Informational Guide

Do Air Purifiers Help With Smells?

Having a bad smell in your home is never pleasant. Removing the odors without opening a window by using an air purifier is a popular option. But does it work?

by Josh M

Having a bad smell in your home is never pleasant. With us all living busy lives, it would be great to flick a switch and remove the odor without opening a window and letting out your warm or cool air.

Do air purifiers help with smells? Read on to discover our findings.

  • Cigarette/Weed Smoke
    For non-smokers, the smell of smoke can be deeply unpleasant, especially if it permeates their homes. Cigarette and weed smoke may not be as noticeable for smokers but clearing the smell out will make your home more pleasant to be in for yourself and any visitors.
  • Pet Odors
    While we all love our pets, our furry friends can come with their unpleasant smells. Pet dander, wet fur, urine, and droppings are not always the nicest smelling things. Tackling these sources head-on and minimizing odors will go a long way to making your home smell fresh.
  • Food & Cooking Smells
    Cooking up a meal for your loved ones is always a good thing; however, strong-smelling foods like fish, garlic, and certain spices can settle in your home for hours at a time and be unpleasant to wake up to. Using our tips below, you can keep eating your favorite foods without suffering their smells.
  • Garbage Smell
    Garbage is a necessary part of our lives but can be another source of nasty smells. While taking out the trash regularly and cleaning your bin is one way of tackling this issue, there are a few other ways to get rid of that smell for good.
  • Bathroom/Urine
    Every person can create some genuinely nasty smells in the bathroom, particularly as babies or when ill. Ensuring that you stay on top of bathroom smells will improve your home and overall quality of life.
  • Mold & Mildew
    No matter how clean your home is, there is often a nook or cranny that houses mold. Let this mold sit for long enough, and you could find that familiar musty smell spreads quickly through your home. Tackling the source and smell will help maintain your health and comfort.

How Do Air Purifiers Help with Household Smells?

Can air purifiers help with smell? To remove the bad smell from the air, your air purifier needs to filter the molecules out of the air and destroy them throughout the entire home. Only certain air purifiers are capable of this, with most either not working to eliminate smells at all or only being able to filter them out and trap them.

HEPA Filters

HEPA filters, or high-efficiency particulate air filters, are designed to deal with large particles in the air. HEPA filters work on removing and trapping pet dander, dust, pollen, and other large particles from the air. Odors, chemicals, gases, and smells typically pass through these filtering systems.

Bacteria and mold can grow in these filters if they are not cleaned or changed regularly, creating a musty smell in the air.

GermGuardian True HEPA Filtration
HEPA Filters With UV-C light

UV-C, or ultraviolet-c, filters use UV light to kill microorganisms by making it impossible for them to reproduce. Their effectiveness against odor is heavily debated. There would need to be prolonged light contact for them to destroy particles. These filters can also produce ozone, which could negatively affect your health.

Carbon Air Filters

Carbon air filters absorb chemicals and VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, that cause odors, scents, and smells. If you decide to use a carbon filter, we recommend getting one with a high carbon count, which will be more effective at trapping smells.

Carbon filters can become victims of off-gassing, a situation in which carbon becomes saturated or disturbed by a rapid change in temperature or humidity. If the filter off-gasses, it will release the VOCs back into the air. If this happens, replace your carbon filter immediately.

Molekule Technology

Molekule filters are a more expensive but long-term solution; they destroy airborne chemicals at the molecular level by breaking their bonds. This can effectively eliminate the smells in your home without any effort on your part.

While it is tempting only to use air purifiers when it starts to smell bad, we recommend using them for as long as the system manual says. This prevents the VOCs and smells from building up to the point where you start to smell them, keeping smells to a minimum.

How To Choose an Air Purifier for Removing Odors

  • Filter Type & Quality
    As we discussed above, getting the right filter type and quality in your home is essential for tackling smells. To trap the odors, perhaps a carbon filter air purifier is best. If you want to remove those smells altogether, a molecule air purifier may be the best choice.
  • Coverage Size
    The right size filter makes a huge difference in the smell and air quality department. Your filter can only handle a specific area in square meters – read the description carefully and measure your space out before purchasing an air purifier.
  • CADR Rating & AHAM Clarification
    Filters have a specific clean air delivery rate or CADR that lets you know how they perform in cubic feet per meter. The Association of home appliance manufacturers, or AHAM, measure how good the CADR of your air purifier; check to see if your desired air purifier is AHAM-certified. We recommend choosing a product that is certified and has a high CADR rating. As a general rule, the CADR must be greater than two-thirds of the room area in square feet.
  • Energy Star Certification
    Energy Star is a program that promotes energy efficiency. Ònly Energy Star certified products have a max efficient power saving system. Having an energy star-certified product means that you can save energy and pay less on your electricity bills.

Some of my favorite brands include –

Other Tips for Removing Bad Smells in the Home

Removing nasty smells and particulates from your home is beneficial to your health as well as your overall wellbeing. Leaving pollutants and foul scents in the air can aggravate lung conditions such as asthma, making your daily routine harder to go through while they are present. Some ways to remove bad smells include:

  • Open a window.
  • Use an air freshener that destroys smell molecules.
  • Turn on the extractor fan while cooking.
  • Clean and demold your home at least once a week.
  • Smoke outside your home with the windows closed.
  • Change to more pleasant-smelling natural cleaning products and plants in the home.

How can I safely remove smelly VOCs?

  • Use potpourri.
  • Simmer spices or citrus in water.
  • Use essential oils and infusers.
  • Use a mix of lemon juice and olive oil as a wood polish.
  • Use a ventilator or install one in your home.
  • Install a mechanical ventilator in your home.
  • Purchase houseplants that tackle air pollution, such as spider plants and peace lilies.

Small actions like those described above can help with respiratory issues, promote good health, and make your home a more relaxing and welcoming place to be.

Plants and Fresh Air

People Also Ask (FAQ)

How long does it take for an air purifier to remove odors?

That depends on the air freshener, size of your space, and the strength of the odors. It could take anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours.

Does vinegar get rid of smells?

Via boiling in water or being left in bowls in the smell sources, vinegar can get rid of bad smells. You will smell the vinegar itself for a while, but that will dissipate over time.

How do I keep my house smelling good all the time?

By following our steps above, you can keep on top of and prevent bad smells from forming in your home. If bad smells do crop up, they will not last long once these steps are followed.


Do air purifiers remove odors? Only certain ones can, and it is crucial to know that you are getting the correct air purifier for your home. We recommend getting an air purifier with a carbon or molecule filter and cleaning and ventilating your house regularly to tackle sour smells.

Last Updated on July 16, 2021

Josh M

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with the HVAC industry. I created this website to help HVAC techs of all levels get the best out of their heating & cooling systems. I have spent thousands of hours studying air conditioners, heaters and home air products so you can learn & buy with confidence. Learn more about the team here.