Best Air Filters for Viruses & Other Airborne Particles

Today, we are much more conscious of the things around us that we can’t see. We’re more aware of the microscopic particles that are on the surface of everything we touch and floating through the air we breathe.

Even before the pandemic many people across the country understood the importance of air quality. The statistics speak for themselves:

  • Over 25 million Americans suffer from asthma
  • More than 50 million people have some type of allergy problem in any given year
  • Millions of others suffer from various other respiratory diseases

For those Americans, high-quality air filters can improve quality of life. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that investing in good air filters and maintaining them can help reduce the risk of viral infections.

In this post, we’re taking a closer look at how air filters can be a layer of protection against a variety of viruses in addition to other airborne contaminants that can impact your health.

How Do Air Filters Combat Viruses?

To understand how air filters combat viruses, it’s best to look at how viruses are transmitted.

Viruses are typically transmitted in one of three ways:

  1. Droplet Transmission - Droplet transmission refers to infection through drops of infected bodily fluid such as saliva that you come in contact with or breath in. Droplets are fairly large in size, don’t travel far and sink rather quickly, but droplets spread viruses easily.
  2. Direct Contact Transmission - You could also become infected with a virus by touching a surface that’s infected and then touching your mouth, eyes, etc.
  3. Aerosol Transmission - When small viral particles become airborne and spread the virus it’s known as aerosol transmission. The particles are so small they can stay in the air for hours. While infections through aerosol transmission are rare, it’s possible with potentially deadly viruses like the coronavirus.

Air filters don’t protect against droplet or direct contact transmission, but they can virtually eliminate the possibility of aerosol transmission.

A high-quality air filter is designed to purify the air of contaminants as it flows through a screen made of tightly wound fibers, which are able to latch on to particles and pull them out of the air.

Some air filters are able to trap extremely small particles all the way down to 0.1 micron in size (viruses are typically under 1 micron or smaller)

Recent studies have backed up research showing certain viruses are spread by aerosol transmission and HEPA filters are a great, affordable way to prevent it.

However, not all air filters can block viruses.

What to Look for in Filters That Block Viruses

You need to have functioning filters for your HVAC system, but if you want air filters that block viruses, you have to look for a few different components to make sure your filters can provide protection.

Air Filter MERV Rating or HEPA Grade

Not all air filters are created equal. The best air filters for viruses need to have a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of 13 or higher to capture virus particles. HEPA air filters need to be H10 grade or higher to be considered true HEPA filters that offer protection against viruses.

Air Filter Thickness

Thicker air filters are better at filtering out viruses and other airborne particles. The thicker a filter is, the better it will clean the air and the longer it will last. Thicker air filters have more material for capturing contaminants.

Air Filter Dimensions

Air filters need to have an exact fit to properly purify the air. If the filter is too small, it will be loose in the compartment, vent, or intake, and unpurified air will get through and continue to circulate throughout your home. If the filter is too large, they’ll often bend, and you’ll have the same issue. The best filters for viruses create an airtight seal to prevent unwanted particles from getting through the filter media.

How to Find the Best Air Filter For Your Home

Finding the best air filter for your home is a matter of knowing the air filters rating, thickness, and proper dimensions. In addition to those features, you’ll want to take the following factors into consideration so that the air filter works for your specific needs.

Type of Filter

Do you need a furnace filter, HVAC filter, or air purifier filter? Perhaps all of the above? The first thing you should do is identify the type of filter you need. Is it for a home, business, heating, or cooling system? That will help determine which filter will work best to protect against viruses.

Take a Look at Your Current Air Filter

Pro tip: Examining the filter that is currently in your HVAC, furnace, or air purifier is the best way of gauging the proper type, size, thickness, and dimension. If you don’t see the measurement noted on the frame of the air filter you can measure it yourself to get the dimensions.

Consider Your Lifestyle

Do you have a lot of houseguests? Does someone in the home smoke? Do you love to cook on the gas stovetop? Your lifestyle is important for determining air filter maintenance more than anything else. Some circumstances warrant changing or cleaning your air filter more often. If that’s the case in your home, you’ll want to use the thickest filter possible.

Consider Who Lives in the Home

Is anyone in your home at high-risk for airborne illness, allergies, or contaminants? If the answer is “yes,” it’s best to layer your filtration for added protection. Use highly-rated air filters in the HVAC system and get an air purifier with a HEPA filter to use in specific rooms for extra purification.

Consider the Size of Your Home

This is especially important when you’re purchasing a HEPA air purifier. Unlike the HVAC system, air purifiers don’t cover the whole home. They are limited to a certain amount of square footage.

Best Air Filter For Viruses in 2021

In 2021 we’re much better prepared for handling viral infections, and there are a lot more products on the market for combating viruses. Below is a quick look at some of the best air filters for viruses that are now available to purchase.

Best Air Filter If You’re Worried About Viruses and Other contaminants

Filterbuy MERV 13 Pleated AC Furnace Air Filter

  • Price - $14.24-$84.79 each
  • Rating - MERV 13
  • Performance - Comparable to MPR 1500/1900 and FPR 10. The Filterbuy MERV 13 Pleated Air Filter is capable of filtering out most viruses, bacteria and allergens. It’s also among the best air filters for pet dander, dust and dirt.

Best Air Filter If You’re Worried About Viruses and Mold

Honeywell Superior Allergen Pleated FPR 9 Air Filter

  • Price - $16.12+
  • Rating - MERV 11
  • Performance -The Honeywell Superior Allergen Pleated FPR 9 Air Filter can remove large virus particles along with mold spores.

Shop Honeywell Filters

Best Air Filter If You’re Worried About Viruses and Bacteria

3M Filtrete 1900 Smart Premium Allergen Bacteria and Virus Filter

  • Price - $13.89+
  • Rating - MERV 13
  • Performance - The 3M Filtrete 1900 Smart Premium Allergen Bacteria and Virus Filter is designed to trap a variety of contaminants and has a Bluetooth enabled sensor to tell you when the filter needs to be changed.

Shop 3M Aftermarket Air Filters

Best Air Filter If You’re Worried About Viruses and Airborne Allergies

Aprilaire Allergy and Asthma 216

  • Price - $92.95
  • Rating - MERV 16
  • Performance - Aprilaire makes heavy-duty air filters that are made to be used with their air purifiers. The 216 air filter can remove at least 96% of all viral particles and 99% of allergens.

Shop Aprilaire Air Filters