The truth is, mold and mildew issues in a home are not going to be totally remedied with an air purifier. The source of the dampness causing the mold must eventually be addressed.
But in the meantime, air purifiers help remove airborne mold spores that can irritate the lungs and exacerbate allergies. They can also reduce that musty smell mold creates.
An air purifier draws the air into the filters and captures tiny airborne particles such as smoke, dust, and mold spores. Clean air is then circulated throughout the room. The air is left feeling drier, cleaner and fresher to smell and breathe.
In this article, we’ve established the best air purifier for mold in the home, the office, the garage as well as breaking things down based on budgets.
You can jump straight to our #1 pick for the home here, or keep reading for the full list of best air purifiers for the office, garages and on a budget.
UPDATE Nov 19th: I just posted this list of Air Purifier deals for Black Friday 2020. See if you can get a bargain!
Table of Contents
- 1 First: 10 Seconds on How Mold Works
- 2 Key Features of a Mold Reducing Air Purifier
- 3 The Best Air Purifier for Mold in a Home (House or Apartment)
- 4 Best Air Purifier for Mold in the Office
- 5 Best for mold in a garage or cabin
- 6 Best for mold at the lowest cost
- 7 What’s the difference between Air Purifiers for Mold and Dehumidifiers?
- 8 Conclusion
First: 10 Seconds on How Mold Works
Mold releases spores into the air which float about and make their way into your lungs. Air purifiers draw air through a filter, removing impurities before expressing clean air back into the room.
That’s the simple gist of it. But it gets more complicated when we consider filter options.
Mold spores are approximately 1-30 microbes which means they require a fine enough filter to catch them. HEPA air filters catch 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microbes, which means they’re more than qualified for mold spores.
Mold spores are tricky as they grow and multiply if they’re given a damp enough surface. Some air purifiers come with an antimicrobial treated filter that ensures micro-organisms like mold are killed in their tracks.
If you’ve lived or worked in a building with mold, you’re well-acquainted with that damp, musty smell it emits. That’s why an activated carbon filter is necessary for a mold-catching air purifier. The activated carbon neutralizes odors and freshens the air in the room.
That’s the bare bones of how air purifiers remove mold spores and how the filters help, but let’s find out what to look for specifically when choosing an air purifier…
Key Features of a Mold Reducing Air Purifier
If you’re trying to get the best air purifier for mold specifically, you’ll need to focus on:
Filter Efficiency: Don’t compromise on filter quality. An air purifier with at least a 2-stage filtration system is best. Look for a model with a HEPA air filter and an activated carbon filter. This will ensure the mold spores are being removed from the air along with their odor.
Cleaning Levels or Speeds: Having different fan speeds is handy because it helps to control the rate at which the air is being circulated. During damp, cold months where mold comes out to play, you can hike up the fan speed on your air purfiers to the highest level to get a thorough clean. Then during warmer seasons when you manage to ventilate your home naturally (i.e. windows open and the sun is coming through) you can turn the speed down.
Some of the best air purifiers have a smart sensor which assesses the air quality and changes the fan speed according to how badly polluted the air is. (Levoit are great at offering these features)
Area It Can Cover: Air purifiers are made to cater to certain room sizes. For example, one model may handle the air in a 400 square-foot room, while another might handle an area of 1000 square feet (as opposed to the surface area which is different… but we won’t delve into that. As long as the specs clearly say square feet, you’ll be fine).
Assess which room you want your air purifier for. Is it a small bedroom? A large garage? A medium-sized living room or an expansive open-plan office? Ensure your air purifier fits the bill.
HEPA Filter: as covered earlier, HEPA air filters capture spores as little as 0.3 microns which is more than sufficient for your mold spores. Some air purifiers have “true-HEPA” filters and others have “HEPA-style” or “HEPA-grade” filters. It is best to find true-HEPA, but if your budget really restricts you, find something with HEPA-grade at least.
Also, look for:
- Air purifiers with antimicrobial filters for killing mold spores once they hit the filter
- Air purifiers with activated carbon filter for neutralizing musty or moldy odors
Automatic Mode: the “automatic” mode on an air purifier generally means that the machine has a sensor that assesses the quality of the air. If the sensor senses smoke, odors or increased impurities, the fan speed will automatically adjust. This means that you don’t need to manually adjust your air purifier during moldier, mustier periods. You can leave the machine to do the work for you.
Noise and lights – some air purifiers are noisier than others. Some have lots of lights and others are more subtle. These aspects are not important for mold spores and cleaning ability, but they’re worth taking note of if you are easily bugged by noise and unnecessary light. Customer reviews are a good way to assess how annoying a machine is in terms of noise as it’s a real sore spot for people and understandably so.
The Best Air Purifier for Mold in a Home (House or Apartment)
For your home, ie a bedroom, bathroom or living room, you want a smaller, more sleek air purifier that can handle all the demands of eliminating mold, without taking up too much space, and let’s be honest… without looking goofy.
The air purifiers below have been chosen for their mold-catching filtration systems, versatile fan speeds, and sleek appearances. On top of that, a mold spore issue in your bedroom or an entire apartment requires an air purifier with multiple efficient filters to make an impact on your air quality.
Last but not least, if it’s in your bedroom or living room… you’ll want your air purifier to have the option of fan speeds with varying noise levels.
In light of those crucial factors, here’s the best air purifier for your money right now.
#1: Germ Guardian 4 in 1 (Best Value)
When you click that link, the number of positive reviews of this air purifier will shock you.
And it makes sense: There are basically no other 4 in 1 air purifiers for this price. Anywhere.
As far as removing mold spores goes, it’s got all the important features we discussed.
It has true HEPA air filtration for snatching those mold spores. It means you’ll be catching as many nasty particles as possible, without it sounding like a wind turbine, or looking like you’re storing a commercial fan at your place. This GermGuardian was our best air purifier for mold in 2020 because it ticks all the criteria for mold reduction in homes, but at a strangely low price for the feature set.
It also has:
- UV-C light that can help kill airborne viruses.
- Carbon filter for odors
- Pre-filter for big particles that don’t necessarily make you sick, but annoy the heck out of you. Think pet hair, dust, pollen.
But perhaps even more important than these features is the power. All the filters in the world are useless if the machine doesn’t have enough power to keep on firing, sucking the bad air in and pushing the cleaner air back out quickly
The GermGuardian 4 in 1 has that in spades for a purifier of this price.
It’s intended capacity is a room of a maximum of 155 sq ft, but the maximum room size that will still allow it to generate 4 air changes per hour, is 228 square feet. If your rooms are bigger than that, keep scrolling. If not, the Germ Guardian 4 in 1 air purifier is your best bet.
What we love about this air purifier is that it’s cheap enough you could purchase more than one to place around your home i.e. one in the basement and one in the bedroom.
Bottom Line: Why The GermGuardian is the #1 Air Purifier for Mold in Homes
- True HEPA filtration for a low price.
- Carbon filter for removing mold odors.
- UV-C light for killing germs and bacteria (great for mold spores)
- 5-speed levels (you can make it higher when you’re out of the house, and lower when you’re in it)
#2: Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier (Best Machine)
The Coway AP1512HH Air Purifier is a beast at home air purification. It has a higher price tag, and we’re about to explain why, so you can understand whether that price is worth paying.
In terms of filtering (HEPA to 99.97%) and the ability to remove mold, it’s close enough to the Germ Guardian 3 in 1 air purifier. There are some minor differences in how it does it’s filtering but you won’t notice a difference at the user end. It’s mainly just marketing 🙂
So why would you pay the extra if the Germ Guardian is so good? A few reasons:
Reason #1 to Get The Coway Instead: Room Size
This air purifier can handle rooms up to 360sq ft. More than double the capacity of the GermGuardian. If you have bigger rooms, you’ll get much better purification for the usage with this Coway “Mighty” (aptly named).
Reason #2 to get the Coway Instead: The Tech
If you like convenience, there are a couple of little touches with this air purifier that’ll make you happy.
For one, you get a “real-time air pollution sensor” that changes color depending on the air quality in your room. As well as being helpful, this is just cool.
You also get a filter sensor that tells you in advance when a filter needs replacing, meaning you won’t have the downtime between when you notice your filter needs a change and when you can get a replacement.
It even comes with a timer feature that you’ll like, and an Eco mode to lower the energy output (and electricity expenditure)
Reason #3: The Size
What we love about the Coway Mighty air purifier is that, even though it can cover more ground, it’s still a small machine. It’s not like for the extra power, you need a big clunky workhorse of a thing. It’s compact, it looks great, and it does a great job.
Bottom Line: Reasons to get the Coway For Home Instead
- Essentially the same filtering capacity as the Germ Guardian but…
- Covers bigger rooms
- Has some extra tech for more convenience
- Is still small (and quiet by the way. From 24db to 53db depending on the speed)
#3: Levoit Air Purifier (Cheaper Filters & Quieter)
This Levoit air purifier is another great option for minimizing the effects of mold in a home.
It’s priced very similarly to the Germ Guardian 3 in 1, and has highly comparable performance. You get the same HEPA filter quality. You get the odor reduction from the carbon filter. You get the anti-microbial effects.
It does cover a slightly larger area at 215sq and it’s also a smaller machine, so a little easier to sit up on a bench, table or shelf. Those alone might be reasons to grab it instead of the Germ Guardian, but there are 3 more:
Reason #1: Replacement filters are cheaper
You have to replace your filters on all air purifiers (every 3-6 months for the carbon filter and 12-18 months for the HEPA filter) and this can affect the long term cost of owning a machine.
All the companies set different prices for their filters and the Germ Guardian replacement filters are in general slightly higher (over $30) than the Levoit ones (which some 3rd party brands offer filters for, closer to $20)
Of course, it’s a small amount, but it does alter the cost equation of an air purifier over time, especially if you have the air purifiers for 3-5 years (which you should).
Reason #2: It’s Quieter
At 24db in sleep mode, it’s hard to find air purifiers for mold at this size and capacity that can operate as quietly. The consensus is that the Levoit is slightly quieter than the Germ Guardian. And when you have to listen to this thing every day, a small difference makes a big difference.
Bottom Line: Reasons to get the Levoit Instead
- HEPA filter performance, carbon filter for odors
- Overall slightly quieter than the GermGuardian 3 in 1
- Slightly cheaper replacement filters
- Covers a larger area so can work in slightly larger rooms (215sq compared to 167sq)
Best Air Purifier for Mold in the Office
Offices can be a hive of recycled air, other people’s germs, dust, commercial cleaning products, and multiple food smells. This is especially true of open-plan offices. Offices can also be plagued by mold, especially if the ventilation isn’t quite right.
For an air purifier in the office, you need huge coverage and plenty of filtration power. You can usually afford to sacrifice some decibels on the noise level for the sake of that coverage too, given that the air purifier can usually sit out of the way in a corner, not so close to anyone working.
These air purifiers are great according to those criteria, whether it’s a large open-plan office or a smaller space.
#1 for Mold in the Office: Winix 5300-2 Air Purifier with True HEPA Filter (Best Value)
This is a well-loved air purifier with an angular construction and true HEPA filtration and it’s great for a small office. Really, it should come with a much higher price tag for the features it has.
It covers 360sq… which is big.
It’s louder at it’s lowest setting than the smaller personal air purifiers we reviewed for home above… but not that much louder. At 27db most people wouldn’t notice the difference comparing it’s noise to the Levoit.
It also has “PlasmaWave” which is an ozone-free permanent filter designed to neutralize odors and zap airborne germs and pollutants. It’s great for the office because it has an odor-neutralizing carbon filter as well as a HEPA filter and PlasmaWave.
The air quality in offices can fluctuate according to the season, how many people are bustling about at one time and the cleanliness of the room. The Smart Sensor is a great feature as it automatically assesses the air and adjusts the fan speed accordingly. During mustier months when mold thrives (i.e. Winter when condensation grows) the Winix 5300-2 can ramp up the fan speed without you having to keep an eye on it.
Bottom Line: Why the Winix 5300-2 Air Purifier Is Best For Offices
- True HEPA filtration
- Wide coverage (360sq) for the price tag.
- PlasmaWave permanent filter
- Carbon filter for odors
- 4 fan speeds including “turbo” for when the air is particularly musty or dusty
- Smart sensors test the air to see which fan speed is required
#2 for Office: Alen BreatheSmart-Flex-Pure Customisable Air Purifier with HEPA filter (Best Coverage)
Got bigger office areas than 360sq? You need the Alen Breathesmart.
Covering a whopping 700sq area, this sophisticated air purifier (ideal aesthetic for modern offices) comes with a choice of HEPA-grade filters.
The “HEPA-silver” is why this air purifier is great for offices – it is designed especially for allergens including mold and dust. If you and/or your colleagues suffer from asthma and allergies, a smart air purifier like this one is crucial.
While it doesn’t have multiple filters like other air purifiers for mold, it is efficient and functional enough to make up for this. It’s reasonably large (25 inches high) which makes it more suitable for large offices as opposed to small homes or bedrooms.
- A choice of four different HEPA-grade filters including the HEPA-silver which is great for mold spores
- Sleek, office-friendly design
- Great for larger rooms and open-plan offices (up to to 700 square feet)
- Has a lifetime warranty
- 4 fan speeds
This is a pretty pricey air purifier (around $700), but in a populated office, it’s worth it. It covers a lot of area (up to 1500 square feet) which makes it ideal for open-plan offices. The filters are top-quality and are designed to clear the air of allergens, chemicals, and odors including mold-related smells and particles.
- A medical-grade true HEPA filter
- Activated carbon filter for mold-related odors
- Has wheels for easily moving around the office to different areas
- 3 fan speeds for controlling the air circulation
Best for mold in a garage or cabin
Garages and cabins often don’t have the greatest air circulation or ventilation. Most garages are home to chemicals, gas, and mold due to stale, damp air.
Depending on how much time you spend in your garage or cabin, you might be happy with a simpler, lower-cost air purifier. As long as it has a true-HEPA air filter and a carbon filter you can forego some of the fancier features.
The reason this little air purifier has been put into the “garage/cabin” category is that it is very affordable, small and portable. For your garage or cabin you shouldn’t need a large, costly air purifier, leave that for your bedroom or larger living spaces.
You need something effective and high-quality to control mold spores and odors in your garage or cabin which are usually smaller spaces anyway. I will note, however, that this air purifier is also great for offices and homes if you want a cheaper, smaller machine to sit on your desk or side table.
- Small, compact design
- Carbon filter for mold odors
- HEPA filter for mold spores
- Comes with 4 pre-cut carbon filters so you can switch them out easily throughout the year, especially during months where moisture and mold increases
- 3 fan speeds including “Ultra Quiet” and “Turbo”
The Honeywell HPA300 is a popular, highly-rated air purifier with true HEPA filtration, specified cleaning levels and an auto shut-off timer. The reason it has been popped into the “garage” category is that it can be shut on and off according to the seasons and the level of mold.
If you’re working in your garage during colder, wetter seasons with the door closed, you can ramp-up the machine to “turbo” and let it run for 8 hours. It will then shut off till you need it again.
- True HEPA filter
- 4 cleaning modes: germ, turbo, allergen and general
- Automatic shut-off timer, 2, 4 and 8-hour options
- Ideal for larger garages and cabins (465 square feet)
Best for mold at the lowest cost
Some of the best air purifiers for mold are incredibly affordable. This is awesome news for students or first-time homeowners who want to manage a mold issue without spending a fortune.
This cheap and cheerful model may well be among the best air purifiers on this list in terms of value for money. It has a true HEPA filter for grabbing those mold spores, an activated carbon filter to hush the moldy odors and a UV-C light to kill live spores dead. The UV-C light is another controversial feature due to ozone, but I’ll leave that decision up to you.
- The true HEPA filter captures mold spores from the air
- Activated carbon filter for neutralizing moldy odors
- UV-C light for destroying airborne nasties such as mold spores and bacteria
- Shut-off timer for 2, 4 or 8-hour intervals
- 3 fan speeds to cater to the mold issue at the time, and to control the volume as needed
This compact air purifier from GermGuardian is ideal for very small rooms, desks or side tables. It has a HEPA filter, UV-C light, and an activated carbon filter. In other words, mold spores are captured, killed and stripped of their odor. If you have a mold issue in a localized area such as a kitchen, bathroom or closet, this is a fantastic choice.
- Small, compact design great for handling mold in small areas
- HEPA filtration for trapping mold spores and other sneeze-worthy particles
- UV-C light for killing mold spores and other airborne bacteria
- Activated carbon filter for mold odors
An attractive, cylindrical air purifier for mold with a 3-stage cleaning system to rid rooms or small apartments of mold spores and mold odors. It has a pre-filter, true HEPA filter and a carbon filter. It’s great for apartments with mold issues as it is small enough to fit in without taking up space.
- True HEPA filtration
- Carbon filter for odors
- Has an optional nightlight which could be handy for apartment living rooms or hallways for nighttime bathroom trips
- Affordable (generally well below $100)
- Great for apartment living spaces or smaller rooms
- Three different fan speeds (speed 1 is quiet enough for most people to sleep with in the same room)
What’s the difference between Air Purifiers for Mold and Dehumidifiers?
A dehumidifier removes moisture from the air. If you’ve ever lived in a cold, damp home you’ll know the feeling of that cold moisture you can almost feel moisten your hand if you run it through the air. A dehumidifier removes and captures the moisture. This helps to kill and reduce the amount of mold growing in the room as mold adores moisture.
An air purifier for mold doesn’t deal with moisture. Instead, it draws air into the filter, removes airborne spores and releases fresh, clean air. A dehumidifier has a bucket that gathers moisture (it can be alarming to see just how much).
The two can work hand in hand but don’t do the same job or deliver the same results.
You certainly don’t need to spend an arm and a leg for an air purifier that can help with controlling airborne mold. In fact, so many of the great air purifiers in this list are actually pretty affordable.
As long as they have a true HEPA (or at least a HEPA-grade) filter, an activated carbon filter, an option of fan speeds and they suit the size of the rooms you intend them to sit in… you’re on the right track. Everything else is a bonus and a convenience to choose based on your preference.
If you’re wondering which air purifier to go for, you can’t go wrong with the Germ Guardian or the Levoit for home. They’re affordable, attractive air purifiers, with the filtration we want and need for mold issues; true HEPA filtration activated carbon filter and a UV-C light. (Note: This is for smaller rooms, but they’re so affordable you could pick up two and set one in the bedroom and one in the living room if you were up for it. )
If it’s office, you’ll be happy with a Winix 5300. If it’s the garage, the VEVA 8000 will get the job done.