What’s very frightening is how we’re surrounded by germs everywhere! However, there’s some good news: A good air purifier can help remove germs and deliver healthier air.
Below are 5 of the best air purifiers for germs along with reviews, details, and the pros & cons to know before spending a dime.
Infographic – Air purifiers and germ facts
What are germs?
A view of assorted germs as seen with a high-powered microscope. Germs aren’t limited to only one kind of organism. The term describes a range of illness-causing organic organisms that are found nearly everywhere.
Germs are microscopic organisms called pathogens that can cause disease. They’re sometimes called infectious agents in scientific terms – but most of us use the more common name: germs.
While you might think pathogens are only one kind of organism like bacteria or viruses, in fact, that’s not the case. There are several types of germ organisms commonly found around us:
Why are germs bad?
Image showing an example of how severely we’re exposed to germs. In the picture above, germs & microbes are highlighted under blacklight/UV light to make them visible to the eye.
While you probably already know that good hygiene is important for avoiding catching an illness, there’s a bit more behind why it’s important.
Germs (of all types) are easily transmitted in several ways:
- From one physical surface to another (your hands, mouth, clothes, from physical contact, and so on)
- In the air, where they’re breathed in
- Contaminated foods, liquids, and more
- Entering through broken skin and wounds
Under the right conditions (especially your warm, moist body tissues) they thrive: reproducing and remaining in your body to infect you and cause sickness. Germs can also live outside the body for several hours as well before they become inactive and harmless.
Because they’re everywhere it’s important to do what we can to eliminate the opportunity for them to infect us.
One of the most effective ways to do this is to simply get rid of them! That’s where air purifiers can help.
How do air purifiers work?
Filter-based air purifiers are the most common – and effective – type. They work by drawing air through filters to capture and remove air contaminants while circulating air in the room. Some also include a type of germ-killing feature as well as an activated carbon filter to remove odors and harmful vapors.
Most purifiers sold today work using a simple but effective principle.
Fans move air through a very dense type of filter material called a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter and permanently trap unwanted particulates.
They’re very effective and safe as they don’t produce any by-products that can cause headaches or irritate your body’s sensitive internal tissues.
Additionally, many have added features to complement the HEPA main filter. These include an activated carbon filter to remove odors, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and chemical vapors.
The prefilter also serves a second purpose: It catches and removes larger elements like pet hair, fibers, and more before they can reach the main filter.
It’s all about cycling and cleaning the air
As they keep running the air in the room circulates and is continually cleaned. They’re very popular because they’re so reliable and effective for many common air quality issues like pet allergies & odors, cigarette smoke, dust, and other allergens.
Most also have selectable fan speeds and you can set them to a low speed for quiet operation at night. You can also find some with extra bonus features like a germ killer to eliminate airborne microbes.
I’ll cover this benefit for fighting germs later.
How air purifiers fight germs in the air
True HEPA filter air purifiers fight germs (and destroy airborne-based illnesses) by permanently trapping them as they pass through the filter because they’re so efficient at cleaning the air, for every 10,000 elements that enter the filter, on a tiny 3 are able to escape. That’s a whopping 99.97% efficiency!
The main way that air purifiers fight germs is by removing airborne pathogens (germs) from the air. By circulating the air as I mentioned earlier, most major types of airborne germs are removed over time as they work.
HEPA filters use a super-dense material made up of many fibers. They’re capable of capturing incredibly small elements, including germs, smaller than 1 millionth of a meter in size.
Some of the most common germs such as bacteria, viruses, and other microbes range in size from several microns in size (a micron is 1 millionth of a meter) to under 1 micron.
HEPA filters can capture pathogens as small as 0.3 (yes, less than 1/1,000,000 of a meter!) in size, making them capable of trapping – and eliminating – many of the most common airborne germs around you. Not only that, but many microbes such as those found on pet hairs are trapped in the prefilter section too.
It’s important to understand that air purifiers can help with many microscopic germs, but it’s impossible for them to remove all of them.
For best results, you’ll also want to follow good hygiene practices: Clean all hard surfaces, avoid sick people, use cleaning products regularly, and do what you can to reduce your exposure to germs as much as possible.
Does UV light kill germs? Germ-killing benefits to know
Shown: Ultraviolet light (UV) has a destructive effect on germs, making them unable to reproduce and rendering them harmless. In the lab, multiple tests have proven how UV exposure provides a way to eliminate germs and reduce illnesses. In fact, some germs die soon after being exposed to sunlight.
Want to hear something really good? It’s a scientifically proven fact that ultraviolet (UV) light can render germs unable to reproduce and kill them.
Because of that, for air purifiers that offer a germ killing feature, you’ll get extra germ fighting performance. While (unfortunately) a limited number of air purifiers sold today offer this, it’s a great benefit to consider when buying.
Personally, I use, own, and have tested several models that offer this. Check my recommended products below for more information.
What kind of air purifier do I need?
Stay away from “ionizers” and ozone generators! These are often very ineffective and a waste of your hard-earned money! The level of ozone at which point they become effective at purifying the air is actually unsafe and will cause several health problems.
HEPA purifiers have proven, demonstrated effectiveness which is important when buying products like this. You don’t want to spend money on something based on marketing hype, only to find out it’s not helping you.
Not only that, but good quality purifiers have readily available replacement filters, are very easy to use, and have a lot better features to offer than low-quality products do.
★ 5 of the best air purifiers for germs ★
Our top picks at a glance
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Reviews and recommended top models
1. GermGuardian AC4825 3-in-1: An all-time best seller with a germ killing feature!
The AC4825 doesn’t try something it’s not – it’s just a good basic air purifier that gets the job done and works well. It’s a winner because of its hassle-free ease of use, great performance, and many happy buyers.
In fact, I’m a happy owner of one myself!
With a higher room size coverage rating than models like the Levoit LV-H132 it’s a good value as well.
True HEPA performance and germ killing
The ultraviolet (UV) germ killing feature provides safe and ozone-free elimination of germs and microbes where you live. It’s a nice extra feature to have – very few products offer this!
The true HEPA filter design works very well to remove airborne germs and contaminants from your air. Filter replacement is easy and you can buy the carbon filter/pre-filter separately, allowing you to extend the HEPA filter life and get more odor relief while saving money.
It’s in such demand that I even bought one to see what the fuss was about! I’m very happy with mine.
The AC4825 features one of the easiest-to-use control setups you’ll find. It’s incredibly easy to use! Set the rotary control to one of the 3 fan speed settings. Use the UV push button to switch the germ killing feature on or off. A power-on indicator LED lights when the purifier is working.
The 3-speed fan control makes using it simple and hassle-free. Push the UV-C feature’s on/off switch and the unit will illuminate in a lovely blue glow around the base.
Time to check or replace the filter? Just open the rear door and pull it out. The replacement reminder will turn red when it’s time to check the filter.
The lovely blue trim ring lights up when the UV-C feature’s in use. Don’t worry though – it’s perfectly safe, as the ultraviolet light is trapped inside. It’s a great-looking way to see when the feature is on. I like it!
At 22″ height, it’s not smaller and compact like several others. But the tower design helps it to fit well in corners. Replacement filters cost about $30 and last about 6 months.
There is one very minor complaint I have: when the UV-C feature is switched on and you turn the fan power off, upon the next start-up the UV-C light is off again. There’s no memory feature to keep it the way you last left it.
On the plus side, you can also find 3rd party brand filters which are cheaper than the original GermGuardian replacements.
- Simple 3-speed fan switch is great for nearly everyone
- Better overall value for the dollar vs competitors
- Great filtering performance
- Quiet fan operation on low speed setting
- Germ & microbe-killing UV-C feature not found in many others
- Filter replacement reminder
- Nice blue glow when UV-C is on
- Soft LED when power is on
- Tower shape is great for corners or areas with vertical space
- Good room size coverage (155 square feet)
- 3-year limited warranty
- No auto-sensing modes
- No electronic controls
- No auto-off feature
- Cannot wash & reuse filter (can vacuum)
- Older design vs competitors like Levoit
- Warranty requires paying for return shipment for service
My AC4825 is definitely a good performer and I’ve been happy with it. Judging by how many others agree, you’re going to love it as well.
It’s one of the best buys for your money. Head over now and see the thousands of happy buyer reviews and current sale price Amazon.
UPDATE: There’s now a great-looking white version available too.
2. Levoit LV-H132 – A best-selling purifier with night light and other nice features. Super-low noise levels, too!
Another super-popular purifier, the Levoit LV-H132 (smaller sibling to the Levoit LV-PUR131) is a great buy. Got odor, dust, pet dander, or germ problems? It’s a good choice for nearly anyone with small to medium-sized rooms.
Like its competitors, the true HEPA filter works well (along with the pre-filter and carbon filter) to eliminate air quality problems including those nasty airborne microbes that cause sickness.
Although it provides less coverage (129 square feet) than competitors like the GermGuardian AC4825, the Levoit makes up for this by providing features others don’t.
A great looking choice, it complements today’s interiors well. It’s also one of the best-selling purifiers on the market today.
The Levoit LV-H132 is sophisticated yet still easy to use. Electronic touch controls are provided and beep when operated. After switching off power the last settings are saved. Upon the next use, the purifier remembers your last settings and restores them automatically.
The fan offers pleasant and quiet operation at low-speed. A built-in night light with 2 brightness settings is a bonus feature.
Filter replacement is a bit different for the LV-H132, but very simple. Turn the unit upside-down, rotate the cover, and then you can pull out and replace the old 3-in-1 filter assembly. Note: unlike some competitors, in most cases, you can’t replace the carbon prefilter separately. It’s something to keep in mind.
Replacement filters cost nearly $30. The top cover removes easily for replacement and a filter replacement reminder lets you know when it’s time to check it or replace it.
In my hands-on testing I found that it’s one of the lowest-noise air purifiers sold today!
When I say it’s low noise, I really mean it. It’s almost impossible to hear it run on the lowest settings – even high speed is very quiet, too.
- Shorter height than competing tower purifiers
- 2-year warranty
- 3 fan speeds
- Night light with 2 brightness levels
- Nice looking, modern design
- Electronic soft button controls
- Quiet operation on low level won’t disturb sleep
- Filter replacement reminder
- Great build quality & high reliability
- Easy filter replacement
- Smaller room coverage than others in its price range (129 sq. ft.)
- No auto-off timer feature
- No air quality sensor
- Electronic controls may not be suitable for some
Buyer reviews are great. Check out the fantastic ratings and see why it's a fantastic seller that received the Amazon's Choice award.
(There’s a black version available as well)
3. GermGuardian AC4100 3-in-1: The same quality odor removing ability and germ killing for smaller rooms.
A great lower-priced model, the AC4100 is a little brother to the larger AC4900CA but it features the same excellence I’ve come to know from GermGuardian.
Like others in the company’s line of products, it’s a no-nonsense, easy-to-use model for nearly everyone.
Measuring only 7.5 x 6.5 x 11″ in size, the 3-in-1 design (HEPA, pre-filter, carbon filter) works to remove odors, dust, allergens, and much more. Great for a small room like your bedroom, office, or dorm room.
The AC4100 features the same 3-in-1 filtering design as its larger siblings. You’ll get a true HEPA filter, prefilter, and odor-absorbing section but for smaller rooms and on a budget.
A UV light (with on/off control) works with titanium dioxide to neutralize germs. The result is healthier air and sickness-causing microbes are gone.
Replacement filters cost about $18. There’s no automatic filter reminder. However, a filter installation date wheel on the rear helps you know when it’s time to replace it.
Filter replacement on the AC4100 is easy! Just open the rear cover, pull out the old filter, and insert the new one. You can also use a vacuum to remove larger particles like dust. As you can see my AC4100 caught more and more dust as I used it!
Carbon filter replacements can be bought separately so if you’re dealing with odors you can restore used-up carbon filters for less money than replacing the entire 3-in-1 filter set.
It’s really easy to use – just switch it on or off using the 3-speed rotary control.
Noise levels and performance expectations
On full speed, the noise level is moderate in my opinion. At low speed, it’s hardly noticeable and works well at bedtime.
Unlike similar larger models such as the AC4825 and AC4900CA, the UV germ killing switch is an on/off type and not a push button.
One thing I don’t like is that there’s no indicator light for the UV feature like the larger models. That’s a pretty small gripe, however.
It’s a great small-room choice, although I wouldn’t recommend it for large rooms, as it’s not designed – or recommended – for those. It’s great for closets, dorm rooms, your office, or other similar areas.
It’s one of the best in its price range at around $50 or less, depending on where you shop.
- Simple 3-speed fan control and on/off UV-C switch
- UV & titanium dioxide design to kill germs
- Great filtering ability for its small size
- High speed setting moves a lot of air for purifying quickly
- Filter replacement reminder wheel (month installed)
- Low filter replacement price (about $10+)
- Filter replacement date wheel (marks month installed)
- Sleek, modern design
- 1 year warranty is shorter than other models
- Fan speed on high could be slightly better
- No filter replacement reminder
- No more colors offered
- No indicator light for UV-C “on”
Speaking from personal experience I can see why GermGuardian is one of the biggest air purifier manufacturers today. I own an AC4100 and find it easy to use and well-made.
For small rooms where you need germ protection, it’s a great low-cost choice.
4. Levoit LV-PUR131 – Great germ removal for medium-large rooms. Advanced features, too! Quality through and through.
Got a medium or slightly larger sized room? The LV-PUR131 is a top seller and one of the sleekest, best-designed purifiers you’re going to find under $250.
One of the best-selling points are the great features included for the price.
Check out the great reviews – it’s an excellent addition to your home, office, or even workplace and great at removing germs to provide clean, fresh, healthy air you’ll love to breathe in!
Top quality and features
The Levoit brand is well-known and produces a number of best-selling air quality products. All are well-made and well reviewed. They’re also known for the great LV-H132 purifier I recommend as well.
The electronic controls are simple to use. The clear LCD display shows the operational status and timer information to make using it a snap.
The sleep mode feature means it works almost silently at night and doesn’t wake you up. Use the self-off timer lets to select from 1 to 12 hours of hands-free operation.
What makes this Levoit model such a wonderful choice is not just the same 3-speed push button fan control, but the automatic auto-sensing mode adjusts fan speed automatically depending on the air quality.
The electronic control panel looks a bit complicated at first glance but it’s easy to use. Touch controls easily rotate through their various on/off settings such as the fan speed or mode. A digital display shows the remaining operation time when the auto-off timer is in use in addition to the current air quality level.
Filter replacement is about every 6 months. The replacement will let you know when it’s time to check the filter. (It’s around $35 or so to replace one)
At about 11.2 lbs in weight and 14.5 x 7.2 x 18.5 inches in size, the LV-PUR131 provides more square feet coverage (322 square feet) than others yet can still fit in a space where many others can’t.
A 2 year warranty is provided.
- More room coverage for the money (322 sq ft)
- Auto-sensing mode adjusts fan speed automatically
- Sleep mode for very quiet operation
- Electronic, simple controls
- LCD display
- Auto-off feature: 1 to 12 hours for “set and forget” operation
- Great cigarette smoke removal performance
- Excellent overall reviews and customer satisfaction
- Lower weight and smaller size than others – can be used more places
- 2 year warranty
- Sleek, attractive appearance
- No remote control
- Auto-sensing mode doesn’t show air quality levels visually
- No night light
- Replacement filters aren’t the cheapest (near $35 or so)
- Warranty is shorter than some competitors
- White color only
It’s a great compromise between cost, room size coverage, features, and performance.
5. Honeywell HPA300 – Powerful germ fighting for large rooms. Popular, reliable, and some of the best room coverage for the dollar.
Want some of the best germ removal performance for your dollar? Look no further!
The HPA300 provides some of the greatest room size coverage and air cleaning in its price range. It’s one of the best values as well.
The HPA300 is a solid workhorse – a large and heavy unit, weighing about 21 lbs. The filters (carbon/pre-filter section, and separate true HEPA filter sections) are more complex but still simple to replace.
Easy to maintain
Replacement filters are about $68 but you can replace carbon filters separately to keep costs down. It’s not necessary to replace the HEPA filters when only the prefilter needs maintenance.
Filter life averages about 3-5 months depending upon use. Extend the HEPA filter to save money & time by swapping out carbon filters so the HEPA filter isn’t saturated.
The purifier features excellent touch panel electronic controls. Just touch one of the controls to switch between the settings like fan speed, the light dimmer, and to set the auto-off timer feature.
The top-facing electronic controls are and indicators are:
- Fan speed
- Auto-timer selection (2, 4, 8 hrs)
- Operational mode
- Filter replacement
Indicators give separate reminders for both the HEPA filter and the pre-filter/carbon filters.
Turbo mode provides high-speed cleaning ability. On low, however, it’s quiet enough to not disturb your quiet time.
Automatic mode shuts off the unit after either 2, 4, or 8 hour operation. The HPA300 also has 3 operational modes: allergen, general, and germ modes. (General mode is fine for cigarette smoke removal)
Filter replacement is very simple! The main cover uses 2 push releases at the top to secure the cover. After removal, the prefilter can be replaced or the 3 standard Honeywell HEPA filters as well. It’s easy to do, in my experience.
What I especially like is that the filter replacement reminders are separate – one for the HEPA filter and one for the pre-filter. That’s a feature unique to the Honeywell design.
I don’t care however for the limited auto-off time control as there are only 3 choices to pick from. However, the fan speed is great and it’s really a well-made purifier that offers large room coverage for less money than most.
- Electronic touch controls
- Maximum room size ability for the money (below $300 range)
- Turbo mode for heavy air cleaning operation on demand
- Automatic operation with 2, 4, and 8 hour settings
- Quiet low speed operation
- Largest room/house coverage (465 sq. ft)
- Separate filter replacement reminder for both HEPA and pre-filter sections
- 5-year warranty
- Dimmer control
- Auto-off timer adjustable only in increments of 2 hours – no 1hr settings
- Not as sleek-looking as others
- No auto-sensing mode for self-adjusting ability
- Black color only
Want to get rid of odors in larger rooms? You can’t go wrong with the HPA300.
Many happy buyers back up my recommendation because it's one of the best large room air purifiers sold today.