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6 Apr 2022

Can you use an air purifier for hay fever?

If spring and summer means the return of hay fever and problems with pollen, could an air purifier be the answer?
Man blowing nose hay fever

We may have faced the full gamut of UK weather recently, from glorious sunshine to snow, but that doesn't stop the eventual arrival of the pollen season.

The tree pollen season is the first to arrive, from late March to mid-May, followed by grass pollen (mid-May to July) and weed pollen (June to September).

As many as 49% of people report suffering from hay fever symptoms, according to charity Allergy UK.

And while there are various steps you can take while outdoors (more on those below), a decent air purifier could also help you once you get home.

Keep reading to find out how an air purifier could help and what key features to look out for. Or head straight to our round up of the best air purifiers.

Can an air purifier help with hay fever symptoms?

An air purifier works by sucking in air, trapping any floating particles and then circulating the clean air back out.

Our lab testing checks how well machines can do this for dust, smoke and pollen: common household pollutants of different particle sizes.

A good air purifier will be able to filter out these particles, and so may help alleviate symptoms of hay fever and other allergies while you're indoors.

Even if pollen is your main priority, there's no need to buy one that excels at removing pollen from the air but performs poorly in our other tests. There are more than enough that do well in all three categories.

Man in bed with air purifier

Can you get a cheap air purifier?

You could buy an air purifier for less than £100 - or you could spend more than £750.

Air purifiers under £100 don't often do well in our tests. That's partly because they tend to be smaller, and therefore don't contain a fan that's big enough to draw much air in.

Air purifier features to look out for

When you're choosing an air purifier, features to look out for include:

  • HEPA filter - this stands for high-efficiency particulate air filter, and employs a combination of trapping mechanisms. EU standards state that, to use the term HEPA, a filter must remove at least 99.95% of tiny particles with a 0.3u03bcm (micron) in diameter. Don't be tempted to buy one with a marketing name like HEPA-type filter, as it might not meet the same European standards
  • Carbon filter - designed to absorb unpleasant smells and gases. Sometimes called an activated carbon filter or charcoal filter
  • Automatic mode and air-quality sensors - these monitor the air and ramp up purification if pollution levels rise. You'll sometimes also get information on the air quality in your room on a display on the device
  • Timer - useful if you only want to run your air purifier for a set period. Some allow you to set a schedule, which is handy if you routinely want to turn your air purifier on or off at a certain time
  • Smart functionality - allowing you to control the air purifier or get information on your air quality via an app on your phone.

Make your house a home - get our monthly tips for improving the place you live in.


Here are some popular models at different price points. All three have a HEPA filter.

Philips Series 800 AC0820/30 - £100

Philips Series 800 air purifier

This cylindrical air purifier is designed for small rooms. It's very compact and lightweight - just 2.5kg (almost half the weight of many other air purifiers).

It has three settings: auto, sleep and turbo. And it has an LED indicator that changes colour (blue, blue-purple, purple-red or red) according to the air quality in your room and the fan speed being used.

Read our review of the Philips Series 800 AC0820/30 to find out if performs well in our tests.

Electriq EAP500HC - £229

Electriq EAP500HC air purifier

This Electriq has five different fan speeds, a night mode and an air quality sensor. It also has a carbon filter for smells and gases.

Of course, extra features really matter if it can't filter particles successfully in the first place.

Read our ElectriQ EAP500HC review to see how it fared in our tests.

Blueair Classic 605 - £769

Blueair Classic 605 air purifier

The Blueair Classic 605 is one of the pricier air purifiers we've tested.

It has a night mode, which should mean quiet purification, and an automatic mode.

You can also set a schedule for it from your smartphone.

Read our full Blueair Classic 605 review to find out if this pricey model is good at removing pollen particles from the air.

Woman blowing nose with flowers and cat in foregro

What else can help with pollen allergies?

Margaret Kelman, Specialist Allergy Nurse at Allergy UK has the following tips:

  • Wear a mask. Many of us have got used to the idea of wearing a mask because of Covid, but there's evidence to suggest that wearing a mask will also help stop you inhaling pollen particles
  • Wraparound sunglasses or a hat with a peak or large brim will help keep pollen out of your eyes and face
  • On high pollen days, shower, wash your hair and change your clothes when you arrive home
  • Keep windows closed. This is most important in the early mornings, when pollen is being released, and in the evening when the air cools
  • Avoid mowing lawns or raking leaves yourself if possible
  • Avoid drying clothes/bed linen outside when pollen counts are high
  • Use a damp cloth to wipe down pets to remove the pollens they may bring in with them.

It's also a good idea to download the Met Office weather app, so that you can stay up to date on daily pollen levels.


Hay fever: how to treat it and where to get the cheapest hay fever tablets


Woman setting up air purifier

How Which? tests air purifiers for pollen removal

We measure the clean air delivery rate (CADR) of each machine - how quickly an air purifier can remove polluting particles from the air and deliver clean air to you.

Our testing answers the following key questions:

  • How swiftly does each air purifier trap common allergens at a range of particle sizes?
  • How noisy is it on full and low power?
  • How much energy does it use?
  • Are the filters easy to remove and replace?
  • If it's a smart air purifier, controllable from a smartphone app, how easy is that app to use? And how secure is your data?

Best Buy air purifiers will do a great job, while the worst are terrible at removing dust, pollen and/or smoke, are noisy and are difficult to use.

If you're not sure you want an air purifier, discover other ways to improve your indoor air quality at home.