In this article: We'll review our selection of best air purifiers for your car, including HEPA filtrated, ionic and more! If you want a quality product to clean and remove odors from the interior of your car, you're in the right place.
- Best Overall Car Air Purifier: Westinghouse 1804
- Best Ionic Car Air Purifier: Airdog V5
- Best Portable Car Air Purifier: LG PuriCare Mini
- Best Budget Car Air Purifier: Pure Enrichment PureZone
- Best Car Air Purifier with HEPA Filtration: QUEENTY HEPA Car
- Best Plug-In Car Purifier: Craftronic NanoActive
- Car Air Purifier Types
The air in your car is probably much dirtier than you realize. Even if you regularly change your cabin air filter, there are tons of pollutants that cause odors and leave stains coming in through open windows, tracked in on the paws of your dog, dander and spread around on your seats from clothing and fast food. Car odors are even worse when you are a smoker. Toxins and harmful chemicals in smoke cause lingering odors that are difficult to get rid of.
A simple solution to removing bad smells and cleaning the air in your car is to use one of our best pick air purifiers. These products use one of several types of filtration to remove particles from the air, neutralize odors, and provide you with clean air in your car. Instead of masking odors with an air freshener that you need to change every few weeks, an air freshener will remove them for a long-lasting, fresh smelling interior.
There are quite a few different types of products available that promise to purify the air in your car, but many of them are more gimmicks than they are functioning products. When we put together this list of products, we did extensive research to separate the products that work well from those that are a waste of money. These car air purifiers are great options that you can use every day to keep your car smelling clean.
We’ve identified a couple different designs that will work in different situations. Each of the air purifiers we found have unique features that make them practical for a variety of situations, but all will work well to help purify the air in your car.
Best Overall Car Air Purifier
- Three-stage HEPA filtration
- Patented NCCO reactor
- Quiet fan
- Replaceable filter
- Rechargeable lithium ion battery
- Eight hour run-time
Westinghouse 1084 Quick Review
The Westinghouse 1804 portable air purifier is our best pick portable air purifier for your car. It works as good as it looks, and you’d never guess it was an air purifier by glancing at it. The 1804 uses a patented Nano Contained Catalytic Oxidation (NCCO) filtration system to eliminate pollen, dust, dander, and even germs and viruses from your car. It’ll even breakdown VOCs like Formaldehyde.
A three-stage HEPA filtration system works with the NCCO reactor assembly with air being drawn through the unit by a quiet and efficient fan. The HEPA filter is replaceable so you can ensure that your air purifier works at its best.
This one is portable, so it uses a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery that plugs in with a standard USB. The battery will operate the air purifier for 8 hours on low. It is designed for purifying spaces around 150 square feet, so it is more than adequate for cleaning the air in your car, SUV, or minivan.
Why We Like It
This air purifier looks like a bag or a fashion accessory, not like an air purifier. The design is available in four colors and the unit has a braided leather carry handle. The thing that really sells this purifier is the efficiency of the HEPA filter and the NCCO reactor. Unlike most purifiers that simply trap particles, the 1804 actively eliminates particles, odors, and germs. The filtration system works very well, and the unit is quiet making it an ideal travel companion that is perfect for use in the office, car, or at home. If you’re looking for clean, purified air, this is one of the best choices on the market.
- Adorable design doesn’t look like a purifier
- High-efficiency HEPA filter with reactor tech that eliminates odors
- Works perfectly for keeping the air in your car super clean
- Filter replacement is an additional expense
- Might be too cute for some people
Best Ionic Car Air Purifier
- Ionic cleaning plates remove 99.9-percent of dust and pollen
- Easy to clean design with no filter to replace
- Powerful fan allows it to move a large volume of air quickly
- Powered by USB cable
- Designed for in-car use
- Professionally tested and certified in China
Airdog V5 Quick Review
The Airdog V5 is one of the only products out there designed and built specifically to work in an automotive environment. It is a brand-new entrant onto the market, but the unique technology it promises makes it one of the best options out there. It is so efficient that it will stop particles as small as .01 microns.
Most air purifiers use a filter to trap particles, but the V5 goes about filtering your air in a different way. Instead, it uses ionic charges to trap particles on metal plates. Rather than buying replacement filters at a high cost, you simply wash the plates clean. A sensor monitors how dirty the plates are and provides a notification when it is time to clean them. Best of all, it’s a simple process to remove the plates, clean and reinstall.
A three-speed fan moves air over the plates and offers manual control of fan speed to keep the volume down. At high speed, the fan produces 52 db but only 35 db at low speed. Due to the use of ionic cleaning, the air that exits is free of dust, pollen, mold, and viruses.
Why We Like It
There are lots of things to like with this one. We particularly like that it is designed and built for in-car use. The ionic plates are far superior to filters and can eliminate everything from mold to Covid while removing 99.9-percent of dust particles, germs, and nearly 90-percent of formaldehyde. It blends in well with modern car interior styles. It also works great for on-the-go air purifying in the home or around the office.
- Perfect solution to SUVs and minivans that require a larger air flow to clean
- Cleaning is simply a matter of wiping the plates clean, no filters to change
- Eliminates germs, odors, and mold spores from the air efficiently
- Not readily available yet
- May be too loud for some drivers
Best Portable Car Air Purifier
- Small physical size
- Weights 1.2 lbs
- Operates at 30 db
- Dual-stage replaceable filter
- Captures particles as small as 0.3 microns
- Bluetooth app enabled
LG PuriCare Mini Quick Review
The LG Puricare is a superior quality portable air purifier. And when we say it’s portable, we mean it. This little device measures in at 4-inches by 4-inches by nine-inches. It’s convenient for storing in the glove box, under the seat, or simply in your gym bag. For its size, it moves an impressive amount of air too. It uses a double-sided filter that offers a super fine particle filter on one side and an allergen filter on the other.
The Puricare has one truly interesting feature that’s a big differentiator – it connects to an app that allows you to wirelessly control the purifier, change settings, and reset the filter alarm conveniently. This is a great way to get reminders about when it is time to clean and replace filters. It even tells you things like the air quality, battery level and more in real time.
The Puricare operates at around 30 db which is about the sound of a whisper. And since size matters when it comes to air flow, LG uses dual inverter motors and twin tornado fans to generate a cyclone effect that pulls dirty air through the filters at high speed.
Why We Like It
This is the ideal portable companion. It isn’t super-powerful, so it isn’t going to clean the air in your dorm room, but it’ll definitely work well to freshen up your car. Because of the tiny size, you can tuck it away in the car and use it when you need it. It’s quiet, the battery lasts a full eight hours, and it doesn’t look like you are hooking up a science experiment like some products.
- Super small design that is ideal for having in the car all the time
- The app feature is a convenient way to control the purifier on the go and look at cool insights about the air quality
- Small size limits air-flow efficiency
- Replacement filters are hard to find
Best Budget Car Air Purifier
- Two-stage HEPA filtration
- Three-speed fan
- Simple construction
- Works in two directions
- Built-in lithium battery with USB charging
- Runs for up to 12 hours per charge
- Weighs less than one pound
Pure Enrichment PureZone Quick Review
This is another excellent portable design that we love. This purifier uses a two-stage HEPA filter to block 99.7-percent of airborne particles including dander, hair, dust, and pollen. The purifier’s design is a simple one – a barrel-type design with a twist-off base that houses the filter. The purifier can be used upright or on its side when operating.
A rechargeable lithium-ion battery makes it easy to use this purifier in your car but also elsewhere. It will run for as long as 12 hours on a single charge on low, making it a great choice for leaving in your car overnight or while you are at work.
The purifier has a three-speed fan and a simple-to-use on/off button that makes it a convenient choice for both larger vehicles that require more air flow, or smaller cars that may not need so much.
Why We Like It
This is a simple, cost-effective way to help cut down on smoke, pet hair, and pollen in your car and at your desk. We like the simple construction and the ease of use which make this air purifier easy to use and maintain. The ability to lay it on its side or stand it up makes it convenient and is a great way to put a blast of clean air right where you want it.
- Lightweight design is easy to carry in the car
- A good choice when you want a directed stream of purified air
- HEPA filtration
- Low cost option
- Not as good at filtering very small dust particles as some designs
- Might struggle in large spaces like a Suburban
Best Budget Car Air Purifier with HEPA Filtration
- Three-stage HEPA filtration with Activated Charcoal filter
- Three-speed fan
- Illuminates with LED
- Includes two-port car charger
QUEENTY HEPA Car Quick Review
Let's get the obvious out of the way – at first glance, this thing looks like an Dyson air purifier for your car’s dash. Since it isn’t hiding what it is meant to be, you can expect it to do a good job. What you’ll find with this QUEENTY purifier is an advanced three-stage HEPA filter along with an activated charcoal filter to eliminate 99.7-percent of pollutants from the air.
The purifier is intended to rest on the dash against the windshield or against the rear window. It uses a fan to draw air through the filter and back into the cabin to remove dust, pollen, smoke, and funky smells. It includes a two-port car charger that lets you change your phone while powering the purifier!
Just for fun, the air purifier has LED lights that add a gentle blue light.
Why We Like It
This air purifier doesn’t hide behind a plastic cover. It’s bold and in your face, but it also does a great job of filtering the air in your car. The three-stage HEPA filter offers superior protection and will rid the interior of your car of smells, pollutants, smoke, and pollen. The addition of an activated charcoal filter helps to further clean the air and detoxify your environment.
- Quality HEPA filtration system that does a good job removing smells
- Simple plug-and-play operation
- Far from the most attractive option on this list
- May be a safety hazard if used while driving while it’s on the dash
Best Plug-In Car Purifier
- Plug-and-play operation
- Emits 5.6 million negative ions per cubic centimeter
- Dual USB charging ports
- Pleasant blue light
Craftronic NanoActive Car Quick Review
This little plug-in device doesn’t seem like it’s capable of doing much but don’t underestimate it at your own folly. This simple design puts out surprising levels of ionized air. It’s designed to be plugged into your accessory socket or cigarette lighter and emits 5.6 million negative ion atoms per cubic cm that attach to particulates in the air, making it easier for the cabin air filter to trap them when you turn your A/C or heat on.
Dual USB quick charge 2.0 ports are included on the body of the purifier so you can keep your phone charged or power a dash cam or other accessory. It emits a soft blue glow when plugged in.
Why We Like It
When it comes to simple things, we are big fans, and this is an excellent option for people who enjoy the simple things as much as we do. There is nothing more to do than plug it in and it will begin to emit negative ions. It will take time before you notice the difference, but you will notice cleaner air. It’s designed to shut off with the car without draining the battery, a feature we like.
- Ideal way to help clean your car without a bulky purifier
- Works best over long-distance drives
- Blue light can be distracting
- Won’t make much difference for drivers with short commutes and don’t run their A/C or heat.
- Requires a vehicle with a (clean) cabin filter to really be effective
Car Air Purifier Types
There are two main types of air purifiers in use on the market – HEPA filters and ionic filters. The major difference between the two is that an ionic filter will trap material on plates while a HEPA filter will use a filter to trap particles. HEPA filters are more common and are readily available for a low cost, making them a popular option for many lower cost designs. The low cost doesn’t mean they are poor quality, but you should always select a HEPA filter designed to filter the smallest possible particles.
Ionic filters are less common because of the cost and the wide-spread use of HEPA filter systems. They do offer some distinct advantages. Ionic purifiers do not use a filter, so you never have to buy a replacement. Not only is this a money savings, but many air filter replacements can also be difficult to find. Ionic filters are often quieter than HEPA designs since there is less restriction to the air flow.
Ionic filters do require cleaning, so that means pulling the plates and wiping them off. This isn’t typically a big deal and most ionic filters will have some type of light or notification to indicate the plates need to be cleaned.
The biggest downside to the use of an ionic filter in your car is what makes it effective. Ionic purifiers work by electrically charging metal plates which emit ozone. Ozone is three oxygen atoms, and it is considered a pollutant. However, when ozone encounters other elements, it bonds and makes those things heavier and easier for cabin air filters to capture. The process kills most living cells like germs, bacteria, and mold spores. People who have a compromised respiratory system should avoid ionic filters.
HEPA filters are superior for removing harmful particles from the air in almost all cases. Ionic air purifiers are most effective when dealing with tobacco smoke and will do the best job if you regularly clean the surfaces of your car. This is because ionic cleaners can cause particles to drop onto the surfaces of your car, into your carpet, and all over the place.
If you have asthma, COPD, or other respiratory illnesses, a HEPA filter is your best option, even though the filters will need to be replaced every few months. A HEPA filter is proven to reduce airborne causes of allergies and to reduce the smoke, dust, and small particulates in the air. We aren’t doctors here though, so if you have an underlying condition that may be affected by air quality, run some of our options by your doctor.
Generally, HEPA filters will not leave an odor in your car. Ionic purifiers may leave a trace scent of ozone. The scent is not unpleasant to most people and smells clean. The smell is more pronounced with products that produce a lot of ozone when used over long periods of time without cycling the air in the car.
Tips for Getting the Most from an Air Purifier
Even the best air purifier isn’t going to remove horrible smells from your car. One of the best ways you can get the most out of an air purifier is to keep your car clean. You don't have to be a neat freak, but periodically cleaning the seats, carpets, dash, and other surfaces of your car will go a long way to preventing bad smells from becoming a permanent fixture.
Cleaning up food and beverage spills as quickly as possible is important because these products can seep through the surface into underlayment layers where the odors can become very difficult to remove.
Even the best air purifier will require some time to pull enough of the air through the filter to make a significant difference. If you only drive short distances, you won’t experience much of a difference if you notice anything at all.
Change your cabin filter regularly. This is one of the most overlooked maintenance items in the automotive industry, and it is one of the easiest things to change yourself. Most of the time, the filter is easy to reach and affordable. If you have an option to install a HEPA filter in your cabin air filter, it can significantly cut down on the dirt that comes into your car.
Our top pick from Westinghouse is a nice-looking and effective product that we think you’ll get the most use out of. Using an air purifier in your car can help to reduce symptoms of allergies and asthma, and it can improve the smell in your car. Healthier air in your car will improve your overall lung health and might even help keep you from getting sick.
The products we picked are all high-quality and work for different functions. You’ll have good success with any of these products that are on this list.