Breathe Easier with The Best Car Air Purifiers

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

byHeather Fishel| UPDATED May 18, 2022 9:19 AM
Breathe Easier with The Best Car Air Purifiers
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With so much time spent in your vehicle, you’ll want to provide yourself and your passengers with the best air quality possible, especially during those grueling allergy-ridden days when you just can’t catch a break between sneezing and blowing your nose. Air purifiers are a great solution for better air quality. Check out the best car air purifiers we’ve picked out.

If your vehicle is starting to feel stale, or you’re noticing dust, allergens, and potential pollutants are sneaking inside, you’re due for an in-cabin air filter replacement. These filters keep harmful agents from emanating into 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

Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier

Summary
This affordable car air purifier takes up essentially no space inside your vehicle, yet delivers solid air purifying power against popular allergens – and more.
Pros
  • Gets rid of allergens as well as odors
  • Includes two built-in charging ports
  • Powers up via cigarette lighter
Cons
  • Very small
  • Must be plugged in to work
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
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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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. 

Best Car Air Purifier Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Type of Air Purifier: Activated carbon and HEPA filter
  • Power Source: USB-powered rechargeable battery
  • Size: 8.5 in L x 3.3 in W x 3.7 in H

Pros

  • Multiple layers of filtering, with different power settings
  • Easy to power up and recharge
  • Up to 12 hours of runtime
  • Weighs less than 1 pound

Cons

  • Does generate some white 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 Car Air Purifier Value
Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier
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Specs

  • Type of Air Purifier: Ionic
  • Power Source: Car cigarette socket
  • Size: 4.13 in L x 1.38 in W x 1.38 in H

Pros

  • 2.1 amp USB dual charging ports
  • Eliminates allergens, including dander, dust, and pollen
  • No filter changing needed
  • Removes odors, including smoke

Cons

  • Must be plugged in and car running to operate
  • Very small for larger vehicles

The Twinkle Birds 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.

Specs

  • Type of Air Purifier: HESA and HEPA filters
  • Power Source: Car cigarette socket and 12-ft cord
  • Size: 7 in L x 7 in W x 2.7 in H

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 its least efficient. However, on higher power, it’s a workhorse.

Specs

  • Type of Air Purifier: NCCO reactor and HEPA filter
  • Power Source: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Size: 6.3 in L x 6.3 in W x 3.46 in H

Pros

  • Tackles bacteria, viruses, allergens, and pollutants
  • Can be used in car or elsewhere
  • Up to eight hours of run time per charge
  • Works in spaces small or large

Cons

  • Manual isn’t very clear or helpful to read

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 Large Car Air Purifier
IQAir Air Purifier
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Specs

  • Type of Air Purifier: HyperHEPA filters
  • Power Source: AC/DC adapter
  • Size: 11.77 in L x 5.51 in W x 12.44 in H

Pros

  • Exclusive HyperHEPA Filters stop ultrafine particles
  • Purifies up to 99 percent of air in 150-square-foot spaces
  • Works in vehicles and at home
  • PureJet diffuser directs purified air flow

Cons

  • Not secure while standing upright
  • Large size does take up space

If you’re searching for a car air purifier that’ll cover larger vehicles’ interiors or simply want something that’s more powerful, the IQAir Air Purifier fits the bill. This device is larger than your average car air purifier, but this also makes it nicely capable. It utilizes exclusive HyperHEPA air filters to stop ultrafine particles of pollutants and allergens (including bacteria, viruses, pollen, and dust) as small as 0.003 microns in size. It’s able to clean the air in spaces up to 150 square feet in size, and you’ll get a direct stream of cleaned-up air in your direction thanks to the PureJet diffuser technology. It’s like having a direct stream of perfectly purified air right in your breathing zone while you’re driving or riding as a passenger.

Unfortunately, this large and effective car air purifier does have some noticeable drawbacks. It’s designed to stand up while it works, which it struggles to do while your car is in motion. Though IQAir calls it car-friendly, this air purifier needs to be secured down in order to stand safely. And it takes up some noticeable space inside your car because of its larger size. Additionally, don’t forget that you’ll likely need an adapter to power this purifier up in your cigarette lighter socket or other available power sources in-vehicle.

Specs

  • Type of Air Purifier: Filter
  • Power Source: Rechargeable battery
  • Size: 3.35 in L x 3.35 in W x 6.65 in H

Pros

  • Fits into standard car cup holder
  • Up to eight hours of runtime per charge
  • Pairs with smartphone app for remote monitoring
  • Weighs 0.88 pounds

Cons

  • May not be powerful enough for those with serious allergy concerns

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 Adaptable Car Air Purifier
Munchkin Portable Air Purifier
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Specs

  • Type of Air Purifier: HEPA filter
  • Power Source: Built-in rechargeable battery
  • Size: 10.5 in L x 5 in W x 3.3 in H

Pros

  • Removes 99.7 percent of all airborne particles
  • Four-stage HEPA filtration
  • Automatically adjusts filtration speed depending on air quality
  • Up to 10 hours of runtime per charge

Cons

  • Higher speed settings are noisy

You don’t have to worry about the air quality inside your car — or anywhere else you travel — with the Munchkin Portable Air Purifier. This slim device fits into backpack pockets, cup holders, and just about anywhere else, and it requires no external power source thanks to its built-in rechargeable battery. When it’s running, this air purifier will remove 99.7 percent of all airborne particles, including allergens, smoke, and even mold. It uses four-stage air filtration, plus a true HEPA filter, and can run for up to 10 hours total. Plus, this car air purifier features a built-in sensor that automatically assesses the air quality and then adjusts to the right filtration speed to keep you breathing easily.

There are very few complaints about this effective and efficient car air purifier. However, while it’s ultra-quiet on its lower speed settings, it can get a bit noisy at higher speeds.

Best Car Air Purifier for Odors
IQAir Car HEPA Air Purifier
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Specs

  • Type of Air Purifier: HyperHEPA filter
  • Power Source: Rechargeable battery
  • Size: 11.77 in L x 4.05 in W x 11.77 in H

Pros

  • Three-stage particle and gaseous HyperHEPA filter
  • Includes easy-to-use car mount
  • 270-degree filtration and fan airflow
  • Covers larger car interiors easily

Cons

  • Not the most powerful airflow
  • Airflow is directed towards passengers, not drivers

The IQAir Car HEPA Air Purifier is a different kind of car air purifier, as it’s designed to mount 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 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 Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier, a small and barely-noticeable option that cleanses on a budget.

What to Consider When Buying Car Air Purifiers

Car air purifiers come in many different forms. To help you narrow down your options and find the right fit for your vehicle and individual needs, here’s how you should shop for one. 

Types of Car Air Purifiers

In-Cabin Air Filters

Like we mentioned earlier, an in-cabin air filter is really your best line of defense against all of those airborne irritants and pollutants that can make their way inside your vehicle. These filters are built right into cars, usually right behind the glovebox; they’re able to clean up the air as it flows through your HVAC system. It’s your first filtering mechanism, and it’s one you may not think about regularly. However, they do have to be replaced every so many miles, so you’ll need to stay on top of this filter every few months. 

Ozone Generator Air Purifiers

If you’re utilizing an air purifier that’s an ozone generator, you have a device that’s particularly great for tackling (and eliminating) odors. These car air purifiers use electrical currents delivered by your cigarette lighter or a battery to essentially sterilize your car air flow, getting rid of the bacteria that can cause odors. Instead of masking smells, these devices can be used to kill off odors completely, with no added fragrance. 

Plasma Generator (or Ionic) Air Purifiers

Plasma generator air purifiers, which are also called ionic air purifiers, are an auto accessory that targets odors and other unwanted air pollutants or particles at a molecular level. These devices emit positively or negatively charged ions, which trap those unwanted particles and break them down. These car air purifiers, too, can target odors as well as impurities in the air, making them a great companion for your in-cabin air filter. 

Charcoal Air Purifiers

A charcoal car air purifier is an environmentally friendly option that’ll help you clear your interior air and fight odors. Typically made out of naturally-sourced charcoal, these purifying products are often organic and long-lasting. Charcoal can essentially “soak up” pollutants and odor-causing airborne particles, and once it’s “full,” it can be refreshed by placing the material in direct sunlight. These air purifiers can last for two years, and they don’t create any masking scents or fragrances. 

Car Air Purifiers Key Features

Compact, Portable Size and Design

A full-size home air purifier isn’t exactly a great fit for the interior of your typical passenger car. So, when you’re picking out the perfect car version, you want to make sure it’s compact and perfectly portable. You need your air purifier to fit seamlessly into your interior, whether it’s placed on the dashboard, in a cup holder, or hanging from your seat back. The less space you need to sacrifice, the better (as long as you also aren’t losing filtering potency!).

Car-Friendly Power Source

It’s hard to find a standard electrical outlet inside a car, which is why it’s essential that your car air purifier runs on a portable, convenient, and vehicle-friendly power source. Whether that’s a set of batteries, a rechargeable battery that plugs right into a USB port, or no batteries at all (like charcoal purifiers), you want something that’s always powered up — or able to be powered up — on the go. 

HEPA Filter

HEPA filters are something of a must-have when you’re looking at an air purifier. Without a HEPA-rated filter, it’s hard to tell how well a device can actually grab pollutants and allergens before they reach your nose. You want to make sure yours uses a HEPA filter in order to work effectively, although it’s important to keep in mind that some products like charcoal purifiers don’t actually include filters. So, when you’re opting for tech over environmentally friendly, HEPA is the way to go.

Car Air Purifier Pricing 

You’ll find that car air purifiers can be found in just about every price range. You can find tiny, wearable options or small devices that plug right into your cigarette lighter socket for between $20 and $50. These compact options are affordable, but they aren’t very powerful. More potent car-ready products that fit into your cupholders, onto your dashboard, or elsewhere within your vehicle can run between $50 and $200. For the most powerful options, or car air purifiers that have advanced smart features, you should expect to pay anywhere from $250 to $450.

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.