Breath in.. if you can.
In case you struggle, an air purifier with a permanent/washable filter is the solution to your problems. Constant air pollution can cause respiratory complications that tend to build up.
An air cleaner can effectively remove a wide range of air contaminants from your home, office or both.
From paint fumes to large dust, closed spaces are full of particles too little to settle down and too big for us to inhale safely: Nasal irritation, allergens, pet dander, and heavy debris, along with second-hand tobacco smoke, mold spores, various particulate matter such as flying ash, smog, dust mite feces and virus bacteria – they all pose hazardous risks to your health and only an air purifier with a washable filter is the best equipped to tackle them all.
People often ask: ‘Is there an air purifier with reusable filters and are washable air filters good at all?’
They have only recently come on the market, but thankfully, the answer is now: Air purifier, no filter change – YES there is.
In this buying guide, Freshairguide.com reviews and rates the best air purifiers with cleanable filters that you can wash yourself.
- Some air purifiers come with fully washable filters that require maintenance on a regular basis. Some of them need to be replaced anyway, while others are permanent.
- The majority of affordable air purifiers come with replaceable filters where the average HEPA filter needs a replacement once every 6 to 12 months depending on the intensity of use.
- High-efficiency particulate absorber (HEPA) filters extract up to 99.97% of 0.3-micrometer debris and are best at filtering large ones. HEPA purifiers use a conventional easy-to-clean pre-filter to weed out large dust and leaves the fine refinement of dirt for the permanent one.
We also get asked a lot: ‘Are air purifiers with washable filter ozone free?’
Well, as they are so new to the market and because this is an redundant concern with older model air purifiers – the answer is generally yes, they are ozone free.
Top 7 Air Purifiers with Washable Filters Comparison Table
Here’s what to look for when out to buy an air purifier with a cleanable filter:
- Size: The levels of suction required depends on whether the air cleaner is meant to purify air in a small or large room.
- Mobility: Units can weigh up to 20 pounds and above. Keep an eye out for wheels, handles, and other means to help you change rooms easier.
- Functionality: Different products can target different air pollution – cigarette smoke, mold, allergens and more.
- Expense: Some purifiers will have the energy star label while others feature an eco-friendly mode which shuts down the unit when air pollution levels are low. Bear this in mind when looking at Inexpensive products.
Air Purifier Permanent Filter vs Replaceable?
Both options have their pros and cons (reviewed bellow) but the comparison comes down to: Efficiency vs Budget.
- To use washable filter air purifiers – Healthier but pricier.
- To use a filterless air purifier – inexpensive but less efficient.
What features do the best filterless/permanent purifiers have?
- A programmable timer – allows you to set an on/off schedule to run before you enter your home or office.
- A dirt sensor – to monitor the ratio of air pollution and thus adjust itself.
- CADR speed – the clean-air-delivery rate (CADR) tracks the filtration pace. Over 350 is best, below 100 is insufficient.
- A servicing indicator – to alert you whether the filters need a replacement or wash.
- An ionizer – to amass and trap particles via static electricity.
- A fan – makes the difference between a quiet air purifier with a washable filter and a loud one. However, units without fans have poor performance.
- Handles and wheels – so you can easily relocate the unit from one room to another.
Air cleaners with washable filters do vary in coverage:
- Up to 199 sq ft
- 200 to 299 sq ft
- 300 to 399 sq ft
- 400 to 499 sq ft
The type and model to work best depends on the size of your rooms:
- Small room air purifier with a permanent and reusable filter – often called “junior” or “baby” purifiers. Make sure you’re looking at HEPA air purifiers with permanent filters.
- Medium room air purifiers with a permanent and cleanable filter – can still balance size and efficiency. Many products with carbon and HEPA filters will fit your desk or bookshelf.
- Large room air cleaners with washable filters (no replacement) – for use in the 300 to 399 sq ft region, products with eco-friendly and sleep modes are the best pick when a victim of allergens. Within the 400 to 499 sq ft range, you could consider mold, pet smell and smoke when choosing the best air purifier for you.
- Low or non-existent maintenance cost
- Simple cleaning routine
- Frequent cleaning maintains improved air quality
- Saved time on ordering new filters
Although often used together, both terms are quite different.
Cleanable filters you can rinse yourself, while permanent filters are indissoluble and can’t be replaced. For the second you will need a vacuum or dry cloth to properly clean for washing them is not allowed.
What is a Washable Filter?
While you can find washable pre-filters in the majority of modern air purifiers, other filters are rarely washable.
Washable Carbon Filters – Sometimes, you will come across an air purifier with a reusable carbon filter. This is a good option for households or other spaces that are exposed to smoke and other strong odors. Carbon filters are also great at dealing with volatile organic compoundv (VOCs), chemicals, and various odors, so washing them every couple of weeks is the best way to tackle unpleasant smells. Eventually, you will need to replace the carbon filter as it does wear out, but being able to wash and clean it, will prolong the lifespan considerably.
Washable HEPA Filters – Some manufacturers offer washable HEPA filters. However, these filters are rarely the top grade of HEPA filter and usually inferior in quality. Washing a HEPA filter will most likely destroy the delicate arrangement of the fibers, which allow the filter to deal with 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in diameter. The maximum level of cleaning a real HEPA filter can usually endure is delicate vacuuming.
If you see an air purifier with a washable HEPA filter, it’s probably not a Pure or True HEPA but a HEPA 4 filter, which is virtually useless for small particles. Even if after cleaning it, the filter looks intact from the outside, it is likely to be ruined on the inside. Eventually, you would still need to replace this type of filter.
What is a Permanent Filter?
Permanent filters don’t need to be replaced. They are designed and built to last if you keep up with the required cleaning. The main benefit of such a filter is the non-existent annual maintenance cost. You simply take the filter out, wash it under tap water and place it back into the unit.
Even though such filters are convenient, they are not as effective as non-washable HEPA filters. In the majority of cases, they can capture particles of about 2 microns in diameter, thus being useless for people with serious respiratory or allergy problems.
Washable and Permanent Filters: Pros and Cons
- Reusable filters can’t do a job as good as regular HEPA filters since they fail to capture smaller particles
- Devices with such filters are less common than purifiers with replaceable filters
- Typically, air purifiers with such filters are a bad pick for filtrating air in large rooms
Overall, I would recommend looking for air purifiers with washable pre-filters and carbon filters while avoiding units with the so-called cleanable HEPA filters. You should also consider models with permanent filters as long as you don’t have severe allergies or asthma.
How to wash air purifier filters?
By the book, if HEPA, you should not wash it but rather change.
But… if 100% determined to do so, you have two options depending on the type of HEPA filter.
Washing an air purifier reusable filter:
- Carefully dismantle the unit
- Gently take the filter down
- Cautiously рinse it
- Let it dry
Important: DO NOT TOUCH HEPA filter surfaces with anything BUT water.
Cleaning an air purifier permanent filter:
- Dismantle the cover lid
- Vacuum thoroughly
- Keep away from water
Below I would like to review three best air purifies with washable filters on the market right now.
1. Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier
This is an excellent air purifier with two washable filters. This model has a sleek design with an impressive array of smart options. The air purifier is designed to handle large rooms up to 370 square feet.Filtration System
This air purifier has a four-stage filtration system:
- AOC Carbon filter
- TrueHEPA filter
- PlasmaWave ionizer
The combination of these filters achieves an impressive effect. The pre-filter and AOC carbon filter can be washed. The pre-filter is permanent while the carbon filter needs to be replaced once a year.Smart Options
The air purifier has numerous smart options including the highly important air quality sensor, which monitors the air quality and adjusts the fan speed accordingly. Other options are:
- Light Sensor
- Auto and Sleep Modes
- Odor Sensor
- Filter Replacement Indicator
This machine is very quiet. At the lowest fan setting, it produces 26 dB, which is excellent for the nighttime in the bedroom.Pros:
- Washable filters
- Numerous smart options
- Large service area
- 2-year warranty
- High price
I would recommend this air purifier to anyone who needs to clean the air from VOCs, smoke, and odors.
Check out my full review of the Winix 5500-2 here
Levoit LV-PUR131 Air Purifier
This air purifier has an excellent filtration system for people who suffer from allergies. Even though only one filter is washable, the maintenance cost of this unit is reasonably low. It’s created to service rooms up to about 250 square feet. The design is simple and the controls are very straightforward.Filtration System
The air purifier comes with a permanent pre-filter, which captures large particles, not allowing them to reach the other filters. You can wash the pre-filter once a month to ensure clean air. Other filters are:
- Activated Carbon Filter
- TrueHEPA Filter
For a moderately priced air purifier, this model is equipped with many useful smart options:
- Sleep Mode
- Auto Mode
- Filter Replacement Indicator
- Air Quality Indicator
The air purifier is far from being the quietest on the market. It produces about 50 dB at the quietest setting.Pros:
- Washable pre-filter
- Numerous smart options
- 2-year warranty
- Energy efficiency
- Small service area
I would recommend this unit to anyone looking for a moderately priced air purifier with an excellent filtration system.
Check out my full review of the LV Pur131 here
3. Honeywell HFD-120-Q Air Purifier Review
According to Amazon, the full name of this unit is: Honeywell hfd-120-q quietclean tower air purifier with permanent washable filters - quite the mouthful! It is however worth a good review as it's quite unique in the air purifier world due to its permanent filter option. This means you don’t have to spend any money on the annual maintenance of this unit.
The coverage area of the air purifier, declared by the manufacturer, is 170 square feet. This tower air purifier comes with an ionizer and a limited number of smart options. However, many users have given it excellent reviews. Let’s go deeper into the specs.
The filtration system of this air purifier is different from the majority of the units I’ve reviewed. Unfortunately, it shows worse results than the HEPA filtration system. On the other hand, it’s cheaper and easier to maintain.
Pre-Filter – A washable pre-filter holds the large particles away from the main filters, thus keeping them clean longer. This filter takes care of large pieces of dust, pet hair, and more, but does require cleaning once a month.
IFD Permanent filters – These two permanent filters take care of small particles of about 2 microns in size. The filters should be washed on a regular basis, but thankfully there is a cleanliness indicator that can help you see when the filters need to be maintained.
Ionizer – The ionizer attracts negatively and positively charged particles to keep the air feeling and smelling fresh. The ionizer isn’t optional however, its permanently on when the device is switched on.Design And Smart Options
This tower air purifier has an excellent design. You can fit it in a room of any size and even put it up on a table if you wish. It weighs around 14 pounds and it's dimensions are 28.7 x 11.2 x 10 inches.
The control panel is pretty straightforward. You can turn the oscillation feature on and off and set the fan speed.
This air purifier doesn’t have too many smart options. It comes with a filter indicator, which shows when the IFD filters need to be washed.Coverage Area
The manufacturer claims that this air purifier can work in rooms of 170 square feet in size. Let’s check out the CADR ratings:
- Dust – 100
- Smoke – 110
- Pollen – 132
By using a simple formula (CADR x 1.5), we see that this air purifier can service rooms between 150 and 198 square feet. Thus, the average room size is about 170 square feet, just as the manufacturer reports.Noise Levels
This unit is declared as an extra quiet one. However, the noise levels aren’t as low as I would wish for as a light sleeper.
- Speed 1 – 40 dB
- Speed 2 – 46 dB
- Speed 3 – 51 dB
In my opinion, 40 dB is a bit high for comfortable sleeping. However, many users report that the white noise this air purifier emits makes them sleep better. The rest of the speeds are too loud for sleep but reasonable for regular daytime activities.Warranty
The unit comes with an excellent 5-year warranty. However Honeywell offers this warranty in the USA and Canada only.Pros:
- Permanent filters (no replacement costs)
- Low initial cost
- Sleek design
- 5-year warranty
- Easy operation
- Simple maintenance
- The filter is less effective than HEPA
- Lack of smart options
Honeywell HFD-120-Q Air Purifier Conclusion
This unit is moderately priced, which makes it a good choice for users with low budgets. It has a 3-stage filtration system, which doesn’t require filter replacement. The maintenance is quick and easy. I would highly recommend this Honeywell air purifier with washable filters to people on a tight budget, who don’t have severe allergies or respiratory problems.
This article was written by Julia Montague - check out her author bio here