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Do HEPA Filters Help With Allergies?

Last updated September 10, 2023

Based in Manchester, Marie is one of the writers at HouseFresh and our resident dust expert. She works together with our in-house researchers and our Managing Editor to produce in-depth articles offering practical advice on how to tackle indoor air quality issues.

Our verdict:

Using a HEPA-equipped air purifier is one of the most effective ways to ease and reduce allergy symptoms, but using the best filtration technology is crucial. 

HEPA filters can capture the harmful particles that can trigger allergies. While medical-grade filters are the most powerful, true HEPA filters are also super-efficient and widely used in the home. 

Allergies are a severe problem for many people throughout the United States and certain states fare much worse than others. Dust and animal dander are only two common allergy triggers that can lead to various health problems. 

So, can an air purifier with a HEPA filter help with alleries?

The simple answer is yes. 

Air purifiers with HEPA filters are a highly effective way to reduce and eliminate harmful contaminants, such as particulate matter (PM), a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets. The size of these particles can vary, with something like household dust being particularly fine. 

Inhaling PM can harm health by penetrating your lungs and entering your bloodstream. Air purifiers, however, are designed to remove these particles from the air by catching them in a filter and then recirculating clean air back into your home. They can therefore help to ease various health problems, including allergy symptoms. 

Various scientific studies have found that HEPA filters may help to ease allergy symptoms:

📖 The EPA states that many studies have found a link between HEPA air purifiers and an improvement in at least one allergy and asthma symptom.

📖 A study published in Current Allergy and Asthma Reports found that children with asthma reported fewer symptoms when a HEPA air cleaner was used in their bedroom as a controlled trial.

📖 A 2018 report discovered that HEPA purifiers placed in the bedroom reduced the concentration of particulate matter and house dust mites. This consequently lessened symptoms and improved the quality of life for people with allergic rhinitis. 

📖 For people with asthma that may be triggered by house dust mites, the European Respiratory Journal found that air purifiers were a favorable therapeutic option.

HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters comprise a complex system of pleated sheets containing incredibly fine fibers to capture airborne particles. They’re especially effective at trapping those very fine particles, like dust. 

🤓 Interesting fact: HEPA filters were used during World War II to help prevent the spread of radioactive toxins.

What Causes Allergies in the Home? 

Exposure to some substances called allergens can cause your immune system to become highly sensitive. It then overreacts to compensate and produces allergic antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). 

Whatever the specific allergy is, for example, pet dander, your body identifies it as an attacker, causing the IgE to release chemicals. This results in an allergic reaction.

Common allergy symptoms include:

🤧 Sneezing
🤧 Runny nose
🤧 Stuffiness
🤧 Itchiness, for example, in your nose, throat or eyes
🤧 Coughing
🤧 Shortness of breath
🤧 Wheezing

>> People with asthma may be especially vulnerable to allergens as they can trigger flare-ups.

The four most common types of indoor allergens are dust mites, pet dander, mold/damp and cockroaches. Read more about each one in the table below:

🐛 Dust mitesEvery home has dust mites that can be found throughout the house. You’ll need a microscope to see them, though, as they’re incredibly tiny. Dust mites live and feed off the flakes of human skin. They love warm, humid places and are generally found in bedding, carpeting, upholstered furniture and soft toys.
🐱 Pet allergiesRather than your cat or dog’s hair, this type of allergen is found in the dander (flakes of dead skin) or saliva. Dander can be especially problematic as it’s tiny, can remain airborne for a long time and can also stick to clothes and fabrics. However, if you have smaller animals, such as hamsters, rabbits, or guinea pigs, their urine is the source of the allergen. 
💦 Mold and dampA type of fungi, you can generally spot mold by its fuzzy black, green, or white appearance and may notice it on walls or ceilings. Mold thrives in moist environments, so basements and bathrooms are key places.
Similarly, condensation from cooking means it sometimes develops in the kitchen. Mold can grow quickly and reproduce via spores released into your home’s air. When inhaled, these can cause an allergic reaction,
🐜 CockroachesRequiring water to survive, cockroaches are often found in damp, warm environments, and you might spot them around sinks or drains. The proteins in their body parts, saliva or droppings, can cause allergic reactions in some people. People with asthma may also find their symptoms worsening when exposed to these proteins.

The Top 3 HEPA Air Purifiers 

We buy and test every single air purifier that we recommend here at HouseFresh. Here are our recommendations for the top best HEPA air purifiers for allergies and best HEPA air purifiers for asthma.

Levoit Core 600SLevoit Core 300SSmart Air Blast Mini
AIR CLEANING SPEED ⚡15 minutes40 minutes17 minutes
CADR 👩‍🔬410 CFM140 CFM435 CFM
NOISE 🔊55 dB50 dB49 dB
FILTER TECHNOLOGY 💨Pre-filter, HEPA H13 with activated charcoal pelletsH13 (Medical) Grade HEPA and Activated CharcoalMesh Pre-Filter, H13 HEPA Filter + optional Activated Charcoal filter
MAX ROOM SIZE 📏635 ft²219 ft² to 547 ft²915 ft²
WEIGHT ⚖️5.67 kg / 12.5 lbs3.9 kg / 8.6 lbs59 lbs / 26.8 kg
OUR REVIEW 🔍Levoit Core 600S reviewLevoit Core 300S reviewSmart Blast Mini Review
PRICE 💵$259.99Price not available$649.00

Last update on 2023-09-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Final Thoughts

If you’re considering buying an air purifier to help with allergies, selecting a device with a HEPA filter is the way to go. True HEPA filters are the most prevalent in the home and they’re incredibly effective at removing those harmful, allergy-triggering particles, from dust to animal dander. 


American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. (2020). Indoor Allergens.
Asthma and Lung UK. (2023). Allergies at home.
Ashton, D. (2023). HouseFresh. What is the Difference Between Medical Grade HEPA vs. True HEPA vs. HEPA?
Ashton, D. (2023). HouseFresh. The Best and Worst U.S. States for Allergies.
Ashton, D. (2023). HouseFresh. 7 Best Air Purifiers for Allergies.
Cookson, M. (2023). HouseFresh. What Is a HEPA Filter and How Does It Work?
Environmental Protection Agency. (2023). Particulate Matter (PM) Basics.
Environmental Protection Agency. (2023). What is a HEPA filter?
Environmental Protection Agency. (2018). Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home.
Hayes, K. (2021). Very Well Health. Everything You Need to Know About Indoor Allergies.

Last update on 2023-09-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API