If you plan to get an air purifier to remove bad smells at home or in the office, it’s best to read this guide first. That’s because not all air purifiers can take care of stinky situations.

Air purifiers can filter out large-size pollutants like dust, fur, and pollen.
However, odours or bad smells are gases or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are too small for most air purifiers to catch and eliminate.

Unpleasant odours can still linger without the proper filter or technology for gaseous contaminants. Moreover, foul smells won’t go away unless you remove the source.

So, let’s identify which air purifier features to check for an odour-free home or office. Then, read on to learn the common causes of indoor bad smells and how to prevent them.

What to Look for When Buying Air Purifiers for Bad Smells?

We often encounter HEPA filters in air purifiers, but these are for the mechanical filtration of large-size pollutants, not odours or gases.

Instead, focus on features like activated carbon and PECO (photoelectrochemical oxidation) technology.

1. Activated Carbon or Charcoal

Carbon or charcoal is a porous element that can effectively catch VOCs, including unpleasant odours at home.

In air purifiers, activated carbon can be in the form of a fine mesh filter or cartridge.

It works through the adsorption process, where odour-causing gas molecules cling to the surface of carbon.

This system explains why carbon filtration can also lead to off-gassing.

When activated carbon becomes too saturated or disturbed by sudden humidity or temperature changes, it can quickly release smelly molecules into the air.

So, carbon filter replacement is crucial when you have this air purifier feature.

HEPA and Carbon Filters of an Air Purifier

2. Photoelectrochemical Oxidation (PECO)

PECO technology in air purifiers is another feature that eliminates bad smells and filters VOCs as small as 0.1 nm. Compared with activated carbon, this one is more efficient.

It works by releasing free radicals into the air. Once it spots an odour-causing VOC, the free radical captures it and breaks its molecular bonds.

So, rather than trapping gaseous elements, PECO technology destroys them. It is a better filtration system for chemical gases that are smelly and harmful.

Which Bad Smells Can an Air Purifier Remove?

Here are the most common sources of unpleasant smells that your air purifier can tackle:

  • Mould and mildew. If you are in a particularly humid region, an air purifier with PECO or carbon filter can remove the musty odour of household fungi. However, make sure to find the source since spores are health risks.
  • Smoke. An odour-adsorbing air purifier is suitable for catching smoke from tobacco, nearby factories, or bushfires. A model with a smoke-detection ability is perhaps best if you typically encounter this pollutant. Check out this article on choosing air purifiers for smoke for more info.
  • Pet odour. Aside from fur and dander, air purifiers can also trap smells produced by your pet’s skin.
  • Strong cooking smells. Most of us eliminate food odours through air freshener sprays or scented candles. The problem is these can only mask the smell but not trap or eliminate VOCs. An air purifier should help get rid of the source.

Woman Using an Air Purifier to Remove Bad Smells

How to Help Your Air Purifier Remove Bad Smells

Getting an odour-adsorbing air purifier is only one solution for a fresh-smelling indoor space. Keeping it that way relies on your cleaning habits.

Here are a few tips to avoid bad smells altogether:

  • Regularly vacuum and mop your home or office. Cleaning up indoor contaminants reduces the chances of getting foul smells. Pay particular attention to your kitchen and bathroom.
  • Keep the space well-ventilated. Proper airflow drives away airborne pollutants and smells. It also keeps your air purifier working efficiently.
  • Take care of odour-generating items in the room. Things like dirty carpets, linens, or appliances can emit smells. Wash or clean them up regularly.
  • Monitor the filters of your air purifier. Replace them when needed and keep your appliance clean to keep it running smoothly.

Final Thoughts

So, can air purifiers remove bad smells? Yes, they can, as long as they have the right features, like a carbon or PECO filtration system.

However, one appliance will not free your home or office from unpleasant odours.

It is equally important to know the potential causes of bad smells and tackle them accordingly. Remember to keep your indoor space clean and well-ventilated, too.

Check out our air purifier review page and buying guide to see which model can help you achieve an odour-free home.