Air purifiers are an excellent way to ensure clean indoor air, but they aren’t cheap. Although the initial price may be pleasing, over time, they can become too expensive to run.
Most air purifiers are fitted with HEPA and activated carbon filters, which require regular replacement. These can quickly become costly. So, having an air purifier with a washable, reusable permanent filter can save you money in the long run.
But are they even worth a try? Let’s find out.
Why Use Permanent Washable Filters?
In general, air purifiers aren’t the cheapest device in a household. The initial price varies depending on the type of filter, brand and effectiveness. However, in time, running the unit can raise the overall cost.
Besides saving on replacement filters, there are also other pros and cons of a reusable filter:
- Saves money: While the retail price of an air purifier may be pleasing, it can quickly become costly. Most filters require frequent replacement ranging between every three months and every 12 months. Replacement filters are also generally quite expensive.
- Removes common pollutants: Reusable filters are usually washable HEPA filters or iFD filters. These differ in effectiveness with a mere 0.2 percent, so it’s safe to choose either one. Both of these capture the most common pollutants such as dust, plant spores and pollen.
- Clean when needed: Unlike replaceable filters which last for a specific period, washable filters can be cleaned whenever. You can check on the filters when a decrease in efficiency is discovered. The best thing is that the more you clean it, the more efficiently it will work.
- Quick maintenance: Cleaning the filters is a quick job done. Some only require a quick vacuum, while others can be rinsed and even thrown in the dishwasher.
- Not as effective: Most reusable filters aren’t as effective as True HEPA filters. These will generally only capture particles at the size of 2 microns. True HEPA, on the other hand, will capture up to 0.3 microns.
- Only suitable for smaller areas: You’ll notice that despite claims from a manufacturer that a unit can clean large rooms, it’s often not the case. Most will only cover an area of up to 250 square feet. This is fine, but not as impressive as 1.000 square feet. Regardless, you can place it in a large room — just don’t expect any major differences.
- Features are limited: Purifiers with permanent filters are very simple units; there aren’t many features or settings. You might find at best, units with different fan speeds, a sleep mode and an ionizer.
Is Washable the Same as Permanent?
When you’re hunting for an air purifier with a reusable filter, you’ll likely run into permanent and washable options. These aren’t to be confused for one another, despite both being reusable.
The difference lies in how they’re cleaned. As you might guess from the name, “washable” filters can be washed with soap and water. Some washable filters are even dishwasher-safe — even better, right?
When you wash the filter, all of the pollutants and contaminants are removed. The process can take several minutes, and filthy filters might require soaking before agitating and rinsing.
Permanent filters shouldn’t be cleaned with soap and water — these can even be ruined if exposed to water. Instead, most permanent filters are advised to be vacuum cleaned frequently.
What to Look For
If you’re considering an air purifier with a permanent or washable filter, there are a few vital things to look for. This will help you to find the best unit for your household and family.
Similar to regular air purifiers, these also consist of filters. Most units have a pre-filter that captures larger particles such as hair and pollen. Others have HEPA filters to help capture smaller particles.
However, not all are as effective. Most washable HEPA filters are HEPA-type — meaning it isn’t a real HEPA, only similar.
Some units also have an odor-removing filter. These can be found as an activated carbon filter or foam filters. Activated carbon is a great filter to look for since it can absorb volatile organic compounds and cigarette smoke (1).
Pre-filters are used to catch larger particles and extend the life of other filters. These are generally washable and easy to maintain. Some units have multiple pre-filters.
Room coverage is one of the most important things to look for. How much coverage you need depends on the room where you will use the unit. For instance, if you need an air purifier in a bedroom, you can choose a unit capable of covering anything from 100 to 250 square feet.
For larger living spaces, though, a unit covering up to 500 square feet or more will be necessary. If you settle on a purifier with a low room coverage, don’t expect it to be effective in the living room.
Conversely, using a large unit in a small room can be a waste of energy. Larger units also tend to be louder, so using it in a small room might make it close to unbearable.
CADR refers to clean air delivery rate. This tells you how much air is being filtered at a time. The CADR number is usually measured for dust, smoke and pollen, and can range between 10 and 450.
To ensure efficiency, it’s recommended that you choose a unit with CADR ratings above 100 to 150. Anything under 100 isn’t going to be very effective.
The Best Air Purifiers With Permanent or Washable Filters of 2021
We looked through the top air purifier choices on the market, researching real customer reviews. After gauging the ease of use and effectiveness, these are our top five air purifiers with permanent washable filters.
1. Hamilton Beach TrueAir Permanent HEPA Filter
You can’t argue with the versatility of the Hamilton Beach TrueAir. This air purifier is a compact unit that covers an area of up to 160 square feet.
What makes it so versatile is its ability to be located anywhere you need it. Most air purifiers have to be standing vertically, while this little guy can work horizontally as well.
Its HEPA-grade filter captures up to 99 percent of airborne particles at the size of 3 microns. This isn’t as effective as a True HEPA filter, but it will give your air a thorough-enough clean.
There are three fan speeds to choose between depending on how polluted your air is. The TrueAir is excellent in bedrooms due to its quiet operation.
Why We Love It
The compact size of this purifier makes it the perfect addition for any nursery, bedroom or office. You can place it horizontally or vertically to suit the location — four adhesive feet prevent slipping when it’s standing on a desk.
Due to the small size, you shouldn’t expect it to clean large rooms. It will work most effectively in a room of up to 160 square feet.
When you feel like efficiency of this appliance is reduced, it could be time for a clean. You can easily open up the back cover and vacuum the HEPA filter. Use a soft brush attachment or upholstery attachment for optimal results.
Keeping the HEPA filter clean is crucial for the purifier to work properly. It will capture a number of pollutants such as mold, dust, pollen and pet dander.
Despite the compact size, it has the option of three fan speeds. This enables you to get a quick clean if the air seems extra polluted, or set it to the low speed during quiet hours.
Keep In Mind
Not as Thorough as Other Filters
Although this purifier will clean your air, it isn’t as effective as others. This is mainly due to the HEPA-grade filter which doesn’t capture as much as a True HEPA filter.
|Cleaning Method||Filter can be vacuumed|
|Dust CADR||Not specified|
|Recommended Room Coverage||160 square feet|
2. Honeywell Washable Filters
The tower construction of the Honeywell air purifier is what makes it so efficient. It draws a significant amount of air in and uses a three-level cleaning system. This includes a permanent pre-filter and a True HEPA filter that captures up to 99 percent of airborne pollutants.
You can easily use this purifier without ramping up your energy bills. It uses minimum electricity and is Energy Star rated. The unit can effectively clean a room of up to 170 square feet five times per hour.
Why We Love It
Instead of replacing the filters, you can easily remove them and either vacuum or wash them clean. This will save you money in the long run and help to prolong the life of your air purifier.
Excellent for Medium-Sized Rooms
This purifier will work effectively in rooms and areas of up to 300 square feet. It will be even more efficient in smaller rooms where it will clean up to 10 times in an hour.
True HEPA Filter
True HEPA filters are usually found in units with replaceable filters. Luckily, you can enjoy allergen-free air while saving money on replacing filters. It removes up to 99.97 percent of airborne particles at the tiny size of 0.3 microns. This includes pet dander and smoke particles.
Filter Clean Indicator
When a clean is needed, the unit will give you a quick reminder. A light will flash on the display panel, indicating it’s time for a wash.
If you’re often experiencing bad odors in your house due to pets or other factors, this purifier can help. Besides the washable filters, this purifier is also fitted with a replaceable odor-reducing filter. It effectively absorbs bad odors, gases, and even VOCs present in the air.
Keep In Mind
Not for Allergens
This filter removes a significant amount of air pollutants. However, several customers with allergies claimed it didn’t make much of a difference when it came to fine dust.
|Recommended Room Coverage||170 square feet|
3. Airdog X5 Air Purifier With Washable Filter
The Airdog X5 is the perfect addition to larger rooms and living areas. It’s fitted with a five-stage filtration system as well as an ionizer that helps to further eliminate pollutants in the air.
The filters are fully washable and are even dishwasher safe — a major plus for busy families. Unlike other purifiers, this unit doesn’t have any HEPA filters. Instead, the Airdog has a pre-filter, ionizer, collecting plates and an ozone generator.
It also has a modern design and smart features, such as an app-control. At low speed, it’s very quiet, excellent for night use.
Why We Love It
The five-stage system effectively eliminates a significant amount of pollutants from the air. The pre-filter captures larger particles such as pet dander and hair. Emitter wires dissipate electrons into the air, which kills bacteria.
An ionic field produces negatively charged ions that bind with positive particles, such as dust and smoke. The particles are then much denser and can’t float in the air — these are then collected on special plates. Airdog claims this is much more effective compared to HEPA filters.
The last part of the system is an ozone generator. It generates a safe amount of ozone (0.01 parts per million) every 24 hours.
When needed, the pre-filter is easily washed by hand or in the dishwasher. This makes the maintenance easy for even the busiest parent. Once the filter is dried entirely, you can put it back in place safely.
Operating this unit is super simple — there’s one button to press, so it’s quick to learn and figure out. You can also connect the unit to the Airdog Smart App — this enables you to control it from anywhere. Set your desired mode, enable the child lock or track the air quality from the palm of your hand.
Keep In Mind
Despite the fact that an ozone generator is a significant part of this unit, it’s still a concern. Although it produces small levels of ozone, it’s still something to be aware of before buying.
|Cleaning Method||Filter can be washed or vacuumed|
|Dust CADR||Not specified|
|Recommended Room Coverage||450 square feet|
4. Envion by Boneco Therapure Air Purifier
This air purifier is highly effective in the removal of allergens, odors, pet dander, smoke, bacteria and even chemical gases. It can clean a room of up to 343 square feet three times an hour.
The Therapure cleans and sanitizes the air through a UV-C light and ionizer. It has a high CADR rating when it comes to pollen, dust and smoke, all of which rate above 130.
One thing we like about this purifier is the towering design. It stands tall in a room without feeling or looking cumbersome, and it has a subtle LED light around the top.
Why We Love It
Sanitizes and Cleans
The HEPA-type filter effectively captures allergens and other particles, while the ionizer lends a helpful hand by eliminating particles from the air. Mold spores, bacteria, germs and viruses are blasted by the UV-C light.
Equipped with a 24-hour timer, you can set this purifier to activate or deactivate as needed. This saves you energy, for one. And it can come in handy if you want purified air before coming home at the end of the day.
Another smart feature is the optional ionizer. It generates negative ions which are released in the room. These eliminate the smallest airborne particles by binding to them and making them too heavy to stay in the air.
The permanent filter is easily removed when cleaning is needed. When a clean is necessary, the on-board clean filter indicator will let you know. You can then clean the filter using a vacuum cleaner.
Keep In Mind
Can Be Difficult to Clean
The permanent filter should be vacuumed, not washed. However, a few customers found that it required frequent cleaning and that it was difficult to get it fully clean.
|Recommended Room Coverage||343 square feet|
5. Honeywell Air Cleaner and Odor Reducer
For a thorough clean, we recommend the Honeywell AirGenius 5. It consists of two optional pre-filters: a washable filter and an odor-reducing pre-filter. These are designed to capture particles and odors before entering the permanent filter for a more thorough clean.
There’s a smart touch screen at the top where you can set the speed and mode of the unit. It comes with a timer and an optional oscillation.
What consumers like about this unit is the ultra-quiet operation. It’s virtually silent on low speed, while effectively cleaning your air.
The permanent filter is easily washed and the indicator on display will remind you when it’s time.
Why We Love It
The multiple pre-filters will provide a more thorough clean. Two of them are optional and can be removed if not needed.
One is a washable foam filter that captures particles such as dust and hair. There’s also an odor-reducing pre-filter, which absorbs unpleasant odors as well as smoke.
After the air has traveled through the multiple pre-filters, it’ll enter the permanent filter. Here, the Advanced iFD QuietClean technology will remove up to 99.9 percent of particles at the size of 0.3 microns.
Five Cleaning Settings
To make this purifier even more efficient, you can choose between five cleaning settings. These include germ, allergen, general, sleep and max. You can also set the fan speed to your desired level.
Unsure of the air quality? Then simply choose any one of the settings.
Energy Star Rated
If you want to clean your indoor air, but don’t want to ramp up your energy bills, check this out. This purifier is Energy Star rated for its energy efficiency.
The Honeywell AirGenius is covered by a five-year warranty. This can bring you peace of mind when purchasing and installing. If there are any defects or malfunctions due to manufacturing, you’re covered.
Keep In Mind
Lights Can’t Be Turned Off
Lights that can’t be turned off is a common complaint with various air purifiers. Unfortunately, this is no different. Several customers were disappointed that the lights didn’t turn off even when in sleep mode.
|Recommended Room Coverage||250 square feet|
6. Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier with Washable Filter
The Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier is our best pick for daytime and night time. It has four fan speeds. The high and turbo speeds are the most effective and work great during the day. They’ll purify the air quicker and more effectively, although they are a bit noisier.
However, the low and medium settings are nearly silent and great for night time. But you don’t have to do this manually. The sleep mode sensors detect the light in the room so it knows when it’s night time. It then adjusts the fan speed, dims the indicator light and continues cleaning at a quieter volume so you can have clean air without being woken up.
Why We Love It
This air purifier captures 99.97% of particles, down to 0.3 microns in size. This includes pollen, dust, smoke, hair, bacteria, mold spores, dander and vocs. All these elements can reduce the air quality in your home — but the Winix ensures that it captures the majority of them so you can have the cleanest and healthiest air possible.
The smart sensors automatically monitor the air in your home. The machine will indicate the air quality on a scale of good to poor. Blue means good, amber means okay and red means poor, so it eliminates the guesswork for you! When there is a change in the air quality, the fan speed will adjust to clean the air most effectively. This also saves energy, as the machine won’t use the turbo speed unless necessary.
3 Stage Purification
How does this air purifier work? Well, it has three stages.
First, it uses advanced odor control to eliminate household odors from cooking, pets, smoke and more. It catches airborne particles found inside which also prolongs the lifespan of the HEPA Filter.
Next, the True HEPA filter catches 99.97% of the airborne particles. Note that when the filter needs replaced, an indicator light will come on to let you know.
Lastly, there is PlasmaWave Technology. This safely breaks down the captured particles without emitting harmful Ozone or byproducts. If you want to, you can turn this function off.
Keep In Mind
Expensive Filter Replacements
Before you buy, note that the filter replacements for this air purifier are expensive. In fact, one filter is about ⅓ the price of the actual unit. However, it’s only the HEPA filter that needs replaced. The PlasmaWave filter is permanent and the carbon filter is washable.
|Recommended Room Coverage||360 square feet|
Detailed Comparison Chart
|Product||Best||Cleaning Method||Ionizer||Energy Star||Dust CADR||Recommended Room Coverage|
|Hamilton Beach TrueAir HEPA Filter||Compact Air Purifier||Filter can be vacuumed||No||No||N/A||160 sq ft|
|Honeywell Washable Filters||Medium-Sized Rooms||Washable||Yes||Yes||100||170 sq ft|
|Airdog X5 Air Purifier||App-Controlled||Filter can be washed or vacuumed||Yes||No||N/A||450 sq ft|
|Boneco Therapure Envion Air Purifier||Air Sanitizer||Vacuum||Yes||No||132||343 sq ft|
|Honeywell Air Cleaner & Odor Reducer||Pre-Filters||Washable||Yes||Yes||160||250 sq ft|
|Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier with Washable Filter||Pre-Filters||Washable||Yes||Yes||243||360 sq ft|
Using an air purifier with a reusable filter can save you money and time in the long run. However, these tend to be less effective compared to replaceable filters as they’re of lower quality.
When searching for the best air purifier with permanent washable filters, consider the room it will cover. We also recommend that you look for good CADR ratings to ensure effectiveness.