Ionic air purifiers use ionizers to clean the air. These ionizers charge airborne particles, which causes them to be attracted to surfaces (like walls, floors, furniture, or a collection plate in the purifier). This process removes the particles from the air, improving air quality.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ionizers remove small particles (like those in cigarette smoke) but are less effective on large particles like pollen and dust. They also have no effect on gases or odors. For this reason, many ionic air purifiers also have air filters, like activated carbon or high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, to enhance particle removal.
Overall, the best ionic air purifiers share the same characteristics as all good air purifiers: They perform reliably and have convenient features and easy-to-use controls. They’re also safe, producing harmless levels of ozone gas (a harmful byproduct of ionic air purifiers). Read on for the best ionic air purifiers for keeping indoor air fresh and clean.
- BEST OVERALL: Fellowes AeraMax 300/DX95 Ionic Air Purifier
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Airthereal APH260 Ionic Air Purifier
- BEST FOR SMALL SPACES: Fellowes AeraMax 100/DX5 Ionic Air Purifier
- BEST FOR LARGE ROOMS: Medify MA-40 Ionic Air Purifier
- BEST WITH HUMIDIFIER: Sharp KC85OU Plasmacluster Air Purifier + Humidifier
- BEST WITH NO FILTERS: Envion TA500 Ionic Air Purifier
How We Chose the Best Ionic Air Purifiers
Ionic air purifiers can emit ozone as a byproduct, which is a pollutant that can be harmful to human health. Since safety is of the utmost importance, we only included ionic air purifiers that create minimal ozone. All of the picks on our list are certified by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which means their air ionizer produces low levels of ozone that the board deems not harmful to human health. Most picks on our list also have optional ionizers, which means the ionizer feature can be switched off.
Beyond safety, we also considered effectiveness and ease of use. We looked at consumer reviews and the air purifier rating to see if real-world use backed up each brand’s claims. For the most part, we chose ionic air purifiers that include HEPA filtration, which ensures more particles are removed from the air. User-friendly features and controls were also a top priority, and we chose air purifiers with variable settings, built-in timers, night modes, and smart features, which add to ease of use.
Our Top Picks
Better air quality means healthier air, and that starts with a reliable air-filtration system. Clean and fresh indoor air is easy to achieve with any of the following ionic purifiers.
Effective, efficient, and suitable for large rooms, the Fellowes AeraMax 300/DX95 is a good pick for most homes. With a clean-air delivery rate (CADR) score of 191, this Energy Star–certified air purifier is best for rooms from 300 to 600 square feet, which should suit most medium to large rooms.
Several filtration steps lead to cleaner air, including a carbon filter, HEPA filter with AeraSafe (an antimicrobial treatment that inhibits microorganism growth on the filter), and a PlasmaTrue setting, which is what Fellowes calls its ionizer. The ionizer can be switched off on this unit. Even without the ionizer, this air purifier is very effective. The HEPA filter makes this model an excellent air purifier for dust, pet hair, and other small particles.
To add to its convenience, users can choose from four fan speeds or an Auto mode. The Auto mode uses the built-in air-quality monitor to check air quality, displaying an air-quality indicator on the front and adjusting the purifier flow accordingly. When faster purification is needed, select the Aera+ mode, which increases airflow by 50 percent to boost air cleaning.
- Filtration: Carbon and HEPA filters
- Room size recommendation: 300 to 600 square feet
- Optional ionizer: Yes
- Aera+ mode increases air turnover rate by an extra 50 percent for a filtering boost
- HEPA filter has the brand’s AeraSafe antimicrobial treatment to impede microorganism growth
- Energy Star certified; uses less energy than comparable models while still offering great performance
- Not ideal for the bedroom; lacks a sleep mode and display light shutoff
Editor’s note: Fellowes updated the name AeraMax 300 to AeraMax DX95. These models are identical.
Get the Fellowes AeraMax 300/DX95 ionic air purifier at Amazon, The Home Depot, Target, Wayfair, or Fellowes.
Better air quality doesn’t have to come at a high price, and those shopping for a more budget-friendly ionic air purifier should consider the Airthereal APH260. This air purifier features a HEPA filtration system with a prefilter, HEPA filter, and activated carbon filter. It also has an optional ionizer, which Airthereal calls its anion function, as well as an optional UV-C light feature, which can destroy some airborne microorganisms.
Adding to its user-friendliness, this unit has three fan speeds, a sleep mode, and an Auto mode. A built-in air-quality monitor displays current air quality and controls Auto mode.
Airthereal recommends this purifier for rooms up to 355 square feet. With a CADR rating of 152, we think it’s better for rooms around 228 square feet, using the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers’ (AHAM) recommendation that the CADR should be at least two-thirds of the room size.
- Filtration: Prefilter, HEPA, and activated carbon filters
- Room size recommendation: Around 228 square feet
- Optional ionizer: Yes
- Has a built-in air-quality indicator, which enables air-quality monitoring, and Auto mode
- Optional UV-C light feature can help kill some microorganisms
- Sleep mode setting runs quietly and switches off display lights for a better nighttime environment
- Airthereal exaggerates the recommended room size; we recommend it for smaller rooms based on the CADR score
Get the Airthereal ionic air purifier at Amazon or Airthereal.
A narrower tower design makes the Fellowes AeraMax 100/DX5 an excellent choice for tighter spaces. This air purifier has a small footprint but is still a powerful choice for apartments and small rooms.
Like the AeraMax 300/DX95, this tower model also has a prefilter, a HEPA filter with AeraSafe (an antimicrobial treatment), and an activated carbon filter. The unit has three fan speeds or an Auto mode, which uses sensors to decipher and display air quality and adjust the fan speed to bring it to a healthy level. Users can also switch on the optional ionizer to remove more small particles from the air. Plus, this model has an Aera+ mode, which increases air changes by 35 percent for faster filtration.
Fellowes recommends this purifier for rooms 100 to 200 square feet, but with a CADR of 68, it’s likely best for rooms around 100 square feet—which means it’s a suitable air purifier for a small room.
- Filtration: Carbon and HEPA filters
- Room size recommendation: 100 square feet
- Optional ionizer: Yes
- Tall and narrow design means a small footprint; better for cramped or small rooms
- Intuitive and easy-to-use front control panel simplifies choosing and changing settings
- HEPA air-purifier filter is treated with AeraSafe, an antimicrobial treatment that inhibits microorganism growth
- Might not be suitable for the bedroom since it lacks a sleep mode and display light shutoff
Editor’s note: Fellowes updated the name AeraMax 100 to AeraMax DX5. These models are identical.
Get the Fellowes AeraMax 100/DX5 ionic air purifier at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Fellowes.
A powerful air purifier is necessary for large rooms, and the Medify MA-40 fits the bill. With a CADR of 224, we think this purifier is a good choice for rooms up to 336 square feet, based on the AHAM’s recommendation that the CADR should be at least two-thirds of the room size. It uses a prefilter, HEPA filter, and activated carbon filter, plus it has an optional ionizer setting.
Other features include three fan speeds, sleep mode, shut-off timer, and child lock. Despite its high purifying power, it’s Energy Star certified, so it won’t draw too much power, even when cleaning large rooms.
One downside of this air purifier is that it’s quite loud, operating at 46 decibels on low. This is just a bit louder than a refrigerator hum (which is usually around 40 decibels) but is not considered quiet when it comes to an air purifier.
- Filtration: Prefilter, HEPA, and activated carbon filters
- Room size recommendation: Around 336 square feet
- Optional ionizer: Yes
- Powerful enough to purify the air in large rooms without using too much energy
- Energy-saving design is third-party verified: this model is Energy Star certified
- Excellent user-friendly control features, including a timer, child lock, and sleep mode
- Might be too loud for some living spaces since it runs at 46 decibels on low
Get the Medify ionic air purifier at Amazon, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Best Buy, or Medify.
Looking for more functions out of an air purifier? This unit from Sharp is a versatile pick. Not only is it an ionic purifier—it’s also a humidifier. Like many of the other choices on our list, it has a prefilter, activated carbon filter, and a HEPA filter to clear particles from the air, plus an optional ionizer for even deeper cleaning. With a CADR score of 164, it’s suitable for medium to large rooms measuring 254 square feet.
This quiet air purifier runs at just 19 decibels on low—quieter than a whisper (which is around 30 decibels). Combined with its humidifying features, it’s an excellent air purifier for bedroom use.
It’s important to note this purifier’s range of user-friendly settings. These include three fan speeds, a Quick Clean setting, a pollen setting, and automatic purifying and humidifying modes (with an air-quality and humidity display). The cherry on top? This unit is also Energy Star certified.
- Filtration: Prefilter, activated carbon, and HEPA filters
- Room size recommendation: 254 square feet
- Optional ionizer: Yes
- Dual-purpose; both an air purifier and a humidifier in 1 compact unit
- Displays an air-quality indicator and current room humidity for better air monitoring
- Excellent for any living space due to very quiet operation (only 19 decibels) on lowest setting
- The ionizer can make an audible ticking sound while in use
Get the Sharp ionic air purifier at Amazon, Best Buy, or Appliances Connection.
There are a few advantages to ionic-only air purifiers like the Envion TA500, including little to no fan noise and no filters to replace. This air purifier is a true ionic air purifier, and it doesn’t use any traditional air filters, like HEPA filters. It makes filter replacements a thing of the past—instead of air filters, users just clean off the collection blades, which never need replacing. An indicator light notifies when the collection blades need cleaning, requiring only a cloth and warm, soapy water.
The air purifier still has a fan (with three speeds), which helps circulate air around the room, though they run nearly silently. This model looks like a tower fan with a slim and tall design that should fit in any room. Envion doesn’t specify a room size recommendation in square footage but does say this model is suitable for medium to large rooms.
- Filtration: Ionic
- Room size recommendation: Medium to large rooms
- Optional ionizer: N/A
- Circulation fans are very quiet for near-silent operation on all 3 speeds
- Since this purifier only has an ionizer, it doesn’t require any air-filter replacements
- Collection blades are easy to maintain (they just need an occasional clean) and never need replacing
- Lacks many convenience features, such as an Auto mode, sleep mode, and timer settings
Get the Envion ionic air purifier at Amazon, Ace Hardware, Best Buy, or Wayfair.
What to Consider When Choosing an Ionic Air Purifier
Safety is the first thing to consider when shopping for an ionic air cleaner for home use. During the charging process, ionic air purifiers indirectly emit ozone. Ozone can cause irritation and inflammation in the respiratory tract, exacerbating lung diseases like asthma. Ozone can even cause lung damage in high enough concentrations. This byproduct means finding a safe ionic air purifier is extremely important.
When considering safety, look for a credible third-party certification like CARB certification. CARB lists approved air cleaners on its roster of California Certified Air Cleaning Devices. These products are shown to emit levels of ozone that aren’t hazardous to human health, and we’ve only included CARB-certified ionic air purifiers on our list. In terms of effectiveness and convenience, other aspects to consider include coverage area, filters, and additional features, which we explore ahead.
Most air purifiers advertise a recommended room size to help consumers choose the right purifier for their space. This is usually displayed in square feet.
When looking at coverage area, another metric to consider is the unit’s CADR score. This score is only applicable to ionic purifiers with air filters. This CADR score describes the amount of filtered air the purifier delivers, usually expressed in cubic feet per minute.
A higher CADR score means a more efficient purifier. The CADR score is often used to calculate the coverage area of a unit. The AHAM recommends that the CADR number equals at least two-thirds of the intended room’s square footage. Use either the overall CADR score or the smoke CADR score provided by the manufacturer to make this calculation. Looking at the CADR score (if available) is a good way to calculate coverage area since some air purifier manufacturers may exaggerate their product’s recommended room size.
As the EPA notes, ionizers in air purifiers can be effective against small particles but are less useful against larger particles (like dust and pet hair), gases, and odors. Since ionizers alone don’t catch as many particles, the best ionic air purifiers also have traditional air filters to remove more pollutants.
Many ionic air purifiers have multistage filtration systems. These can include prefilters to catch large particles, activated carbon filters to remove odors, and HEPA filters to remove small particles. HEPA filters are considered the “gold standard” of filters on the market. These filters remove over 99.97 percent of particles measuring 0.3 microns (and capture smaller and larger particles even more effectively). HEPA filters trap dust, pollen, mold, and bacteria, so they’re the filter type to look for when shopping for an ionic purifier. Almost all of the best air purifiers for mold, pet hair, and dust have this filter type.
Today’s purifiers often do more than just clean the air. They can include a range of additional features to monitor air quality and make using an air purifier more convenient. Built-in air quality monitors are a convenient feature to look for and make monitoring the purifier’s effectiveness easy. Some purifiers display the current air quality on their control panel, while others simply use the monitor to control their Auto mode, which automatically adjusts the purifier according to the air quality.
Other useful features include multiple fan speeds, including energy-saving Eco and Sleep modes. Energy-saving modes adjust the fan speed to use less energy. Sleep modes often run on a low fan setting and dim the display lights so users can sleep better. Some users especially appreciate shut-off timers, which turn the unit off after a certain amount of hours, and air-filter indicators, which light up when it’s time to switch out the filter. Like other household appliances, ionic air purifiers can also have smart features so that users can monitor and control the purifier with an app.
The Advantages of Owning an Ionic Air Purifier
The ionizers in ionic air purifiers remove small particles from the air, such as those in tobacco smoke. When paired with a HEPA filter, these units can also remove a broader range of larger and smaller particles for truly cleaner air.
Ionic air purifiers alone don’t require filter changes. However, since most good options are paired with an air-filter system, the overall unit will need filter maintenance. The good news is the ionic part of the purifier requires little, if any, maintenance.
- Removes small particles from the air
- Offers an extra air-cleaning boost when paired with a HEPA filtration system
- Low maintenance and does not require filter changes
Shopping for an ionic air purifier can be overwhelming with all the jargon around specs and safety concerns regarding ionizers. Read on for frequently asked questions and answers about this type of air-filtration system for home use, including more information on ionic air purifiers’ usage, effectiveness, and safety.
Q. What is the difference between HEPA and ionic air purifiers?
HEPA filtration systems improve air quality by using a fan to force air through a HEPA filter, which traps 99.97 percent of particles. Ionic air purifiers do so with ionizers, which charge airborne particles and cause them to fall from the air and attach to a surface or a collection plate inside the purifier. They’re two different technologies, yet many ionic air purifiers employ both for even better air purification.
Q. Is it healthy to breathe ionized air?
When paired with a HEPA filter, ionic air purifiers remove pollutants from the air, making it healthier to breathe in. However, it is very important to ensure the ionic purifier meets the California Air Resources Board guidelines. CARB certification ensures that the ionic air purifier does not emit harmful ozone levels back into the air.
Q. What are the benefits of ionic air?
Ionic air purifiers remove small particles from the air, like those in tobacco smoke. A safe ionic air purifier with an effective air filter (like a HEPA filter) removes a wide range of pollutants, which means cleaner and healthier air.
Q. How often should you replace an ionic air purifier?
Poor performance means the air purifier might need replacing. Have the purifier repaired or replaced if it starts making odd noises or malfunctioning in other ways. It’s time to replace an ionic air purifier when it shows signs that it’s not working, such as if it’s no longer improving the air quality in a room.
Q. How do you know if an ionizer is working?
The best way to check if an ionic air purifier is working is by using an air-quality monitor. Some air purifiers have an air-quality monitor built in. If the air quality improves after the unit is left to run for a while, then the ionic air purifier is working.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been helping Americans build, repair, and renovate their home since 1979. As the host of two groundbreaking TV series, “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he’s become a household name synonymous with home improvement. The Bob Vila team continues this tradition, distilling expert home advice into product guides, maintenance tutorials, how-to articles, and much more.
Jasmine Harding has been writing commerce content since 2020 and is known for her thorough research into the background of home products. She draws from leading credible sources to find the top contenders on the market. For this guide, she consulted EPA and California Air Resources Board resources to find safe and effective ionic air purifiers.