6 Best Heat, Vent, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Filters For Allergies + Filtrete Comparison

I reviewed the best furnace filters for allergies so you don’t have to.  I’ll also share a Filtrete comparison table that shows which allergens are trapped (dust mites, pet dander, smoke, and odors) to help make your HVAC allergy filter purchase easier!

Are you suffering from dust mite allergy symptoms and looking for solutions?  Furnace filters (air conditioning, vent, and heating) might not be the first solution you think of when you’ve just been diagnosed with an allergy, but specially designed furnace filters for allergies should be considered as you search for allergy relief.

We rarely notice dust in our every day lives.  Sometimes we wipe the dust off old books or a neglected table.  Occasionally we see it glimmering in the light.

It’s important to know that dust is everywhere in our homes and constantly being produced by us (learn where dust comes from here)!

You see, most of the dust in our home is actually our dead skin and that is also the reason our homes are the ideal place for dust mites.  They depend on us for food!

Best furnace filter for allergies and asthma

Is Every HVAC Filter The Same

Growing up, my family always used the air conditioner in the summer and the heater in the winter.  We didn’t realize the importance of “quality” when it came to air conditioning filters and we didn’t even realize there were different options.  A filter was a filter and it should do its job.

I remember helping my father replace the HVAC filter a few times each year.  We’d stand on a stool remove the old and dirty filter and put the new one in.

My father taught me to always write the date on the filter so you know how old it is.  We changed it routinely every 6 months.  Little did I know at the time, filters would make a big difference in my life.

As a child, I didn’t know I was allergic to dust mites.  I experienced allergy symptoms, sure, but I thought that’s how I was born and I’d have to deal with my stuffy nose.  I noticed a few things when I was a kid but I didn’t know for sure.

– When the HVAC would run in the summer and winter the forced air would make me sneeze, have itchy eyes, and an itchy nose.

– When the ceiling fan was on my eyes, nose, and mouth would become itchy.

– When I vacuumed the carpets I would feel miserable afterward even though I thought things were clean.

Looking back, those were tell-tale signs of dust mite allergy.  Forced air from the HVAC and blown air from the fan and vacuum blew invisible allergens into the air.  The allergens (not just dust mites but also pet dander) were invisible to the human eye and could stay airborne for hours.

Related: Best Indoor Plants for Asthma and Allergy Sufferers

In regards to the HVAC, the low-quality filters were porous and didn’t trap fine particulates of dust mites and pet dander.  When our air conditioning was on it blew dust mites through the filter and around the house.  Later in life, I was allergy tested and sure enough, I was allergic to indoor allergens.

One of the first things my allergist told me was to maintain cleanliness in the house.  I learned that according to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air can be 2-5 times worse than outdoor air.

He also said using quality furnace filters for allergies should be a priority.  I went down to the local hardware store and bought the thickest HVAC filter available – but they only carried a few options and they weren’t so strong.

Even though the filter I purchased said “allergy strength” it was weak compared to others on the market.  Filtrete only had a couple of options available at the big box stores but on the internet, there were many options and many quality brands.

Having an air conditioning filter that actually works is essential to keep indoor air clean and your allergies at bay, and, because it uses no chemicals, it is a great way to help you get rid of dust mites naturally!

Best Furnace Filters For Allergies

RankFilter NameMERV RatingPriceCheck Price and Reviews
#1Filtrete Ultrafine Particle Filter14 (2800mpr)$$$Filtrete Ultrafine on Amazon
#2Filtrete Healthy Living Elite Allergen Reduction Filter13 (2200mpr)$$Filtrete Healthy Living on Amazon
#3Nordic Pure - AC Furnace Air Filter13$Nordic Pure on Amazon
#4Filtrete Healthy Living Ultimate Allergen Reduction Filter12 (1900mpr)$$Filtrete Healthy Living on Amazon
#5Filtrete Allergen Defense Odor Reduction Filter11 (1200mpr)$$Filtrete Allergen/Odor Defense on Amazon
#6Filtrete Micro Allergen Defense Filter11 (1000mpr)$$Filtrete Micro Allergen on Amazon

The Microparticle Performance Rating (MPR) vs MERV vs FPR

The Microparticle Performance Rating or MPR is a rating scale created by Filtrete under the 3M company and it rates the filter’s ability to capture the smallest of airborne particles from the air (different companies use different scales).  These particles captured are microscopic, ranging in size from .3-1 micron in size.

The rating helps customers properly evaluate the ability of the Filtrete filtration.  The higher the MPR rating, the better the filter is at capturing the smallest particulates. The most common ratings for Filtrete filters are 300-1000 MPR but the top furnace filters for allergies are 1500-2800 MPR.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has a slightly different scale for filters called the MERV rating.  This rating goes from 1-16, the higher the rating, the more effective the filter for .3-10 micrometers of particulate matter.

MERV 7 to 13 are almost as effective as true HEPA filters at removing allergens, with a much lower associated system and operating costs.  This means that using high-quality filters can actually help your HVAC system perform with more efficiency and keep the inside of equipment from accumulating dust.

Filter Performance Rating (FPR) is yet another rating system developed and used by Home Depot.  In case you are confused about MRP vs MERV vs FPR below is a useful table from Filtersnap showing how they relate and you can change FPR to MERV.

One additional comment: You’ll notice the majority of the air conditioning filters listed come from 1 company, Filtrete.  Dust Mite Solutions has not, in any way, been paid to promote Filtrete filters.

To be transparent, I’ll share the filter I am currently using – and it’s not Filtrete.  I’ve used Filtrete in the past and I love them, however, they can be pricey.  My new filters, are made by Nordic Pure and have a Merv 13 rating.  They came at a great price and I’ll highlight them below.

Whichever company you choose make sure they are quality, have a high MERV rating, and are well-reviewed. At the end of the article, make sure you check out the Filtrete comparison table!

Before we start our reviews, check out this helpful video about air conditioning filters:

The Best HVAC Filters for Allergies + Filtrete Comparison

Below, you’ll find the tops furnace filters for allergies.  All of these options will reduce dust mites and other aeroallergens in your home.  Remember, pay close attention to MPR, which stands for Microparticle Performance Rating or MERV – the higher, the better.

No. 1 Filtrete Ultrafine Particle Reduction Filter, MPR 2800

This is the #1 air conditioning filter for dust mites.  This filter is the big guy, the grand-daddy, the boss!  As quoted from customers, “Do your health a favor and buy this whole-house air purifier.”

This Filtrete Filter might actually clean your house for you!  It won’t clean your house but I’m sure you’ll notice less dust around if you run it often.

Because the filter is strong it might make your HVAC work harder to pull air through, however, the pleats are what help air pass.

You’ll notice the filter pleats are closer together.  Pleats that are close together have more surface area and do a great job of letting air pass through while still capturing the worst allergens like pollen, dust mites, and pet dander.

>> check Filtrete Ultrafine sizes on Amazon

  • Traps particulate matter of 2.5 air pollution, exhaust, soot, smoke, cough/sneeze debris, bacteria, viruses, and lint, dust, and pollen

  • Performs 7 times better compared to non-electrostatic pleated filters capturing 0.3 to 1.0-micron particles.

  • Also uses electrostatic filtration

It’s not cheap for a 2-pack, but I must admit its tempting to see how this filter performs.  And because I have dust mite allergy symptoms I’m willing to give it a shot.  I’ll report back as I continue to evaluate the high-quality HVAC filters.

No. 2 Filtrete Healthy Living Elite Allergen Reduction Filter, 6-Pack


This Filtrete filter is very similar to its counterpart above, however a 2200 MPR rating for a little extra filtration.  As the filter strength gets stronger, you’ll also need to make sure your HVAC can handle the suction – it will require more energy for the air conditioning unit.

>> check Filtrete Healthy Living sizes on Amazon

The price point for these filters cost a premium for a 6 pack.  My honest advice: skip this item and either purchase the No.1 or No.3 filter.

This is simply an “in between” product yet still a great option for an allergy HVAC filter.

I would purchase this allergy filter for my furnace if it was on sale compared to the other options.

No. 3 Nordic Pure MERV 13 AC Furnace Air Filter

I have to admit, I was hesitant to change my filter from 3m’s Filtrete.  I’ve used Filtrete for a long time and I trust the brand.  I tend to buy products that have a reputation and I’m familiar with.

With this said, I did quite a bit of research when I searched for an alternative.  The Filtrete prices are high and that’s the only reason I considered switching. 

While looking for other high-quality filter companies I came across Nordic Pure.  Ok, great name, show me more.

I began reading more about the product and I liked that they are made in the U.S.A (Texas actually).  Ok, show me more.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn they use recycled cardboard for the framing – environmentally conscious!

I began reading the reviews and they were solid.

Pet owners said they noticed a difference (less) in indoor dust after only a few days.  I’ve noticed a reduction in my eczema caused by allergies.

People who were lifelong Filtrete customers said they appreciated the solid construction of the Nordic Pure filters compared to Filtrete.  Other customers suffering from allergies use these filters and keep the vent on year-round so they can capture all the dust in the house.

>> check Nordic Pure sizes on Amazon

Lastly, I looked at the price.  The price for these filters seems reasonable compared to Filtrete.  It’s true that Filtrete pretty much has a monopoly in the U.S. but there are options that are high quality.

I was impressed that the Nordic Pure filters are manufactured with more structural support than my old Filtrete, which was caving in from the suction.

I like how these filters are working and as of today, I recommend them as a solid alternative to costly Filtrete.  Don’t get me wrong, I still support Filtrete and they still have the #1 ranking below but Nordic Pure is worthy of a top ranking.

No. 4 Filtrete Healthy Living Ultimate Allergen Reduction Filter, MPR 1900


“Healthy Living” is Filtrete’s specialty brand for people who take extra precaution with indoor air.  Healthy Living customers probably have strong allergies to dust, animals, pollen, and possibly compromised immune systems.

They may have indoor animals as well, which can lead to dander problems.  If you experience strong allergic reactions, using this product will help much more than the above-mentions filters.

With a 1900 MPR rating (MERV 13), this filter is almost twice as strong as our No. 6 ranked filter.  In addition to pollen, dust, dust mites, and dander, this filter captures particular matter (PM) 2.5, as well as viruses and bacteria.

>> check Filtrete Healthy Living sizes on Amazon

I’d be interested in trying this filter and comparing it to the filter I currently use.  It comes in a 6 pack which is twice the price the amount as our No. 6 Filtrete filter, so it’s considerable investment.

With my health, I’m willing to spend a few extra dollars to make sure I’m breathing well.

No. 5 Filtrete Allergen Defense Odor Reduction Filter, MPR 1200, 4-Pack

Filtrete’s Odor Reduction Filter has a slightly stronger MPR rating at 1200 (MERV equivalent of 11) and ranks high on our list of HVAC allergy filters.

In addition to trapping fine aeroallergen particles like dust mites and pet dander, this air conditioning filter has an emphasis on odors, especially cooking, mildew, and smoke.

Unique from our No. 5 filter, the Odor Reduction Filter is electrostatically charged with “activated carbon” to attract the capture of particulates from the air.  The carbon layer is black and it’s what reduces the odors.

The carbon layer on top of the regular filter gives it added filtration that you’ll definitely notice.  If you have pets in the house, it will help reduce the dog smell.  This is definitely your choice for allergies if you also want odor control!

>> check Filtrete Odor sizes on Amazon

Also, if you smoke or cook with strong seasoning, you can kill two birds with one stone (allergies and smell).  Its price point is still affordable for a 4 pack, making it slightly more expensive than our No. 6 ranked filter.

No. 6 Filtrete Micro Allergen Defense Filter, MPR 1000, 6-Pack

Even though its ranked No. 6 on our list this is still one of the top ac filters for allergies.  As one of the more basic HVAC allergy filters it will do the job and help relieve some allergy symptoms – you can count on the Micro Allergen Defense Filter.

I can recommend this product from experience since this is the air conditioning filter I used after I was diagnosed with dust mite allergy.  Sometimes this filter will be available at home improvement stores.

It’s the most basic allergy protection so you should feel an improvement in your symptoms but not as much as the stronger filters below.  Depending on how much you use your HVAC, expect to change it every 3-6 months.

According to Filtrete, this filter captures lint, dust, dust mites, mold, pollen, smoke, and smog.  That’s pretty good coverage for our No. 6 filter.

>> check Filtrete Micro Allergen sizes on Amazon

At an affordable price point for 6 filters, its a good option for families.  Make sure you check the size of your intake and match it with Filtrete’s options.


**Please make sure you match the size of your intake with the filter!

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed how HVAC filters can affect your allergies.  Whether you’re suffering from dust mite allergy, pet dander allergy, pollen allergy, or have smokers and strong odors in the home, a high-quality air conditioning filter can significantly improve your indoor air quality.

I shared my experience growing up with HVAC filters and signs of allergy that I didn’t notice/understand.  I wish I could have figured out my allergies earlier – but you live and learn.

I always felt congested and itchy when the air conditioning and heater were on.  I felt the same way when the fan was on and when I was vacuuming.  Needless-to-say there were a lot of allergens in my home that the HVAC filter wasn’t capturing.

Some of the top furnace filters for allergies are made by Filtrete, a 3M company well-respected in America.  These filters aren’t common in home improvement stores but can be found online.

Although Filtrete has control of the high-quality filter market, there are a few other companies working to provide allergy relief.  Nordic Pure is one of those companies based out of Texas.

While Filtrete uses the MPR rating system, Nordic Pure uses the industry standard MERV rating.  View the table above to see equivalency ratings.

Filtrete made our list many times due to plenty of options for allergy.  They even have filters that capture bacteria and odors (would be perfect for hospitals).  I’ve tried many of the Filtrete HVAC filters and I trust them, however, I found their prices to be high.

I’m currently trying the Nordic Pure MERV 13 and so far I like it.  Strong construction with support, a thick filter that seems to be doing its job, and it’s at a price that’s hard to beat.

The pleat construction isn’t as tight as the best Filtrete furnace filters but the Nordic Air still does a great job for people like me.

I’ll keep you updated on my favorite air conditioning filters and I’ll routinely test new filters so my list is updated.  I hope we provided enough information to make your purchasing decision easier.  Thanks for reading!

 

Note: Below is a handy Filtrete comparison table that shows what each filter captures.  The number listed on top is the MPR number.  For most people with allergies, MPR 1000 should be the minimum.  If you have severe allergies or sensitivities or just want super clean air in your home, you might want a stronger Filtrete filter.  We hope you enjoyed our reviews.

Filtrete comparison table

I’ve lived with allergies most of my life.  After being diagnosed with allergies I began reading and researching.  I’ve worked with a number of allergists and now write as a way to share my experience with others in the same situation. In my spare time, you can find me hanging with family near the beach.