-efficient models may be worth the upgrade. For effective purifying, the filter should be regularly replaced or cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
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