Air Purifiers: Can They Remove Odors From Your Home?

Can Air Purifiers Filter Bad Odors Out of Your Home?

If You Are Looking for a Way to Remove Odors From Your Home, You May Think About Using an Air Purifier. However, Not All of Them Can Do This.
Air Purifiers: Can They Remove Odors From Your Home?

Air purifiers are a great way to remove odors from your home. Whether it’s cigarette smoke, cooking, or musty smells that you don’t want hanging around your house, an air purifier can help eliminate the odor and make your home smell better.

We’ll discuss how air purifiers work to remove odors and what type of filter should be used for different types of odor removal.

What Makes up Common Odors?

The common odors that we are talking about in this article aren’t necessarily bad smells. They can be a range of different odors, from the smell of cigarette smoke to musty basement odors or even food cooking smells that get trapped into your home’s upholstery and fabric.

All these types of common odors have one thing in common: they all contain particles that need to be filtered out by an air purifier and humidity1 if you want to remove them from your home environment completely.

However, if you’re looking to remove a bad smell from your home, it’s important to remember that an air purifier cannot eliminate all of the smells.

This means that some odors may still be left behind even after using an air purifier, so sometimes what’s needed is more than just eliminating particles especially when dealing with strong urine or smoke odors, for example.

Common Odors

What Are These Bad Smells, Exactly?

The bad smells that are not removed by an air purifier can be anything from the smell of cigarette smoke to food cooking odors, urine, or even pet odor.

These bad smells are more difficult for an air purifier because you need a different type of filter technology to remove them, and sometimes it’s simply impossible due to their strength. For example, if someone smokes cigarettes inside your home daily, there will likely still be some scent left behind after using an air purifier.

While this may seem like common sense since we know what smoking does to carpeting, upholstery, and fabric (it makes them smelly), many people don’t realize that it can happen with certain types of wood.

Even if you have been smoking cigarettes for many years and your furniture or walls appear to be fine there may still be a smell left behind that can only really be removed by painting over it with an odorless primer/sealer.

These strong odors are often called “invisible” smells because they happen slowly over time, but the damage is done when someone comes in contact with them (i.e., inhaling second-hand cigarette smoke).

What this means is that unless you completely remove this particles2 from your home’s air, then more than likely, some scent will remain no matter what product you use as part of your weekly spring cleaning routine.

Bad Smells

Where Do Unpleasant Odors Come From?

Pet Odor

The most common source of bad odors in a home is from pets.

There are no exceptions to this rule, whether you have an indoor or outdoor cat, dog, rabbit, or guinea pig.

Pet odor can be so difficult to get rid of all the time because some animals cannot be trained not to go where they shouldn’t (i.e., your rugs), and their urine contains particles that make up strong smells when combined with humidity.

The Awful Mustiness of Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew3 are the next most common source of bad odors in a home.

This can happen for many reasons, some as simple as not turning on your bathroom fan after taking a shower or using the kitchen sink garbage disposal without running water to rinse it beforehand.


Cigarette, cigar, and marijuana smoke are all equally strong when it comes to odors.

While many people think that smoking inside their home is not a problem (since they don’t smell it), the particles from second-hand smoke still get released into your carpeting, furniture, walls everywhere.

Cooking Odors

Another source of bad smells in your home is from cooking odors.

The reason why this happens more often than not isn’t that the food you’re cooking contains strong particles, but rather that it’s usually combined with humidity (especially if you don’t have air conditioning), and by the time dinner rolls around, these two things together make for a smellier meal than when it was first cooked.

General Odors in the Home or Office

Finally, there are general odors that several things can cause.

These may include strong smells from cleaning products you use to clean your carpets or wet-wipe down surfaces especially if you live in an apartment and don’t have access to windows for fresh air circulation (i.e., try opening up all doors leading outside).

Unpleasant Odors

Why Odors Are So Difficult to Filter From the Air

To understand why odors are so difficult for an air purifier to remove, you need to know what it’s like inside of one. The term “purifier” is a bit deceiving because while they do help improve the quality of your home or office’s air (i.e., reduce pollutants4), many don’t take out smells like cigarette smoke, pet odor, etc.

The reason why this is the case has to do with how purifiers work. They have a set number of “stages” that they go through, each one designed to remove certain particles from your home’s air (i.e., dust mites or pollen).

While many also come with an activated carbon pre-filter stage it isn’t meant for smells because odors are gases in their most basic form, which means that there will be nothing left after going through a filter other than clean air on its way into your lungs.

The only type of technology capable of removing bad odors would probably require you to install something like ozone generators throughout your home but even then, these things can make some people sick if they’re not kept at safe levels.

Difficult to Filter

Air Purifiers’ Effectiveness in Controlling Odors

HEPA Filters

The most common type of filter with air purifiers is a HEPA filter5, but not all are the same.

Many companies claim to have “true” HEPA filters (i.e., 99% effective at removing particles in 0.03-micron size), while others only go as far as say they’re capable of trapping larger particles like dust or pollen and preventing them from settling on your furniture, etc.

Carbon Air Filters

Carbon air filters found in many cleaners aren’t meant to remove odors but rather the particles associated with them (i.e., smoke).

These types of filters work by binding and trapping particles onto their surface until they’re either saturated or have started growing into mold themselves. At this point, you would need to replace them altogether.

UV Filters

While there is a type of filter called an ultraviolet light filter designed specifically for removing bad smells from your home’s air, these things can be extremely dangerous if used incorrectly because once activated, they emit levels of UV radiation6 capable of causing skin damage within minutes on high settings.

Molekule (PECO) Technology

While Molekule air purifiers are not yet widely available, this technology is considered the only one capable of removing odors from your home’s air.

The reason why it works has to do with its Photocatalytic Oxidation (PECO) filter that literally “breaks” down all particles by using light and water vapor when combined with humidity in the air, a chemical reaction takes place which degrades everything you would want to be removed into smaller bits before going through an activated carbon post filter for extra scent control.

Air Purifiers' Effectiveness

Odors Are Airborne Chemicals Too Small for Most Air Purifiers

The truth is that most air purifiers are not designed to remove odors from your home’s air but rather trap them in their filters, which means it will only be a matter of time before they saturate and cause smells to return.

This also explains why you have the option to buy extra replacement filter packs for some models because once they’re saturated with particles (i.e., dust or pet hair), all that remains are the gases associated with bad odors that eventually escape back into your living space until these things get replaced again by new ones.

Though some air purifiers claim to use activated carbon filters designed for removing odors, the truth is that these types of filters are only capable of trapping a few of them at best which means they can never fully remove bad smells from your home. Most air purifier companies state not to use their products in rooms where you smoke or cook.

Doing so will harm more than good due to the additional pollutants released into the room versus what gets removed by even high-end models with multiple stages of true HEPA technology.

Airborne Chemicals

Air Purifiers May Combat Some Odors but Cannot Act Alone

While it’s true that air purifiers can help reduce the number of bad odors in your home, there is a limit as to how much these devices can do on their own without having to resort to using something like ozone generators4 which no one should install inside their homes because they’re extremely dangerous for humans and animals alike.

This means you may need other products (i.e., vacuum cleaners or steam mops) capable of removing the particles associated with most smells before passing them through an air filter where gases are trapped until saturation levels return down again.

This is why when buying new appliances such as refrigerators or washing machines, many manufacturers recommend waiting at least 30 days before turning them off unless you have installed carbon filters onto your air purifier to help neutralize bad smells.

When it comes down to it, while air purifiers can be effective for reducing the number of odors coming from your home’s air they cannot remove anything alone without having other products capable of removing particles (i.e., dust and pet hair) before passing them through an activated carbon filter designed specifically for trapping gases until saturation levels return down again.

This means you may also need a vacuum cleaner or steam mop to completely clean up any messes that have been made on floors or carpets, too, so as not to leave behind residual smells, which will only make matters worse in the long run.

Cannot Act Alone

Common Questions

How Do I Select an Air Purifier That Can Remove Odors?

Can I Use an Air Purifier to Remove Bad Smells From a Room That I Smoke or Prepare Food In?

What Is the Best Air Purifier for Removing Bad Smells?

Where Should I Put an Air Purifier to Remove Bad Smells?

In Conclusion

If you’re looking for a way to remove odors from your home, consider investing in an air purifier. Air purifiers can be very effective at removing or reducing pet smells and tobacco smoke odor.

They also reduce allergens and cold viruses as well as help relieve symptoms of mild asthma. The best thing about them is that they do all the work while you sleep.

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Written by
Mark Johnson
Cleaner Living Expert

Mark has discovered how a clean environment can help in preventing certain air born diseases, allergies and asthma. These days, Mark’s mission is to help businesses, individuals, and families find easy solutions for creating a healthy and safe work and living space, no matter your health condition.