Many manufacturers make air filters for allergies, but not all filters are created equal. For individuals with severe symptoms, every allergy mitigation effort is worth it. Finding the best air filter for seasonal allergies is one way to help minimize symptoms and get back to enjoying life.

How to Choose the Best Air Filter for Your Allergies

Tackling dust and danger or seasonal allergens like ragweed and tree pollen require just the right filters. Most airborne irritants are tiny, but even microscopic allergens vary widely by size and that impacts how effective filters are at removing them from the air.

Along with filter-specific rating systems like Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV), allergy sufferers should also look at the Clean Air Delivery Rate, or CADR. This measures the rate of clean air moved through your HVAC system and into your home.

One rule of thumb for determining the appropriate CADR is the 2/3 Rule. This means you’ll need a device with a CADR of two-thirds of the square footage you’re looking to filter. A 1,200 square foot home should have a CADR of 800 or more.

The higher the CADR rating, the more clean air is delivered to your home per minute, and CADR varies widely by the size and type of HVAC equipment. Here’s a list for context:

  • Portable air purifier with fiberglass filter: 10 clean air delivery rate
  • 1-inch standard HVAC air filter: 12
  • Portable air purifier with HEPA filter: 150
  • Whole house air purification system with 5-inch filter: 240
  • Whole-house electronic air filter: 660

CADR performance is determined by the device (portable air filter, HVAC system, etc.), the material the filter is made from, and the filter’s thickness.

Related: Furnace Filter vs. Air Purifier: Which Is Better?

Which Air Filter Is Right for You?

Air filter performance is heavily impacted by its material and construction. As you’d expect, the top-performing air filters for allergy sufferers may cost a little extra, but you’ll be glad you made the investment.

Here’s how a few types of air filter materials stack up:

Fiberglass Air Filters

Also called “spun glass” filters, fiberglass is the most common type of air filter material used due to its low cost and longevity. However, these are not the best filter for individuals with allergies. They capture less than 10% of allergens in your home, which means they’ll do little to help ease symptoms.

Pleated Fiberglass Air Filters

Pleated fiberglass filters include an additional layer of cotton and polyester to improve filtration. They’re slightly more expensive than traditional fiberglass filters but do a much better job removing allergens. Depending on the CADR and MERV ratings, pleated filters remove between 20% and 50% of allergens.

HEPA Air Filters

High-efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters are considered the best option for allergy sufferers because they remove 98% of airborne pollution. Used in portable air purifiers, HVAC systems, or whole-house air purifiers, HEPA filters are so thick they require an especially powerful fan (or two!) to push air through. These are the most expensive air filters and aren’t compatible with all devices or systems. Check with your local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning technician to see if a HEPA filter will work in your HVAC system.

The Verdict: What Is the Best Air Filter for Allergies?

HEPA filters deliver the best performance but may not be suitable for your home’s HVAC system. Read your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer to find the highest-rated filter compatible. Find the highest MERV rating compatible with your HVAC system and use a clean portable air filter to offset seasonal allergies when needed.

One size never fits all. Find the filter and cleaning regimen that makes the biggest difference in your symptoms and stick with it!

And remember, finding and using the best air filter for your air purifiers and HVAC system is only part of the solution. There are many other ways to reduce allergy symptoms:

  • Dust and vacuum frequently.
  • Wash bedding weekly.
  • Keep windows closed during allergy season.
  • Replace your HVAC filter more often during allergy season (as often as every month!)

Get Allergy Relief from the HVAC Pros

Allergies don’t have to ruin your day. With the right air filters for your air purifiers and HVAC system, the allergy sufferers in your home can breathe a little easier.

The friendly, professional technicians at your local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning can help you choose the right filter and make other air quality improvements. Find your local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning or call (800) 893-3523 today!