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.
Air purifiers help to 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. 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 will find the best air purifiers for mold in the home, the office, the garage and also according to different budgets.
Table of Contents
- 1 What makes an air purifier good at attacking mold specifically?
- 2 What are the Key Features to Look for? (And Which Features Don’t Matter So Much)
- 3 What’s the difference between a mold air purifier and a dehumidifier?
- 4 Best for mold in an apartment (living room, bathroom, basement)
- 5 Best for mold in the office
- 6 Best for mold in a garage or cabin
- 7 Best for mold under $100
- 8 Conclusion
What makes an air purifier good at attacking mold specifically?
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 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 and how the filters help, but let’s find out what to look for specifically when choosing an air purifier…
What are the Key Features to Look for? (And Which Features Don’t Matter So Much)
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 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 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 coming through) you can turn the speed down. Some 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 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:
- Antimicrobial filters for killing mold spores once they hit the filter
- 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.
What’s the difference between a mold air purifier and a dehumidifier?
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 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.
Best for mold in an apartment (living room, bathroom, basement)
Mold can be a big issue in apartments. It’s also worth considering the proximity to other people’s smoke, aerosols and cooking smells as they can be irksome problems for apartment dwellers too. Apartments, bedrooms, and bathrooms generally require a smaller, more sleek looking air purifier. Otherwise, it can stand out like an eyesore and take up too much room which could be reserved for more exciting items.
These models have been chosen for their mold-catching filtration systems, versatile fan speeds, and sleek appearances. If you’ve got a mold issue in your bedroom or an entire apartment, an air purifier with efficient filters is essential. What’s more, if it’s in your bedroom or quiet living room…you’ll want an option of fan speeds with varying noise levels.
This slender model has true HEPA filtration for snatching those mold spores, and a carbon filter for neutralizing musty odor. It also has a UV-C light that zaps airborne germs including viruses (hence the germy name). I do note, however, that UV-C lights are polarizing and controversial due to the question of ozone.
The manufacturers have assured that their UV-C lamps do not produce ozone, but they do have an off switch if you’re concerned. This is a great option for small apartments or specific rooms as it is small enough to fit in inconspicuously. It’s also 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.
- True HEPA filtration
- Carbon filter for odors
- UV-C light for killing germs and bacteria (great for mold spores)
- Great price point (it varies, but generally below $150 and often below $100)
- Different speed levels
A slick little model with a higher price tag. It’s compact enough to fit in the corner of a large apartment living room, and/or a medium-to-large bedroom or basement. It’s a great choice for mold because it has those crucial filters: true HEPA and carbon. It does have an Ionizing function which is a negative for some people (the ozone issue), but it is optional.
- True HEPA filter for catching mold spores
- Carbon filter for moldy, musty odors
- 3 fan speeds
- Auto and Eco mode
This white, rectangular machine has been chosen for this category as it has a carbon filter, true HEPA filter, and antimicrobial treatment. This means that mold spores are thoroughly captured, the odors are neutralized and the spores are killed and stopped from multiplying in the filter.
- True HEPA filter
- Anti-microbial filter for killing germs and stopping mold from growing in the filter
- Carbon filter for moldy, musty and damp odors
- AeraSmart Sensor detects air quality and adjusts the fan speed accordingly
- High-Performance Mode for especially damp seasons
- 4 fan speeds including a quiet option for bedrooms and quiet living spaces
Best for mold in the office
Offices are often a hive of recycled air, other people’s germs, dust, commercial cleaning products, and multiple food smells. Lovely. This is especially true of open-plan offices. Offices can also be plagued by mold, especially if the ventilation isn’t quite right.
These air purifiers are great for offices of varying sizes. You may need one for a large open-plan office or you may need one for a smaller one-occupant office.
This is a well-loved model with an angular construction and true HEPA filtration. 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.
- True HEPA filtration
- 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
- Great for medium-sized rooms, offices and reception areas
A sophisticated air purifier (ideal aesthetic for modern offices) 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 for the office.
While it doesn’t have multiple filters like other models, 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 model (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 model. As long as it has a true-HEPA filter and a carbon filter you can forego some of the fancier features.
The reason this little number 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 model 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 under $100
Some of the best air purifiers 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 the best option 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 model 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 model 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)
You certainly don’t need to spend an arm and a leg for an air purifier which can help with controlling airborne mold. In fact, so many of the great models 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 and an option of fan speeds you’re on the right track.
If you’re wondering which model to go for, I would say the PureZone 3-in-1 True HEPA Air Purifier is the best choice. It’s affordable, attractive and has the filtration we want and need for mold issues; true HEPA filtration activated carbon filter and a UV-C light. This is for smaller rooms, but it’s 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.