Informational Guide

Do Air Purifiers Help With Smoke

The best way to get rid of smoke from the air is to remove it completely. Is using an air purifier the best way to do this?

by Josh M

Smoke is one of the most challenging pollutants to escape from because it stays in your home for long periods. Smoke can irritate your airways, which can trigger asthma attacks, so it’s best to take care of any smoke issues as soon as possible.

Even worse, smoke can linger long after the source has been extinguished by staying in your carpets, upholstery, and even on the walls.

The best way to get rid of smoke from the air is with an air purifier, but are they really effective?

Read on to find out more.

From Cigarettes & Weed

Smoking cigarettes and weed indoors will definitely make your apartment smell like cigarettes and weed. (No surprises there!)

The smell of smoke can linger in your hair, skin, clothes, fabric, and furniture for days after you’ve had a cigarette or joint.

From a Log Fire

One of our favorite things to do during the winter is to sit by a big log fire. But the smoke from a log fire indoors can cause dry eyes and dry and scratchy throats. It can also cause congestion and flu-like symptoms.

There are many chemicals in wood smoke that are toxic, and while it’s not quite as bad as tobacco smoke, it’s still not healthy to breathe in.

From Wildfires

Smoke from wildfires can be a real problem for people living in the western states since they are more common in those areas. Smoke from wildfires is not only bad for our lungs, but it also can damage our home interiors. The soot from wildfires can easily travel into your home and land on your furniture, carpet, and drapes.


What Makes Secondhand Smoke So Dangerous?

Smoking is terrible for your health, period. During the act of smoking, you inhale more than 7,000 chemicals, including ammonia, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde. Secondhand smoke, or the smoke released when someone else is smoking, contains more than 250 chemicals that can cause cancer.

As well as cancer, secondhand smoke can cause heart disease in nonsmoking adults and sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, and more severe asthma in children.

Do Air Purifiers Help with Smoke Smells?

Air purifiers are an excellent option for helping to remove smoke smells from your home. The most effective air purifiers will have a filtration system that uses HEPA filters to trap smoke particles and eliminate them from the air.

One thing to keep in mind is that air purifiers are great as long as the smoke is in the air. If odors have become embedded in walls or carpets, then a deep clean is necessary.

The best air purifiers filter smoke by using a special filter that attracts smoke particles. Smoke particles and other airborne pollutants are drawn to the positively charged ions in the filter. Once the air purifier has pulled the particles to the filter, it can remove them from the air.

The most common types of air purifiers are:

Ozone generators and ionizers

Ozone generators and ionizers are both great air purifiers. Ozone generators produce ozone, an all-natural air purifier similar to the ozone layer in the earth’s atmosphere.

Most air purifiers are not designed to remove VOCs. However, an ozone generator can do just that. Ozone generators use UV light to turn oxygen molecules into ozone molecules, which are then released into the air.

The problem with ionizers and ozone generators is that they aren’t very effective, says a recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“Ozone has little potential to remove indoor air contaminants,” the report says.

UV-based air purifiers

UV-based air purifiers use UV light to kill airborne bacteria and viruses, which leaves your air cleaner and fresher. If you’re interested in purchasing a UV-based purifier for your home, make sure to look for one that has a high enough wattage to kill the most common viruses, such as the flu.

Although UV-based filters are common in places such as Japan, they are not widely adopted in the US.

HEPA filters

HEPA filters offer some of the best protection against dust and allergens, trapping 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns and larger. HEPA filters (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) are used in many vacuums, air purifiers, and air conditioner systems.

HEPA filters are our top choice when it comes to removing smoke from your home.

Gas-Phase filters

The gas-phase filter is made out of fibrous material that the particles stick to and are collected for easy disposal. Gas-phase filters are great for removing dust and allergens from the air.

Gas-phase filters are not typically common for home use.

PCO/PECO air purifiers

PCO/PECO air purifiers are arguable the future of air purification and made an excellent alternative to HEPA filters. They can remove 99.97% of airborne particles that are 0.1 microns or larger. This means that they’re able to remove bacteria, viruses, dust mites, pollen, pet dander, and smoke.

Check out our review of the Molekule model here.

Choosing an Air Purifier for Removing Smoke Smells

While there are many air purifiers on the market, it can be a bit daunting choosing one, especially when you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Check out our top tips below.


The most important thing when choosing an air purifier is the quality of the filter. Air purifiers are great, but they’re only as good as the filter they use. We like to choose an air purifier that uses HEPA filters because they can capture 99.97% of airborne pollutants and are readily available in most home stores.

High airflow rate

The ideal air purifier should have a high airflow rate and an even dispersion of the airflow. A high airflow rate means that it can clean the air in the room more quickly. Even dispersion means that the airflow is distributed evenly throughout the room so that every corner is sanitized.

Air exchange rate

Most air purifiers are rated by their air exchange rate, which tells you how many times an hour the air in your room will be replaced by fresh air. If you’re looking for a purifier that will help you sleep, look for one with a higher air exchange rate, like 5 to 10 air exchanges per hour.

Thick layer of activated carbon filter

Air purifiers with activated carbon filters are the most cost-effective home air purifier you can buy. Carbon filters are great at removing organic materials, like smoke and pet dander, from the air. They’re also great at absorbing odors, like cigarette smoke, cooking odors, and pet odors.

Air Quality Indicator

You can’t control the air quality in your home all the time, so it’s good to know if the air is good quality or not. An Air Quality Indicator can help you figure out the air quality in your home, providing you peace of mind.

Other Tips for Removing Smoke In The Home

Looking for other ways to rid your home of the smell of smoke? Look no further.

Vacuum Carpets & Wash Clothes

If you have a smokey smell in your clothes, try washing them first in a washing machine with a regular load of laundry. Add a cup of vinegar or a cup of baking soda (these are natural odor absorbers) to the wash to remove stubborn odors.

Open Windows & Use Fans

If you’re trying to get rid of a smoke smell from your home or office, open windows and use fans to circulate the air. This will help get the smoke smell out, but you’ll also want to make sure you open the windows on different walls of your house. This will help remove the smell faster.

Wash Down Walls, Furniture, Carpeting & Bedding

Start by washing down walls, furniture, bedding, and carpeting with a mixture of one part white vinegar to one part water.

Next, wash the bedding, rugs, and curtains using an additive in the wash cycle. New carpets can be cleaned with a dry cleaning solution.

air purifier for smoke

People Also Ask (FAQ)

How long does it take for an air purifier to remove smoke in the house?

It can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days for an air purifier to remove smoke from the air. The time it takes depends on how much smoke is in the air and the size of the air purifier.

How long does cigarette smell last in the house?

Cigarette smoke can linger for several weeks in your home after you smoke in it. That’s because the smell of cigarette smoke is absorbed into your walls and surfaces.

If you are a heavy smoker or smoke often, you may want to consider cleaning your home more frequently.

How do you get cigarette smoke off walls and ceilings?

If you don’t have the time or don’t want to spend the money to repaint the walls, there are a few tricks you can use to get the smell of smoke off the walls and ceilings.

We find that the best way to get cigarette smoke off the walls and ceilings is to use a mixture of vinegar and water. Mix up a solution of equal parts vinegar and water and spray it onto the wall or ceiling. Then, use a sponge to wipe it off before leaving it to dry.

Do humidifiers help with smoky air?

Humidifiers do help with smoke in the air. When the air is dry, the smoke particles can hang around longer. They stick to things better, like walls, fabrics, and furniture. By adding moisture to the air with a humidifier, you can help the smoke particles break down faster and get out of your home more quickly.

Using a humidifier can also help keep your throat from getting irritated and dry from the smoky air.


Using an air purifier is a quick and simple way to remove smoky smells from your home. Remember that air purifiers will only work on eliminating smoke from the air. Embedded smells in walls, carpet and clothing will require cleaning before you can finally wave goodbye to smoky odors.

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.