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 the 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.
To put the spoilers first, here are the winners of our testing and analysis in each category: Home, Office, Garage/Cabin and Low Cost.
The Best for Mold at Home: Levoit Core 300
The Levoit Core 300 has a coverage of 219sq ft (that’s almost a 15ft by 15ft room) with a Clean Air Delivery Rate of 135. There’s not another air purifier at this price that can match these numbers. The fact that it’s quiet, and portable and energy-efficient as well puts this one almost out of question. Sure if you have bigger rooms, keep scrolling, otherwise the Levoit Core 300 is an easy win.
The Best for Mold in an Office: Gocheer Air Purifier
For an office space, you need big coverage. The Gocheer air purifier has a Clean Air Delivery Rate of 1000, and a coverage area of 1102sq ft every 15 minutes. Being a newer brand, they’ve set a price that’s disproportionately low for this set of features (smartphone control, real-time air quality sensing and more), making them very hard to beat.
The Best for Mold in a Garage: VEVA 8000 Elite Pro Series
You don’t need a fancy, smartphone-controlled air purifier for your garage. What you need is functionality and power. Because garages and cabins can be less ventilated, they need all the purification they can get. The VEVA 8000 ticks all those boxes better than it’s competitors.
The Best Low Cost Option: PureZone 3-in-1 True HEPA Air Purifier
While we recommend saving a little longer so you can upgrade to the Levoit Core 300, if you have to get started purifying today, and you want the lowest possible spend, this Purezone model is about as low as it gets for a True HEPA filter.
Carry on to the deep dive below to see the #2 and #3 in each of these categories, and the main reasons to choose one over another.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Winners
- 2 What You Must Know About Mold and Air Purifiers
- 3 The Best Air Purifier for Mold in a Home (House or Apartment)
- 4 Best Air Purifier for Mold in the Office
- 4.1 #1 for the Office: Molekule Air Pro
- 4.2 #2 for Mold in an Office: Gocheer Air Purifier
- 4.3 #3 for Mold in the Office Levoit Core 300 (Best Low Cost)
- 4.4 Comparing The Top 3 Mold Removing Air Purifiers for the Office
- 4.5 #4 for Mold in an Office: Winix 5300-2 Air Purifier with True HEPA Filter
- 4.6 #5 for Office: Alen BreatheSmart-Flex-Pure Customisable Air Purifier with HEPA filter (Best Coverage)
- 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 Why no Mention of UV-C Light Functionality?
- 9 The Importance of Filter Maintenance in Fighting Mold
- 10 Worried About Energy Consumption? Check Energy Ratings Here
- 11 The Lowdown on Air Purifiers For Viruses (CDC and EPA Guidelines)
- 12 Conclusion
- 13 Key Features of a Mold Reducing Air Purifier
What You Must Know About Mold and Air Purifiers
There are excellent primers available on what exactly mold is and how it grows, so we’re not going to dive deep on the topic here. Instead, below is the distilled version, of the most important things to know if you’re trying to get rid of mold from your home with an air purifier.
Of the 4 things mold needs to grow (described at the link above) there are two that are most within your control as a homeowner. They are:
- Mold Spores
You might have heard that mold spores – the little airborne particles from which mold can grow – can be picked up by an air purifier, and this is true. Mold spores range in size from 3 to 20 microns (source) and so any air purifier with a true HEPA filter (which filters particles as small as 0.3 microns) will pick them up.
The problem is, airborne mold spores are naturally occurring. They’re always in the air, everywhere, even if you keep your house spotless. You won’t remove them completely with an air purifier, but when their concentration is high, you can reduce it with the consistent use of a good quality machine.
Still with me? Now we have to cover moisture.
Yes, mold spores are bad, but on their own, they can’t cause the kind of mold problems you’re likely to notice. To grow and multiply, they need moisture. To quote from the article above:
“The vast majority of mold species require “water activity” levels that are equivalent to material equilibrium moisture contents corresponding to relative humidities of at least 70%. In fact, the great majority of serious, large mold outbreaks inside buildings occur where porous, cellulose-type materials have literally been kept wet by liquid water or sustained condensation.” – University of Central Florida
What this means – and I’m sorry to have to break it to you – is that if you’re really serious about preventing mold buildup, you’re also going to need a dehumidifier, placed in the most moisture-prone areas of your house.
(If you’re looking for one and want to make a quick decision, here’s our recommendation below)
With an air purifier removing mold spores, and a dehumidifier reducing moisture, you’ll know you’re doing everything in your power to prevent the negative effects of mold on your health. Oh, except one thing…
Removing the Sources of Moisture
Getting an air purifier and a dehumidifier is like cleaning up the water coming from a leaking tap. You can clean the water up, but you also better plug the leak.
If you have mold buildup, you probably have a source of moisture, and it’s probably something within your control. Common causes of moisture buildup are:
- High humidity air coming in from outside (you could try to keep windows closed more often if you can stand it)
- Moisture build-up in air conditioning systems (it might pay to get these serviced and/or cleaned)
- Moisture build-up in construction materials like your roof or walls (it might be good to have these assessed if you think there’s a problem but of course fixes of this kind can get expensive)
- Leaks (in roofs, walls, or windows)
Before buying an air purifier, it’s worth considering whether you have an obvious problem with one of these factors, and getting a quote for its repair. It could be that this is a cheaper long term solution to your mold problem than the air purifier/dehumidifier combo.
Ok, now this critical introduction is out of the way, we can dive into the air purifiers themselves. Here are the best air purifiers to trap mold spores and prevent mold buildup in your home.
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 Best for Home For Mold in a Home: Levoit Core 300 (Best on a Budget)
If you want to manage mold but don’t want to spring for our 2nd placed Molekule, your best budget pick is a Levoit Core 300 air purifier.
Very reasonably priced by comparison, the Levoit has two things going for it that other air purifiers at a similarly low price don’t have: The area of coverage and the CADR score.
First, the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). CADR reflects the volume of air (in cubic feet per minute) that is cleaned of particles of a certain kind (there are separate CADR scores for dust, pollen and smoke). The CADR score, combined with the filter size and fan speed is what guides an air purifier’s recommended “area covered”. The number to pay most attention to if you’re battling mold is the CADR score for dust and pollen.
The Levoit Core 300 has a coverage of 219sq ft (that’s almost a 15ft by 15ft room) with a CADR of 135. There’s not another air purifier at this price that matches these numbers.
By contrast, another popular choice at almost the same price is the GermGuardian AC4825 which has a 167sq ft coverage and a dust CADR of only 118.
The other reason the Levoit Core 300 is here is the energy efficiency.
Remember that mold spores are always around, so the most effective air purifier against it them the one that’s running the longest. For most air purifiers, running all day isn’t an option, unless you have deep pockets for electricity bills.
One reviewer from Los Angeles said that running their Core 300 for 24 hours a day cost them just $2.80 per month! This is an air purifier that you legitimately can leave on all day, constantly fighting mold, without fear of a spike in electricity costs.
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).
Last thing I’ll say: If you’re having an air purifier on all day, you need it to be quiet. The Levoit Core 300 runs at 24 decibels, making it even quieter than the “soft whisper” of the Molekule in our number 1 position.
If you want maximum CADR rating, energy efficiency, and quiet for your mold busting air purifier, without spending a pretty penny, the Levoit Core 300 is the way to go. It’s even cheap enough that 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 Levoit Core 300 is the #1 Air Purifier for Mold in Homes
- True HEPA filtration for a low price.
- Carbon filter for removing mold odors.
- Highest CADR and coverage for the price
- Quietest and most energy-efficient for the price.
#2 Best for Home: Molekule Air Mini+ with PECO Technology
The Mokulele Air Mini is not the air purifier to get if you’re juggling a budget. It’s the air purifier to get if you urgently need a solution to a mold problem and you will only accept total success.
Mokulele air purifiers are the only commercially available machines with an independently developed and tested technology called PECO. This technology uses free radicals to break down trapped pollutants (like mold spores but also bacteria and viruses) at a molecular level. In other words, it actually kills the mold spores that it traps.
The average HEPA filter can trap mold spores, yes, but after trapping them, it just leaves them on the surface of the filter, where they are liable to escape again (if the plastic housing on the machine isn’t tight enough) if the filter isn’t cleaned regularly enough.
The Molekule Air Mini is designed for a bedroom or a living space, with coverage of 250sq ft. If you have large rooms you might choose to look at another option for this reason, but remember the idea is only to concentrate an air purifier on a high moisture area of your house to prevent the spores from spreading much further than the source.
The other reasons to get a Molekule Air Mini are:
- It’s extremely quiet: The machine runs at 30 decibels, which the CDC confirms is the volume of a soft whisper.
- App-enabled: So you can change the fan speed and the filter status from your smartphone. I regularly forget to change my filters (because my main air purifier doesn’t have this functionality) so trust me when I say that you’ll really use this.
- It comes with a 2-year warranty.
Again, if you’re absolutely committed to mold removal, suck it up (I couldn’t resist…) and grab a Mokulele at Amazon and rest easy knowing you’ve got the problem under control.
#3 Medify MA-40 Air Purifier (Best for Large Rooms with Mold)
If you have rooms larger than 14x14ft – say a living room, dining room, family room, or lounge – with lots of outside air or moisture exposure, the Levoit and the Molekule might prove insufficient. If that’s you, we recommend the Medify MA-40, priced in between these two options, but with a coverage area that will… blow your mind (… I had to say it!).
The Medify MA-40 has a CADR rating of 330. That’s 2.5 times the clean air delivery of our #2 option. It can clean a 1600sq ft room in an hour. An 840sq ft room in 30 minutes.
So it will work for large rooms, but as far as your mold problem goes, there’s another thing in the Medify’s favor: The filter.
It uses an H13 Medical Grade HEPA filter, which is higher rated than a true HEPA filter for particle removal. As we saw earlier, even a HEPA filter is overkill for mold spores, but here, you’re really ensuring that no mold spore at any stage of growth is making it’s way through.
The last thing worth mentioning about the Medify MA-40 are the features that aren’t specifically helpful with mold removal, but they’re just “luxuries” that in time you’ll come to appreciate, and that similarly priced air purifiers (even the Molekule in our #1 position) don’t have. Specifically, there are 2 things:
- Timer: The Medify MA-40 has an 8-hour timer function, to let you control exactly how long the purifier runs for. You can set this to run overnight (turning off through the day) or to run for a short time while you’re out of the house, so you return to high-quality air every time.
- Child lock: It’s a great air purifier for a child’s bedroom, and I’ll tell you why. Our youngest child is currently 9 months, and this has taught me something about air purifiers. Their glossy exterior, glowing light, and gentle buzzy sound attract kids like bees to a honeypot. Our baby is always reaching up and pressing buttons on top of our air purifier. Fortunately, if you have a Medify MA-40, this won’t matter. You can lock the controls preventing the kids from being able to change anything.
On top of that, the reassuring weight and sturdy construction of this air purifier compared to others means you won’t worry about a baby pulling it over.
Last thing about Medify: They have high EnergyStar ratings so you can expect very low running costs from this machine. While the MA-40 model has not yet been tested independently by EnergyStar, previous Medify purifiers have scored exceptionally high on the CADR/W metric (how much air cleaning a machine can do per watt of power used). Their MA-25 model for example, has an average energy usage of 189kwH per year, a cost of $22 per year (assuming 16 hours a day usage) at $0.12kw/h (the US national average).
Bottom Line: If you have large rooms at home, or you don’t want to be carrying your air purifier from room to room constantly, the Medify MA-40 is a high value investment in a top quality air purifier, with all the important features you need to keep mold under control.
Comparing the Top 3 Home Air Purifiers for Mold
If you’re still not sure which is right for you, I’ve put our top 3 recommendations side by side here, with the most important (and sometimes hardest to figure out) specs included.
Molekule Air Mini
Levoit Core 300
Medify MA-40 (Large Rooms)
|Coverage||250sq ft||219sq ft||420sq ft|
|PECO Technology (Destroys Mold Spores)||Y||N||N|
|Filter||Multi Layer PECO Filter||H13 True HEPA||H13 True HEPA|
|Control by Smartphone||Y||N||N|
|Warranty||2 year||1 year||Lifetime|
|Check on Amazon||Check on Amazon||Check on Amazon|
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 the Office: Molekule Air Pro
This the bigger version of the Molekule mini we mentioned earlier. It can handle much bigger rooms, as you’re about to see.
The reason Molekule is appearing twice on our list is that it’s the only air purifier available with the capacity to actually destroy mold spores rather than just trapping them. If you’re sticking to a tighter budget there are more options for the office below, but if you absolutely must get rid of mold, you have to look at the Molekule first.
The problem with air purifiers in an office is that even the most liberal boss is not going to leave the thing running overnight when everyone’s gone home. This means mold spores trapped during the day are just going to sit in the machine overnight, where they can multiply, or even escape from the filter surface. To be absolutely vigilant against mold, bacteria, and viruses, the trapped particles have to be destroyed. And for destroying them, there’s no brand other than Molekule.
How big a room does Molekule’s Pro model cover? 600sq ft. That’s a 25ft by 24ft room.
#2 for Mold in an Office: Gocheer Air Purifier
For an office space, you need big coverage, and at this price, this is about as much coverage as you can get:
The CADR rating for the Gocheer air purifier is… wait for it… 1000. That’s triple as high as any air purifier on our “home” list above. It can clean an area of more than 1000sq ft in 15 minutes.
This is the kind of air purifier you can set up in the corner of an office or commercial space, out of everyone’s way, leave running, and breathe pure clean air 24/7.
Oh, and you know how I said that with commercial air purifiers, you’re going to get more noise. Not with the Gocheer. At its quietest setting it runs at 25db. That’s quieter than 2 of the machines on our “home” list above!
Because it’s a high-end machine, you also get high-end features with the Gocheer.
- You get real-time air quality sensing and display on the machine.
- Control and monitoring with a smartphone app.
- Automatic adjustment of settings: As air quality decreases, fan speed and purification increases.
- All filters are washable, extending their life and increasing the time between filter changes.
This is a spectacular air purifier for, features considering, a very good price.
If you want to beat back mold in an office, the high flow rate, and large filter surfaces of the Gocheer will serve you well for years to come.
#3 for Mold in the Office Levoit Core 300 (Best Low Cost)
Is this the same Levoit Core 300 we mentioned in the home section above? Yes. Why is it in the Office section too? Because of the price.
Here I’m assuming that your office isn’t that big. You might have a mold problem thanks to humid air from outside, or a damp vent in the building, but your office isn’t open plan. You don’t need to cover an enormous space. You just want efficient purification, without spending a fortune.
You can get 3 or 4 of these Levoit Core 300s, spread them around in different offices or cubicles in your space, and still spend way less than if you got our #1 or #2 office options above. And with the coverage of a few purifiers running at the same time, you shouldn’t need to leave them on all day either, balancing out the energy expenditure.
The other reason this option – multiple Levoit Core 300s – is good for an office is that the machines themselves are small. Unlike the large Gocheer, you could safely put these up on a desk or side table. This way you never have to worry about that one clumsy guy in the office tripping over your floor stationed purifier and filing a lawsuit.
Just to sum up, in case you missed it above, the Levoit Core 300 is going to give you:
- 219sq ft of coverage. That’s a 14ft by 15ft office or cubicle
- 24 decibel operation. The quietest on our list and perfectly unobtrusive for meetings or silent concentration
- A timer switch (run it for 8 hours while most people are there, and have it automatically shut off)
- 3 fan speeds, cheap replacement filters and a 1 year warranty
For the price alone, you’ll be applauded around the office for this purchase.
Comparing The Top 3 Mold Removing Air Purifiers for the Office
Want to see the top 3 office models side by side? Here you go.
Molekule Air Pro
Gocheer Large Room Air Purifier
2 or 3X Levoit Core 300s
2 or 3X $89.99
|Coverage||600sq ft||1012sq ft||219sq ft|
|PECO Technology (Destroys Mold Spores)||Y||N||N|
|Filter||Multi Layer PECO Filter||Dual H13 True HEPAs||H13 True HEPA|
|Control by Smartphone||Y||Y||N|
|Warranty||2 year||30 Days||1 year|
|Check on Amazon||Check on Amazon||Check on Amazon|
#4 for Mold in an Office: Winix 5300-2 Air Purifier with True HEPA Filter
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 Great 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
#5 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
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.
#1 for Garage: VEVA 8000 Elite Pro Series
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”
#2 for Garage: Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover HPA300
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.
#1 Low Cost: PureZone 3-in-1 True HEPA Air Purifier
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
#2 Low Cost: GermGuardian AC4100 3-in-1 Air Purifier
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
#3 Low Cost: Levoit LV-H132 Air Purifier with True HEPA Filter
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.
Why no Mention of UV-C Light Functionality?
A commonly advertised function of air purifiers is UV-C light purification. The theory goes that these purifiers attack the trapped particles on your filter with ultraviolet light, which has the ability to alter the DNA of these particles (like mold spores) and cause them to die. Since we’d all prefer dead mold spores over live ones, this sounds like a must-have feature.
The trouble is, studies have shown that UV-C lights aren’t very effective. One paper from 2000 showed that while, if properly designed, UV filtration can deactivate some bacteria and mold, it made little reduction in bacteria and mold spores which are the key to mold’s ongoing growth. It’s acknowledged that UV light can damage mold spores, but most commercially available machines aren’t able to produce a high enough concentration to achieve the desired effect.
Further to this, UV-C radiation has been shown capable of turning oxygen in the air into ozone, a designated air pollutant according to the EPA. It is not clear whether the UV radiation generated by a residential air purifier could create sufficient ozone to have harmful effects, but nonetheless, many air purifier companies with UV-C functionality have moved in recent years to change their designs so that no UV-C radiation is emitted (such as by applying a coating to the UV-C lamp). You might see some air purifiers advertised as “not emitting ozone” and this is usually what they mean.
The Importance of Filter Maintenance in Fighting Mold
Before you make your selection of air purifier, I’m obliged to discuss the importance of filter maintenance with you. I don’t just mean cleaning filters and replacing them every… however often. It’s how you do both of these things that count.
Remember the crucial fact that – unless you pick a Molekule air purifier – all your air purifier is doing is trapping mold spores against your HEPA filter surface. Trapped mold spores are still alive, and under the wrong conditions, they can still grow.
At this point, you think “Ok, so I’ll clean the filters as often as I have to”. But here, a word of caution.
The mesh of a HEPA filter is designed to trap particles. Trap them. Running your vacuum over a filter surface won’t get the mold spores out. How about washing the filters then? Here’s another consideration to make. Some air purifier filters are washable but many aren’t. For example, none of the top 3 models in our “Home” section above have washable filters.
Even that’s not the whole picture. Washing the filters, especially scrubbing them for the kind of deep clean that might really get at those embedded mold spores can damage the filter and reduce its efficiency.
The bottom line is this: First, read your air purifiers manual carefully before you use it. For cleaning it (in lieu of a replacement), follow the company’s guidelines exactly. For replacing filters, it’s worth taking a conservative approach and replacing a month more frequently than the company recommends (which for most brands is 6-8 months) if mold containment is your goal. Some companies (like Molekule) even have plans you can sign up to after purchase where you can pay a subscription fee and they’ll automatically send you new filters every 6 months so you never forget.
Worried About Energy Consumption? Check Energy Ratings Here
You might not realize that energy star ratings for air purifiers are maintained by a government agency and can be viewed online. Not all air purifiers submit for energy certification so confirming that yours is can be a helpful filter (I promise that’s my final pun) in the decision-making process.
The most important metric to look at for energy consumption is called CADR/W: The Clean Air Delivery Rate Per Watt. The higher CADR/W number, the less energy your air purifier will use for the amount of cleaning it does.
For example, the Levoit Core 300, #2 on our “Home” list has a CADR/W of 2.9. The Molekule and Medify air purifiers in the same category are unrated by EnergyStar at the time of writing, although an earlier Medify model, the MA-25 had a CADR/W of 4.17.
It’s worth noting that the difference between a 2.9 and 4.17 CADR/W score is an additional energy consumption of 93kw hours per year, assuming 16 hours a day of active usage. Based on the US average energy cost of $0.12kw/H this is an additional $11.16 per year.
The Lowdown on Air Purifiers For Viruses (CDC and EPA Guidelines)
If you’re thinking of getting an air purifier to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19, it’s time to pause for a second and review the current guidelines.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has made some clear statements on air purifiers and COVID-19 here. To put it briefly:
“Portable air cleaners and HVAC filters can reduce indoor air pollutants, including viruses, that are airborne. By themselves, portable air cleaners and HVAC filters are not enough to protect people from the virus that causes COVID-19. When used along with other best practices recommended by CDC and others, filtration can be part of a plan to protect people indoors.” – US Environmental Protection Agency
As the guidelines explain, the main reason is that even if an air purifier is able to grab some virus particles from the air, it can’t pick up particles that have already settled on surfaces, where they can survive for hours.
Further to this, the CDC has a list of “Considerations to Improve Ventilation” that it says “can help reduce the concentration of virus particles in the air, such as SARS-CoV-2.”
Interestingly, “adding portable HEPA fan/filter systems” is on their list. But it’s at the bottom. And it’s a long list. Note also the comments at the top of the CDC’s article which reiterate the supreme importance of social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand hygiene when it comes to reducing exposure to SARS-CoV-2.
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 affordable.
If you’re still having trouble making your decision, let me leave you with these remarks: (All links below go to the respective product pages on Amazon)
If you have an apartment or small home and you want to keep the spend low, get the Levoit Core 300.
If you’re willing to splurge to achieve the complete cellular level destruction of mold spores in your home, get the Molekule Air Mini+ with PECO Technology.
If you’re buying for the office, the same applies. Want to save? Get as many Levoit Core 300s as you have 200sq ft rooms.
If you can’t risk employees with allergies having sick days, it’ll be worth spending on the Molekule Air Pro to kill mold spores completely.
I hope this list has answered all your questions about picking an air purifier for mold control. If there’s anything you’d still like to know, let me know in the comments. Good luck with your decision.
Key Features of a Mold Reducing Air Purifier
Remember, if you’re trying to get the best air purifier for mold specifically, you’ll need to focus on:
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 that assesses the air quality and changes the fan speed according to how badly polluted the air is. (Levoit are great at offering these features).
Coverage: Because mold spores are constantly circulating in your home, you need an air purifier that can run as many hours in the day as you can afford. This means you should choose a purifier with coverage that’s larger than the space you want to purify. To illustrate, a coverage of 250sq ft usually means the machine can purify a space of 250sq ft 4 times an hour, usually the minimum recommendation for maintaining air quality in a space.
If the room you want to purify is 250sq ft, a conservative approach against mold would be to pick a purifier with coverage of 300sq ft or more.
Energy Efficiency: For the same reason, it’s worth checking your potential air purifiers’ CADR/W (roughly coverage per watt) rating at EnergyStar.gov to get a sense of how much electricity it will use in a year. You’ll want to run this air purifier as many hours in the day as possible, and if your air purifier has great coverage (high CADR) but low CADR/W, you might be happy with the results… until you get your bills.
Don’t Stress About HEPA Filters (as long as it’s got one): Remember that mold spores are much bigger than the smallest particles a HEPA filter can catch. All air purifiers with HEPA filters are going to trap mold spores for you. The more important thing is how efficiently it will trap them and what it does after trapping them. (Does it kill them like the Molekule, or just hold them in the filter like nearly all other air purifiers).
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.