Photo of Bacteria and Sick WomanDid you know that air purifiers can eliminate bacteria, viruses, and germs from your home?

It’s true.

Even though air purifiers are most well known for removing dust, allergens, smoke, and odors, there are some models that have been designed specifically to tackle microorganisms.

So if you’re looking to find the best air purifier for bacteria and viruses, then you’ve landed on the right page.

Below, you’ll discover what the top features are to look for in a germ air purifier as well as a list of the top products available today.

You’ll also find some important information about bacteria, germs, and viruses so you walk away with a complete understanding of how to protect your health and home.


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In a hurry? Here’s a glimpse of two of the best products you can get. (There are five brands in total.)

You’ll find out more about these air purifiers in the detailed reviews and buying guide below.

Top ChoiceSilverOnyx

Second BestAlen BreatheSmart


Before we jump into the details about finding an air purifier for bacteria and viruses, it’s important that you know a few things about these types of germs.

Knowledge is power and this information below is here to help you become better informed when it comes to making the right purchase.

How Bacteria and Viruses Actually Get Spread

Did you know that there are three main ways in which bacteria and germs are spread around your home?

Fortunately, you can control two of these ways if you’re diligent and careful, but the third will require a special air purifier device. Those forms of spreading germs include:

  1. Physical contact with another person
  2. Touching surfaces
  3. Breathing in droplets from the air

In regards to the first two items on the list, limiting your physical contact with someone who’s sick is the easiest way to stay healthy, but it’s not guaranteed. Not touching the surfaces inside a room that’s been infected is another simple measure you can take to improve your chances of not contracting an illness.

But as you’ll learn below, airborne bacteria and viruses can be the largest threat to your health.

It’s almost impossible to keep yourself from breathing in germs that are floating around in the air. That’s because bacteria and viruses easily spread through coughing, sneezing, and yes, even breathing.

Germs Can Remain Airborne for Hours

The collection of particles that leaves your mouth every time it’s opened is referred to as “aerosols.” And these aerosols can remain suspended in the air for a few minutes up to several hours.

Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) determined that coughs and sneezes float much farther than we think, up to 200 feet (or 6 meters). That’s about two-thirds the length of a football field. And these same aerosols can also travel up to 100 miles per hour (or 160 km/h) when sneezing or coughing hard enough.

Unfortunately, these aerosols make up invisible gas clouds that you can’t escape from and carry potentially infectious droplets that infiltrate the air you breathe.

It’s no wonder why dedicated air purifiers for bacteria and viruses were invented. The obvious need for them has become so great, especially with the global rise of infectious outbreaks. You can find out what the best germ air purifiers are later in this guide, but for now, let’s look at the most common types of illness you can be exposed to on a daily basis.

Most Common Airborne Bacteria and Viruses

Some of the most common diseases that are contracted through pathogens in the air include:

  • Common Cold (Rhinovirus)
  • Influenza (Flu)
  • Chickenpox (Varicella Zoster)
  • Mumps (Rubulavirus)
  • Measles (Morbillivirus)
  • Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
  • Mycobacterium Tuberculosis
  • Anthrax (Bacillus Anthracis)
  • Diphtheria (Corynebacterium Diphtheriae)
  • Meningitis (Meningococcus)

A few of the above illnesses can be prevented through vaccinations (i.e. Chickenpox and Measles) but others may infect you no matter if you get a vaccine or not (i.e. Influenza). Others, like the Common Cold, are not preventable and can hit you any time of year.

Why It’s Important to Use an Air Purifier in Your Home

Obviously, when you’re indoors, you’re surrounded by an enclosed space. What this means, however, is that when your home gets infected with microorganisms, they have no way to escape.

Bacteria and viruses are easily trapped inside, and because of their microscopic size, it’s common for these germs to be continuously recirculated through your indoor air. Sadly, even with constant and persistent cleaning, your exposure to these pathogens is still at risk with every breath you take.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends increasing ventilation to help exchange air between the interior and exterior of a building. In unventilated areas of the home, germs and other pollutants can easily build up to unsafe levels.

Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain clean air inside your home and one of the best ways to do this is with an air purifier.

Features to Look for in a Germ Air Purifier

There are literally hundreds of different air purifiers on the market, but not all of them can eliminate bacteria and viruses. What many people don’t know is that it takes a special kind of device to sterilize indoor air.

The truth is there are only three types of technologies that an air purifier can use to kill germs. These include:

  • Ultraviolet Light
  • Silver-infused HEPA Filter
  • Heat Sterilization

When you’re shopping for a new machine, be sure to look for one of these key features.

To find out which of the top air purifiers include these options, take a look at our list of recommendations that follow immediately after this section of the guide.

1. Ultraviolet Light

Photo of Ultraviolet UV-C LightAn air purifier that uses an ultraviolet light will often refer to itself as an “air sanitizer” or a machine that includes a “UV-C” germicidal light.

UV-C is a form of radiation that’s safe for humans to be around but kills airborne bacteria and viruses by destroying the molecular bonds that hold their DNA together.

UV-C lights are commonly used in hospitals and doctor’s offices to decontaminate surgical equipment.

If you’re worried at all about the radiation from UV-C light, you’ll be happy to know that this bulb is kept out of sight and out of reach by housing the lamp inside the air purifier unit. The only time you would ever have access to this light is during a bulb replacement and that requires you to turn off the unit.

Additionally, UV-C lights last for thousands of hours, so the number of times you ever have to actually touch it are quite slim.

The way an ultraviolet light works to kill germs is through the passing of air. As the air gets sucked into the air purifier, it must pass by the UV-C light before it flows out the other side. When bacteria and viruses are exposed to the UV-C lamp, the radiation breaks apart the DNA and kills the pathogens. This produces clean, sterilized air for you to breathe.

2. Silver-Infused HEPA Filter

Photo of Silver-infused HEPA FilterHEPA filters, especially the “True HEPA” kind, are well-known for trapping 99.97% of particles down to 0.3 microns in size. This includes a large variety of bacteria since these microorganisms range in size from 0.2 to 10 microns.

Viruses, on the other hand, can be anywhere between 0.004 to 0.1 microns in size, which is about 100 times smaller than bacteria. So, HEPA filters are not very good at capturing these types of pathogens.

Additionally, while traditional HEPA filters can trap bacteria, a primary weakness of these filters is that they can also become a breeding ground for bacterial growth. And, if you don’t replace a clogged filter soon enough, some bacteria may eventually penetrate the HEPA filter and flow back into your home.

Fortunately, a solution now exists to kill bacteria inside a HEPA filter.

Some HEPA filters are now infused with silver which is a natural antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal agent.

These silver nanoparticles interact with the outer membrane of bacterial pathogens and cause structural changes that lead to degradation and eventual death of a microbe. Silver is an amazing element that forces the reproduction of germs to stop.

3. Heat Sterilization

Photo of HeatUnlike ultraviolet lights and silver-infused HEPA filters where some bacteria and viruses may slip past those barriers on an air purifier, the one thing microorganisms can’t escape is extreme heat.

Air purifiers that use the process of heat sterilization include an internal chamber that gets as hot as 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

As air gets pulled through the chamber, microorganisms are incinerated by the high temperature. In fact, no particles of any kind can survive heat sterilization. Air purifiers that use this air cleaning method also burn up allergens, dust, mold spores, pet dander, and more.

Once the air is cleaned through heat sterilization, it’s then cooled before being released back into the air for you to breathe.

The best air purifier for bacteria and viruses that uses heat sterilization is made by Airfree. Airfree uses the term “Thermodynamic Sterilizing System (TSS)” which is a patented version of the heating process. To find out which Airfree air purifiers we recommend for incinerating germs, take a look at the next section.

The Best Air Purifiers for Bacteria and Viruses

Now that you know which air cleaning technologies actually kill bacteria and viruses, you’re probably wondering what is the best germ air purifier you can buy for your home?

The fact is there are several good choices that use each of the air sterilizing technologies we mentioned above.

To make things easy for you, we’ve highlighted the top air purifiers for each category: ultraviolet light, silver-infused HEPA filter, and heat sterilization.

Every product will work well to destroy germs, so choose the one that appeals to you most, covers your intended room size, and fits within your budget.

Disclosure: At Home Air Quality Guides, we believe in an education-first philosophy. We never make product recommendations until after we educate our readers on what to look for in the top-performing devices and then only suggest items that meet those specific criteria. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases made through the links below. If you buy a qualifying product, you’re not charged a penny more, but we’ll get a small commission that supports our work. We hope you enjoy this free guide and find the best product for your needs through these recommendations.

Ultraviolet (UV-C) Light Air Purifiers

Photo of SilverOnyxSilverOnyx Air Purifier

For Medium to Large Size Rooms

If you want an affordable air purifier that not only kills germs but also cleans your entire air of harmful pollutants, this is it.

The SilveryOnyx air purifier uses a 5-stage air purification system that includes a UV-C light to destroy bacteria and viruses. You’ll also enjoy cleaner air as a whole with these additional features:

  • Pre-filter for trapping large dust particles and allergens
  • True HEPA filter for capturing 99.97% of germs, dust, and other allergens down to 0.3 microns
  • Activated Carbon filter for reducing odors from cooking, smoke, pets, mold, and other common household odors
  • Ultraviolet light (UV-C) for killing off pathogens
  • Ionizer for additional bacterial killing

Another powerful feature of this air purifier is that the internal filter is shaped like a cylinder. This increases the surface area by 60% which makes it much more efficient than standard flat filters you’ll find it other machines.

Additionally, this unit can cover a large space up to 500 square feet, making it a perfect choice for most rooms in a single-family home.

See Amazon.com Reviews

Photo of PureZonePure Enrichment PureZone

For Small to Medium Size Rooms

If you’re looking for an ultraviolet air purifier that’s a bit cheaper than our first recommendation or you just need to cover a smaller room size, this is your next best option.

The PureZone air purifier uses a 4-stage air purification system that includes a germ-destroying UV-C light. The other filters inside are:

  • Pre-filter for trapping large dust particles and allergens
  • True HEPA filter for capturing microscopic germs, dust, and other allergens
  • Activated Carbon filter for reducing odors
  • Ultraviolet light (UV-C) for destroying bacteria and viruses

Additionally, if you’re looking for a whisper-quiet air purifier, you’ll be happy with this device. The noise level registers at 30dB which is much quieter than a refrigerator (50dB) and even sounds in a library (40dB).

Finally, this air purifier is designed for medium size rooms up 200 square feet which is ideal for most personal applications.

See Amazon.com Reviews


Silver-infused HEPA Air Purifiers

Photo of Alen BreatheSmart LineAlen BreatheSmart

For Lare Size Rooms and Up

If you want an air purifier that can knock out germs in very large spaces, the Alen BreatheSmart product line is going to be your top choice.

Each model offers a silver-infused HEPA filter to capture and kill pathogens from your indoor air. The most popular models include:

No matter which device you choose, you’ll enjoy these air purifying benefits:

  • Pre-filter for trapping large dust particles and allergens
  • True HEPA filter for capturing 99.97% of germs, dust, and other allergens down to 0.3 microns
  • Silver layer for killing bacteria and viruses
  • Activated Carbon filter for reducing odors from cooking, smoke, pets, mold, and other common household odors

Additionally, the BreatheSmart Classic and FIT50 include the following features while the FLEX model does not:

  • Air quality sensor
  • Air quality indicator light
  • Automatic mode
  • Ionizer for additional bacterial killing

Finally, the most attractive aspect of the BreatheSmart product line is the customizable front panel. You can choose between 14 colors and designs to match your personal style and taste.

See Amazon.com Reviews

Photo of Alen T500Alen T500

For Medium to Large Size Rooms

Perhaps you like the idea of having an air purifier with a silver-infused HEPA filter, but you don’t need the large coverage that the Alen BreatheSmart line offers.

If that’s the case, then the Alen T500 is a better option for you.

This air purifier includes the same air purifying filters as the BreatheSmart models which are:

  • Pre-filter
  • True HEPA filter
  • Silver layer
  • Activated Carbon filter

Additionally, this model also includes an ionizer function to further enhance its bacterial destroying power.

Finally, as for room size coverage, it can handle up to 500 square feet, making it excellent for medium to large size rooms in your home.

See Amazon.com Reviews


Heat Sterilization Air Purifiers

Photo of AirFree Bacteria and Viruses ModelsAirFree

Models For Every Size Room

If you want 100% effectiveness in destroying microorganisms, the Airfree line of air purifiers is what you need.

Each model uses a patented Thermodynamic Sterilizing System (TSS) to kill bacteria and viruses with extreme heat (400 °F). Surrounding air is constantly pulled into a heating chamber that incinerates every microorganism (and particle for that matter) on contact.

The model you choose really just depends on the room size coverage you need. Airfree offers an option for every size room:

Additional features you’ll enjoy with any of these units include:

  • Completely silent with no moving parts.
  • Cool-to-the-touch housing to prevent heat-related injuries.
  • Tilt sensor for shutting the unit off if it does tip over.
  • 100% maintenance free. There are no filters to replace, making it the cheapest air purifier to own over the long term.

All-in-all this is a fantastic line of air purifiers for sterilizing your indoor air and keeping you safe from the harms of bacteria, viruses, and other germs. Give one a try to experience just how effective it can be.

See Amazon.com Reviews


Additional Benefits of Using an Air Purifier

Up until this point, we’ve focused on how to find the best air purifier for bacteria and viruses, however, it’s also worth mentioning that each of the products mentioned on this page also offers additional benefits in the home.

In particular, these air purifiers can help with the following things:

  • Reducing overall indoor air pollution
  • Lowering dust accumulation
  • Removing airborne allergens
  • Removing particles that trigger asthma
  • Reducing household odors (except for the Airfree models)
  • Eliminating visible smoke and its odor (except for the Airfree models)

As you can see, owning an air purifier can do more for you than just sterilizing your indoor environment. It can also help improve the general air quality and cleanliness of your house.

More Ways to Prevent the Spread of Bacteria and Viruses in Your Home

The following are some additional ways to help keep contagious diseases from spreading around your house, especially during the cough, cold, and “flu” season. Using these tips in conjunction with an air purifier can help you stay healthy all year round.

  • Insist that everyone in your household cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing, coughing, or blowing their nose. Discard all used tissues immediately in a trash can.
  • Always wash your hands with soap after sneezing, coughing, blowing your nose, or touching someone who has done either of those things. Alcohol-based hand gel or disposable wipes are also good options.
  • Always wash your hands with soap before eating or touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Don’t share things with others that touched your hands or mouth such as towels, beverage containers, utensils, food, makeup, toothbrushes, remote controls, toys, mobile phones, laptops or tablets, etc.
  • If you’ve been diagnosed with an illness such as the flu or common cold, consider wearing a disposable face mask to prevent the spread of germs through aerosols that are released from your mouth.
  • Disinfect all surfaces that a sick person may have come into contact with inside the home (i.e. countertops, sinks, toilets, door knobs, light switches, etc.)
  • Wash all bedding with hot water in conjunction with detergent and bleach for at least 25 minutes.

Common Questions About Air Purifiers

How Do I Know Which Size Air Purifier to Choose?

You always want to pick an air purifier that meets or exceeds the square footage size of the room you intend to use it in.

For example, if you want to use an air purifier in a room that’s 400 square feet (sq. ft.), you’ll want to buy one that covers at least this amount. A 500 sq. ft. rated air purifier will work but a 200 sq. ft. rated air purifier will not.

To find out what the square footage is for a room, simply measure the width and length of it in feet. Then, multiply those two numbers together to get the total square footage. Round up your two measurements to whole numbers whenever possible to make the math easier to compute.

For example, a 15′ x 30′ room = 450 sq. ft.

When shopping for an air purifier, you’ll want one that can at least handle 450 sq. ft. of space in order to get maximum efficiency.

Do Ionizers Kill Germs?

Yes, ionizers do kill germs. According to research, both negative and positive ions have bactericidal effects (i.e. kills bacteria). The ions that ionizers produce create oxidative stress which reduces bacterial survival.

Are UV-C Lights Safe?

Yes, ultraviolet UV-C lights inside air purifiers are safe for humans. The UVC band of the electromagnetic spectrum is from 400 nm (750 THz) to 10 nm (30 PHz) which is shorter than visible light but longer than X-rays. A UV-C light on an air purifier is an excellent technology for killing microorganisms without impacting human health.

Is it OK to Leave an Air Purifier on All Night?

Yes. In fact, you want to leave your germ air purifier running 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. That way you can keep the room that it’s running in as sterile as possible.

When you first turn an air purifier on it will take a few hours before it fully purifies the air inside a room. That’s because it has to exchange the air multiple times in order to remove and kill the highest number of germs and contaminants.

If you turn the air purifier off at night, then microorganisms can start to build up again. Therefore, it’s best to keep your air purifier on at all times to keep bacteria and viruses under control.

How Do You Kill a Virus in the Air?

You cannot kill a virus in the air, however, there are two devices that can reduce your exposure to airborne viruses. These are a humidifier and an air purifier.

A humidifier works to add moisture to the air and recent research indicates that higher levels of humidity can lower your chances of coming into contact with a virus. In moist air, aerosol particles that are expelled when you cough, sneeze, or breathe tend to remain relatively large and drop to the floor. In dry air, aerosols break up into smaller particles and can stay suspended in the air for long periods of time, including hours and days.

Additionally, water vapor may also be toxic to viruses. This may be due to changing the salt concentration or acidity in the aerosol gas cloud or by deforming the virus’s surface. The precise mechanisms underlying the relationship between water vapor and viruses remain largely unverified, but it’s definitely research worth keeping an eye one.

As for air purifiers, the best air purifier for bacteria and viruses uses an ultraviolet light, silver-infused HEPA filter, or heat sterilization. Machines with either of those technologies work by sucking surrounding air into the device and using one of those methods to kill viruses on contact.