What are the Best Car Air Purifiers & Ionizers of 2019?
If you’re looking to buy a good car air purifier to eliminate airborne allergens and odors, prevent fatigue, enhance your concentration and improve the quality of the air you breathe in your vehicle, this page has a detailed review of the 5 best air filters and ionizers for cars and why they are recommended.
Also ahead, important things to look out for and avoid with car air ionizers, why ozone air fresheners are not recommended and how some features actually decrease the effectiveness of your car air cleaner.
What to Look for in an Air Purifier for Your Car
Air cleaners designed for vehicles tend to utilize either negative ions, ozone or fan powered filter technologies like HEPA. Occasionally activated carbon and a UV sanitizers are also used.
While each of these can clean the environment in your car in their own way, only true negative ion generators can offer the many health benefits of increased negative ions in the air you breathe.
More common though, are plug in air purifiers for vehicles that use ozone as their primary air cleaning method. However, this can present certain health issues, particularly for people who drive for long periods.
The Problem with Ozone Based Car Air Purifiers
Ozone (O3), while very effective at destroying airborne odors, VOCs, bacteria, viruses and other biological contaminants, is unstable and not recommended at high levels for long periods.
Generally, if you can smell the faint bleach or office printer smell of a ‘ionic’ automotive air purifier that uses ozone, it should be unplugged or turned off. Breathing in too much O3 is not good for your lungs.
The CDC recommends ozone levels for air purifiers be limited to 0.05 parts per million in enclosed spaces. They also warn that asthma sufferers and people with respiratory problems may be more sensitive to ozone.
A very tiny amount of ozone can occur naturally when negative ions are generated, but any good ionizer for your car should specifically list ozone as less than 0.05 ppm (often written as < 0.05 ppm).
While air purifiers for vehicles should comply with this, there have been reports of much higher readings during testing of some models. These are usually recalled, but then quickly replaced with another model that may not have been thoroughly tested.
If you’d like to be sure your car’s negative ionizer actually generates beneficial ions, rather than just ozone, then look for the specific ion output to be listed by the manufacturer. This is measured in the millions or billions per second and the higher the better.
Ionic Air Purifiers and Car Ionizers with Fragrance
Be especially suspicious of ‘ionic air purifiers’ and ‘car anion ionizers’ that don’t display how many negative ions or how much ozone they generate. While some may still function as negative ionizers, ozone generation is more likely to be the more predominant air cleaning method.
Another trend I’ve noticed recently in ionizers for cars and trucks is to include a steam dispenser where you can add your own fragrance to ‘freshen the air’.
This may seem like a good idea, but it actually works against the way negative ions attach to airborne particles, including water vapor, and would reduce the effectiveness of air ionization. It could however be used to help mask the distinctive ozone smell.
Also, keep in mind that while some newer auto air filters can be powered by USB, the majority will plug directly into your vehicle’s 12-volt cigarette lighter. Something to remember if your car is one of the few models that doesn’t have one of these.
With these points covered, let’s look at the 5 best car air purifiers with high negative ion generation in 2019 and what makes them so good.
Best Plug-In Car Ionizer — Craftronic 2.0 Ionic Car Air Purifier
Plugging directly into your vehicle’s 12-volt power supply, this compact ionizer for your car takes up virtually no space. There’s just the crystal blue top, where the ions are generated, popping out of the cigarette lighter.
As an added bonus there are also 2 USB points on the side of this little negative ion generator for charging your mobile phone, tablet & other electronic devices while driving.
There are quite a few plug-in air purifiers for cars that look similar to this design, but this one specifically lists negative ion generation of 5,600,000 pcs/cm3, which is quite an impressive amount for such a small auto air cleaner.
The Craftronic 2.0 ionic car air purifier will neutralize cigarette smoke, pollen, pet dander, bad odors, bacteria, viruses and volatile organic compounds with the high levels negative ions it generates.
One concern with these type of plug-in car air ionizers is that they can produce small amounts of ozone as well. This helps with air cleaning and allergen removal, but if the faint chlorine smell of ozone ever becomes noticeable in your vehicle it would be best to unplug it for a while.
I wrote to Craftronic to confirm both the ion generation and ozone levels of this car air cleaner and they replied: “The negative ion concentration of our product is 5.6 million pcs/cm3 and the ozone concentration is 0.04 ppm (parts per million). This number is the most effective in destroying bacteria, while still maintaining highest safety level by FDA.”
For a highly compact vehicle air freshener and ionizer at a very low price, the Craftronic 2.0 auto air purifier fits the bill. Once you plug it in to a standard 12v car adapter it will continue to generate considerable negative ions for as long as your car is running.
You can see detailed specifications, test results for virus, bacteria and tobacco odor removal and customer reviews here on Amazon. Looking through all of the plug in car air purifiers, I think the new Craftronic 2.0 model is the best available in 2019.
Most Affordable Air Purifier for Cars — Thinkga Auto Air Purifier
The inexpensive Thinkga ionizer is another auto air cleaner that uses negative ions to purify the air inside your car. Unlike the previous model reviewed, this one fits into your car or truck cup holder.
With a sleek aluminium body and dual USB ports for charging, this ionizer produces 5 million anions (negative ions) and will clean the air within 10 cubic meters, more than enough for the inside of your car.
The manufacturers say that this unit will remove 99% of harmful particulate matter (PM 2.5) and is effective against cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes, bacteria on the steering wheel, harmful benzene from car seats and many other odors and allergens.
They also state that the Thinkga ionizer is tested safe for use in your car, home, or office and maintains extremely low levels of ozone. It is tested below .005 ppm within 24 hours, which is much lower than the legal safety standard of .05 ppm regulated by the EPA.
The Thinkga air purifier is surprisingly good value on Amazon and comes with both a car adapter and AC power plug. Given this, you could easily use it as a portable desktop air cleaner as well.
Best Car Air Purifier with HEPA Filter — LeadYoung Portable Air Cleaner and Ionizer
HEPA filter based air purifiers for your home like these are popular and highly effective, but it’s rare to find a good one for your car given the size and space restrictions inside a vehicle.
This new LeadYoung air purifier with true HEPA filter and gesture control for cars is probably the best looking model in this review with its sleek aluminium build and metallic colors. It fits easily in standard cup holders and is powered by both the 12v car adapter and included USB cable for modern vehicles.
More importantly, it’s combination of primary and HEPA filters, activated carbon and negative ions neutralizes 99% of airborne allergens like pollen, pet dander, dust, cigarette smoke, bad odors, bacteria, viruses, mold spores and formaldehyde and other VOCs.
There are some great features, but also a few considerations to be aware of before buying this car air purifier and ionizer. Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of this new portable HEPA air cleaner.
- HEPA filters are highly effective at removing airborne contaminants right down to 0.3 microns with over 99% efficiency.
- This auto air purifier and ionizer combines HEPA technology with activated carbon for absorbing odors and VOCs, plus a negative ion generator producing 5,000,000 ions per cubic centimeter per second.
- The product is listed as ozone free. In truth, all negative ionizers can produce miniscule amounts of ozone but, as long as it is not being deliberately generated, like many other ‘ionic car purifiers’, this should be virtually undetectable.
- Being USB powered, compact and light, this HEPA air purifier is highly portable and you could use it both in your car and on your office desk at work. It could even be used as a travel air cleaner.
- Hand gesture control for changing the fan speed from low to high and powering on and off is a nice touch while driving. It also has an LED display of air quality, humidity and temperature.
- Amazon’s description says this car purifier comes with a 2 years warranty and lifetime support from LeadYoung.
- Slim and stylish design that fits in a regular cup holder with silver, gold and gunmetal color options.
- While considered the gold standard in air cleaning, HEPA filters do need to be replaced occasionally to maintain maximum effectiveness. Every 6 months to to 1 year is often suggested.
- The manufacturer has listed this car air filter as low noise under 35 db but some reviews have mentioned that they can hear it on the high fan setting. Consider whether this would bother you if you usually drive without music playing.
- Not as inexpensive as the previous air purifiers for cars reviewed. Though, especially compared to cheaper plug-in ionizers, this model should be considerably more effective at cleaning the air you breathe.
If you are looking for a HEPA filter based air purifier for your car with the added benefit of negative ions, the LeadYoung portable air cleaner and ionizer deserves serious consideration. It’s slim and light and since it can be powered by USB it could also be used on your work desk.
There’s detailed specifications and many reviews, pictures and answered questions for this well designed model here on Amazon.
Top Car Air Purifier, Ionizer and Air Freshener Combination ― Zendora Vehicle Air Cleaner
It has a HEPA filter to trap airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns, like dust, pollen, pet dander and mold spores, and with a 99% efficiency rate.
An activated carbon filter to absorb gas based odors and pollutants, such as cigarette smoke, gasoline fumes and volatile organic compounds.
A combination photocatalyst filter and UV lamp to kill germs and break down toxic VOCs, like ammonia and formaldehyde from car seat upholstery.
A negative ion emitter that produces 4,000,000 anions per second to further clear the air of airborne allergens and contaminants.
And an aromatherapy diffuser if you want to use essential oil to spread fragrances in your car.
- With a HEPA filter, activated charcoal, photocatalyst filter, UV lamp and negative ionizer this air purifier for cars really covers a lot of air cleaning bases at a surprisingly low price.
- It has two adjustable cleaning modes ― low power, displayed as green and high power in red and is powered from your car’s 12v cigarette lighter.
- There is a special strap for hanging it over the back of a car seat and an anti-slip pad on the back of the unit.
- While this combination air purifier is advertised as for cars, you would have to be happy with hanging it over the back of the seat for safe positioning. Freestanding on the dashboard wouldn’t be safe or practical.
- It seems the unit only comes with a 12v power cable which is a shame as with a regular power cord it could also make for a good portable or travel air filter.
- The essential oil diffuser sounds like a good idea but vaporising fragrance nearby an air purifier would actually make the HEPA filter and ionizer work harder to clean the air. I’d suggest ignoring this function.
- You would need to replace the HEPA filter occasionally to keep this unit working well. I couldn’t find any information from the manufacturer on how often this should be but 6 months to 1 year is commonly recommended.
The design of the Zendora combination purifier is unlike any other car air cleaner I’ve reviewed before and it’s good to see manufacturers innovating with models like this.
If all of its different filters and air cleaning technologies work well together it should be highly effective at eliminating floating particles and contaminants in your car.
It appears to be new in 2019 so is somewhat unproven but the reviews are currently overwhelmingly positive and the price is so low it’s not much of a risk to give it a try and see how it works for you.
Better Air for Safer Driving
I hope this review of the best car air purifiers with high negative ion output has helped you find an effective way to clean the air you breath in your vehicle.
Please share it with friends who do a lot of driving as air pollution on long journeys can lead to tiredness and lapses in concentration. A good air cleaner for your car is an investment in both your health and your personal safety out on the roads.
There’s more on the best negative ionizers for inside your home here. If you have a USB connection in your car then the first model reviewed there could also be used as a good car ionizer and air purifier as well.
Also consider one of these wearable personal air purifiers for cleaning the air you breathe while driving. Unlike car air purifiers that stay in your vehicle, you can take these compact ionizers anywhere.