Sneezing, coughing, wheezing, choking: these are just some of the unpleasant respiratory symptoms you can experience as a result of excess dust in your air. Especially if you live in a city, in a sandy area, or next to a busy street, you’re probably all too familiar with the constant nagging irritations dust can produce in your lungs, throat, and nose. Plus, all that dust just makes your house seem so filthy!
If you have trouble breathing properly at home, wake up stuffy every morning even when you’re not sick, or have chronic health issues that are aggravated by dust, a home air purifier can be an essential tool in mitigating your symptoms. The question is, which one should you buy?
We’ve gone on a hunt for the best air purifiers on the market to tackle your dust situation. We know it can be confusing to sort through all the different allergen ratings, filter types, and fancy tech features on today’s air purifier models.
In this guide, we’ll cut through all the marketing jargon, break down the essential facts, and show you exactly which features you need to fight dust. We’ve also put together our Top Three list of air purifiers for dealing with dust!
To come up with our recommendations, we compared dozens of top models on the market right now. We looked for maximum dust removal power, comparing lab test results from Consumer Reports and The Sweethome with reviews from previous buyers who had spent time using these units in their own homes. We’ve also done a thorough comparison of specs and details, to make sure you’re getting maximum air coverage for your dollar.
You’ll find our in-depth reviews of each model below, along with a handy guide to figuring out which one is right for you!
To get you started, here’s a quick look at our Top Three:
Best on a Budget
- Rating: 4.4
- Reviews: 162
- Rating: 4.4
- Reviews: 755
- Rating: 4.4
- Reviews: 228
Best Air Dust Cleaner Reviews 2018
1. Blueair 203
Our top budget recommendation might not be the cheapest judging by the sticker price, but it’s the smartest buy for cash-strapped dust warriors over the long haul! This Blueair is more reliable, more efficient, and more effective at handling dust in small spaces and single rooms than other compact units. With its excellent warranty coverage, superior reliability ratings, and low upkeep costs, it’s the best choice for people dealing with dust in smaller areas on a budget.
It’s extremely quiet. The Blueair has a patented HEPA Silent system onboard, which makes for a nearly unnoticeable operation at the lower fan speeds. Even at the highest speed, reviewers agreed that it was far quieter than an air conditioner or larger box fan. It’s rated to stay below the decibel threshold of the average low conversation.
It can easily handle any small room. The 203 is rated for spaces as large as 240 square feet. It’s rated with a CADR of 155 cubic feet per minute, which means that it can cycle through the air in your space as many as 5 times in the course of an hour. That’s more than enough for most bedrooms or offices, as well as some studio apartments. Previous buyers reported excellent performance in bedrooms, nurseries, and other smaller spaces.
It filters much more finely than other small units. The 203’s HEPA Silent system removes 99.7% of dust particles as small as 0.1 microns. Most units, especially at this price, can only remove particles as small as 0.3 microns. That’s a big difference if you have severe symptoms, or lots of fine dust/soot in your air.
The 203’s improved performance on the smallest dust is thanks to a combination of both mechanical and electrostatic filtration systems. Dirty air enters the system, where it passes through an 3 stage HEPA filter, as well as an enclosed ionization chamber.
The ionization causes fine particles to stick to HEPA filter fibers and become trapped more easily. It does so without producing any ozone!
Previous buyers were very impressed with the 203’s overall performance. They said that their allergies, asthma, and other dust-related symptoms were greatly lessened. Many buyers were astonished at what a difference the machine made in their small spaces, saying it reduced visible airborne dust drastically, and made breathing much easier.
It doesn’t create drafts. This one uses a special airflow system which works from the back and the top of the machine to make sure the front and sides of the machine are never creating drafts in either direction. It’s a nice design touch which you don’t ordinarily see on compact units.
It’s very easy to use. There’s a simple dial at the side of the machine to adjust the fan speeds, and a separate magnetic timer which you can attach either to the unit or to a fridge surface. It tracks your filter use, and alerts you when it’s time to change the filters.
Previous buyers said it was extremely easy to change out filters. We also like that there’s a handle built into the unit, which makes it a cinch to move between rooms, or to move out of the way for cleaning. It’s also lightweight, at just 25 pounds.
The filters last relatively long, compared to most other compact air purifiers. The Blueair’s filters will last approximately 6 months, and you can get them discounted through the company’s subscription program. The machine as a whole is also highly durable, since it’s made almost entirely of metal parts. Most other compact units are entirely plastic.
It’s very eco-friendly. This one actually exceeds the Energy Star usage guidelines, and the manufacturer says it shouldn’t cost more to run than a lightbulb. It also meets California’s CARB rating for ozone-free filtration.
The filters are also entirely recyclable. Since the body is made of metal instead of plastic, you don’t have to worry about off-gassing while the machine is running. Plus, it’s less toxic to recycle after you’re done with the machine.
It’s covered by a 5-year warranty.
It’s not meant for larger spaces or rooms. We don’t recommend the 203 for any spaces larger than 250 square feet, even though some previous buyers said it performed very well in even larger spaces. If you’re planning to use it for your entire living space, you might consider moving the unit around between rooms, or simply opting for a larger model.
Quality control isn’t perfect on these models. While this one has a better reliability rating than most compacts, there were a few issues with buyers receiving DOA units, or machines which developed some issues over the first few months of operations.
Some buyers were also upset to find that the company charged them to ship their defective machines back to be repaired. Blueair has a pretty good reputation for service, but if you want to be extra prepared in case something goes wrong, it may be worth your money to get an external, add-on warranty.
Blueair machines are premium air purifiers, and they have accordingly high price tags. This one costs twice the price of some budget models for single rooms. However, it does perform significantly better than those models.
There’s no automatic setting. As with many inexpensive compacts, you’ll need to adjust the fan speeds manually according to current air conditions.
2. Honeywell HPA300
This Honeywell unit is one of Consumer Reports’ best-buys, and it’s one of the all-time best-selling compact air purifiers on the market. We think it’s an excellent choice for people who want the most bang for their buck in terms of coverage.
It can handle about twice the space as the Blueair, and it’s even more affordable to buy. If you have a medium to large-sized room, this is a good choice which won’t break the bank.
It covers a lot more air than the Blueair for a lower pricetag. This one is rated for spaces up to 465 square feet. That’s backed up by AHAM certification, and a very respectable CADR rating of 300. It’ll even cycle through air as frequently, up to 5 times per hour. The best part is that it costs $100 less than the Blueair.
If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck coverage-wise, this one is a good value choice. We think it’s excellent for smaller living rooms, condos, or apartment spaces, as well as bedrooms.
It has two layers of TrueHEPA filtration. That means it’s certified to remove 99.7% of dust particles and other airborne allergens as small as 0.3 microns. We consider True HEPA our standard for air purifier performance, and this unit is one of the cheapest to be certified as such. Unlike the Blueair, the Honeywell also has an activated carbon pre-filter onboard as a standard feature. It absorbs odors from all sorts of household sources, whether you have residual smoke smells to deal with, or own cats with a stinky litterbox.
We also like the pre-filter because it can be vacuumed to preserve the life of the HEPA filter. Buyers said that doing so greatly increased the working lives of their filter sets.
It’s very simple. Like the Blueair, there’s no fancy computer to learn, and no complicated assembly procedures. You just set a fan level with the touch control panel, and you’re good to go.
Previous buyers said that while they’d used a lot of other inexpensive options with touch panels before, the Honeywell’s was much more intuitive and straightforward. There are 4 speed settings, which you can change by tapping a button. There’s also a timer built into the control panel. You can set 2, 4, or 8-hour timers, for when you need to have the unit run while you’re gone, without leaving it on constantly.
It also has electronic filter replacement reminders onboard. You’ll see a light alerting you that it’s time for some new filters.
It’s one of Consumer Reports’ best buys! We don’t always give periodical recommendations too much weight, but Consumer Reports conduct very thorough lab testing, and rarely recommend any air purifiers. This Honeywell is one of the only ones that made their cut! They gave it high marks for all types of filtration, and it did especially well with dust collection. The Honeywell also scored very highly in testing by the Sweethome, who ran tests over a longer period than Consumer Reports.
Like the Blueair, it produces no ozone content in your cleaned air. That’s important for people with dust-related symptoms or health concerns, since ozone can irritate your lungs just as much as dust.
It’s Energy Star-certified to use less electricity than comparably-sized machines.
It’s not as reliable as the 203. The touch panel in particular is a weak point of the design. Some previous buyers said theirs stopped working after a few months of use. Others said their units failed completely after a few months.
Overall, quality control and durability aren’t high points on this machine. We strongly recommend buying third party add-on warranty coverage with the Honeywell. These policies can double or even triple the included 1-year coverage, and allow you to deal with a third party, instead of frustrating company representatives and runarounds.
Previous buyers who had opted for add-on coverage had a much easier time getting replacements or refunds for defective units. With all that said, it’s more reliable than other budget unit.
It has pretty high upkeep costs, considering that the filters aren’t as sophisticated as the Blueair’s. Previous buyers said they spent between $75-$125 to change the set, which you’ll need to do 3-4 times per year. So, while the Honeywell is cheaper up front, it’s not quite as affordable over the long term.
It’s a lot louder than the Blueair. This one isn’t the most sophisticated machine as far as engineering is concerned, and it’s also made mostly from plastic. It tends to produce a higher noise level overall, which gets to be a real racket at the highest speed.
We’d recommend using it in spaces slightly smaller than the maximum square footage rating, so you can run it on lower levels. It’s also not quite as ideal for a bedroom, if you like to have your purifier run at night.
It doesn’t filter as finely as the Blueair. While the Honeywell is still a certified dust-buster, it’s True HEPA certified, which is a notch below the Blueair’s HEPA Silent rating. It’s not quite as good for people with serious dust allergies or other symptoms.
3. Alen BreatheSmart
The Alen BreatheSmart is our top recommendation for handling dust in any size space. It’s a sleek, quiet design with an unobtrusive footprint and some surprising coverage specs!
This one is ideal for people trying to tackle dust in their entire living space, especially large, open spaces like studio apartments and small houses. It’s extremely convenient, thanks to its automatic features, and it’s easy to customize to suit the severity of your symptoms and dust level. We recommend the Alen to anyone looking to purify a large space, or folks with a severe dust problem in a medium sized space.
You can customize both the look and function of the machine:
The front panel can be customized to match the decor and aesthetic of your space. There are lots of options, from bold color blocks to faux wood finishes that match cabinetry or paneling. You can even get a panel that’s coated with primer, so you can paint your machine!
Inside, you can choose from 1 of 4 different HEPA-grade filter sets. You can choose from all-purpose filters, specific chemical removal filters for VOC’s and cigarette smoke, odor removal filters, or heavy-duty all-purpose filters, which we think are ideal for dust.
We love having options on any appliance, and we love how easy it is to customize this unit to changing situations. So, if you have a dust problem, and then paint your house, you can switch to the chemical filters for one cycle, and then go back to the intense dust set! In short, we just love having options.
It’s relatively inexpensive for the coverage it provides. This Alen unit can handle up to 1100 square feet! Amazingly, it’s half the price of some other units in its size class. In fact, it has the lowest price to coverage ratio of any of our recommendations. Previous buyers reported solid results up to 1000 square feet and beyond, so we have no reason to question Alen’s numbers!
It’s fully automatic. The Alen has onboard sensors which constantly monitor your air conditions, and adjust the speed of the fans accordingly. The power button changes color to show you current levels: blue for purified, dust-free air, orange for slightly dirty air, and red for very dirty air. At blue, the fans will run on low, to maintain your air purity levels.
At orange, they’ll speed up to make sure the air is on its way to being completely clean. And on red, the machine kicks into Turbo mode, to quickly bring the situation under control.
We love the automatic system on this model because it’s very sensitive, and responds immediately to even the slightest changes. You can easily set it and forget it, knowing that dust will stay under control.
It has a smart filter system. The Alen has the customizable internal filters we’ve already mentioned, all of which have both True HEPA filtration and activated carbon features onboard. It does a great job on both dust and odors, and it’s easy to modify according to your needs.
Inside the filter assembly, there’s also an isolated ionization chamber. It ionizes air as it passes through the filters, which causes dust particles to stick together and become trapped more consistently in the fibers of your HEPA filters.
At the same time, it doesn’t produce any harmful ozone byproduct into your cleaned air. Our favorite part of the assembly is the washable mesh pre-filter, which you can vacuum clean to preserve the internal filters and get more life out of each set.
Overall, previous buyers said they were extremely impressed with the Alen’s performance. Reviewers in particularly dusty areas of the country such as Las Vegas said that their homes felt much easier to breathe in, and that their dust-related symptoms were resolved greatly.
We noted that reviewers with COPD, asthma, and other chronic conditions said that the BreatheSmart made their homes much more pleasant to be in, especially when sleeping. They were amazed by how much dust they found on the filters, especially on the washable pre-filter.
There are graduated indicator lights to help you stay on top of your filters. The Alen monitors running time and speed to keep a precise measure of filter life, so you get warnings before you need to buy filters, and when you need to change them.
Unlike some cheaper models, the filter monitor isn’t just a timer which goes off at a predetermined time. We like that it actually responds to the way you use your machine, so you’re not buying filters more often than you need to.
It’s not much bigger than the Blueair or Honeywell, and it’s actually the lightest of the three. This unit is within a few inches of our other recommendations, which is pretty impressive given how much more powerful it is. It’s easy to fit into a corner nook, or next to a cabinet. At just over 20 pounds, it’s easy to move for vacuuming, or to use it in a different space.
It’s as quiet as the Blueair, even though it’s several times as powerful. This one has a top volume of 56 decibels, which is considered the noise level of a low conversation. Plus, Alen have integrated something called pink noise into the design.
It’s intended to make the operating noise more pleasant to listen to, by eliminating irritating high frequency noise, and preserving the comforting hum at the bottom of the spectrum. Previous buyers said it was very quiet overall, and they said that even the Turbo mode sounded like a whoosh rather than an airplane turbine (which is the sound many other models make at high speeds).
It’s Energy Star-certified to use less electricity, and CARB-tested to produce absolutely no harmful ozone content. You can also turn the ionizer feature completely off if you’re not comfortable with the technology.
The filters last quite a long time: 9-12 months, depending on your specific air conditions. That means that the upkeep costs on this one are actually the lowest of the three, despite this one being a premium unit. Previous buyers said they had pretty good results making their filters last close to a year, provided that they stayed on top of vacuuming the pre-filter.
It’s covered by a lifetime warranty! That’s extremely rare on models at this price, and there aren’t any catches to be found on Alen’s policy. They have a great reputation for customer service, and take the time to respond to buyer reviews, good and bad.
They’re accredited by the Better Business Bureau as well! The best part is that there’s also a 60-day satisfaction guarantee, so you can make absolutely sure the unit will work for your home dust needs before you commit fully.
Even though it’s cheap for its air capacity, it’s still priced over $500. That might make it inaccessible for some buyers. We recommend it only to people with large spaces to purify, or the most severe allergic symptoms.
It doesn’t list testing specifications from AHAM in the product description, so some previous buyers questioned how accurate the 1100 square foot claim might be. We had to go searching for CADR specs, which were only listed on the company’s website.
However, the lab-tested CADR ratings from the Energy Star labs meet our benchmark rating of 300 for dust removal, so we don’t have any reason to question the company’s ratings. Plus, the vast majority of buyers were satisfied by the BreatheSmart’s performance in spaces 1100 square feet and beyond.
Even though it’s relatively small, it’s probably too big to use in a bedroom, unless you have lots of space to spare. We recommend it for large spaces like furnished basements or living rooms, or for whole living spaces with fairly open floor plans and air flow.
Now that we’ve had an in-depth look at all of our recommendations, let’s figure out which one is right for you!
The Blueair is our top budget recommendation for single rooms, and small spaces. It costs more upfront than the Honeywell for a smaller coverage rating, but it’s far more reliable over the long term, and the upkeep costs are lower to boot.
This is the ultimate bedroom air purifier for dusty places, especially if dust gives you trouble sleeping. However, it’s not quite as fail-safe as some of the larger Blueair models, and it’s quite expensive for a single small room.
With that said, it’s a better choice than the Honeywell for severe dust allergies or other symptoms, since it has the most refined, effective filters of all our recommendations. We recommend it to anyone looking for the best quality bedroom solution, and we’d encourage budget-minded buyers to look past the initial price tag and factor in the long term value of this over the Honeywell.
The Honeywell is the most affordable choice here, so it’s our recommendation to the most cash-strapped buyers, and the people who simply want an inexpensive unit to cover a lot of ground (up to 500 square feet). It’s a Consumer Reports Best Buy, and it’s been a very popular all-purpose air purifier for several years running. We think it’s a great choice for people who have dust to take care of, but no severe health issues which would require a more sophisticated unit.
It provides a lot more coverage for your dollar than the Blueair, but you should be aware that it has higher upkeep costs over the long term, and iffy reliability. It’s also harder to customize, and should really be purchased with an add-on warranty to compensate for spotty quality control.
The Alen BreatheSmart is our top choice for tackling dust in large areas, as well as medium-sized spaces with severe dust problems, or residents with severe symptoms. It’s completely customizable, and it’s by far the most powerful unit here.
It’s also the most convenient of the three units to use, since you can run in completely automatically. We think it’s the ultimate dust-fighting companion. If you can afford it, we can recommend it without reservation!
However, the high price tag means it’s not a casual purchase, so we don’t recommend it for small spaces, or for people on a tight budget. On the other hand, the lifetime warranty makes it the smartest long-term purchase here.
How to Choose the Best Air Purifier for Dust Removal
Look for True HEPA or better filtration:
Nearly any air purifier can handle dust in a general sense, but many models struggle with the tiniest dust particles. They leave the smallest, trickiest particles in the air they circulate back into your room, even after it’s been “cleaned.” That’s why you’ll want to make sure your machine has filters which are HEPA-certified. HEPA certification means that the filters are lab-tested to remove airborne allergens which are too small to be caught in traditional filters.
We recommend that any air purifier be equipped with filters rated True HEPA or better. True HEPA certification states that a filter will remove 99.7% of airborne allergens larger than 0.3 microns.
That’s enough for the vast majority of us. If you have severe sensitivity, you may want to consider an even more refined filter. The best HEPA ratings to look for are filters tested to remove 99.7% of allergens as small as 0.1 micron.
If you don’t see a specific HEPA rating listed on an air purifier, don’t buy it! Chances are it’s not rated for the type of dust that’s causing you trouble.
Be generous with size ratings:
Air purifiers are rated in terms of the square footage they can handle. To decide how large a unit you’ll need, start by getting measurements of your space. Multiple the length and width of your room to get your square footage.
Then, compare your total square footage to the ratings on your prospective air purifiers to figure out which machines can handle your space. You’ll want to be generous to make sure your unit can handle your space without struggling to keep up.
If your machine has to struggle, it’ll run at very high fan speeds. That means it’ll be very noisy, and it’ll wear out a lot faster than a unit which can run slower. Make sure you give at least a 10-25% safety margin. For instance, when you’re trying to purify 500 square feet, you’ll want a machine that’s rated to at least 550-625 feet. Leaving that safety margin is important for any unit, and it’s even more important if you have a dust problem to get under control.
Make sure your ceilings are a standard 8-foot height. If they’re not, you’ll want to be super generous when you’re considering power ratings on machines, since manufacturers and testers use 8 feet as a standard for setting coverage ratings.
Decide on your budget:
Air purifiers generally cost between $150-$1,000+. You’ll want to decide on your budget by considering how much space you need to cover, and how severe your dust problems are.
We usually recommend that any buyer choose something above $200-$250, to stay clear of the gimmicky, cheap units at the very bottom of the budget range. They’re too weak to make a significant difference in your air quality, and they’re usually not tested by independent labs.
Plan on tackling spending $200-$400 to tackle small to medium rooms, like bedrooms or small studios. If you’re planning to purify a large room, or a whole living space, plan to spend from $500-$1000. Thankfully, nearly every air purifier is equipped to handle dust, so you won’t need to spend extra for dust reduction features.
However, make sure you’re getting at least True HEPA filtration on any unit, no matter the price. You will also pay more for a unit that has filtration even finer than True HEPA.
The more you pay for your unit within its size class, the more you’ll get in terms of convenience, filtration features, and long-term value.
While a budget-range unit costs less up front, it will probably need more frequent filter replacements, which will cost more over the long term. These units also have poorer reliability ratings, and shorter warranty coverage, so there’s a larger chance you’ll have to replace your unit.
Premium units can cost up to 2X as much up front, but you can expect to recoup most of that difference in filter replacement costs and the peace of mind you’ll get from extended warranties and more durable construction.
Higher-end air purifiers also have extra filtration features, like customizable filter options, odor and chemical removal, or washable pre-filters which extend the working lives of the internal HEPA filters. Those extra filtration features are ideal for people coping with dust as well as smoke, pets, or chemical concerns.
Finally, more expensive units are simply more convenient to use. They often have automatic settings and air quality sensors built in, so you can set them and forget about them until it’s time to change the filters. They’ll include remote controls, sleep modes, and quiet fan settings which you don’t see on the budget options.
If you have serious allergies or other dust-related symptoms, you’ll probably want to invest in a high-end air purifier to make sure you’re not taking any chances with your health. Plan to spend at least $300 for a bedroom-scale unit, and $500 as a minimum for larger spaces such as living rooms or apartments.
Don’t neglect your vacuuming routine:
No air purifier is a substitute for vacuuming. These machines are intended to address airborne allergens, but they won’t magically clean dust off your furniture surfaces, floors, and other household objects. Make sure to vacuum regularly with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter onboard!
Use vacuum bags instead of a bagless model, to make sure that all the dust you capture doesn’t get released into the air when you empty the dust compartment. Use a beater brush for your carpets, and a dusting brush for all your woodwork, decorative objects, and bookshelves.
Pay special attention to corners, floors under furniture, and nooks and crannies between your ceiling and your walls. The more you can address dust on the floor and on other surfaces, the better your purifier will do at resolving your air situation.
While you’re vacuuming, do yourself a favor and vacuum the intake vents on your air purifier. You’ll pull clumps of dust and hair off the pre-filter mesh, which will help the machine work more efficiently, and preserve the internal HEPA filters.
Try to address the source of the dust:
Just as it’s important to stay on top of the dust on your floors and surfaces, you should make a concerted effort to stop as much dust entering your home as possible. If you live near a busy road, farmed field, or other dust source, try opening windows on the other side of the house.
If you have a shedding dog which produces lots of dander, make sure to brush it outside! Think about where the dust is coming from, and try to find ways to seal that source off without totally eliminating fresh air supply to your house.
Dust can also collect inside your house, lying in wait until you release it. Linen closets, bookshelves, and cluttered areas can all trap dust in one place, and release clouds of allergens when you move something that hasn’t been touched in awhile.
Be sure to vacuum thoroughly with a dusting brush around all those potential collection spots, and make sure your closets are tidy, and sealed as tightly as possible. Wash your bedding frequently, as well as towels and curtains around your house.
Exposed fabrics of any kind can act as dust magnets. If you have severe symptoms, you’ll probably be better off removing floor carpeting and using washable area rugs over hardwood floors. Carpeted flooring can be a real pain to clean unless you’ve got a great vacuum, so a good long-term step might be to get rid of it.