When it comes to keeping our kitchens tidy, most home cooks already have a cleaning routine complete with an arsenal of favorite products. But while we’re busy scrubbing our microwaves and polishing our stainless steel appliances until they shine, an often-overlooked agent is at play, decreasing air quality levels and making the whole kitchen smell stinky.
Although we may not regularly think about air quality — it’s not as easy to see “dirty” air as a stained countertop — it’s one of the most important factors in maintaining a clean home. The best air purifiers work to rid the air of allergens and pollutants, as well as strong cooking smells. Pet dander, smoke, smog, mold, and naturally-occurring allergens like pollen can also contribute to poor air quality. An air purifier works to trap these harmful or undesirable substances and increase the quality of the air you breathe.
To find the best air purifiers for the kitchen, we researched the most popular, versatile, and highly-rated options that can handle strong or offensive smells, from lingering cooking odors to your compost bin area. Dyson’s Hot + Cool Air Purifier tops our list for its sleek profile and versatility. Keep reading for our other favorite picks.
Dyson HP04 Pure Hot + Cool Air Purifier, Heater and Fan
Dyson is one of the most trusted names in home and beauty appliances. This sleek air purifier does so much more than “just” purify your air. It’s also a space heater and cooler with smart technology to auto-stop that feature once your desired temperature is reached. It’s an incredibly effective air purifier, too. With a real-time pollutant count on the LCD screen, an easy-to-replace HEPA filter — the app tells you when it’s time — and a whisper-quiet night mode, this mighty machine is worth every penny.
Price at time of publish $754
- Filter type: Fully enclosed HEPA
- Filter maintenance: Replace every 12 months or when alerted by the app
- Dimensions: 8 x 10 x 30 inches
- Coverage area: 999 square feet
Molekule Air Purifier
The Molekule Air Pro was made for professional spaces, but don’t let that stop you from putting it to work in your home. It’s a stunningly efficient unit when it comes to large spaces — like that open kitchen-living room concept you spend all your time in. The specialty PECO (photoelectrochemical oxidation) filters trap VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and then destroy them, so you can rest easy that harmful particles won’t recirculate back into your space. Also of note: The trackable real-time “air score,” auto modes that react to the level of contaminants and time of day, and an undeniably attractive design.
Price at time of publish: $1,199
- Filter type: PECO
- Filter maintenance: Replace every 6 months; subscription service available
- Dimensions: 11 x 11 x 23 inches
- Coverage area: 1,000 square feet
Honeywell HPA300 True HEPA Allergen Remover
This air filter does it all and can handle moderately sized rooms up to 465 square feet. It’s especially helpful for people with allergies: While the HEPA filter captures up to 99.97% of microscopic allergens, an activated carbon pre-filter catches all the visible icky bits, like pet hair and dust. There’s an auto-off feature, so you won’t waste energy when you’re not in the room, and a dimmable control panel, so the unit doesn’t disturb the ambiance in a dimly lit room. It’s regularly on sale at a variety of retailers, making this one of our smartest buys.
Price at time of publish: $175
- Filter type: Activated carbon pre-filter, HEPA filter
- Filter maintenance: Replace every 12 months or when alerted by the app
- Dimensions: 20 x 23 x 11 inches
- Coverage area: 465 square feet
Best for Eliminating Cooking Odors
Coway Airmega AP-1512HH(W) True HEPA Purifier
No matter how delicious last night’s seafood pasta was, you probably don’t want to relive it for the next week. The best air purifier can help eliminate cooking odors or funky kitchen smells, like an overripe compost bin. This one from Conway has four separate filters (including a reusable, washable filter and one specifically designed to trap odors). It’s also compact and relatively petite, so you can move it closer to the offending area.
Price at time of publish: $230
- Filter type: Pre-filter and HEPA filter
- Filter maintenance: Wash pre-filter as needed; replace HEPA filter every 6 months
- Dimensions: 17 x 10 x 18 inches
- Coverage area: 361 square feet
Best for Heavy Smoke
Alen BreatheSmart 75i Air Purifier
This air purifier is ideal for use in open-concept living spaces and for tackling smoke and smog. The HEPA filter is thicker than that of most other models, and the unit is designed with a tight gasket seal to truly lock contaminants and pollutants in once they’ve been captured. There are five different fan speeds, so you can adjust the unit’s performance according to air quality at the time. And a fun fact: If you like to sleep with an air purifier, this one is generated to produce only soothing pink noise frequencies.
Price at time of publish: $742
- Filter type: HEPA filter
- Filter maintenance: Replace filter every 12-15 months
- Dimensions: 12 x 19 x 27 inches
- Coverage area: 1,300 square feet
Best for Small Kitchens
Molekule Air Mini+
Tiny but mighty, this is a more affordable version of our pick for Best Splurge. Designed to purify a space up to 250 square feet, the Molekule Air Mini+ can be toted from room to room, thanks to a handy carrying strap. If your kitchen is an open-plan concept or very large, this low-energy-usage purifier won’t fit the bill, but for folks with small, enclosed kitchens, it’s all you need. The “air history” report feature also makes for a fascinating study of how the air quality index in your space changes over time.
Price at time of publish: $500
- Filter type: PECO (photoelectrochemical oxidation)
- Filter maintenance: Replace every six months; subscription service available
- Dimensions: 8 x 8 x 25 inches
- Coverage area: 250 square feet
Best for Large Kitchens
Rabbit Air A3 Air Purifier
You’d never know it at first glance, but this slim air purifier can clear the air in rooms up to 1,070 feet. It’s WiFi-compatible, so you can control it on your smartphone. This wall-mountable unit comes with six separate filters, but even with 12 hours of daily use, the system is designed to last for two years before replacements are needed.
Price at time of publish $750
- Filter type: 6 levels of filtration, including HEPA, ionic, and activated carbon
- Filter maintenance: Replace after one year of continual use or two years of 12-hour use
- Dimensions: 8 x 19 x 20 inches
- Coverage area: 1,070 square feet
Medify MA-35 Air Purifier
If your countertop real estate is already taken up by an air fryer, seltzer maker, or other appliances, a discreet wall-mounted air purifier will be of interest to you. Its HEPA filters are heavy-duty — they’re made to capture particles as fine as 0.3 microns — which means it’ll work hard despite its slim profile. Reviewers love its lack of cords and modern, sleek look. If you ever decide you’d rather use this unit off the wall, the brand sells a stand that allows the air purifier to be transported.
Price at time of publish $400
- Filter type: HEPA filter
- Filter maintenance: Replace every 3-4 months
- Dimensions: 16 x 23 x 4 inches
- Coverage area: 640 square feet
Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Air Purifier
You’d be hard-pressed to find an air purifier that doesn’t tout itself as being blissfully quiet. But this model from Blueair delivers, a low-speed setting that clocks in at an impressive 23 decibels. The “loudest” setting is still super-low, at 56 decibels. Blueair’s air purifiers are Energy Star-rated, meaning they’re gentle on your energy bill. This air purifier also includes an activated carbon filter for scent removal, which comes in handy to absorb cooking odors if placed in the kitchen.
Price at time of publish: $340
- Filter type: HEPA filter
- Filter maintenance: Washable outer filter, replaceable HEPA filter, activated carbon filter
- Dimensions: 13 x 13 x 20 inches
- Coverage area: 550 square feet
Best Smart Purifier
LEVOIT PlasmaPro 400S Smart True HEPA Air Purifier
This air purifier is Alexa- and Google-compatible, so you can control it with your smart speaker. It’s easy to use the app to customize programmable settings for when you want it to work, including run times and fan speeds. If you’re the “hands-off” kind of person, just let the machine run on auto mode, and the speed will immediately adjust according to the air quality at the time.
Price at time of publish: $220
- Filter type: Unit contains pre-filter, HEPA filter, activated carbon filter
- Filter maintenance: Replace the three-part filter regularly; customized filters are available for specific needs, such as pet hair and smog
- Dimensions: 11 x 11 x 20 inches
- Coverage area: 403 square feet
Factors to Consider
Types of Air Purifier Filters
If you’ve been shopping around for air purifiers, you’ve undoubtedly come across the abbreviation “HEPA.” HEPA means “high-efficiency particle air.” According to the EPA, a HEPA filter is a pleated mechanical filter that’s meant to remove 99.97% of airborne particles, like mold, dust, pollen, and bacteria as small as 0.3 microns. At the minimum, an air filter should have an authentic HEPA filter or something comparable (our top “Overall” pick uses a different type of filter called PECO/photoelectrochemical oxidation).
Many air purifiers contain additional filters. Pre-filters are popular, which act as a physical barrier for bigger particles, like pet hair and dust. If you’re worried about odors, check out models that contain activated carbon filters — those are superb at trapping smells. With some models, you can buy additional filters for specific needs, like high-smog areas, or smoky environments.
Air purifiers are sized according to square footage. In other words, units with less powerful motors are best for small, contained rooms, while more powerful motors can handle open-concept rooms and large spaces. As a general guide, small air purifiers are best for rooms under 200 square feet, medium air purifiers can handle rooms between 200-400 square feet, and large models tackle everything above that range. Usually, it’s a better investment to buy one large-capacity air purifier for a big space, rather than several small ones.
All air purifiers make at least a little noise, due to an internal fan that runs air through the filters. Most air purifiers come with different fan levels, which are quietest at the lowest speeds. Air purifier volume is measured in decibels, with the quietest models clocking in around 23-24. But unless the unit runs at a volume of over 65-70 decibels, it’s not going to be obnoxiously loud. Air purifiers, even at their higher volumes, sound like white noise machines — depending on your preference for background noise, this could even be a positive thing.
It’s hard to find an air purifier that’s downright ugly, as most modern models are sleek and attractive. Minimalist Scandi-inspired design is increasingly popular. Considering you’ll be spending time in the same room as your air purifier, it pays to invest in a unit that you find aesthetically pleasing. Some, like our pick for the Best Quiet Air Purifier, even have interchangeable exterior filters for a quick look refresh.
While all air purifiers have one main job — to cleanse the air from allergens, contaminants, and pollutants — there is no shortage of bells and whistles on today’s models. Before you invest in an air purifier, check out the special features. Some are compatible with smart speakers, which is great… if you have and use a smart speaker. If you don’t need an air purifier that also acts as a portable air conditioner or space heater, it doesn’t make sense to invest in one with those features. One feature we do think is worth springing for is an indicator light or notification on an app that tells you when it’s time to change or clean a dirty filter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do air purifiers really work?
Yes; air purifiers are effective at improving air quality. It’s impossible to annihilate all contaminants or pollutants in the air, but a right-sized air purifier with a high-quality HEPA or PECO filter that’s changed promptly will diminish the number of airborne particles. Remember that many particles, including dust and dander, settle on rugs, drapes, and furniture. Air purifiers can’t nix those, but regular vacuuming and cleaning your spaces will help boost air quality, too.
What are the best air purifiers for kitchens?
The best air purifiers for kitchens are ones with activated carbon filters and HEPA filters. While HEPA filters trap airborne particles, carbon filters capture odors. In terms of design and style, a wall-mounted air purifier is a good choice for most kitchens. Wall-mounted air purifiers won’t clutter your countertops and are so slim, you’ll barely notice them once they’ve been installed.
Where should I put my air purifier in my kitchen?
Most kitchens are small enough that air purifier placement doesn’t matter. However, you can increase its effectiveness by setting or installing the air purifier in a place with high airflow (not a corner or closed-off pantry). Of course, the closer your air purifier is to the offending agents, the better results you’ll see. In the kitchen, that may mean keeping it near your trash can, compost, or range. Just be mindful not to situate the air purifier too close to the stove, or you’ll be cleaning food and oil splatters from it.
How do I get rid of cooking odors in my kitchen?
When it comes to cooking odors, prevention is key: Always use the ventilation hood when frying or sautéeing on the stovetop. In mild weather, you may even open the windows when cooking high-odor foods, like garlic or fish. But no matter how many preventative measures you take, cooking will always leave an “after smell.” You can remove it by running your ventilation fan for half an hour after cooking, and of course, by regularly taking out the trash and compost. An air purifier with an activated carbon filter will be a big help, too. Be sure to change the filter regularly, and choose a model that’s large enough for your kitchen.
Do HEPA filters remove cooking odors?
HEPA filters do not remove cooking odors. Although a HEPA filter is top-notch at trapping and removing physical particles — say, dust or pollen — you’ll want an air purifier with an activated carbon filter to handle strong or offensive smells.
Rochelle Bilow is a food writer and editor with over a decade of professional experience. Previously a senior associate editor and social media manager at Bon Appétit and Cooking Light magazines, Rochelle is also a culinary school graduate, and a former professional baker and line cook. As a self-professed neat freak, she regularly covers products that help home cooks keep their kitchens fresh and tidy.