Best Air Purifier For Homes With Pets? (Clearly We Have An Air Quality Problem)

Evidently, Matt and I have a serious air quality problem in our house. I have no doubt that I contribute quite a bit to that problem with all of my projects. I’m continually creating dust and using products (paints, polyurethanes, and other chemicals). And then on top of that, we share our home with two animals — a 10-pound cat and a 100-pound dog. Our cat Felicity leaves her fur behind on all of the furniture, while our dog Cooper leaves behind at least a chihuahua-sized amount of fur on the floor every single week. (That’s gotten better since we got our our robot vacuum.)

But the air quality in our house is still awful (which I’ll show you in a minute), so now I’m on the hunt for a really superb air filter/purifier that is specifically made for homes with pets. And if you have any personal experience at all with these — good experiences, bad experiences, recommendations, warnings about brands to stay away from — I’m all ears.

So how do I know our air quality is still pathetic? Well, this is so embarrassing, but I’m going to show you anyway. I mean, this is really embarrassing.

I’ve seen advertisements for these Colorfil air filters on Facebook for a few months now. They claim to be the best air filters for households with pets. And the cool thing is that they start off this really bright pink (okay, maybe I just bought them because they’re pink 😀 )…

And then as they do their job and filter the air, they start to turn more orange. And then as they reach the end of their usefulness, they turn yellow. How long is this supposed to take? Well, I believe their subscriptions (for which I signed up) automatically send new filters every two months. So presumably, these are supposed to last two months.

So I put my brand new bright pink air filter into the air intake in our hallway on Friday, and here’s what it looks like as of this morning.

Yep. That’s a yellow, used up filter at the end of its life that needs to be changed.

WHAT…THE…HECK? I mean, obviously with all of the dust from my projects, and with two shedding animals, I don’t expect the air in our house to be dust-free, or allergen-free, or (especially depending on what project I’m working on, and what chemicals I may be using) odor-free. But I most certainly wasn’t expecting for our new color-change filter to go from bright and new to “change me now” yellow in two days.

After seeing how fast that filter was changing colors, the very first thing I did yesterday (and first thing this morning) was to open up all the windows in our house to get some fresh air inside. Thank goodness we’re having beautiful weather right now, so it’s not too hot outside for open windows.

And then I immediately got online and started searching for air filters/air purifiers, because obviously, something needs to be done ASAP. No wonder I always have a stuffy nose and feel like I’m not breathing as freely as I should!

Of course, once I started searching for air filters and air purifiers, then every single ad I saw on Facebook and Instagram was nothing but air filters and air purifiers, and all of them claimed to be “THE VERY BEST AIR PURIFIER/AIR FILTER ON THE MARKET TODAY!!!!” Yeah. Sure. 😀

I did go ahead and buy two different things to start. I didn’t want to spend the money on some high dollar purifier until I could do a bit more research (and ask for your input, of course). I don’t mind spending a chunk of money on a really good air purifier, but with all of them claiming to be the very best, it’s hard to know exactly what to get.

So for now, here’s what I got.

First up, I bought some of these Clarifion air ionizers.

These aren’t really air purifiers or air filters. They’re little gadgets that plug into outlets, and then (from my very limited understanding) they produce negative ions that attach to dust, dander, and other particles in the air, weighing them down, and bringing them to the floor where they can get vacuumed up. In other words, they’re supposed to keep that stuff from staying suspended in the air all the time so that the air is fresher.

I actually had a large version of this type of air ionizer about ten years ago, and I do think they work really well. I’ve never seen any this small, though. Hopefully these little ones will work as well as my big one used to work.

And then I bought a couple of these LabCharge ionic air purifiers, which is “THE BEST AIR PURIFIER ON THE MARKET”. 😀 I think I bought the package of three, and each is supposed to cover 250 square feet.

From what I can tell, this is pretty much the same thing as the little Clarifion ionizers. Neither of these products is what I’d really call an air purifier but hopefully it’ll give us a good start on getting our air quality issues under control.

But in my mind, for something to be an actual air purifier, it would need to have a HEPA filter through which the air is cycled and cleaned so that the filter needs to be cleaned or changed regularly. And that’s where I’d love your input if you have any experience with those. Those are pricier and larger, and if I’m going to spend hundreds of dollars on something that’s large and visible in the room, I want to make sure it actually works. I don’t want to have to cycle through several different brands before I find something that actually works well.

What are your experiences with air purifiers? Have you used one? Have you found one that you really love? And if you’ve found one that is exceptionally good for households with pets (specifically shedding cats and dogs), I’d love to hear about it!



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  1. We have had multiple HVAC contractors tell us to use the cheapest filters possible, because your furnance/AC needs airflow and the expensive ones are too thick and don’t provide enough airflow. And to change them EVERY month. So we do that. Then we have two air purifers, different brands, both work fine and are great during allergy season and a U-VC lamp (pets and people can not be in the room while it is operating, it’s UV light for sanitation. We have a giant breed white shepherd/akita and a long-haired cat. We do have a HEPA filter on the vacuum.

    1. We have had them say the same! We use a Blueair fan with filter- it’s washable. However we probably need an actual purifier too, so I’m following this thread.
      We love our robot vacuum. It was our best purchase yet this year.
      -fam of four, plus three cats and a dog.

      1. I really believe in the rumba or whatever brand you like. We have a dog and when we got the rumba, the air quality really changed. It runs every night for two cycles, empties itself when it needs to. And with all the dust created from DIY’s, this would be a life saver AND with the ionizer that makes particles fall…..they will just get picked up.

    2. My husband is an HVAC contractor. Says the same thing – buy the cheapest and change every month. Probably more often in your case because you’re creating more dust and particles from construction/projects.

      He also recommends an iWave air purifier, which will clump up the dust molecules & make them easier to catch in the filter. You can buy one on Amazon for a few hundred dollars. With your skills, you can most likely install it yourself. YouTube has some helpful videos.

      Good luck!

      1. I am going to agree 100% to this – we recently got an i-wave, and the first filter change after that, I could not believe the clumps of dust attached to the filter. We have been doing some construction in the house and had bought a Merv 13 and the HVAC contractor said exactly what everyone else is saying, those block the airflow and they are not recommended.

    3. Yup, our HVAC told us inexpensive filters, that dense filters are hard on systems, will even diminish the life expectancy of heating/cooling system.

      Good luck.

      1. Ditto on the cheap filters, and I set a monthly reminder on my iCal to remind me. I actually put a reminder in three days in a row in case I’m busy, also, consider having your ductwork professionally cleaned.

    4. My dad owns an HVAC company and he also says to use the cheapest air filters and change them monthly. This is mainly because the thicker filters makes your unit work harder which shortens its life. You also don’t want month-old dust going through your ducts because no filter can block every speck.

      During high shedding months (I have a husky who blows her coat twice a year), I have to change my filters weekly. I get the green ones at Walmart that are $4 for a pack 4 of them.

  2. A pulmonogolist told me to use Filtrate 2200 which you can get at Costco. Costco now sells their own 2200 filter. I change them about ever 2.5 months. I pets that shed.

  3. I want one, too, but am too cheap to buy one. Instead I keep buying the Filtrete filters for the furnace. I do think they help. Anyway, I follow Cole The Cornstar on YouTube, and all his family also have YouTube channels. His sister swears by the AirDoctor brand of air purifiers. They are a bit pricey and I have no personal experience. Just relaying what I saw on their channel.

  4. I’d be a little cautious believing the hype on that filter. Your air quality may not be as bad as you think it is (or as bad as the filter implies). Wondering if there is a way to test air quality independent from companies trying to sell you something. Good luck!

      1. I agree! Don’t exactly trust anyone/everyone. We have people that test the water here all the time…of course it always fails and we need lots of equipment. They sell!

  5. I wonder if you should have your duct work cleaned by a professional to get all those nastys out first? That would help your filter not get unusable so quickly. I also had a HVAC guy tell me to use the cheep filters and change them every month as those high dollar ones are too thick and makes your unit work harder making it not last as long.

    1. THIS! I was reading through the comments first before writing my own to see about getting the ducts cleaned. We had this done after living in our previous home for 10 years and whoa! – the stuff that came out was a serious OMG moment. Highly recommend doing this and then changing the filters once a month, cheap ones are fine. I’m sure the ion cleaners will help too but if that DIY dust has accumulated in the ducts it can only do so much.

    2. Yes! We just had our ducts vacuumed and it has made a HUGE difference! Two big dogs and a long haired cat only added mounds to dust and dander problems. Highly recommend doing the ducts first.

  6. I bought a Honeywell with first stage filter for particles that is quickly pulled out, shaken or vacuumed or replaced and then a large heap filter behind that. The machine is fairly large, about the size of an end table and ovoid in shape,but it has wheels so it is easily moved to whatever area it is needed (like where you are using chemicals) I’m sorry I don’t have a model for you, I’m in the middle of moving and it will be in a container somewhere.
    I bought it for a studio appt that tenants had recently left. It was about 400sq ft. They had 3 cats in that small area and where less than diligent about litter box and hair ball maintenance. I am allergic to cats and the place just reeked when they moved out. They hadn’t dusted or swept the floor in the 6 months they were there.
    My idea had been to use it as my studio but I couldn’t even breath in there. I bought the Honeywell and turned on “TURBO”, which is high on steroids. It was fairly loud on turbo but I wasn’t going to be in there while it was working (high is fine to be in the room with). So I crossed my fingers and closed the door behind me.
    Twenty-four hours later WOW! You couldn’t tell cats had been there. I was amazed. I am asthmatic and I set up my supplies in there with no problem. The floor was cement that still generated dust so I just kept it on low and it was fine.

    1. Sherry, you can mitigate the concrete dust buy cleaning it real good and then spraying or rolling on Thompson’s Water Seal. I did that with my family room. Carpet was NASTY!!! Had to go. Couldn’t afford 600 sq ft of flooring at the time. Not only did the floors but there was a fireplace brick wall 20′ x 8′ that was efflorescencing black dust. My daughter and I brushed the whole wall down and then sprayed the bricks with the Thompson’s as well. That was about 40 years ago and I haven’t had a problem since. Finally laid some vinyl over the floor but the Thompson’s really cut down on the dust.

  7. I have used the Honeywell 50250-S 99.97% Pure HEPA Round Air Purifier from Amazon for over 15 years. I have had chronic asthmatic bronchitis since about ’92.
    3 dogs in the house for years. Now 5 cats. I use this in my bedroom every night. Animals not allowed in there. I am very satisfied. My daughter lives in Pearland TX and she has cats. She was having to take breathing treatments daily due to asthma. I sent her one of these Honeywells in 2015. She has been off any treatment for asthma since about 6 mos after she got it.
    The only downside that I have a complaint about is the light it emits from the switch area. BUT . . . .I have a fix for the light! It’s called black electrical tape! I bet you have some too! There are even hacks listed in the reviews about disconnecting the LEDS! It is somewhat loud but I like the white noise.
    The HVAC unit, I’ve found, does well with a HEPA filter AND one of those 30 day cheap filters over it to catch all the big stuff.
    I still don’t know what to do about the extra cats I find under furniture and appliances. Fortunately, they don’t eat or poop anywhere! LOL

    1. I have nothing to add about filters and air purifiers – but your comment about the light on the appliance definitely struck home.

      I just bought a new stand fan for my bedroom and bought one of the tower types. The intensity of the LED light on the control panel is ridiculous – it lights up the entire room at night to the point where I cast a shadow if I get up and move around. Like you I cut some black electrical tape and that was the end of that. The only problem is that I can no longer use the remote to control it because I have obviously covered the sensor.

  8. Before spending money on an air purifier, I suggest you contact an air duct cleaner in your area. The ductwork for your HVAC has years of dust & hair, sawdust, wallboard dust, etc. You will be surprised at what you have been breathing. If the vents aren’t new, they are probably clogged in a few places. My home is 2 years old, and I had mine done this summer as I live on a busy road with trucks from a construction site plus, having been just built, I knew they had construction debris in them. I was not surprised at what they sucked out lol. Hope this helps.

    1. I second this. I just got my ducts cleaned in the spring – it was one of those things that just kept getting shoved to the back burner for years. Well, the amount of dust in my house has been drastically reduced – and I mean drastically.

  9. I’m really glad that you’re now addressing this issue, Kristi. As someone with serious chemical sensitivity and mold issues, I’ve been concerned for years about your house’s air quality and its effect on your–especially Matt’s–health, considering the years-long exposure to all the high VOC products you’re using on a regular basis (which continue to out-gas for long periods of time) and all the particulate matter you produce with your renovation work. And, on top of that, there’s that pesky cat and dog hair. 🙂

    Yes, the choices (and all the hype) for air cleaners can be overwhelming. You definitely want a top-rated machine with a good HEPA filter. While there now a number of good brands on the market, I personally have and would recommend machines made by Air Austin, IQ Air, and Airpura. Depending on what you’re looking you, there are different options for each. I would strong suggest getting a machine that specifically addresses VOC’s/chemicals, as well as being good for pet hair.

    Here are two websites that I’ve used in the past for purchases. Each provides good descriptions and information in helping to make a decision:

    For whatever reasons, IQ Air–a Swiss company that makes extremely high quality machines–is no longer being sold by these (or any?) distributors. Here is their website:

    Also, while I don’t have any personal experience with them, many people in the “mold treatment world” like Air Doctor.

    Good luck in your research and making a decision! I think it will definitely improve your health to add one (or more) machines to your home. And also consider, in the future, seeking out low- or no-VOC products for your work, when you have that option. Green Building Supply is a great source of information on alternative products you can use.

    1. Get your ducts cleaned for sure. We had a major renovation a year ago and although I cleaned meticulously after the project was completed tons of dust kept accumulating every day. It was sooooo much better after I finally got the ducts cleaned.

  10. It could be what’s in the ducts and not your home. There are probably a dozen filtration systems that work “the best” but if all the air travels through filthy ductwork it will always max out your filters almost instantly. I would imagine the ductwork has a lot of residual contaminants, pet hair, construction dust, dirt from age, etc.. This is probably something HVAC people have a lot of experience with, akin to having your chimney cleaned.

  11. For some reason my original comments didn’t post so I’ll keep this one short.
    1. Know what the max MERV rating is for your HVAC system is because high MERVs restrict air flow and can void your warranty. Per Colofil, the MERV listing is 8-9 but with the coating the actual MERV is 11.
    2. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has certified some air filters.
    3. The EPA has good info on improving air quality in your home.
    4. Putting a dust collection bag on your shop vac helps enormously.

    1. Correction, The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America certifies air purifiers as well as air filters and lots of other products as well.

    2. Blueair Blue series is recommended by Young House Love. They did not receive compensation for them, but as I understand it, they paid for them on their own and can tell when they are not in use. I have no firsthand experience with them. I was goi g to suggest air duct cleaning as well, then the correct filter, then the air purifier. I think these 3 things will help if not cure your issue.

      1. I also was going to refer her to Sherry Petersik @ younghouselove. She swears by their two systems (but they also don’t seem to have much in their home that would produce much dust/dander) and she says their sinus issues for sure improved after using them. I have been tempted by them too, as when shopping around, I checked prices on replacement filters for the units I was interested in. Some of them cost about HALF of what the units cost! The one she got has an extra “sleeve” you can purchase that traps dust before entering the unit, and that can be washed out and reused. So far I have not committed to one, I’m waiting to see what comes around for the black friday sales, if any. But I agree with the comments here, your ducts have to be super dirty considering all the projects you’ve been doing! Drywall dust and sanding dust floats around forever! We changed filters every month for 6 months after our house was built, and still had to change them often. My son in law ( a pro painter) covered our vents with dryer sheets when he was sanding the coats of paint when he painted our house, to keep the dust from being sucked in to the ducts. I had some “dust cover” fabric left from replacing under our sofa, and gave him that to use instead. It worked great at keeping the dust out but allowing air flow. You can buy it anywhere they sell upholstery fabrics. Just cut rectangles a bit larger than your vents! I’ll be interested to hear what you end up using, as we have a long haired dog and lots of Oak trees all around. The pollen and dander is driving me crazy!

  12. I have a blueair purifier. I like that it has a pre-filter that can be removed and washed. This catches a lot of pet hair and in my thinking makes the expensive filter last longer. talks a lot about this brand.

    1. In reply to this and others above:
      For what it’s worth, I purchased a blueair from Amazon (not sure what model but it was a large one around $400) and I returned it. I have a golden retriever and was told it would catch pet hair on the outer filter. I noticed no difference after several days and nary a hair on that filter.

  13. I like to check out either Better Homes and Gardens or Good Housekeeping websites as they do independent testing on different models for comparison purposes. I don’t trust Amazon ratings, plus they’re not scientifically based.

  14. I have not personally used an air purifier, but my brother and his wife have a young daughter with really serious allergies to a nber of things, including airborne allergens. The allergies and itchiness get particularly bad in the winter with their dogs being indoors more, and the drier air. They bought a portable HEPA filter system last year (I can ask which one specifically if you like), and said that they noticed a very definite improvement in terms of their daughter’s stuffiness, itchiness, and general well-being.

  15. Don’t own a purifier, but was considering the linked one, I got a number of friends who are sensitive to allergens now, and a kid. I don’t have strong cleaning habits (they are improving, because kid) This would help, incase I vacuumed like a procrastinator within a few hrs of a friend visit. Was thinking of starting with this one because it does a lot of air compared to others at a similar price plus could buy filters for a specific situation or set up a subscription.

    I’d look into what the pink is reacting to first, before jumping in whole hog. Clearly its not a reaction with a half life, but its reacting to that then focus on other areas. When I was pregnant I came across some devices that analyze the air and you can tune what you do to those results in Realtime. Nothing will get everything, but its best to focus on your prioritized needs.

    1. Also having something too test, can be pulled out during specific dust creating projects, or if you are using some strong solvents. You could adjust how you are filtering.

    2. Was curious why it reacted so fast… found this awnser in an amazon listing It reacted to the pets.
      “Our filters are not designed to filter out solvent fumes such as MEK or paint thinner. As a chemisorptive” material Colorfil specifically targets ammonia, amines such as “dead fish odor”, and other nitrogen-containing chemicals responsible for pet and other household odors. Hope this helps”, Colorfil Air Filters.
      Listing here.

  16. What proof do you have that it is the air quality that is making the filter change color? It might just be exposure to air causes the the color change, It sounds like a gimmick to me: “Hey, we found a color chemical that will change color when exposed to air! Let’s make filters with that so people will buy lots more of our filters!”

    Also, too good of a filter (one that really filters out lots of stuff) could seriously shorten your HVAC life (which I imagine is a point others are making here–haven’t had a chance to read through all of them). My nephew, an HVAC guy says what others are saying here: buy the cheapest and change it more often. Get a separate air filter/purifier to deal with the finer particulates. Hopefully folks can suggest some good ones.

  17. I have a background in science, so when I research these sorts of things, I look for reliable sources who test in a rigorous manner.

    I almost always head to Consumer Reports first. Here is an article about their best and worst air purifiers from 2022:

    Your local library will have Consumer Reports Magazine and may have Consumer Reports online available from your local branch or perhaps accessed from home through your library’s portal.

    Here’s a link to another Consumer Reports article about furnace filters.:

    It’s true that you probably need to change your air filters frequently, but the brand you bought may not be the best one for your needs.

    Please note that just because a brand is heavily advertised doesn’t mean that it does the best job. I have sometime had trouble convincing my Millennial children and their spouses that the chic, high tech brands they thing are much better ended up testing mediocre or poor (Dyson vacuums, Molekule air purifiers, Nest Protect smart smoke detectors). I show the results of Consumer Reports tests, and it is in contrast to the marketing buzz, for sure.

    Good luck in your quest to figure out the best of these things for your household.

    1. I agree. I keep a subscription to consumer reports ongoing. I like their info because they’re not partial to any particular brand. They just test to see what’s good and what’s not!!

    2. I agree with you about the new hip thing possibly not working as well. I’ve never heard of these air filters but I don’t think I’d rush out and make a huge purchase based on them alone.

    3. Yep! My daughter bought a Dyson (after criticizing me years before for buying a Kirby!) and after about a year, I asked her how she liked it. She admitted that it was great at first, but like all the vacuums I’ve ever owned (many!) most lose the ability to continue optimum performance after a while, especially if you have pets. And we have ALWAYS had pets! She has had her Dyson reconditioned several times, due to how much it cost her to buy another. Now she has two long haired dogs and can barely keep up with the fur flying!

  18. Blue air purifiers from Amazon are fantastic! I have a condition where I have allergic-typenr eactions to almost anything and since we moved last spring I’ve had a super hard time in our house. These things make it so I can actually be in our house. We had insulation blown into our attic and I reacted to the smell of that and the safest place in our house was our bedroom because I could shut the door and have one of the big air purifiers running. We have 3 bigger ones and have them set up throughout the house. I also have a smaller levoit one that also works. We traveled with it during our move and it made me able to stay in a hotel with a strong citrus smell in the hallways. I set it up near the door to our room and it kept the smell at bay all night long. Here’s the blue air ones:
    The levoit one: https: //

    The levoit one I don’t think works as well as the blue air ones but it still helps.

  19. I think before you are concerned about the filter changing so quickly or purchase a lot of products, you should get your vents professionally cleaned. You’ve been putting a lot of gunk in them for over a decade, plus have had various parts of your house exposed to the outside (gym floor). I’m sure that filter changed so quickly bc of all the stuff already lying around in the vents themselves. Since you’ve already gotten the ionizers and they will help drop particles to the floor where the robot can get them, I personally would get a small air filter for the bedroom, get the vents cleaned, and then leave it all until you are finished sawing and sanding anywhere in the house. Then get the vents cleaned again and at that point, look at a whole house system that works through your hvac. It will be pricey but worthwhile since it’s your forever home and bc of Matt’s health issues. Also, no matter what solution you chose, be sure your workshop isn’t connected to the rest of the house or it will all be for nothing.

  20. Our HVAC guy is a long time friend of ours and he told us when we were going through our renovation to change the filters more frequently and then to change them weekly for about a month when the construction was done.

  21. May I encourage you to not only have your ductwork cleaned, but also have it sealed. My home was built in 1965 and while intact, time and gravity had pulled on our ducting in the attic. We were experiencing a lot of dust and the HVAC unit seemed to not keep up with demands in the hottest part of the summer. We had the ducts cleaned and then sealed and the difference was unbelievable. We were told we would most likely have to cut a second return air opening due to the change in demand of airflow once the ducts were sealed. He wasn’t kidding – we cut a second 25×25 opening before the contractor left. The force of air from the vents pretty much doubled. The air quality also improved due to the ductwork being cleaned and sealed and the dust levels reduced. It was one of the most important improvements we’ve done to our house and the list is long of what we’ve updated. I can’t offer filter/purifier suggestions, but I can speak from experience that tidying up the ducts is a huge payoff. Best of luck.

  22. One thing that has helped us is putting one in each bedroom. It helps me breathe better at night and consequently sleep better. I have a dog and live in the worst city in the country for allergies, so we are all congested all the time. I can tell when i don’t have it on, I am even more congested. The brand I have is a levoit, but I haven’t used other brands so I don’t have a comparison.

    These are amazing, I bought o e after I was at my sisters host and commented how nice the air was and she has 2 cats and she pointed out her purifier. Ran one for years and the see it on sale earlier this year and bought 2 more. It’s also been the wirecutter pick for some time and they do extensive testing. I love them and my Dyson cordless vacuum that I use every day (I have a dog and a cat). Also installing whole house humidifier was a game changer for air comfort in the winter. I’ve considered getting ducts cleaned but also heard the companies aren’t great and it’s something of a scan so I haven’t pulled the trigger. Same with a central uv light in the hvac, but still considering both.

    1. But I don’t turn on the ion setting on the Coways because I’ve read ionized air and the ozone it creates can be bad/irritating and when I had it on I didn’t like it. They still work wonders!