The Best Car Air Purifiers: Breathe Easier

Keep your car’s interior smelling fresh and clean with these super convenient car accessories.

byHeather Fishel|
The Best Car Air Purifiers: Breathe Easier
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If your vehicle is starting to feel stale, or you’re noticing dust, allergens, and potential pollutants sneaking inside, you’re due for an in-cabin air filter replacement. These filters keep harmful agents from entering your cabin, including dust, dirt, and even fire smoke. However, if you want to add an extra layer of odor-fighting power, adding a car air purifier can be a great bonus. 

These small auto accessories can help combat unwanted scents, strong odors, and some of the irritants and pollutants that might slip past your existing filter. And we’ve rounded up some of the hardest-working car air purifiers right here.

Best Overall

Pure Enrichment PureZone Mini Portable Air Purifier

Summary
A small-but-mighty car air purifier that can be taken and used anywhere, delivering surprisingly effective filtration in the face of allergens, pollutants, and odors.
Pros
  • Small and lightweight
  • Up to 12 hours of runtime per charge
  • Multiple power settings for easy control
Cons
  • Does generate noise while powered on
Best Value

Car Air Purifier Air Ionizer & Dual USB Charger

Summary
This affordable car air purifier takes up essentially no space inside your vehicle, users verify it makes interiors smell better and it has two USB charging ports.
Pros
  • Gets rid of odors
  • Includes two built-in charging ports
  • Plugs into 12v socket
Cons
  • Very small
  • It probably won't purify like bigger units
Honorable Mention

Philips GoPure Car Air Purifier

Summary
A powerful car air purifier that features multiple filtering stages and tackles every kind of airborne irritant, from odors to pollutants, without needing any attention.
Pros
  • Three-stage filtration process
  • Tackles 90 to 99 percent of allergens and pollutants
  • Unfussy, easy operation
Cons
  • Takes up space 
  • Low modes are sluggish

Summary List

Our Methodology

The products we’ve highlighted here as the best car air purifiers are those that we researched and compared to the many different kinds of portable, in-car air purifying products available to shop online. These top picks won out because they were both highly rated and well-reviewed by those who’ve purchased them—in real-life use cases, reviewers noted that these particular products were effective at tackling or eliminating odors, scents, and other worrisome air woes. Our best car air purifiers are also reliable, long-lasting, and easy to use (or forget about!) while you’re behind the wheel, working seamlessly in the background without much input on your part.

For more on how we select products, check this out.

Best Car Air Purifiers: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Pure Enrichment PureZone Mini Portable Air Purifier

Pros

Multiple filtering methods with different power levels

Rechargable with 12 hours of run time

Weighs less than a pound

Cons

It makes noise while running

The Pure Enrichment PureZone Mini Portable Air Purifier is small and compact, but don’t let its size fool you. This is a powerful, effective, multi-stage car air purifier that’ll clean up your car’s interior air and allow you to breathe easier. Whether you’re hoping to fight pollutants, allergens, or odors, this little device can do it all — and it won’t take up much space or battery power. It’ll remove 99.97 percent of the dust, pollen, pet dander, smoke, and odors from your interior air. With an activated carbon pre-filter and a true HEPA filter, this small device is nicely effective. Plus, it offers four fan speeds so you can control how much filtering power you’re using. It’s lightweight at under one pound, and it includes a USB charging cable and a handle so you can stay powered up anywhere.

The only potential downside? You will hear some white noise as this car air purifier operates. Most people don’t mind it, though, as it’s pretty minimal.

Best Value: Pure Air Purifier Air Ionizer & Dual USB Charger

Pros

Removes odors from car interiors

No filter to change

Includes two USB charging sockets

Cons

It provides a fresher smelling interior but we wonder about purifying a big car's interior

This car air purifier is a great value buy, both because of its affordable price and its effectiveness when up and running. At under five inches in size, it is small — but it plugs right into your cigarette lighter socket, with no dangling cords, and uses ionization to clear your interior air. It releases 5.6 million negative ions to attach to positive ions in the air, weighing them down to eliminate them. This 12-volt purifier can get rid of odors, even tough ones like smoke and pet odors; it can also get rid of pet dander, dust, and other unwanted allergens or pollutants. And within 5-7 days, this little device can even eliminate stale scents lingering in cars with longtime odors.

However, do keep in mind that this car air purifier is very small. In larger cars, it can be a bit too small to offer complete coverage. And this device only operates when it’s plugged in and your car is on, so it won’t work when you’re out of your vehicle.

Honorable Mention: Philips GoPure GP5212 High Performance HEPA Air Purifier

Pros

Designed specifically for car pollutants

Three-stage filtration

SelectFilter Plus technology removes 90 percent of airborne pollen

Removes more than 99 percent of airborne bacteria in one hour

Cons

Can operate slowly on its lowest settings

Does take up noticeable space

If you’re looking for seriously clean car air, you’ll like the power packed into the 7-by-7-inch Philips GoPure Car Air Purifier. This device, while larger than some options, packs a punch when it comes to eliminating allergens, bacteria, and viruses. But, because it’s specifically made for use in your car interior, it’s also able to remove pollutants like exhaust gasses coming from traffic. This car air purifier uses SelectFilter Plus filtration technology to remove 90 percent of airborne pollen allergens and more than 99 percent of airborne bacteria within an hour. And it can also handle toxic gasses like VOLCs and formaldehyde. Plus, it gets to work quickly; it features a Clean Air Delivery Rate of 16 m3/hour for PM2.5 particulates, meaning it can filter 50 percent of the air in a standard sedan in under 10 minutes.

You will notice that this car air purifier takes up some space. It can hang from your headrests or sit on your center console; either way, it is more noticeable than other, more compact products. Additionally, its lowest speed settings are the least efficient. However, on higher power, it’s a workhorse.

Most Versatile: Westinghouse 1804 Patented NCCO Technology Portable Air Purifier

Pros

Tackles bacteria, viruses, allergens, and pollutants

Can be used in your car or anywhere you take it

Up to eight hours of run time

Cons

Instruction manual doesn't make the purifier user friendly

You don’t have to leave your car air purifier behind when you’re not on the road — with the Westinghouse Portable Air Purifier with HEPA Filter, you can easily carry it anywhere. This compact device features a convenient handle, weighs just two pounds, and is powered by a rechargeable battery so it can go from car to hotel to house and anywhere else it’s needed. It cleans up your car’s interior air using medical-grade patented NCCO technology, which breaks down gaseous pollutants like VOCs, smoke, and odors plus viruses, bacteria, and allergens. And the three-stage filtration process also includes an oxygen generator and a true HEPA filter for a seriously thorough clean. You’ll have two filtration modes to choose from, and the purifier automatically shuts off after it runs for eight hours.

The only downside? This car air purifier’s manual is a rough read, and it’s tough to understand. Fortunately, the device itself is pretty easy to use and manage without it.

Best Smart Purifier: Wynd Essential Smart Personal Air Purifier

Pros

Fits in a car's cupholder

Runs for eight hours on a charge

Can be paired to your smartphone for monitoring activity

Cons

It isn't as powerful as some of the non-smart purifiers

Instead of settling for an average plug-in air purifier, you can get even more functionality by opting for the Wynd Essential Smart Personal Air Purifier. Sized to fit right into your car’s cup holders, this purifier is sleek and stays out of your way on the road. It’s designed by NASA and MIT engineers, with enough filtering power to remove 99.99 percent of air pollutants in less than 15 minutes, purifying 8 liters of air every second. It traps pollen, pet dander, dust, and pollutants in a medical-grade filter. And it’s super smart, too. It automatically adjusts itself to clean faster or slower based on local official air quality ratings. Plus, this purifier syncs with a smartphone app so you can remotely monitor your car’s air quality, control the device, and keep tabs on air quality trends.

The only potential problem area this car air purifier might present is its effectiveness. While it’s powerful and efficient enough for most individuals, those with serious allergy concerns may find it isn’t quite strong enough.

Best for Odors: IQAir Atem Car Portable HEPA Air Purifier

Pros

Three-stage particle and gaseous HyperHEPA filter

Includes easy-to-use car mount

Covers larger car interiors easily

Cons

Not the most powerful airflow

Airflow is directed towards backseat passengers

The IQAir Car HEPA Air Purifier is a different kind of car air purifier, as it’s designed to be mounted on the back of your seat headrests and provide a clean, allergen- and pollutant-free flow of air throughout the vehicle. And while it’s powerful at cleaning up particles 100 times smaller than 0.3 microns in size, it’s especially handy at combating odors, from sweat to smoke to lingering unwanted scents. This purifier uses a high-capacity centrifugal design paired with an exclusive HyperHEPA filter for ultrafine particles, and it can cover spaces up to 1,238 square feet in total, making it more effective for even the largest of cars and SUVs. And if you want more control, this air purifier also syncs with the Atem mobile app so you can customize the fan settings and activate a child lock.

The only complaint reviewers highlight is a lack of strong airflow coming from the device. While you can change the speed settings, it doesn’t generate a lot of air or a very noticeable breeze, if that’s something you’re hoping for.

Our Verdict on the Best Car Air Purifiers

The Pure Enrichment PureZone Mini Portable Air Purifier is a top car air purifier pick because it’s perfectly portable, easy to keep inside your vehicle, and offers plenty of power. It can tackle all different types of air woes, from allergens to odors to exhaust. But if value is important, you can also consider the Pure Car Air Purifier Air Ionizer & Dual USB Charger a small and barely-noticeable option that cleanses on a budget.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: How long does a car air purifier last?

A: It really depends on how, exactly, the air purifier is designed. Some use HEPA filters that need to be swapped out and replaced every so often; others need to be “recharged” or cleaned, like charcoal or washable filters. Check the owners’ manual on your exact model to determine how long its purifying power will last.

Q: Can you leave a car air purifier running?

A: This, too, depends on the kind of purifier you’re working with. Electronic products typically feature automatic shut-offs, while those that work when plugged into your cigarette lighter will turn off once unplugged. Others that don’t require any kind of power, such as natural charcoal filters, won’t need to be handled at all.

Q: Can air purifiers fight odors?

A: Yes! Because odors are molecular within the air, most air purifiers can eliminate odors. Unlike chemical products that simply mask odors, your typical car purifier can get rid of the source, whether that’s through filtering, ionization, or another method.

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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