LAST UPDATED: June 14, 2018

The Best Car Air Purifier (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021

Best Choice frieq FRiEQ Car Air Purifier and Air Freshener
Premium Pick The Best Car Air Purifier (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021 Pure Car Air Purifier
Best Value The Best Car Air Purifier (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021 Purggo Car Air Purifier

Just as an air purifier can bring a lot of health benefits to you and your family right in your home, so does the best car air purifier when inside your car. Your vehicle, as sophisticated and modern as it may be, can still be filled with many unseen microorganisms, dust, and other particles that may expose you or any of your passengers to potential health threats. Unfortunately, the air filters we use at home are quite different from the ones used in cars. It is, thus best to keep your expectations in check so you’ll have a better grasp of how to effectively choose the best auto air purifier for your vehicle. Here’s a rundown of what we believe to be the best cabin air filter units in the market.

Best Rated Car Air Purifier in 2021:

It may be a relative newcomer in the market, but it sure knows how to make an entrance. Featuring two of the most popular cabin air purification systems available, this contraption from AUTOWIT is not only effective in getting rid of almost every conceivable unseen thing or particle inside your car’s cabin, it also gives you the added advantage of filling your cabin with the kind of scent that will make travel time more relaxing, pleasant, and truly memorable.

Featuring 3 different kinds of filters that are stacked one on top of the other to make sure no particle escapes, be it bacteria, a virus, or a simple allergen, this is definitely one of the top car air purifiers you can get for your car. In hindsight, it’s actually not just perfect for the car but also for your room and your office, too. There’s no second-guessing the level of air quality in your space as all you need to look at is the color of the LED light on the AUTOWIT.

Its exceptional build quality, reliable and efficient motor that is so whisper-quiet that your passengers can easily doze off. It’s also refillable with your choice of the best aromatherapy pad, making the AUTOWIT a really great device to have in one’s car. This car air purifier ionizer works to make your spaces free from contaminants.

Key Features
  • Car air filter and ionizer combination
  • Triple filtration system: high quality charcoal, HEPA, and nano silver
  • Releases 8 million anions/cc/sec
  • Can be refilled with essential oil aroma pads
  • Powerful motor at 8000 RPM
  • Stable and steady air flow through CNC air vents
  • Color-changing LED light indicators for air quality
  • Auto-detection of air quality
  • Whisper-quiet operation
Specification
  • Brand autowit
  • Model N/A
  • Weight 1.21 lbs

The Zerla Car Air Purifier is a very versatile, multi-use car air purifier that’ll tackle everything from stale air to unpleasant odors to unhealthy breathing elements. This compact car air purifier plugs into your car’s outlet and works silently to remove odors and impure elements from the air. It releases 5.63 million negative ions per centimeter inside your vehicle, delivering powerful strength to combat odors and improve the air you breathe. You’ll know its working when you see a small blue LED light indicator on. This car air purifier also doubles as a USB charger. You can plug your devices into one of its two USB charging ports to power up as you drive. This little device will eliminate allergens, clean up the air, and even get rid of bad-for-you elements like mold, bacteria, and smoke smells.

Key Features
  • Releases 5.63 million negative ions per cm³
  • Dual USB charging ports
  • Deodorizes odors and smoke
  • Blue LED light
Specification
  • Brand ZERLA
  • Model AP-C3
  • Weight 3.98 ounces

Looking like a miniature microphone that comes with a neat-looking delicate crystal decoration at the top and bottom of its barrel design, this compact and lightweight car purifier use negatively-charged ions to interact with positively-charged particles in the air. This is to neutralize them, making them denser so that they don’t freely float in the air. This is one great way to prevent the entry of these microscopic particles through your nose and your lungs.

The FRiEQ is great for removing bad odors, smoke, pollen, dust, and other particles without having to rely on a filtration system. This saves you from having to constantly purchase replacement filters or even cleaning or maintaining the setup for optimal functioning. And since it operates on the ionizer mechanism, it’s perfect for neutralizing bacterial, viral, and even fungal species that are susceptible to ionization.

It does look good, too in your car. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with USB ports to give you versatility in the use of your 12-volt car cigarette lighter socket. Nevertheless, for its friendly price and lovable styling, it’s no wonder this auto air purifier has the respect of many car owners.

Key Features
  • Releases 4.8 million anions/cc/sec
  • Compact, lightweight, elegant design
  • Decorative blue LED lighting
  • Uses 12v power from cars
Specification
  • Brand FRiEQ
  • Model AP-C
  • Weight 1.44 oz

The Lightsmax Car Air Purifier is a fantastic choice for anyone who wants to clean up the air inside their vehicle interior instead of simply mask it. Featuring impressive ionizing power, this car air purifier won’t just mask unpleasant odors and unhealthy breathing elements with strong chemical fragrances.

It releases 4.8 million negative ions per centimeter in order to effectively clear away everything you’re breathing that isn’t ideal. Those negative ions improve your car’s interior air quality, destroy odor-causing air particulates, and refresh the air. Even contaminants like mold, bacteria, and viruses are purified for easier breathing. The entire device measures just 3.8 x 1.2 x 1.2 inches in size and weighs just 3.2 ounces. It won’t disrupt or disturb your car’s interior aesthetic thanks to its compact nature.

Key Features
  • High-density negative ions
  • Removes bad smells and lingering odors in seconds
  • Covers up to 800 square feet of space
  • Blue LED light
Specification
  • Brand Lightsmax
  • Model N/A
  • Weight 4.2 ounces

The Philips GoPure Compact Car Air Purifier is an upgraded spin on a travel-ready car air purifier. It helps you achieve fresh, clean air inside your vehicle with high air purification power, using a three-stage filtering process that can get rid of up to 99 percent of harmful gases, smoke, bacteria, odors, dust, pollen, pet hair, and other air particles. It works with HESA technology, which offers three times better removal of tobacco smoke residue. The purifier also features a clear, colored indicator light that shows your car’s current air quality. You can turn it on and off easily, and it installs via a 13-foot 12-volt power cable and included mounting kit. This is one of the most effective air cleaning car purifiers available, and though its price is a bit high, it can really deliver results.

Key Features
  • Eliminates up to 99 percent of harmful gases, smoke,  bacteria, odors, and more
  • HESA filter technology works three times better on tobacco smoke
  • Integrated particle sensor indicates current air quality
  • Two working speeds
Specification
  • Brand Phillips
  • Model GPC20GPX1
  • Weight 2.59 pounds

The IQAir Atem Car Portable HEPA Air Purifier cleans your car’s cabin up to 20 times per hour and removes 99 percent of particles and pollutants, including bacteria, virus, diesel soot, and sulfur dioxide (SO2) through it’s three-stage filter. The 270-degree, ultra-quiet fan is powerful and efficient. You can sync the Atem with a mobile app to set the speed of the fan or to set the child safety lock. You can mount this purifier on a seat, headrest, cargo area, or other space in the cabin. Users report that it’s easy to set up, and the app is simple to use. It effectively removes exhaust fumes, dust, and pollen from the vehicle, making it easier to breathe. However, the purifier is a little large and not inconspicuous. It’s not designed to be moved around, so it can be a hassle to use in a space with children and pets. It’s also expensive.

Key Features
  • Three-stage filter
  • Ultra-quiet fan
  • Several mounting options
  • Syncs with a mobile app
Specification
  • Brand IQAir
  • Model Atem
  • Weight 8.23 pounds

The Pure Car Air Purifier can tackle two different tasks at once. In addition to purifying the air inside your car, this little device can deliver powerful, quick charging for your most important tech devices. It’s a charger and air purifier rolled into one compact package. With quick-charge USB 3.0 capability and two ports, you can plug your smartphone or tablet into this device and get it charged fast.

Additionally, it’ll use 5.6 million negative ions to clean up the air you breathe. It can eliminate allergens and allergy triggers like pollen, mold, bacteria, and more. It’ll get rid of dust and kill viruses, and it can eliminate atmospheric particulate matter that appears in polluted cities. The device itself is built to last, too — it’s made out of black matte stainless steel.

Key Features
  • Releases up to 5.6 million negative ions to clean air
  • Quick Charge USB 3.0 capability
  • Cleans vehicle interior’s air in seven days
  • Silent ionizer delivers minimal sound
Specification
  • Brand PURE
  • Model JO-6291
  • Weight 2.39 ounces

If you want to ensure fresh, clean air every time you get inside your vehicle, the Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier is the device you need. This car air purifier works somewhat slowly, taking approximately 30 minutes to begin purifying the air inside your vehicle. But once it begins working, you can rely on its ionizing power for days and weeks. It’ll remove allergens like pollen, dust, pet dander, and mold spores. It can kill viruses and bacteria, and it makes air safe to breathe by eliminating pollutants. Once on, the car air purifier can remove 99 percent of all air impurities as you drive. This device will also eliminate strong, unpleasant odors in five to seven days. It uses 5.6 million negative ions to get to work, and it won’t leave behind any strong scents like a basic air freshener.

Key Features
  • Removes 99 percent of air impurities
  • Releases 5.6 million negative ions per cm³
  • Takes just 30 minutes to purify air
  • Eliminates stale odors with seven days of continuous use
  • Brand Twinkle Birds
  • Model JO-6291-TW
  • Weight 1.41 ounces

If you don’t want a high-tech device for purifying your car’s interior air, try the Purggo Car Air Purifier. This product works both as an air freshener and air purifier, bringing fresh scents and clean air inside. It’s chemical-free, with no fragrance, no plastic, and no chemicals. Instead, it’s made with 100 percent bamboo charcoal, which naturally absorbs odors and helps you breathe easier.

It won’t mask odors, but instead acts like a big sponge — it soaks up odor particles, trapping them within its surface. Sustainable and natural, the bamboo charcoal will “pick up” lingering air pollutants like smoke, pet odors, and other unpleasant breathing elements and get rid of them. One of these car air purifiers can last for over a year, delivering fresh and freshly-scented air for more than 365 days.

Key Features
  • Made of 100 percent bamboo charcoal
  • Lasts over 365 days
  • Fragrance and chemical-free
  • Can be recycled once depleted
Specification
  • Brand PURGGO
  • Model PGCAR02
  • Weight 12.8 ounces

This car ionizer has many similarities with the FRiEQ and Light & Smart devices. From the microphone-like design to the crystal ornament on top, and the negatively-charged ion capacities of 4.8 million per cc per second, the iDOBBi portable car purifier makes it look like these three products are actually made by the same company, but are distributed or marketed by different firms. We can only surmise.

Nevertheless, the iDOBBi should still be a great alternative to other car ionizer systems in the market as it is easy to use and maintain and comes with an adorable design, too.

Key Features
  • Releases up to 4.8 million anions/cc/sec
  • Multipurpose AC/DC design
  • Sleek and stylish design
  • Pluggable into 12v port
Specification
  • Brand iDOBBi
  • Model N/A
  • Weight 0.8 oz

Enjoy breathing cleaner air with this Hepa filter air purifier. It will effectively remove 99 percent of air impurities. This includes pollen, smoke, dust, pet dander, and bad odors. It’s perfect for people who suffer from allergies. An included DC adapter powers it. The purifier has sleek styling and comes in black. The large venting surface helps this purifier to clean large amounts of air effectively. The unit measures 6 x 4 x 2 inches and weighs 12 ounces, making it portable enough to take with you in any vehicle.

One potential drawback of this unit is that it requires a DC plug to operate. This means you’ll need to have one available in your car. It also is designed to sit on your dashboard, which may not be feasible in your car.

Key Features
  • HEPA filter built-in
  • Quiet operation
  • Powered by DC adapter
  • Removes 99 percent of impurities
Specification
  • Brand NuvoMed
  • Model Black
  • Weight 12 ounces

Best Car Air Purifier Buying Guide & FAQ

What to Look for in an Air Purifier for Your Car

Picking the most appropriate air purifier for your vehicle entails looking for certain features that can help you achieve optimum levels of air purification. However, this is a lot easier said than done so you’d better get yourself ready as we’re going to share with you some of the things you have to look for in a car air purifier.

Method of Air Purification

Currently, there are three methods employed by car air purifier manufacturers in making sure that cabin air is cleansed of contaminants. These are filters, ionizers, and ozone generators. Your choice among these three methods will help you zero-in on what is best for your car.

fresh air from car air purifier

Car air filters draw in cabin air so that they will be able to separate microscopic particles before the air is sent back into the circulation. The particles are usually directed towards a mechanism on the device that filters them according to their size. If the size of the particle is bigger than the holes in the filter, then this particle is not recirculated or is not sent back to the air inside the car’s cabin. These often come with HEPA filters as well as carbon filters which help trap microscopic particles including bacteria and viruses and odor molecules, respectively.

On the other hand, ionizers don’t draw in circulating air to exert their purifying effects. Instead, the device lets out a steady stream of negatively-charged particles called anions into the air. These anions interact with the surfaces of anything and everything that has positively-charged ions so that they are effectively neutralized. All particles will have both negative and positive electrical charges in their surfaces. Anions interact with the positive ions to create a denser molecule. This effectively neutralizes the activity of such molecule.

Ozone generators are especially regarded for their ability to neutralize strong odors. In many ways, ionizers can also produce ozone because of their ability to dislodge ions from molecules. The good news with ionizers is that the ozone that they produce is not sufficient to cause harm to the human body, but should be enough to affect its odor-neutralizing activity. Ozone generators, on the other hand, produce three molecules of oxygen or ozone to help neutralize even the most offensive odor in your car. In large industrial establishments, large-scale ozone generators are also used to combat the stench of many byproducts. Unfortunately, as we’ve already implied, ozone can have negative consequences on the human body if exposed to it chronically.

Multiple Layers of Air Purification

Many of the car air purifier systems today come with a combination of different methods of air purification. For instance, most come with a combination of the air filter and car ionizer. As we have said, one of the byproducts of ionizers is ozone so they can also be considered as ozone generators. However, they do not really produce ozone as their primary function. It’s just a normal outcome of ionizing the atmosphere. Your best chance of cleaning the air inside your car is to get a system with multiple layers of purification.

Ease of operation

Most systems require plugging into a car’s 12-volt cigarette lighter socket while others will require a USB adaptor plugged into the socket itself. Some will come with a single-button operation while others will feature several buttons to tinker with. Choose one that is a lot easier and more convenient to operate. Ozone generators require that there is no human or pet inside the car once it is operating. So you might want to take this into consideration.

Ease of maintenance

Air filter units require some degree of maintenance which can include cleaning and replacing the filter with a recommended replacement unit. Dedicated car ionizers, on the other hand, don’t really require any maintenance as long as you keep it clean.

Benefits of Using Car Air Purifier

There are many reasons why you should consider using an air purifier in your car. Here are some of them.

Provides safer and cleaner air for everyone in the car

The principal function of air purifiers is, as the name implies, the purification of air. While it is really impossible to get rid of all airborne pollutants, at the very least, these devices can help provide for safer and cleaner for everyone inside the car. This means that it’s not only you and your family that can benefit, even your pets can benefit, too.

Keeps the car interior smelling fresh and clean

Smoke, volatile oils from food, and fumes, as well as other sources of the nasty smell inside the car, can really make riding an unpleasant one. Having air purifiers working to neutralize these odor molecules and removing them from circulation can provide for a car interior that not only looks nice but also smells clean and fresh as well.

Eliminates allergens and disease-causing germs

Being able to remove as much allergen as possible from the air can have significant implications among individuals (and pets) who have allergies. The same is true for individuals who may have respiratory problems such as pneumonia and bronchitis as the removal of airborne pathogens can help prevent the exacerbation of the symptoms of these disorders.

Car Air Purifier Maintenance

Manufacturers of car air purifiers have their own way of maintaining the optimal operating performance of their products. As such it is always best to refer to the product manual.

Generally, however, car air filter systems typically require some degree of maintenance. The filters have to be inspected from time to time since it can get clogged up with dust, dirt, and debris like any other filter. Most filters can be easily cleaned with plain water. If the filter is non-washable, it can be cleaned using a vacuum cleaner. Some systems require replacement after 3 to 6 months. You should, thus check your product about the specific time frame for replacement.

Sources of Air Pollution in a Car

There are many sources of air pollution inside any car. Drivers and passengers who simply cannot quit smoking are just two of the main instigators of in-car air pollution. Pet parents who love to take their cats and dogs with them during travels are guilty, too, of worsening the air quality inside the car as pets can leave behind dander, pet odor, and other substances. Driving with an open window can allow dust, dirt, debris, pollen, and even fumes from other vehicles to enter the cabin of the car. Eating your favorite food inside the car will also tend to emit odors that are characteristically yummy, but are nonetheless reactive to the other charged particles already inside the cabin. Technically, your car’s interior can be considered a microcosm of what is actually happening to the world – pollution.

Best Car Air Purifier FAQ:

Q:  How do car air purifiers work?

A:  Car air purifiers work in different ways, depending on the type of mechanism that is embedded into the design of the device. Some work by sending out streams of negatively-charged particles into the air to help neutralize any vulnerable particle. Some also draw in air in an effort to filter out the different particles that are present in the air. The just-cleaned air is then recirculated into the cabin. There are also devices that produce ozone which can neutralize really bad odors. Carbon filters can also do the same job, albeit they have to draw air.

Q:  How can I install the air purifier in my car?

A:  Installing an air purifier in a car is as easy as plugging the device into your car’s cigarette light socket. Some products only come with a USB-Micro-USB interface so you may want to get a USB adaptor that can be plugged into the cigarette light socket of your car. It should be noted that modern cars do have their own cabin air filter system which is typically located somewhere under the dashboard. This is different from the air purifier systems we featured in this article.

Q:  What is the difference between air filters, air ionizers, and ozone generators?

A:  Air filters draw in air that is circulating inside the cabin. The air is pushed through several layers of filters including HEPA and carbon filters. HEPA filters are great for removing bacteria, some viruses, parasites, and fungi from the air. Carbon filters work by trapping odor molecules. The end-result is air that is free of these contaminants. Air is then recirculated back into the cabin.

Air ionizers create a steady stream of anions or negatively-charged particles that interact with the positively-charged ions on the surfaces of molecules or particles floating in the air. This effectively neutralizes these contaminants. Unlike air filters, air ionizers don’t need to draw in cabin air to clean it. The continuous wave of anions effectively eliminates susceptible particles in the cabin air.

Ozone generators produce ozone, a molecule composed of 3 oxygen atoms. Its principal purpose is in the elimination of really bad odors. As such, if the main issue inside your car’s cabin is a really strong stench, then ozone generators are an excellent choice.

Q:  Do car air purifiers really work?

A:  Results are mixed when it comes to the effectiveness of car air purifiers, this is especially true for car ionizer systems. While it is true that the ozone that these devices generate is almost negligible, the mere fact that ionizers produce ozone should already raise a red flag. There really is no guaranteeing that any of these devices will give you 100% germs, contaminants, and pollutant- free air inside your car. Do they work? Yes, they do work. But just like what we said in the beginning, don’t put your hopes too high since there are many sources of air pollution that these devices may not be able to handle 100% efficiently.

air purifier for cars

Our Top Pick

Among the car air purifiers we’ve featured in this list, the AUTOWIT Fresh Multi-Purpose Air Purifier with True HEPA is our number-one choice. It’s new, yet it is showing many of the fine qualities of renowned auto air purifier systems. It combines air filter, car ionizer, and car freshener functionalities into a sleek, elegant, and ultra-modern design. The triple filtration system effectively addresses particles that are already rendered harmless by its ionizer functionality, making sure you have a much cleaner, fresher air circulating in the car cabin. The addition of an aromatherapy pad slot helps provide for a more soothing effect than just simply removing these nasty odor molecules. It may be priced higher than most, but given its design and multiple methods of air purification, the AUTOWIT easily outperforms the competition.

Car air purifiers come with different methods of purification, style, and ease of operation. Your choice of car air purifier ultimately boils down to whether you want a simple system of filtering particles or one that also involves deactivation of these particles so they no longer bring harm to you or your passengers.

Sources:

  1. Do Car Air Purifiers or Ionizers Really Work? – Livewire
  2. Features to Seek in a Car Air Purifier – Kent
  3. How to Choose a Car Air Purifier. Do They Work? – Oransi
  4. Air Purifier – Wikipedia