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Best Car Air Purifiers

When that new car smell wears off, the best car air purifier can keep your interior clean and refreshing.
Written and Tested By:
Ben Kasierski
Written and Tested By: Ben Kasierski Contributor – Motor1 Review Team

Ben Kasierski is a North Carolina native who covers the latest automotive and motorcycle products. He has tested hundreds of car detailing products – including tire shines,  car wash soaps, and full detailing kits – as well as gadgets to make life easier for the everyday driver like key finders and GPS trackers.

Last Updated 01/05/2024

Motor1 Reviews Team Take:

  • The best car air purifiers on the 2024 market are the IQAir Atem, Pure Enrichment PureZone, Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier and Ionizer, and Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Bags.
  • A car air purifier can cost as little as $20 for a non-reusable purifier while high-quality, larger systems might cost upward of $400.
  • The power source, size of your car air purifier, and inclusion of a HEPA-rated filter are some things to consider when looking for a new car air purifier.
Best Car Air Purifier
IQAir Atem

A high-grade portable purifier with advanced filtration.

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Best
Portability
Pure Enrichment PureZone

A lightweight air purifier that can go nearly anywhere.

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Best Plug-in
Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier And Ionizer

A car air purifier that filters through ionization.

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Best
Charcoal Bags
Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Bags

A car air purifier that naturally produces fresh air.

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After transporting your pets and storing workout gear, your car might start to lose its freshness. Car air purifiers mitigate pollutants, irritants, and allergens by eliminating the particles that cause odors to stick around. These devices also improve air quality to help those with respiratory diseases such as asthma breathe better. Unlike air fresheners, the best air purifiers for cars do not merely cover up odors and actively work for months at a time.

Our review team has rated our top picks for the best car air purifiers on the market to help keep your vehicle clean. We’ve tested each purifier for its ease of use, portability, and more to inform you of its benefits.


Car Air Purifiers Reviews

When searching for the best car air purifiers, we wanted to consider the ease of installation and setup, along with portability, noise levels, and cleanliness that the purifier created over a long period of time during our testing process. We rated each purifier on a scale of 1.0 to 5.0 stars.

Five of the best car air purifiers that were tested and reviewed by our auto product team.

What Is The Best Car Air Purifier?

We named the IQAir Atem, Pure Enrichment PureZone, Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier and Ionizer, and Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Bags as the best-rated car air purifiers on the market in 2024.

Brand/ModelCostOverall RatingAward

IQAir Atem

$400

4.9

Best Car Air Purifier

Pure Enrichment PureZone

$40

4.8

Best Portability

Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier And Ionizer

$25

4.5

Best Plug-In

Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Bags

$20

4.4

Best Charcoal Bags

*Because cost data fluctuates, the prices in the table above are approximate values that our team regularly updates.

Car Air Purifier Ratings: Our Testing Process

After looking at factors such as size, additional features, customer ratings, and prices, our product testing team ordered the car air purifiers that best met these standards. A team member tested each product on a 2014 Honda Civic SE sedan for eight hours, taking note of how well each air purifier fit in our testing vehicle, how long it took to achieve noticeably cleaner air, the amount of noise it produced, and its portability. Each air purifier was given a rating out of 5.0 stars based on these criteria.

Learn more about how we tested car air purifiers here.

1. IQAir Atem: Best Car Air Purifier

IQAir Atem
IQAir Atem Best Car Air Purifier
The IQAir Atem purifier.
  • Cost: $400
  • Amazon review score: 4.3 out of 5.0 based on over 140 ratings
  • What’s in the box: IQAir Atem purifier, Atem car mount, USB charging cable
  • HyperHEPA Plus filter
  • 270-degree fan design
  • Syncs with Atem Mobile App
  • Made in Germany with Swiss engineering

With its sleek design and simple interface, the IQAir Atem is our review team’s top choice for the best car air purifier. Its centrifugal fan is surrounded by a combined particle and gas filtration system that absorbs more harmful airborne impurities than any of the filters in our roundup.

You can see how the IQAir Atem performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Setup 5.0
Portability 4.5
Noise 5.0
Cleanliness 5.0
Overall Rating 4.9

The Atem purifier has a Global Innovations Award from the International Homes and Housewares Show, one of the leading displays of advancements in home technologies. Not only does this purifier extract bad odors, but also eliminates contaminants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, benzene, formaldehyde, soot, pollen, and bacteria from the air. Below are the pros and cons of the IQAir Atem:

Pros
  • Eliminates multiple contaminants
  • HyperHEPA Plus filter
  • Syncs with the Atem mobile app
Cons
  • Expensive

The IQAir Atem exceeded our expectations when considering setup, noise, and cleanliness. The only downside is the larger size which may limit where you can install this purifier, and the cost, which is significantly higher than the other options on our list. But if you can afford the best, then the pros outweigh any downsides and this is truly the best car air purifier on the market.

Setup: Setting the Atem in our testing vehicle took very little effort thanks to the detailed instructions provided by IQAir.

Portability: Although IQAir claims the Atem is portable, it was much larger than the other purifiers that we tested and more difficult to transport.

Noise: The Atem produced very little noise even when operating at maximum power which we found impressive considering the larger size.

Cleanliness: After leaving the Atem in our testing vehicle, there was a noticeably positive difference in the way our car smelled.

The IQAir Atem purifier attached to the back of the driver's seat and installed in a vehicle.

Many top reviews commend how easy the Atem is to install and how well it works to keep vehicles clean in high-pollution areas such as Los Angeles. Some suggest hanging it from a second- or third-row headset to conserve space. One complaint by a few customers regards IQAir’s customer service, claiming they are unresponsive.

2. Pure Enrichment PureZone: Best Portability

Pure Enrichment PureZone
Pure Enrichment PureZone Best Portability
The Pure Enrichment PureZone purifier.
  • Cost: $40
  • Amazon review score: 4.3 out of 5.0 based on over 11,000 ratings
  • What’s in the box: Pure Enrichment PureZone purifier, USB charging cable
  • Weighs less than 1.0 lbs.
  • Coverage area of 54.0 sq. ft.
  • Removable handle

Thanks to its innovative handle, the Pure Enrichment PureZone is one of the best air purifiers for on-the-go use. Its activated carbon pre-filter works alongside its True HEPA filter for two-stage air purification to keep the air clean.

You can see how the Pure Enrichment PureZone performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Setup 5.0
Portability 5.0
Noise 4.5
Cleanliness 4.5
Overall Rating 4.8

This purifier has adjustable low, medium, and high fan speed settings. Users don’t have to worry about the PureZone’s longevity since its rechargeable lithium-ion battery offers up to 12 hours of active filtration. Below are the pros and cons of the Pure Enrichment PureZone:

Pros
  • Adjustable fan speed settings
  • Up to 12.0 hours of battery life
  • Removable handle
Cons
  • Can be loud on higher speed settings

The Pure Enrichment PureZone was pretty fun for us to test thanks to its sleek design and portable size that allows for multiple installation spots in our car. While the purifier can get noisy and it may take some time to achieve a difference in air quality, we overall enjoyed the experience of trying out this purifier.

Setup: The only setup required by our team members for the PureZone was to attach its removable handle and find a spot in our testing vehicle to place it.

Portability: Luckily, this purifier is small enough to fit comfortably in a cup holder. Its adjustable handle and compact build allow the Pure Enrichment purifier to slip into a backpack or purse unnoticed.

Noise: When running at low or medium power, the PureZone produced almost no noise. However, it started to hum when run at full power.

Cleanliness: Although we noticed a difference in our vehicle’s air quality, this personal air purifier took longer than the others in our review to achieve this.

The Pure Enrichment PureZone installed in the cup holder of a vehicle.

While some customers commend how well the PureZone cleans small to medium-sized rooms, others criticize it for being too loud.

3. Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier And Ionizer: Best Plug-In

Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier And Ionizer
Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier And Ionizer Best Plug-In
The Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier And Ionizer.
  • Cost: $25
  • Amazon review score: 4.0 out of 5.0 based on over 2,300 ratings
  • What’s in the box: Twinkle Birds purifier
  • Plugs into 12.0-volt adapter
  • Mutated chrome ion outlet
  • Needlepoint ionization

Instead of using a filter, the Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier And Ionizer eliminates dust, pollen, and other contaminants from the air. It achieves this by releasing negative ions that ground or remove harmful microns. This allows users to plug in their device and forget that it’s even there.

You can see how the Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier And Ionizer performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Setup 5.0
Portability 4.0
Noise 5.0
Cleanliness 4.0
Overall Rating 4.5

Unlike most car air purifiers, this ionizer doesn’t require any filter replacements. Aside from creating clean air, the Twinkle Birds ionizer is equipped with dual USB ports to charge other electronics such as smartphones. Below are the pros and cons of the Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier And Ionizer:

Pros
  • Plugs into your vehicle via a 12.0-V adapter
  • Dual USB ports for charging electronics
Cons
  • Can take up to a few days for a noticeable difference in air quality

Overall, this purifier was our most compact, making it great for portability. Where it lacked was in cleanliness. Because of the smaller size, it took longer for our car to achieve a fresh smell and noticeably better air quality.

Setup: Because of its plug-and-play build, installing this device takes very little effort. However, this air ionizer can only be activated in vehicles.

Portability: Even though this purifier can only be used in vehicles, its compact size makes it easy to keep plugged into your vehicle without limiting space in your car.

Noise: Even when operating at full power, our review team found that the Twinkle Birds device emitted almost no sound.

Cleanliness: It took longer than expected to clean our testing vehicle but was able to steadily maintain this cleanliness.

The Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier And Ionizer installed in an outlet in a vehicle.

Customers say this ionizer is ideal for removing the smell of cigarette smoke from vehicles. Many customers also like how this device doubles as a car charger. A few negative comments target the Twinkle Bird Ionizer’s effectiveness, stating it takes at least a few days to notice its results.

4. Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Bags: Best Charcoal Bags

Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Bags
Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Bags Best Charcoal Bags
The Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Bags.
  • Cost: $20
  • Amazon review score: 4.1 out of 5.0 based on around 18,000 ratings
  • What’s in the box: Four Basic Concepts charcoal bags
  • Filled with charcoal chunks
  • Pet-safe
  • Natural filtration

The Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Bags are suited not only for cars, but can also eliminate odors in kitchens, bathrooms, pet areas, and even shoes. Each bag is fragrance-free and made with reinforced stitching to ensure long-lasting durability.

You can see how the Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Bags performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Setup 4.5
Portability 5.0
Noise 5.0
Cleanliness 3.0
Overall Rating 4.4

These charcoal bags are made with a metal O-ring so they can be hung from nearly anywhere. If left out in the sun for a couple of hours, the Basic Concepts bags are “recharged,” giving them a lifespan of up to two years. Below are the pros and cons of the Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Bags:

Pros
  • Lifespan of up to two years
  • Compact and easy to transport
Cons
  • Need to be replaced over time
  • Less effective

We had few complaints when it came to testing these charcoal bags because they don’t require much setup and are easy to store anywhere in your vehicle. However, in comparing air quality, while we noticed a cleaner scent afterward, there seemed to be little change.

Setup: We placed the Basic Concepts bag out in the center console of our testing vehicle, but we think it’s best to store it underneath a seat or hidden in a door for the easiest storage.

Portability: Considering their compact, lightweight construction, these bags can be easily transported.

Noise: These bags crunched a bit when squeezed but otherwise made no noticeable sound.

Cleanliness: After sitting in our testing vehicle, we noticed a difference in the smell but not nearly as much as our other purifiers.

The Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Bags places in the center console of a vehicle.

Many reviewers say this bag works well not only in their cars but in closets and other rooms that have odors. Customers also like the bag’s gray color and cloth-like texture. There are a few customers who claim these bags struggle to cover pet odors.


Car Air Purifier Buying Guide

Before making a purchase, learn more about the different types of air purifiers and how they can improve your vehicle’s air quality.

Types of Air Purifiers

In-cabin air filters are one of the best ways to prevent irritants and pollutants from building up in your car. Unlike most filters, these are built directly into a vehicle to pick up dirty air as it passes through the HVAC system. Although reliable, the downside to these filters is that they must be replaced every few months.

Ionic air purifiers target odors and other pollutants at a molecular level. These purifiers emit positively or negatively charged ions that trap and break down unwanted particles that spoil the air. While these are ideal for eliminating foul smells, they take longer than other types of filters to show results.

Charcoal air filters are environmentally friendly, as they’re made with naturally sourced materials. Charcoal filters absorb irritants and odor-causing chemicals directly. Once full, these bags can be placed in direct sunlight to be refreshed and used again. The typical charcoal filter lasts about two years and leaves behind no fragrance.

Ozone generators: These air purifiers for cars work by plugging into the charging port. From there, they utilize electricity to neutralize odors and airborne particles within the vehicle cabin.

Car Air Purifier Key Features

Size and portability: Car air purifiers are compactly designed to fit in your vehicle without taking up more space than they need to. Most purifiers can fit in cup holders or on dashboards, while others can be hung from the rearview mirror. Some purifiers are made to fit around the back of headrests.

Power source: Most car air purifiers are battery-powered to conserve energy. Some are even rechargeable, using the outlets in your car as a charging source. Others can be installed into the cigarette lighter of your vehicle to run.

HEPA-rated filter: High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are certified to grab more pollutants from the air than non-certified ones. Make sure your device is using one of these filters to have the most effective air cleaner possible.

Compare Car Air Purifiers

Brand/ModelPower SourceWeightBattery Life
IQAir AtemDC5.3 poundsUp to 12.0 hours
Pure EnrichmentBattery0.6 lbs.12.0 hours
Twinkle BirdsDCN/AOperates when the car is on
Basic ConceptsCharcoalN/AUp to two years before replacement

Best Car Air Purifiers: Bottom Line

In this article, along with sharing helpful purchasing tips for those interested in purchasing a car air purifier, we reviewed the top car air purifiers in 2024:

  1. Best Car Air Purifier: IQAir Atem
  2. Best Portability: Pure Enrichment PureZone
  3. Best Plug-in: Twinkle Birds Car Air Purifier And Ionizer
  4. Best Charcoal Bags: Basic Concepts Bamboo Charcoal Bags

Car Air Purifiers: FAQ

Below are some common frequently asked questions about car air purifiers:

How long should I leave my air purifier running?

When you first install or place one in your vehicle, you should run it all day and leave it running. There are no downsides to having it clean your car’s air, especially if it has a rechargeable battery. Purifiers that install directly into your car will automatically activate when your car is turned on. If you are using charcoal bags, simply install and leave them in your vehicle.

How long do car air purifiers last?

This depends on the type of purifier and the rate at which it cleans your air. A good rule of thumb is to replace the removable HEPA filter in your air purifier every six to twelve months, depending on the air quality of your vehicle and environmental factors. Carbon filters and charcoal bags require a quicker turnover rate of every three to six months.

Can HEPA filters be reused?

HEPA filters marked as “permanent” can be cleaned and reused. They can be cleaned using warm water and a vacuum cleaner to remove built-up dirt and debris. HEPA filters that aren’t marked “permanent” should not be used more than once.

Do air purifiers need water?

Unlike humidifiers, air purifiers do not add any water to the air. Humidifiers do not actually clean the air, either, as they only add moisture.


Full Car Air Purifier Testing Methodology

To honestly evaluate and test each car air purifier in our review, we wanted to consider what we deemed the most important factors when looking to purchase an air purifier: setup, portability, noise, and cleanliness. We let each air purifier run for eight hours inside our testing vehicle to see a before and after result of overall air cleanliness.

Setup: We wanted to see how simple each air purifier was to set up and install in our vehicle. Installation can make or break any auto product, so we wanted to see how each air purifier compared to the others in this review. The air purifiers that had the simplest setup process and detailed instructions scored highest in this category.

Portability: We compared air purifiers based on construction and design, along with how much space they took up in our vehicle. The more portable the air purifier, while still being high-quality and effective, scored highest in this category.

Noise: Some air purifiers might be louder than others. We tested this by running each air purifier for a consistent amount of time if the product had a power source. The quietest and most efficient air purifiers scored highest in this category.

Cleanliness: The point of an air purifier is to clean the air inside your vehicle and leave a fresh scent behind. To test cleanliness, we ran the air purifier in our vehicle to determine effectiveness, but we also looked into features each air purifier had to contribute to clean air. If an air purifier came with a HEPA filter, it likely scored higher in our review. The most effective and noticeable changes in air cleanliness after using each air purifier resulted in a higher score for this category.

How We Score Products

Star ratings help us to differentiate between the top-rated products on the market. In doing so, we can evaluate and compare each air purifier to accurately rank each product and provide recommendations with features to consider in an air purifier. Our calculations across the best car air purifiers showed an average rating of 4.6 out of 5.0 stars.

  • 5.0 Stars: A 5.0-star rating is a high score for any product in our review. If the air purifier was quiet, easy to set up, had great features, and provided cleaner air after our eight-hour testing period, you’d see a 5.0-star score.
  • 4.0 Stars: A 4.0-star rating is an above-average rating. If the car air purifier still exceeded expectations but could have been quieter or slightly easier to set up, you’d see a 4.0-star rating.
  • 3.0 Stars: A 3.0-star rating is an average score. For example, if the air purifier got the job done but was fairly slow during the cleaning process with little change during our periodic check-ins on the purifier, you will likely see an average rating.
  • 2.0 Stars: A 2.0-star rating is a below-average rating. If the air purifier was difficult to set up or made disruptive sounds while running, we’d give the product a lower score of 2.0 stars.
  • 1.0 Star: A 1.0-star rating is the lowest rating we give any product in our reviews. If a car air purifier is defective or we notice little-to-no changes in air quality, we would likely give the purifier a 1.0-star rating.

Why Trust Motor1.com

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.

*Data accurate at time of publication. Products subject to availability.