Hands down, the RAVE pick for the best air purifier for smoke is the Winix PlasmaWave 5300 Air Cleaner.
An after-dinner cigarette, cigar, or pipe shouldn’t have to mean your home smells for the next week. Air purifiers have developed quite a bit over the past few decades so they no longer just pass air around the room. With all kinds of new technology, home or office air purifiers can help remove particulates from the air, giving you cleaner air to breathe.
Some air purifiers are good at removing unwanted smells, while others remove fine particulates in the air. Both of these features are desirable when dealing with smoke. But there are a number of factors to consider, and there are numerous purifiers for smoke on the market. So how do you choose which one is right for you? That’s where we come in.
In order to determine the very best air purifier for smoke, we conducted hours of online research, read numerous reviews, and listened to experts, tobacconists, and cigar lovers from around the world. Then, we compiled a list of the best air purifiers for smoke just for you!
Air purifying systems are ubiquitous. We encounter them almost everywhere we go: in the car, on a plane, in the office. If you have forced air for heat or central air conditioning, there is some sort of filtering system attached to your furnace.
But the omnipresence of highly effective air purifying systems is really a recent phenomenon, at least from a historical perspective. Today’s air purifiers originated from personal breathing apparatuses that were first developed in the late Middle Ages.
Early Personal Air Purifiers
Leonardo da Vinci may have been the first person to theorize the idea of an air filter when he suggested that soldiers could cover their mouths with water-soaked cloth to protect them from weaponized chemicals.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, various forms of personal breathing filters or purifiers were developed to deal with different environmental conditions. Breathing apparatuses were created to help miners, firefighters, soldiers, and others who labored in dangerous breathing conditions.
Pollution produced from coal, which was a primary source of fuel during this period, was also a problem, since it created dense areas of smog.
The Manhattan Project
Necessity is the mother of invention, and warfare creates necessity. Often, some of the most important innovations and technologies that we now take for granted first began as military projects.
Things like undershirts, GPS, instant coffee, aerosol bug spray, duct tape, super glue, the microwave oven, and many, many other items all began by serving Uncle Sam in the Army.
Air purifiers began the same way. A key moment in the development of air purification technology came about in the 1940s, when filters were developed to protect scientists working on the Manhattan Project (which led to the atomic bomb) from radioactive particulates.
During this period, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters came into existence. These filters are able to remove 99.97% of fine particulates and microscopic particles from the air. After the end of World War II, the filtering technology was declassified so that it could be developed for commercial and domestic applications.
Now, here is an interesting twist: These early filters actually used asbestos paper to filter the air!
As the 1950s progressed, serious questions about the safety of asbestos emerged, though luckily these filters weren’t being used in homes yet. Nevertheless, they did come into contact with portions of the general public, as they were often used in factories and hospitals. Thankfully, asbestos was abandoned before the end of the 1950s.
The “Invention” of the Home Air Purifier
It wasn’t until 1963 when air filters were available for use in the home. A German mechanical engineer named Klaus Hammes and his brother Manfred developed a filter system that helped remove fine particulates from homes using coal ovens. The design was simple, using magnets to attach the filter to the air outlet.
The U.S. Congress also passed the Clean Air Act in 1963, meaning that innovation in air purification technologies would find a policy incentive. However, the air systems we know and love today were still years away, as HEPA filters had to become smaller and more economical before they could be used in the home.
Miniaturization was well underway in 1990, when Mercedes Benz featured an air filtering system in their cars. Another important development occurred in 1991, when Austin Air Systems developed an air intake system that functioned at 360 degrees, revolutionizing the efficiency of air purification systems.
From the 2000s up to today, several new forms of air filtering techniques have emerged including ionization, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, photocatalytic oxidation, activated carbon paper, and many more.
Along with these developments include additional advancements like better motors to reduce noise level and filtering technique refinement to reduce any harmful byproducts or gases.
This is all good news for everyone, since the EPA lists indoor pollution as one of the top public health threats for Americans. Air purifiers play a major role in helping to address this problem by removing fine particulates like mold, allergens, pollen, pet dander, and, of course, smoke.
Our ranking was devised through intensive research, including careful analysis of data from numerous trusted review sites, hours of research watching and reading reviews online from doctors, allergy experts, tobacconists, and cigar enthusiasts, and by trying out the products ourselves.
With this research, we created the key criteria listed below to keep in mind when considering purchasing an air purifier for your home.
Our categories include the following:
- Price: Air purifiers can be a significant investment, so make sure it’s worth it!
- Room coverage: Make sure you know the range your purifier covers.
- Filtration effectiveness: How effective is your purifier at removing particulates of various types, and can it deal with odors?
- Noise: Nobody wants a loud filtration system, and some are louder than others.
- Filtering method: Most purifiers use HEPA filters, but now there are other options as well.
- Ease of operation: Is it easy to use and change the filters?
- Manufacturer reputation and warranty: Given the money you are going to sink into this machine, make sure it is made by a quality company and has a good warranty.
So before you light another stogie, check out our list so you can keep your house smelling fresh and clean!
Best Air Purifiers for Smoke
Winix PlasmaWave 5300 Air Cleaner
At the top of our list is the Winix PlasmaWave 5300 Air Cleaner. This South Korean product offers excellent quality at a competitive price. The PlasmaWave 5300 is a three-stage air filter featuring a carbon pre-filter to collect larger particles and absorb odors and gases.
The second stage is the HEPA filter which captures up to 99.97% of particulates in the air, removing smoke, dust, mold, pollen, and pet dander. The final stage is the PlasmaWave technology, which is a form of ionization, producing both negative and positive ions to neutralize viruses, bacteria, and odors.
This air purifier also has a number of useful features, including a filter change light to notify when it’s time to put in a new one, and a nifty sleep mode where the machine switches to the lowest and quietest speed when the room goes dark. Though this air purifier is not the least expensive, it is still on the lower end in terms of price, making it a genuinely great deal to clear the air.
- Good price
- Good room coverage
- Excellent filtration
- Struggles with serious odors
- Only one-year warranty
GermGuardian AC4825 3-in-1 Air Purifier
Our next air purifier is the GermGuardian AC4825 3-in-1 Air Purifier, manufactured by Guardian Technologies. Guardian is well-known for manufacturing several small appliances for home environments, like humidifiers and sanitizers. As you probably gathered from the name, this air purifier has three steps. The first is the normal pre-filter activated charcoal (or carbon), which captures larger particulates like pet hair as well as odors. Unlike some air purifiers, the GermGuardian actually works on odors.
What is even better is that this pre-filter can be replaced at a much lower cost than the HEPA filter. Speaking of HEPA, it is the second step in the process, and can capture up to 99.97% of all particles down to 0.3 microns. A filter light lets you know when to replace it.
The final step is a UV-C light, which kills germs, bacteria, and viruses. The GermGuardian is capable of covering up to 155 square feet, which is a decent sized room, but you may want a different air purifier for larger spaces.
- Excellent price
- Great filtration
- Eliminates odors
- Plastic smell at first use
- Distracting blue UV light
Levoit LV-H132 Purifier with True Hepa Filter
With the LV-H132, Levoit offers a compact and stylish air purifier that is effective and budget friendly. Like other purifiers on our list, the LV-H132 features three different filtering techniques, including a pre-filter, HEPA filter, and an activated carbon stage. The purifier comes with three speeds and two brightness settings.
The pre-filter nano-silver process captures airborne bacteria. The second step is a true HEPA filter which captures up to 99.97% of fine particulates, while an activated carbon layer provides an all-important odor removal stage.
A great thing about this purifier is that it is really not that large, so it won’t take up much space. One drawback is that it only covers about 86 square feet, which is definitely on the small side in terms of coverage. This air purifier is quiet, efficient though somewhat limited in coverage, and your budget can definitely afford it.
- Really good price point
- Good filtration
- Good quality materials
- Limited coverage
- Conservative filter indicator
- Filter doesn’t last long
Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier
Our next air purifier is the compact Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier. Coway is another South Korean company that produces quality products, and given the pollution in places like Seoul, you better believe this popular machine is effective!
The device’s four-step filter process includes a standard activated carbon filter and a true HEPA filter to remove unwanted odors and most fine particulates like pollen, pet dander, and smoke. There is also a micro-mesh layer to catch larger particles, and a final ionizer that negatively charges particles so they fall to the ground and can be easily vacuumed.
The Coway comes with five speeds, including an eco and auto speed, and the light on top of the machine indicates by whether the air in a room is clean or unhealthy by color. Though this filter is expensive, its sleek design and effectiveness for moderately sized rooms make it a very attractive machine!
- Four-stage filtration
- Very compact
- Easy to use
- Customer support isn’t great
- Replacement filters hard to find
Holmes Desktop Air Purifier
Our next filter is also our choice for the best budget air purifier for smoke. The Holmes HAP242-NUC Desktop Air Purifier uses a fan motor with three speeds to draw air through the housing unit. There is an activated carbon layer as well as a HEPA filter to remove both odors and fine particulates at a high rate.
The unit can either be placed on its side on a table or desktop, or it can stand upright. There is also an optional ionizer. However, ionizers are known to produce trace amounts of ozone, so you should use it sparingly.
And did we mention the price? This air purifier is under $50, making it very budget friendly. It can cover about 110 square feet, so it is great for smaller rooms, offices, or dorms. There is no light to indicate when to change the filters, but the general rule of thumb is once every three to four months.
- Very affordable
- Easy to use
- Inexpensive filter replacements
- Ineffective lower speed
- Ionizer can produce ozone
- Not many additional features
PureZone 3-in-1 True HEPA Air Purifier
Another great, inexpensive air purifier on our list, the PureZone 3-in-1 True HEPA Air Purifier offers both an innovative three in one filtering system, as well as a UV-C light system. The three-step system includes a pre-filter, a standard activated carbon filter, and HEPA filters to capture gases, odors, and 99.97% of fine particulates.
The UV-C lamp goes one step further and kills germs and bacteria, offering an added layer of protection. One aspect of this air purifier that stands out is how quiet it is: With three speed options, it is virtually silent when on the lowest speed, while the other two levels are also exceptionally quiet.
The filtration is able to clean around 110 square feet. Priced at about $100, with relatively inexpensive replacement filters, this purifier is a great deal in terms of your budget. So if you are sensitive to noise and have a budget, this is the right choice for you!
- Very quiet
- Relatively inexpensive
- Easy to use
- Not super powerful
- Limited room coverage
- Annoying UV light
Honeywell 50255B True HEPA Allergen Remover Air Purifier
Honeywell has a variety of air purifiers marketed for different purposes. The 50255B True HEPA Allergen Remover is specially designed for various allergens, like smoke. With its innovative 360-degree air flow system, this device can be placed anywhere in a room and won’t have any trouble moving air through its filtering system.
Like many air purifiers on the market, the 50255B features both an activated carbon pre-filter as well as a HEPA filter. The activated carbon pre-filter does a great job of eliminating bad odors, while the HEPA filter does the bulk of removing fine particulates.
There is a helpful light indicator to remind you to change out the filter, and the Honeywell name is trusted across the industry for durability and reliable customer service. As with most Honeywell products, this one comes with a five-year limited warranty.
- Efficient filtering
- Can be placed anywhere
- Easy to use
- Rather large and clunky
- Can be very loud
- Somewhat expensive
Rabbit Air MinusA2
Our next filter is the Rabbit Air MinusA2 SPA-780A Air Purifier. This is one of the most expensive air purifiers on our list, but it packs a real punch, including six filtration stages.
The highlights of this filtering process include the BioGS HEPA filter, and the customizable filters that allow you to target specific pollutants you are concerned about. This unit is definitely large, but it can clean a whopping 800 square feet with ease and can also be mounted on the wall.
For a machine this large, it is remarkably quiet, and also features an even quieter automatic sleep mode when your home gets dark. If you aren’t on a budget and want to clean a large space, you should definitely consider the Rabbit Air MinusA2.
- Effective filtration process
- Great room coverage
- Good energy efficiency
- Large machine
- Very expensive
- Pricey upkeep
Austin Air HealthMate HM400
ur next air purifier is the Austin Air HealthMate HM400. This air purifier is one of a couple specialized options on our list, and is equipped with a medical grade HEPA filter. Capable of capturing 99.97% of all fine particulates up to 0.1 microns, the HEPA filter can catch even the smallest of smoke particles. The Federal Emergency Management Agency actually recommended this filter to folks living and working in lower Manhattan following the events of 9/11 to combat lingering air quality issues.
This air purifier features a four-stage filtration process with two pre-filter components to capture large- and medium-sized particles, then an activated carbon stage, and finally a medical grade HEPA filter to round out the process. Austin Air claims the filters can last up to five years, which is an added bonus since they are not cheap.
The HealthMate HM400 is advertised to cover up to 1,500 square feet, but most consumers say it really covers about 500 square feet. However, the long-lasting filter, and efficient high-powered filtration system make it a worthwhile investment.
- Long lasting filters
- Very effective filtration
- Very loud
- Very expensive
- Large and clunky looking
Airpura T600 Tobacco Smoke Filtration Air Purifier
Our last air purifier is specifically designed to combat the odor and gases that accompany cigarette smoke. The Airpura T600 contains a large amount of different forms of carbon and is designed to remove the smell of smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and even marijuana. You can even customize the carbon blend depending on your needs.
There is a small HEPA barrier, but it is not a filter. Its main job is to keep the carbon from escaping the machine. The Airpura is not going to help with mold, dust, or allergens; its sole focus is tobacco smoke removal.
Constructed from solid metal components, the Airpura is built to last, and the wheels on the bottom of the unit make it easy to move. However, it is pretty heavy, so if you have to carry it up stairs, be sure to have a friend help you.
- Excels at removing smoke
- Highly specialized design
- Very heavy
- No HEPA filter
- Very expensive
- Best Air Purifiers
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Can air purifiers help with cigarette smoke?
The short answer to this question is yes, though it is complicated. Air purifiers can indeed help remove smoke from an indoor space. The basic idea of any air purifier is to draw air into the unit and pass it through either an active or passive filtering system. Active systems use methods like ionization to remove particles from the air, while passive techniques run the air through a filter.
Most contemporary air purifiers use high-efficiency particulate air filters, which are capable of removing 99.97% of all particulates from the air. They are very effective at dealing with a whole range of pollutants and allergens found in the common household.
However, the HEPA filter is capable of capturing particles that are 0.3 microns or larger. Here is where the “it’s complicated” part comes in, because smoke and secondhand smoke can range from between 4 and 0.1 microns. And, secondhand smoke poses the biggest challenge.
When smoke or secondhand smoke is blown into the atmosphere, it quickly dissipates and the particles in the smoke reduce in size. As they shrink, the particulates become more difficult to capture.
Also, activated carbon is very effective for capturing gases, and there are pollutant gases in cigarette smoke.
So all this is to say that air purifiers can indeed remove smoke from the air, but unfortunately they cannot make your environment 100% smoke-free.
Can air purifiers remove marijuana smoke?
With new laws being passed all the time for medicinal and recreational cannabis, more and more people are smoking marijuana. So it’s logical to wonder if air purifiers can help to remove marijuana smoke from the air.
The short answer is yes — but it’s complicated. Generally, the best air purifiers to control both the particles and smell from the sticky icky are a combination of a HEPA filter with an activated carbon insert.
HEPA filters were developed during World War II to help protect scientists and soldiers working on the Manhattan Project, which produced the atomic bomb, from radioactive particulates.
These filters effectively remove up to 99.97% of fine particulates from the air. And we’re talking about particles that are about 0.3 microns — that’s really, really tiny.
The problem is that smoking pot can produce particles ranging from 5 to 0.1 microns, with the lowest number representing the particles that are still in the air, even after the smoke has dissipated. So, most of the particles can be captured, but not all.
Additionally, the activated carbon insert is what really helps with the smell. Activated carbon is especially effective at trapping gases and odors.
So yes, air purifiers can help keep the air clean and smelling fresh, but they can’t remove every last little bit of smoke.
What is the best air purifier for smoke?
If you or someone you know smokes, you know it is important to remove tobacco or other forms of smoke from the air. An air purifier is a great tool to help make your environment healthier. But there are a lot of air purifiers on the market — how do you choose the right one for you? Our rankings, based on solid research, take some of the guesswork out of the decision making process.
We found the following questions to be important when deciding which air purifiers we liked best and which served our specific needs:
- Is the air purifier easy to use?
- Can you change the filter relatively easily?
- Can you find replacement filters easily?
- How effective is the filtration process?
- Can it handle smoke?
- How expensive is the filter to replace?
- How loud is it?
- How much coverage does it provide?
- What does the warranty cover?
With these questions and others in mind, we found the key qualities of a good quality air purifier for smoke, and chose the Winix PlasmaWave 5300 Air Cleaner as the best.
Use our list to make an informed decision when you choose your next air purifier!