Some air purifiers use disposable filters, other use reusable (washable or permanent) filters. Deciding between the two is actually a lot more than just a matter of personal preference. In today’s guide, we’re going to go over five of the best air purifiers with washable filters that you can get your hands on, and if you stick around, we’ll go into detail on what washable filters are and how you can benefit from them.
Air Purifiers With Washable Filters Compared
Best Air Purifiers with Washable Filters
1. Winix 5500-2 (Best In Filter Efficiency)
- 3-stage filtration with True HEPA Filter
- PlasmaWave Ionizer
- Air Quality Sensors
The first item on our list is the Winix 5500-2, a highly popular, highly advanced unit that comes with all of the bells and whistles you could ever hope to get in an air purifier.
Inside of its appealing black casing is a three-stage filtration setup. The first line of defense against airborne pollutants is a washable carbon filter that traps odor molecules and larger debris. Next is none other than a True HEPA Filter that has the ability to trap of 0.3 microns and larger up to 99.97% of the time.
The third and final filtration stage is PlasmaWave Technology, also known as an ionizer. This system releases a harmless electrical charge into the air that makes dust adhere to the filters. This optional ionizer doesn’t produce ozone per Winix’s claims, but users should only use it in tandem with the timer and when nobody is at home.
To sweeten the deal even more, Winix installed a smart sensor system into the 5500-2 that constantly monitors the concentration of airborne contaminants in a room. Upon reaching a certain concentration level, the motor will automatically kick into gear by selecting the most appropriate fan speed to remove the contaminants as quickly as possible. Essentially, you can set the 5500-2 up and forget about it until you need to wash the carbon filter or replace the HEPA filter.
- Smart sensors mean ultra-convenience
- 3-stage cleaning offers excellent cleaning performance
- 360 square feet of coverage
- A bit pricey
2. Honeywell Quiet Clean (Most Durable)
- 3 speeds
- HEPA-style filter
In appearance, the Honeywell Quiet Clean couldn’t look any more different than the Winix 5500-2, but don’t be fooled by its looks. There’s actually a lot more to this three-speed, dual-stage air purifier than meets the eye
This air purifier works optimally in smaller spaces of up to 170 square feet—around the average size of a bedroom or home office. The Honeywell can cycle through the air of a room up to five times every hour, ensuring most particles are snatched out of the air. Granted, this isn’t the largest of air purifiers, but for dorms, apartments, and single rooms, anything more might be overkill.
While the Honeywell doesn’t come with a True HEPA Filter, it does feature a HEPA-style filter that removes up to 99% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns in size. The washable HEPA-style filter needs to be unclogged roughly once a week to maintain optimal purifying performance. As for the pre-filter for VOC and odor removal, a quick rinse every week will bring it life anew.
One problem many people have with air purifiers is finding the ideal placement for the unit. Thankfully, this isn’t a problem with the Honeywell. Its air intake is located at the back while it shoots filtered air forward. In addition, this unit oscillates on its stand to promote better circulation across rooms while also allowing enhanced air intake from the rear.
- Awesome bang for buck
- Oscillation leads to better air circulation
- Permanent pre-filter never needs to be replaced
- Only 170-square-foot reach
3. Envion Ionic Pro Platinum (Best For Large Rooms)
- 500-square-foot coverage
- Permanent filter
- Virtually noiseless
Next, we have a brand that makes two appearances on our list. The first of which is the Envion Ionic Pro Platinum, another tower-style air purifier like the Honeywell but with a larger motor, larger fan, and farther reach. For extremely spacious areas (living rooms AND kitchens, for instance), the Ionic Pro Platinum might be for you.
This Envion air purifier is built to filter the air of rooms of up to 500 square feet. Granted, that’s not the widest reach of all air purifiers on the market, but on our list of the best air purifiers with washable filters, it is. Plus, it does it with an air change rate of three times every hour. This goes to show that powerful motors don’t always come in beefy packages.
As for the device’s filtration setup, apart from its forever-lasting washable filter, it also comes with a unique Oxygen Plus filter that converts harmful ozone into regular, breathable oxygen; as well as a germicidal chamber that traps and kills bacteria on contact.
And best of all, the Envion Ionic Pro Platinum does its job with hardly any noise. The fan, even at its highest speed, produces very little noise which ends up being drowned out by ambient household sounds. There aren’t a lot of tower-style air purifiers that can do that!
- Amazing 3-stage filtration system
- As quiet as a mouse
- 500-square-foot purifying capacity
- Does not remove odors as effectively as other air purifiers
4. Hamilton Beach TrueAir (Most Affordable)
- Simple one-stage filtration
- Easy to maintain HEPA filter
- Extremely compact
Next up, we have the Hamilton Beach TrueAir, a sleek air purifier that comes in either black or white. The TrueAir’s design allows users to sit it vertically or flip it horizontally to save space on desks or on the floor. This air purifier is also as quiet as a bug but as reliable as they come.
The compact TrueAir hardly leaves a footprint but at the expense of cleaning capacity. At most, this device is rated for 160-square-foot rooms, making it ineffective for most living rooms, kitchens, and workshop garages. As for use in bedrooms, it’s unquestionably one of the better air purifiers we’ve laid our eyes on.
The TrueAir is a one-stage filtration air purifier so don’t expect an ionizer or germicidal UV light to come shooting out of the device. However, it comes with a permanent HEPA-grade filter with a 99% effectiveness rating against particles of 3 microns and larger. This is perfect for pet owners for trapping hair and getting rid of dust mites.
Maintaining the HEPA filter is an effortless task involving the removal of the back cover and vacuuming the filter clean. A dust brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner will help remove debris from the ridges to ensure maximum cleaning efficiency when the device is turned back on. This process needs to be repeated at least once every week.
- Space-saving design
- Great for bedrooms, dorms, or other small spaces
- Easy-to-maintain HEPA-grade filter
- Not very usable outside of the bedroom
5. Envion Therapure TTP 620t
- HEPA-style filter
- Ionizer and UV-C light
- 24-hour programmable timer
Last but not least, we have the Therapure TTP 620—another of Envion’s ingenious air purifier models. Like many of the other air purifiers on our list, the Therapure is a tower-style unit that stands roughly 30 inches tall and has a maximum reach of 350 square feet. This is also one of the most energy-efficient units, so not only do you save money on filters (vacuum-cleanable permanent filter), but you also save on power costs.
Inside of the Therapure is a HEPA-style filter that snatches and retains particles as small as 0.3 microns in size up to 99% of the time. For those who suffer from seasonal or dust allergies, this and other similar HEPA-style filters are what you need. The filter needs to be cleaned of debris once every two to three weeks depending on how frequent and how long it runs regularly.
The HEPA-style filter is only one-third of its overall filtration system. The other two lines of defense are a germicidal UV-C light that deconstructs the DNA of germs and bacteria at a cellular level, and an optional ionizer. Both of these features product ozone so make sure they’re activated together with the timer and in empty rooms or homes.
Similar to the other Envion air purifier, the Therapure does not have air-quality sensors or an auto-cleaning mode, but the comprehensive control panel and programmable timer (up to 24 hours) should make it easy to use this unit.
- 350-square-foot reach for small, medium, and large spaces
- Triple-filtration action with germicidal UV-C
- Intuitive control panel
- Short UV-C bulb lifespan
After looking at what we deem to be the best air purifiers with washable filters, hopefully, we all have a basic understanding of what to look for. However, if you’re a true air purifier newbie, this guide on air purifiers with washable filters should hopefully clear any and all misconceptions and misunderstandings.
Permanent vs Washable Filters – Are They Similar?
If you read the brief reviews of the products on our best-of list above, you may have noticed that we used either washable or permanent to describe their filters. Permanent and washable filters are vastly different, so try not to make the mistake of choosing one when you intended to get the other.
A permanent filter is a filter that is set in place inside of the air purifier. It is non-removable and can only be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner. They are typically made of a material similar to cardboard and will lose its integrity upon contact with moisture. Do NOT attempt to clean these filters with anything other than pure suction from a vacuum cleaner. The main benefit of permanent filters is that you never need to purchase replacement filters ever.
As for washable filters, they’re almost the polar opposite. Washable filters are spongier in texture and can be detached from the air purifier. Their “washable” label indicates that they are safe to clean using water from a faucet; just make sure the filter is wrung and left to dry completely before reinstalling inside of the device. Furthermore, regardless of how careful you are, the washing process will ruin the sponginess of the filter, and you’ll eventually need to find a replacement. Thankfully, you’ll only need to this once five years!
Pros & Cons of Washable Filters
There are two sides to every story, even in the case of washable filters. Here, we’ll quickly go over the pros and cons of washable filters to help you in making an educated purchase decision.
Pros of Washable Filters
Keep your town’s landfill cleaner by reusing your filter for several years. Replacements are needed only when the filter is ripped or cannot stand on its own.
Due to their long lifespans, you won’t need to purchase replacement filters as frequently as you would with an air purifier that comes with a non-washable filter. This is also a huge plus for those whose local retailers don’t carry the specific make and model of their filter.
The obvious benefit of washable filters is saving money in the long run. Each filter can last up to five years or more with regular cleaning.
Cons of Washable Filters
- Limited lifespan
Even though you won’t need to frequently purchase replacement filters, this doesn’t mean you should avoid replacing them entirely. They have a limited lifespan, and if you continue using the same filter beyond its recommended replacement date, you’re putting you and your family at risk of inhaling decomposed filter material.
- Gradual loss of effectiveness
The washing and drying process can cause the sponge material to compress in certain spots or create large gaps in other areas. This either restricts airflow to nonexistent levels or allows the largest of airborne particles to pass through freely.
- Possible mold and mildew growth
If you fail to give the filter enough time to dry after a wash-and-rinse cycle, mold and mildew can grow right on the filter, and if it’s not a True HEPA Filter (0.3-micron filtration), they can easily become dislodged and go airborne as soon as the air purifier’s fan kicks in.
What Should You Consider When Choosing an Air Purifier
In this section, we’ll go over the various features and specs that you need to consider before settling on a particular air purifier model.
1. Coverage Capacity
Though the appearance of the air purifier is what may draw you toward it, the much more important consideration to make is how far and wide the device can clean. Take a look at the unit’s coverage capacity (typically in square feet or square meters) and compare it to the size of the room where you intend on placing it. The air purifier should have at least as wide a coverage capacity as the dimensions of the room, though we’d recommend going slightly higher for added versatility.
How much floor space or desk space can you dedicate to your new air purifier? All of the models on our top-5 list are tiny and easy to move from room to room, but not all air purifiers are designed with being compact in mind. Although there are exceptions, the size of the unit can also serve as an indicator of how wide an area the device can handle on its own.
3. Filter Type
By filter type, we’re referring to a) the kinds of filters are installed inside of the unit (True HEPA, HEPA-style, HEPA-grade, non-HEPA, carbon, etc.) as well as whether it’s a permanent, washable, or non-washable filter (discussing of permanent vs. washable filters found in an earlier section).
As you can see from the reviews of the top 5 best air purifiers with washable filters, HEPA does not always mean the same thing. The best of the best is True HEPA with a 99.97% effectiveness on particles as small as 0.3 microns, whereas HEPA-style or -grade generally means 99% reliability against contaminants of 3 microns or larger.
If you suffer from pet or seasonal allergies, True HEPA Filters are your best option, whereas HEPA-style and HEPA-grade are great for general, everyday use.
4. Ionizer and UV-C
Ionizers and UV-C beams are optional filtration systems that enhance the device’s overall cleaning performance. They’re not found in every air purifier, and you may not even need them, but it never hurts to have an extra set of weapons for better airborne contaminant removal.
Ionizers deliver a safe electric charge on all particles within a limited radius which allows them to adhere to the device’s onboard filters. UV-C beams are lights that kill bacteria and germs by deconstructing their DNA. It sounds harsh, and it is, but it’s also super-effective!
Both of these systems produce ozone—a lung-irritant when exposed to large quantities regularly. Ozone can stay active in a room for between 30 minutes and 4 hours before reverting to regular O2. These systems should never be activated in a room/apartment/dorm with a person or animal inside.
5. Air Quality Sensors
Built-in air quality sensors eliminate the need to manually tamper with the air purifier’s buttons or dials. Upon reaching a certain concentration, the sensors will instruct the air purifier to kick its motor and fans into gear to remove the contaminants as efficiently as possible. The only time you’ll ever need to lay hands on an air purifier with air quality sensors is when you need to replace/wash/vacuum the filter(s).
6. CADR and ACH Ratings
Cubic Air Delivery Rate (CADR) and Air Change per Hour (ACH) figures can give a clear indication of how well the unit performs within its maximum coverage area. However, manufacturers aren’t required to put their models through a CADR test, and more often than not, CADR tests can be misleading since super-fine HEPA filters actually inhibit airflow.
As for ACH, this rating tells you how many times the air purifier can clean and circulate the air every 60 minutes. The higher the ACH rating, the more efficient the air purifier is. Generally speaking, a higher ACH figure is ideal, though the number goes down in air purifiers built for larger rooms.
Now let’s spend some time answering some of the most frequently asked questions people have regarding air purifiers.
1. Are washable air purifiers good?
Absolutely! There’s no reason to doubt the effectiveness of a washable or permanent filter, as long as the owner cleans and/or replaces the filter regularly. Take a look at the air purifier’s paperwork to see the maximum lifespan of its filters.
2. Does it matter which way you put an air filter in?
Yes, it does. If the air filter is installed incorrectly, air either passes undisturbed and unfiltered through the air purifier, or airflow is inhibited to such a level that the device becomes completely ineffective. The air purifier’s filters should indicate which direction they go inside of the unit. Make sure to look for the arrow or guide after allowing the washable filter to dry thoroughly.
3. Are washable filters worth it?
They can be depending on what you need an air purifier for. A brand-new washable True HEPA Filters are less effective at trapping viruses and bacteria compared to their disposable counterparts. However, the main benefit is the overall savings you can get overtime compared to disposable filters. Is saving a couple of hundred dollars over five years more important to you than better filtration?
4. Where should I place my air purifier?
The ideal placement depends on the style and size of the unit. It’s widely believed that air purifiers generally work best when placed in the middle of a room to allow for maximum in-and-out airflow while also promoting more even air distribution. If this is not possible due to the layout of your living room’s furniture, then placing the unit in a corner is the next best thing.
5. How do I know my air purifier is working?
It would be nice if we could see strands of pet hair flying across the room and being sucked into the air purifier, but sadly, this is not the case. The only surefire way to determine whether your air purifier is doing what it should is by opening the case and taking a look at the filters and seeing how much debris is trapped. Even then, if the air in your room wasn’t particularly dirty, to begin with, you may not find a satisfying amount of and debris stuck in the filters.