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Ever since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, I’ve taken time to reevaluate my habits during cold, flu and indoor allergy season. When I was a grad student, I never opened my windows or used air purifiers and cleaned the apartment as little as possible, even though I'd been diagnosed by a doctor as having allergies. (I was 20, what do you expect?) I remember feeling mildly not great for weeks before I moved out of that apartment and just accepting it. When I left, I felt better within a day or two, but I never had a flash of realization about how stale my air had become. I just chuckled about it and moved on.
Why did I accept bad air before? Indoor allergies and my experiences in graduate school definitely were in mind when I finally decided to purchase an air purifier after I moved to New York City.
Though I was on a budget, I needed a purifier that could at least cover the area of my bedroom (about 90 square feet) and had certified HEPA filtration. (“HEPA” stands for “high efficiency particulate air,” and experts told us HEPA filters are a feature that any air purifier you buy should include.)
(Note that the Environmental Protection Agency says you should not rely on an air purifier alone to protect you against Covid virus particles and that practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, like getting vaccinated, social distancing and wearing masks, remain your best bet against the disease.)
There are lots of options for air purifiers out there, so I got to searching on the internet and ultimately settled on popular brand Levoit’s air purifier — I’ve since come to like it so much that I bought three more this year to set up my entire home with Levoit’s purifiers.
One of the top-rated air purifiers of 2021, this air purifier from Levoit costs less than $100 but provides HEPA filtration that removes 99.97 percent of 0.3-micron particles from the air, according to the manufacturer. It also has a prefilter and activated-carbon filter, as well as a night light that hasn’t ever interfered with my sleep. Levoit says it works for indoor spaces 129 square feet or smaller, so it was ideal for my bedroom.
It’s difficult to quantify how well an air purifier works — we can’t see most airborne contaminants, after all — but my Levoit runs quietly and the HEPA filter and prefilters seem full of dust, pollen and other nasty stuff when I replace and clean them (which Levoit recommends doing every two to three months).
What really made me glad I got the Levoit air purifier, in the first place, though, was that when I moved to a larger apartment, I started to experience those stale-air feelings again (since I'd already been diagnosed, I knew at least part of it was an allergy flare-up), so I bought three more Levoit purifiers to cover my larger square footage and other rooms. Since then, I feel like I've been breathing drastically better. The air also seems noticeably clearer, and I haven’t had to dust nearly as much. Overall, I feel that I’m enjoying a higher quality of life and that my air purifier has definitely played a large part in that.
Granted, it’s not a perfect device — you can only use it for smaller rooms, and I’ve dented the metal construction by accidentally knocking it over. I don’t often use the night light, and am not entirely sure why it exists, unless you leave it in the middle of a walkway and want to avoid tripping over it in the dark. But, ultimately, my Levoit is an affordable HEPA air purifier, and I feel better and breathe better with it in my home. I’d highly recommend it for anyone looking for a quiet, effective and affordable air purifier.
Other air purifiers to consider
Here are other air purifiers to consider, which we include here based on expert guidance from our previous reporting and Select reader interest. They may be worth considering if you need to clear the air in a larger room than mine or if you want a dual-function purifier.
This air purifier from Instant works for rooms up to 388 square feet and uses a carbon filter and HEPA filter, according to the company. It is available in Pearl and Charcoal.
This dual-function air purifier and fan from Dyson purifies spaces up to 2,860 cubic feet — equivalent to about a 350-square-foot room with 8-foot ceilings — and uses a HEPA filter, according to Dyson. It comes in Nickel and Black.