Best Car Air Purifiers (2023 Guide)


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Jan 08, 2024

Best Car Air Purifiers (2023 Guide)

Reviewed By: Charles Noyes

Reviewed By: Charles Noyes

A high-grade portable purifier with advanced filtration.

A lightweight air purifier that can go nearly anywhere.

A car air purifier that filters through ionization.

A compact car air purifier with a high air turnover rate.

A car air purifier that naturally produces fresh air.

After transporting your pets and storing workout gear, your car might start to lose its freshness. Car air purifiers mitigate pollutants, irritants, and allergens by eliminating the particles that cause odors to stick around. These devices also improve air quality to help those with respiratory diseases such as asthma breathe better. Unlike air fresheners, the best air purifiers for cars do not merely cover up odors and actively work for months at a time.

Our review team has rated our top picks for the best car air purifiers on the market to help keep your vehicle clean. We’ve tested each purifier for its ease of use, portability, and more to inform you of its benefits.

The car air purifiers in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching Amazon and Advance Auto Parts for top products, looking at factors like Prime shipping eligibility, customer ratings, Amazon superlatives, and prices.

The five car air purifiers that best met these standards were ordered by our team for testing. A team member tested each product on a car, taking note of how well each air purifier fit in our testing vehicle, how long it took to achieve noticeably cleaner air, the amount of noise it produced, and its portability. Each air purifier was given a rating out of 5 stars based on this criteria.

Our review team assembled and activated each car air purifier according to the manufacturer's instructions. Each car air purifier was left in our testing vehicle, a 2014 Honda Civic SE sedan, for an eight-hour period. After each purifier was given its chance to sit in our testing vehicle, we determined how well it cleaned the air.

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.

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With its sleek design and simple interface, the IQAir Atem is our review team's top choice for the best car air purifier. Its centrifugal fan is surrounded by a combined particle and gas filtration system that absorbs more harmful airborne impurities than any of the filters in our roundup.

The Atem purifier has a Global Innovations Award from the International Homes and Housewares Show, one of the leading displays of advancements in home technologies. Not only does this purifier extract bad odors, but also eliminates contaminants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, benzene, formaldehyde, soot, pollen, and bacteria from the air.

Setting the Atem in our testing vehicle took very little effort thanks to the detailed instructions provided by IQAir. Although IQAir claims the Atem is portable, it was much larger than the other purifiers that we tested and more difficult to transport.

The Atem produced very little noise even when operating at maximum power. After leaving the Atem in our testing vehicle, there was a noticeably positive difference in the way our car smelled.

With over 130 reviews on Amazon, the IQAir Atem has an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Close to 75 percent of reviewers leave a 5-star rating.

Many top reviews commend how easy the Atem is to install and how well it works to keep vehicles clean in high pollution areas such as Los Angeles. Some suggest hanging it from a second- or third-row headset to conserve space. One complaint by a few customers regards IQAir's customer service, claiming they are unresponsive.

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Thanks to its innovative handle, the Pure Enrichment PureZone is one of the best air purifiers for on-the-go use. Its activated carbon pre-filter works alongside its True HEPA filter for two-stage air purification to keep the air clean.

This purifier has adjustable low, medium, and high fan speed settings. Users don't have to worry about the PureZone's longevity since its rechargeable lithium-ion battery offers up to 12.0 hours of active filtration.

The only setup required by our team members for the PureZone was to attach its removable handle and find a spot in our testing vehicle to place it. Luckily, this purifier is small enough to fit comfortably in a cup holder. Its adjustable handle and compact build allow the PureZone to slip into a backpack or purse unnoticed.

When running at low or medium power, the PureZone produced almost no noise. However, it started to hum when run at full power. Although we noticed a difference in our vehicle's air quality, this personal air purifier took longer than the others in our review to achieve this.

Customer reviews for the PureZone on Amazon are generally positive. It has an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars from close to 8,300 reviews. While some customers commend how well the PureZone cleans small to medium-sized rooms, others criticize it for being too loud.

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Instead of using a filter, the Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier And Ionizer eliminates dust, pollen, and other contaminants from the air. It achieves this by releasing negative ions that ground or remove harmful microns. This allows users to plug in their device and forget that it's even there.

Unlike most car air purifiers, this ionizer doesn't require any filter replacements. Aside from creating clean air, the Twinkle Birds ionizer is equipped with dual USB ports to charge other electronics such as smartphones.

Because of its plug-and-play build, installing this device takes very little effort. However, this air ionizer can only be activated in vehicles.

Even when operating at full power, our review team found that the Twinkle Birds device emitted almost no sound. It took longer than expected to clean our testing vehicle but was able to steadily maintain this cleanliness.

Reviews for the Twinkle Birds Ionizer are generally positive, as it has an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon after 2,000 ratings from customers. Slightly over half of reviewers leave 5-star ratings.

Customers say this ionizer is ideal for removing the smell of cigarette smoke from vehicles. Many customers also like how this device doubles as a car charger. A few negative comments target the Twinkle Bird Ionizer's effectiveness, stating it takes at least a few days to notice its results.

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The Wynd Essential car air purifier can purify up to 8.0 liters of air per second. Its medical-grade filter traps harmful airborne particles and can be used for up to six months between replacements.

One of this gadget's most useful functions is its integration with the Wynd app. Through the app, users can monitor a variety of features, going as far as to measure the amount of air pollution in a given area and control the airflow of their purifier.

Setting the Wynd Essential purifier, itself, takes little time, but the app took a few minutes to sync with it. This purifier was able to fit in all of the center cup holders in our vehicle, but couldn't fit in the door cup holders due to its flared top.

Even at low power, we could hear the noise from the fan in the Wynd Essential spinning. It was especially loud in the initial few minutes it was warming up. Despite this, our car was smelling cleaner after only 15 minutes after running this purifier.

The Wynd Essential air purifier currently has a single review on Amazon, which rates it 4 out of 5 stars. Google reviews average out to 3.6 stars, with complaints centering around the device's ability to purify the air. These reviews do conclude in many cases that this device is best suited in small, enclosed spaces such as car interiors.

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The Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Bags are suited not only for cars, but can also eliminate odors in kitchens, bathrooms, pet areas, and even shoes. Each bag is fragrance-free and made with reinforced stitching to ensure long-lasting durability.

These charcoal bags are made with a metal O-ring so they can be hung from nearly anywhere. If left out in the sun for a couple of hours, the Basic Concepts bags are "recharged," giving them a lifespan of up to two years.

We placed this bag out in the center console of our testing vehicle, but we think it's best to store it underneath a seat or hidden in a door for the easiest storage. Considering their compact, lightweight construction, these bags can be easily transported.

These bags crunched a bit when squeezed but otherwise made no noticeable sound. After sitting in our testing vehicle, we noticed a difference in the smell but not nearly as much as our other purifiers.

The Basic Concepts charcoal bags have an average Amazon rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars from about 15,000 customers. Almost 60 percent of customers leave a 5-star rating.

Many reviewers say this bag works well not only in their cars but in closets and other rooms that have odors. Customers also like the bag's gray color and cloth-like texture. There are a few customers who claim these bags struggle to cover pet odors.

Before making a purchase, learn more about the different types of air purifiers and how they can improve your vehicle's air quality.

In-cabin air filters are one of the best ways to prevent irritants and pollutants from building up in your car. Unlike most filters, these are built directly into a vehicle to pick up dirty air as it passes through the HVAC system. Although reliable, the downside to these filters is that they must be replaced every few months.

Ionic air purifiers target odors and other pollutants at a molecular level. These purifiers emit positively or negatively charged ions that trap and break down unwanted particles that spoil the air. While these are ideal for eliminating foul smells, they take longer than other types of filters to show results.

Charcoal air filters are environmentally friendly, as they’re made with naturally sourced materials. Charcoal filters absorb irritants and odor-causing chemicals directly. Once full, these bags can be placed in direct sunlight to be refreshed and used again. The typical charcoal filter lasts about two years and leaves behind no fragrance.

Ozone generators: These air purifiers for cars work by plugging into the charging port. From there, they utilize electricity to neutralize odors and airborne particles within the vehicle cabin.

Size and portability: Car air purifiers are compactly designed to fit in your vehicle without taking up more space than they need to. Most purifiers can fit in cup holders or on dashboards, while others can be hung from the rearview mirror. Some purifiers are made to fit around the back of headrests.

Power source: Most car air purifiers are battery-powered to conserve energy. Some are even rechargeable, using the outlets in your car as a charging source. Others can install into the cigarette lighter of your vehicle to run.

HEPA-rated filter: High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are certified to grab more pollutants from the air than non-certified ones. Make sure your device is using one of these filters to have the most effective air cleaner possible.

Car air purifiers are designed to eliminate particle matter to mitigate pollutant, irritants, and allergens that stick around in your vehicle and affect air quality. Car air purifiers work actively for months at a time as opposed to air fresheners. Our comprehensive review has hopefully provided insight into finding the right car air purifier for you and your vehicles.

When you first install or place one in your vehicle, you should run it all day and leave it running. There are no downsides to having it clean your car's air, especially if it has a rechargeable battery. Purifiers that install directly into your car will automatically activate when your car is turned on. If you are using charcoal bags, simply install and leave them in your vehicle.

This depends on the type of purifier and the rate at which it cleans your air. A good rule of thumb is to replace the removable HEPA filter in your air purifier every six to twelve months, depending on the air quality of your vehicle and environmental factors. Carbon filters and charcoal bags require a quicker turnover rate of every three to six months.

HEPA filters marked as "permanent" can be cleaned and reused. They can be cleaned using warm water and a vacuum cleaner to remove built-up dirt and debris. HEPA filters that aren't marked "permanent" should not be used more than once.

Unlike humidifiers, air purifiers do not add any water to the air. Humidifiers do not actually clean the air, either, as they only add moisture.

*Data accurate at time of publication.

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