Breathing is a function that’s essential to life, and taking in polluted air that is tainted with VOCs and other chemicals like formaldehyde can lead to irreversible health problems. But most of us don’t even know that we’re breathing tainted air, and it’s normal to assume that the oxygen within our homes is completely safe.
A home should be a safe place, and no family should have to worry about suffering long term effects from pollutants and chemicals in the air. Using an air purifier to filter out things that we shouldn’t be breathing in, and this doesn’t just include common pollutants like dust, smoke, and pet dander. The right air purifier can also eliminate up to 99.9% of VOCs and formaldehyde.
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How Air Purifiers Remove VOCs & Formaldehyde
The question “do air purifiers get rid of VOCs?” has been on the minds of homeowners for years, and the answer is yes and no.
Some air purifiers are not built with technology that can remove these gaseous chemicals, HEPA filters specifically. But on the flip side, there are some air purifiers available that are indeed capable of removing just about all harmful pollutants, including VOCs.
A VOC air purifier can get the job done in one of two ways. The first is called Photo Electrochemical Oxidation technology (PECO for short). This purifying method destroys VOCs as they pass through the filter, and it’s the most effective method by far.
An air purifier with an activated carbon filtration system is another option, but instead of destroying VOCs entirely, this method merely traps the pollutants. Over time as the filter becomes more saturated, there’s some concern that these VOCs will be released back into the air. But as long as you keep up with filter replacements, carbon filtration can also be useful.
VOC Air Purifiers Compared
Choosing Air Purifiers for VOCs & Formaldehyde
We already discussed the two filtration methods for removing VOCs and formaldehyde (PECO and activated carbon), and it’s pretty obvious which one is better. PECO is the superior choice, and it’s a long-term solution against VOCs. Activated carbon filtration can help with the problem on a short-term timeframe, but there’s the concern that the VOCs aren’t actually being eliminated.
Particle Removal Capacity
This refers to how many particles a purifier is capable of removing from the air, and at what rate. You’ll typically see it listed on an air purifier as the CADR, which stands for Clean Air Delivery Rate.
This is the value of how many particles can be removed from a certain amount of space, which is measured in cubic square feet. It’s a bit more technical than that, but the main thing you should know is that the higher the CADR, the better.
Room Size vs. Coverage Area
Always, always, always know that size of the space you’ll be purifying before choosing an air purifier for VOC removal. Every purifier is meant for a specific coverage area, and this info will be clearly labeled. Before anything else, compare the square footage of your space with the purifier’s coverage area.
- Quiet Operation
The best purifiers barely make a peep but try to confirm the decibel rating, especially if this machine is intended for the bedroom, and you want to get a good night’s sleep.
- Easy to Use
No matter how high-tech a purifier is, operating it should never feel like rocket science. The control panel should be neat and tidy, and if there’s a compatible app, check out the reviews to see how users feel about the app features.
With all the sleek and slim purifiers available, there’s absolutely no reason yours should be an eyesore in the middle of the room. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find one that fits your home’s interior.
- Smart Technology & Air Quality Display
A purifier with Smart features can accomplish a lot; it can even be controlled with voice activation or a mobile app. Whether you’re into that or not, definitely look for one with a display feature that shows the current quality of your home’s air (some even show the outdoor air quality as well).
- Energy Efficiency
Just like with air conditioners, some purifiers are more efficient than others. Look for the Energy Star certification, but also look for a machine that has a smart energy-saving mode (this is often called Eco Mode).
Price Vs. Usage
Technically, you can’t put a price on your health, so try not to be too frugal about this purchase. That said, try to choose a purifier that is at least somewhat close to your budget. And don’t just look at the initial cost of the machine, but also consider how much it will cost you in filter replacements every year.
7 Best Air Purifiers for VOCs & Formaldehyde Reviewed
1. Molekule Air Purifier
|Filtration Type||PECO + Pre-Filter|
|Filtration Life||PECO: 6 months, Pre: 3 months|
|Particle Removal Rate||N/A|
|Coverage Area||600 sq. ft.|
The main reason that we’ve rated the Molekule Air Purifier as the best air purifier for VOCs and formaldehyde is that it uses advanced PECO filtration technology. PECO filtering is by far the best option for removing VOCs from your home, and it’s not just a temporary solution like it is with carbon filtration.
In addition to eliminated VOCs and formaldehyde particles, the Molekule’s PECO nanotechnology destroys allergens, mold, bacteria, and viruses. There are several options to choose from, but we recommend the Molekule Air and PECO filter bundle since it comes with everything you need to start breathing healthier, cleaner air.
This purifier is designed for large spaces up to 600 square feet, so it’s great for the master bedroom, living room, or family room. It’s super portable and even comes with a leather handle at the top so you can easily move it around the house with no trouble. The design is not only lightweight but also nice to look at. This canister-style purifier has a glossy metallic finish that fits well in modern spaces.
The touch screen display adds both style and convenience, and you never have to worry about this purifier emitting ozone. Just as VOCs are eliminated, the Molekule does the same for ozone by completely destroying it. It’s recommended that you change the pre-filter every 3 months and the PECO filter every 6 months, which is pretty standard.
The chief complaint about the Molekule is that it’s pricy, but considering it’s completely smart functional and can be paired with a mobile app, we’re not all that surprised by the high cost. The app could definitely use some improvements, but Molekule is constantly working on making it better and more user-friendly.
- PECO filtration
- Controlled via smart devices
- Sleek and portable
- Destroys ozone
- High initial cost
- Mobile app needs improvement
2. NuWave OXYPURE
|Filtration Type||HEPA + Carbon|
|Filtration Life||Carbon: 1 year, Others: 20 years|
|Particle Removal Rate||346 (dust)|
|Coverage Area||515 sq. ft.|
The NuWave OxyPure Smart air purifier is a slightly more affordable option, and better yet, the 4-part filtration system is extremely long-lasting. If you’re looking for a purifier that doesn’t have you constantly worrying about filter replacements, this is the best air purifier for VOC removal in the long term.
Stage 1 is the reusable stainless steel pre-filter, which can last for as long as 20 years. The next stage, the Bio-Guard filter, also has a 20-year lifespan, and the same goes for the Ozone Emission Removal Filter. The last filtration stage, which is a combination of HEPA and activated carbon, needs to be replaced every year, but this is still considered super long-lasting.
This purifier has received all the top industry certifications and has been certified by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), the California Air Review Board (CARB), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Energy Star). It’s backed by a 3-year warranty, which is longer than many other brands on the market.
Unlike the Molekule, the NuWave DOES NOT use PECO filtration technology. The combination of HEPA and carbon filtration is successful for capturing VOC chemicals and formaldehyde, but it doesn’t eliminate them. This means that these contaminants are just trapped, and if the filters aren’t changed as soon as they need to be, you pose the risk of releasing the VOCs back into your home. Just make sure to pay close attention to the filter change indicator.
- Long-lasting filters
- Top industry certifications
- Long warranty period
- High CADR
- No PECO filtration
- Challenges with iPhone syncing
3. Dyson Pure Cool, DP04-HEPA
Best Air Purifier & Fan for VOC Removal
|Filtration Life||1 year|
|Particle Removal Rate||85 (dust)|
|Coverage Area||400 sq. ft.|
Most people think of vacuums when they hear the name Dyson, but this company has also made a name for itself in the clean air industry. The Dyson DP04-HEPA purifier automatically removes dust, allergens, pollutants, mold, and yes, VOCs, with its cooling fan technology. It’s small enough to fit on a desk or tabletop, yet mighty enough to purify a room around 400 square feet (some users even say 500).
All Dyson technology is aimed at promoting a cleaner, healthier home, and this is exactly what the DP04 does. The HEPA filter has been proven to be successful at capturing even the tiniest particles, trapping up to 99.97% of contaminants as small as 0.3 microns. Just like with the NuWave, Dyson’s HEPA filter doesn’t completely eliminate VOCs. It only traps them, so be sure to keep up with filter replacements.
Speaking of replacements, you’ll need to change out the HEPA filter every year. There’s also an inner carbon filter, which also needs changing once a year. The best feature of the Dyson is the 360-degree oscillation, which gives you peace of mind since it literally targets all corners and angles of the room.
The phrase “high-tech” is the perfect description of the DP04. In terms of aesthetics, it looks like it came straight from the future, and the functionality is just as advanced. It is capable of automatically sensing and reacting to changes in air quality. Then it reports pollution updates in real-time on the purifier’s LCD screen or via the Dyson Link app.
All in all, this is a solid choice for VOC removal, but it’s pricy considering its small size. The moderately priced filters make up for this, though, as well as the fact that you should only have to change them out once every year, depending on your home’s air quality. The only other complaint is that the noise level can reach 57 decibels on the highest setting, which is reasonable but not whisper-quiet.
- Small yet powerful
- 360-degree oscillation
- Great mobile app
- Simple LCD screen
- Real-time pollution updates
- High cost for small purifier
- Noisy on high setting
4. Austin Air A250B1
Best Small Air Purifier for VOCs & Formaldehyde
|Filtration Life||1 year|
|Particle Removal Rate||~120 (dust)|
|Coverage Area||700 sq. ft.|
Purifiers come in all shapes and sizes, and in many cases, the larger the size, the more powerful the purification. But this isn’t the case for the Austin Air A250B1, which is the perfect choice for anyone in the market for a small air purifier for formaldehyde and VOC removal. This model is specifically designed for smaller spaces and has compact dimensions of 11 x 11 x 16.5 inches.
The A250B1 is built with a true medical-grade HEPA filter that removes 99.97% of all particles larger than 0.3 microns, including harmful chemicals, noxious gases, VOCs, formaldehyde, and of course your standard pollutants like pollen, dust, smoke, and pet hair. All particles that pass through this purifier go through 4 stages of filtration, and the 360-degree intake fan ensures that air is drawn in from all sides.
There’s a reason that the A250B1 is called the HealthMate.
Austin Air claims that this top-selling model “eases headaches and reduces nausea related to chemical exposure; helps reduce coughing, wheezing and sneezing, dry mouth, runny nose; reduces nighttime allergies and asthma attacks, snoring, and helps you sleep better; strengthens the immune system.”
In the user manual, Austin Air says that the HEPA filter usually needs replacing every 5 years (the pre-filter can just be washed and reused). Some A250B1 users complain that they only get 3 or 4 years of filter use, but this is still much longer than the average filter lifespan. Remember that filter life depends on your home’s air quality, and dirtier air will require more frequent filter replacements.
Aside from that minor complaint, the only thing we don’t love about the Austin Air is that it’s deceivingly heavy. The design is compact, but the machine weighs over 20 pounds, so moving it around the house won’t be easy for everyone. Also, keep in mind that this purifier is not compatible with WiFi/mobile app, so you won’t be able to control it from your phone.
- 3 fan settings
- Compact dimensions
- Medical-grade HEPA filter
- 360-degree intake fan
- Great for allergies/asthma
- No smart functionality
- Deceivingly heavy
5. Alen BreatheSmart FIT50
Best with Various Filters Available
|Filtration Type||HEPA + Carbon|
|Filtration Life||1 year|
|Particle Removal Rate||194 (dust)|
|Coverage Area||900 sq. ft.|
The Alen BreatheSmart FIT50 lets you choose the exact filtration system that works best for your specific needs. This purifier has a filter for everything, including allergies/dust, mold/bacteria, pet dander/odor, and smoke/chemical. Each screen is capable of capturing up to 99.97% of particles from the air that are larger than 0.3 microns in size, but the one you’ll want to go with is the Alen BreatheSmart air purifier for chemicals and VOCs (it’s labeled as Smoke/Chemical or HEPA Fresh Plus).
The reason that this specific filter is best for removing VOCs from your home’s air is that it includes carbon filtrations. The other Alen filters just use HEPA, but Alen knows that removing chemicals from the air requires the added step of activated carbon filtration. But don’t worry, it also works to remove the common pollutants like dust, pollen, pet hair, odors, and other allergens.
This is not the most budget-friendly option, but that’s mostly because this is a compact workhorse that can purify a massive space of 900 square feet. It turns over the air every 30 minutes and does so without making a peep. When the advanced air quality sensor detects particles in the air that shouldn’t be present, it changes color to reflect the current air quality. This makes it easy to always stay updated on what you and your family are breathing in.
Another cool thing about the Alen Fit50 is that you have a complete say in the overall design of your new purifier. There are 8 different designer panel options to choose from, offering multiple colors, textures, faux woods, and metal panels to match perfectly with your home’s interior.
Like any purifier, the Fit50 doesn’t come without a few flaws. The first is that the ~200 CADR rating for this machine is relatively low considering the high coverage area, so using this in a 900-square-foot space might be pushing it. Second, the cost of the HEPA replacement filter isn’t cheap, but the good news is that you should get at least 1 year of use out of it.
- Multiple design options
- Multiple filtration options
- Advanced air quality sensor
- Efficient auto mode
- Low CADR for coverage area
- The high cost of filters
6. Airpura F600
Best Portable Air Purifiers for VOCs
|Filtration Type||HEPA + Carbon|
|Filtration Life||HEPA: 5 years, Carbon: 2 years|
|Particle Removal Rate||~500 (dust)|
|Coverage Area||Up to 2000 sq. ft.|
If you’re looking to improve the air quality of the entire home, but aren’t into the idea of buying multiple purifiers, the easy solution is to choose a portable machine, like the Airpura F600. Although it’s not the smallest model on this list of best air purifiers for VOCs, the F600 comes with portability features that make it the most convenient for moving around the house.
It sits on 4 caster wheels, so when you’re ready to move it from the kitchen to the bedroom, simply roll it to your desired spot. Portability is just an added perk; the best part of the Airpura is the extra-large carbon filter that is ideal for VOC removal, specifically formaldehyde. If you know that your home’s air is heavily polluted with chemicals, this air purifier is up for the challenge.
Here’s what the manufacturer has to say about the F600’s filtration system: “The Airpura F600 and F600 DLX Air Purifiers are commercial-grade air purifiers designed to trap toxic formaldehyde, VOCs, smoke, and other harmful fumes that could lead to serious health effects. Each air purifier features a 3-stage filtration system designed to address both particle and gaseous pollutants.”
These 3 filtration stages include a pre-filter, a large carbon bed, and a HEPA filter. The pre-filter traps large particles to help extend the lifespan of the HEPA and carbon filters. Then, the HEPA filter captures smaller dust and allergen particles while the carbon bed traps all the chemical contaminants (VOCs) that are polluting your home.
This is a commercial/industrial purifier and can be used in spaces as large as 2000 square feet. The price reflects this, but even though it’s not cheap, the F600 sure is effective. Unfortunately, will so much power means that the highest setting can get noisy (as loud as 62 decibels), but on the low setting it usually remains between 30 and 40 dB.
- Long filter life
- Ideal for formaldehyde
- Impressive carbon filtration
- Eco-friendly design
- Built to last
- Loud on the highest setting
7. TaoTronics HEPA Air Purifier
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|Filtration Type||HEPA + Carbon|
|Filtration Life||3-6 months|
|Particle Removal Rate||300 (dust)|
|Coverage Area||320 sq. ft.|
We’ve covered a lot of great options here, but so far, none of them fall into the budget-friendly category. Well, not to worry, because the last model we’ll be covering is an affordable option for VOC removal: the TaoTronics HEPA air purifier. It’s not as advanced as the Molekule or Alen purifiers, but it’s definitely the best choice for anyone on a budget who wants to boost their home’s air quality.
The TaoTronics purifier uses HEPA filtration combined with activated carbon to filter out pollutants in rooms up to 320 square feet. It uses the standard pre-filter to remove large particles early on in the filtration process, and finally, the activated carbon filter works to remove airborne chemical contaminants.
Considering the low price tag, it’s surprising just how many features and settings the TaoTronics comes with. It has 4-in-1 functionality that includes a sleep mode, auto mode, timer, and negative ion mode. It also has 4 fan settings, allowing you to select the speed that meets your specific purification needs. It even comes with a built-in smart sensor that detects and displays air quality in real-time.
The design is nothing to rave about, and it won’t be effective in large spaces, but overall, the TaoTronics is the perfect solution if you don’t want to break the bank. The main downside is the short lifespan for both the HEPA and carbon filters; it’s recommended that you replace both every 3-6 months.
- 4 fan speeds
- Auto and sleep modes
- Air quality monitor
- Good CADR
- Extremely portable
- Unappealing design features
- Short filter life
Understanding VOCs & Formaldehydes
There’s no denying that formaldehyde and VOCs have a significant impact on indoor air quality. But what most people don’t realize is that these chemicals are found in products that we use in our homes every single day. Here’s what the EPA has to say about the most common sources of VOCs:
“VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes, and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing and hobby products.”
To sum it up, here are some sources of VOCs that nearly all Americans are exposed to daily:
- Paints and Paint-Related Products
- Aerosol Sprays and Scented Materials
- Cleansers and Disinfectants
- Fuels and Automotive Supplies
Just like VOCs, formaldehyde (which is most commonly used in pressed wood products, glues, and adhesives) can have some adverse health effects. The American Cancer Society says that exposure to formaldehyde “has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory test animals. Relatively high amounts of formaldehyde in medical and occupational settings has been linked to some types of cancer in humans.
Luckily, there are a few ways of removing VOCs and formaldehyde, and the simplest is to invest in an air purifier that has been reviewed and rated for VOC removal.
Ways of Removing VOCs Indoor
Most of us strive to live in a non-toxic home, but for some of us, investing in an air purifier and adding in the cost of replacement filters doesn’t fit within the budget. Although an air purifier is the most effective removal technique, here are a few more ways to remove, or at least minimize VOCs in the home:
- Open windows frequently to improve indoor air quality
- Add plants to your home; they work to absorb VOCs
- Install drywall that is specifically designed to absorb VOCs
- Reduce your VOC sources as much as possible
People Also Ask (FAQ)
How often do I need to change the filters for my air purifier?
This depends entirely on the model you’ve chosen, so you’ll have to check the owner’s manual or get in touch with the manufacturer directly. In most cases, a filter should last at least 3 months, but it could be shorter or longer depending on the quality of your air and the specific purifier.
How do I check and detect levels of VOCs inside my home or office?
Before buying an air purifier to remove VOC contaminants, it’s a good idea to check your home’s current VOC levels. The best way to measure VOCs in the air is through a photoionization detector.
Foobot says that this method works by “using ultraviolet light to break down airborne VOCs into either positive or negative ions. Once broken down, the detector can then measure or detect the charge of the ionized gas.”
How long should I run an air purifier for VOC and formaldehyde removal?
Most purifiers come with a Smart mode, which means the machine will determine when to kick on and off based on the current air quality. However, it’s important to keep in mind that removing VOCs is much more complicated than removing pet dander and other pollutants, so the purifier typically needs to run for a while for complete VOC/formaldehyde removal.
What are the best ways to improving the air quality inside the home?
The first step is investing in an air purifier, but there’s more that you can be doing for cleaner air. Here are a few of the simplest ways to improve your home’s air quality:
- Change out your AC filter
- Use your cooking vents, especially when cooking with oils/fats
- Get your rugs and carpets professionally cleaned
- Keep your home at the ideal humidity
- Buy plants for inside the house (this is a great decorative tip, too!)
How long do these air purifiers last?
It depends on how often you use it and how well you treat it. But as long as you keep up with maintenance and filter replacements, your air purifier could potentially last for decades. Filters, on the other hand, typically only last a maximum of 1 year (but more realistically 3-6 months).
What does off-gassing mean?
According to Coway, a leading air purification brand, off-gassing is when “new, manufactured items in our homes release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals.”
It’s most common with new furniture as the paint, glue, finishing, and other substances from tables, chairs, cabinets, etc. settle into your home’s air.
There’s an obvious reason that the Molekule model is the best VOC air purifier to top our list. Rather than the typical HEPA + carbon filtration system, this one uses a PECO filter, which is the best for the long-term elimination of airborne chemicals like VOCs and formaldehyde. If you’ve got the money to spend, this is definitely the one to go with.