Can Air Purifiers COMPLETELY Remove Smoke of ALL Kinds?

Josh Mitchell

Written By

Josh Mitchell

Expert Reviewed By

Holly Curell

Last Updated On

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Key Takeaways

  • Air Purifiers can remove smoke ranging from tobacco smoke to wildfire smokes and everything in between including cooking smoke.
  • There are many types of air purifiers, the most common ones have a HEPA filter with activated carbon.
  • To completely eradicate smoke and particles, it is recommended that you perform a thorough cleaning of your home including carpets, upholstery, bedding etc. 

As an experienced air purification expert, I can confidently say that smoke and its residual odors are some of the most challenging things to eliminate.

Smoke is a serious pollutant that can linger in your home forever and trigger health problems like asthma.

Smoke particles can settle on surfaces like carpets, upholstery, and walls, resulting in unpleasant smells and potential health hazards. To remove smoke from your air, I recommend air purifiers with HEPA filters.

Don’t wait any longer to get that smoke smell out of your home. Below, I’ll go over how air purifiers eliminate smoke so you can restore clean, fresh air to your home.

How Do Air Purifiers Work With Smoke Smells?

The most effective air purifiers for smoke smells use HEPA filters to trap smoke and eliminate it from the air. The filter captures smoke and other harmful pollutants as air circulates through the purifier.

Air purifiers are most effective when the smoke is still in the air. If smoke has already become embedded in walls or carpets, a deep cleaning may be necessary to eliminate the smell entirely.

Air cleaners are a powerful tool for combating smoke smells in your home, especially when used with other cleaning and ventilation strategies. The most common purifiers used for smoke are:

Ozone Generators And Ionizers

Ozone generators produce ozone which can remove odors and some pollutants. However, they can be hazardous to your health, especially in high concentrations. 

Ionic air purifiers use ionization to remove smoke and other remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air. Ionizers emit negative ions into the air, which attach themselves to positively charged particles like smoke.

Once the ions attach to these particles, they become negatively charged and fall out of the air and onto nearby surfaces, effectively removing them from the air.

However, they can also create harmful byproducts and react with other substances in the air, producing additional pollutants.

While ozone generators and ionizers may be able to clear smoke from the air, they are not widely considered effective or safe air-purifying solutions. 

UV-Based Air Purifiers

UV-based air purifiers use UV-C light to kill airborne bacteria and viruses, which can help to improve indoor air quality. However, while a UV-based air purifier may kill certain airborne pathogens, it may not be as effective at removing other pollutants such as dust, pet dander, or smoke.

As with any air purifier, it is important to research and compare different models to find one that fits your specific needs and budget.

HEPA Filters

HEPA filters are designed to capture fine particles as small as 0.3 microns. HEPA air filters are highly effective at removing smoke, dust, allergens, and other pollutants from the air.

A HEPA filter is incredibly effective at eliminating smoke from the air. They are typically the “top choice” for this purpose. However, to remove the smoke smell from your air, you’ll need to pair a HEPA filer with an activated carbon filter.

Gas-Phase Filters

Gas-phase filters are designed to remove gaseous pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), odors, and some types of smoke.
Gas-phase filters typically contain a material such as activated carbon, which can adsorb gaseous pollutants by attracting them to their surface.

The contaminants stick to the material and are removed from the air. Gas-phase filters are often used in industrial or commercial settings to remove pollutants such as chemical fumes or odors from manufacturing processes.

PCO/PECO Air Purifiers

PCO (photocatalytic oxidation) and PECO (photoelectrochemical oxidation) air purifiers are a relatively new technology that recently gained popularity. They are considered a promising alternative to traditional air purifiers but have yet to be widely adopted.

A PCO/PECO air purifier uses a combination of UV light and a catalyst to break down pollutants such as bacteria, viruses, and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into harmless byproducts.

It is also worth noting that a PCO/PECO air purifier may only be suitable for some individuals or environments. Some people may be sensitive to the ozone produced as a byproduct of the oxidation process, and some indoor environments may not be suitable for UV light.

Choosing An Air Purifier For Removing Smoke Smells

I can recommend several air purifiers on the market to remove your smoke smell, but it can still be a bit daunting choosing one. Check out my 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 a HEPA filter 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 soundly with clean air, look for one with a higher air exchange rate, like 5 to 10 air exchanges per hour.

A Thick Layer Of Activated Carbon Filter

An air purifier with activated carbon filters is 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.

Types Of Smoke Commonly Found Indoors

From Cigarettes & Marijuana

Smoking indoors harms your health and leaves an awful smell in your home. I’ve been in a few homes and felt like I was actively getting lung cancer!

The pungent odor of weed and tobacco smoke can seep into everything you own, leaving an unpleasant, stale smell for days on end. That makes removing marijuana and tobacco smoke from your air essential.

Smoking indoors is never recommended (smoking, in general, isn’t recommended). However, if it can’t be avoided, a purifier can effectively remove cigarette smoke from the air. An air purifier with a HEPA filter specifically can help with removing tobacco smoke and minimizing the impact on your apartment and your health.

From Fires

One of my favorite things to do in the winter is sit by a big bonfire. However, when the smoke from a log fire gets indoors, it can cause dry eyes, scratchy throats, congestion, and even flu-like symptoms. Many toxic chemicals in wood smoke are harmful to breathe in, although it’s not quite as bad as tobacco smoke.

Wildfire smoke is also a real problem, particularly for those living in the western U.S. where they are more common. It’s bad for your lungs and it can damage the inside of your home. When the soot from wildfires gets into your home it settles on your furniture, carpet, and drapes, potentially causing health problems and damage to your possessions.

Whether dealing with smoke from a log fire or a wildfire, minimizing the impact on your health and home is crucial. Air cleaners can help with smoke removal.

What Makes Secondhand Smoke So Dangerous?

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.

Smoking is terrible for your health, period. During the act of smoking, you inhale more than 7,000 harmful chemicals, including ammonia, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde.

Other Tips For Removing Smoke In The Home

While air purifiers are great at eliminating smoke and its odor, I’ll be the first to admit that they might not be enough for set-in smoke. Pairing your purifier with these methods may do the trick.

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.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

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 in the house. 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 last 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. Consider cleaning your home more frequently if you’re a heavy smoker.

How do you get cigarette smoke off walls and ceilings?

To get cigarette smoke off the walls and ceilings, 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. By adding moisture to the air with a humidifier, the smoke breaks down faster and gets out of your home quicker. Using a humidifier can also help keep your throat from getting irritated and dry from the smoky air.


I stand by the fact that using an air purifier effectively removes smoky smells from your home. Just remember that an air purifier can only eliminate smoke from the air and won’t remove embedded odors in walls, carpets, or clothing.

In my experience, using a combination of air purifiers and other cleaning methods, like washing walls and carpets, is the most effective way to eliminate smoky smells in your home.

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Josh Mitchell


Josh Mitchell
My name is Josh and I am obsessed with home appliances. From portable AC units to heaters and air purifiers, I enjoy testing, learning and using these devices to improve the air quality inside my family home.

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Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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