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What are the key factors you need to consider when shopping for an air purifier that will remove odors from your home? First and foremost, you need to consider the filter, as not all filtration mediums are designed to trap molecules commonly associated with causing odor. For example, HEPA filters aren’t traditionally designed to trap odors.
Additionally, you’ll want to look at the CADR score as this determines how much air can be effectively filtered by an air purifier in comparison to the room size. Picking an appliance with a CADR score that’s too low can leave you with a room that still smells a little funky. And finally, to purchase the best air purifier, consider how frequently you’ll need to replace the filter as this will represent an ongoing fixed cost that will need to be factored into your household budget. If you want to save some money, you can opt for air purifiers with washable filters, though their maintenance is not as convenient since the filters would need to be cleaned regularly.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This device has an efficient three-stage system that effectively eliminates smells and small particles. It has a stylish freestanding design, which is suitable for residential properties and offices.
The Levoit Core 300 air purifier uses a powerful UVC light to eliminate microorganisms from the air. This device deploys vortex air tech and a 360-degree air intake system to eliminate pollutants from the air fast. With a CADR of 140 for dust, 145 for pollen, and 141 for smoke, the device cleans up the air in a 174 sq. ft. room in just 30 minutes. Equipped with an H13 HEPA air filter, this purifier is ideal for people with allergies. However, the device gets a bit noisy at high settings. You’ll want to check out our Levoit LV H128 review instead, as this device is whisper-quiet.
This Levoit Core 300 air purifier has an activated carbon air filter that’s very effective with smoke, odors, and VOCs. It’s compatible with a wide variety of Levoit HEPA air filters, letting users customize filtration. Its quiet performance suits bedrooms. A delay switch-off timer with options for 2 hours, 4 hours, 6 hours, and 8 hours offers convenient operation. The purifier has a filter replacement indicator to facilitate timely maintenance. It’s quite energy-efficient and features FCC, ETL, and CARB certifications.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This air purifier has a sleek sound-bar-themed appearance that will raise the aesthetics in any room. It’s recommended for spaces of up to 743 sq. ft., so it’s suitable for large living rooms and kitchens.
The GermGuardian AC4825E air purifier has a distinctive design reminiscent of a soundbar. It comes with a HEPA filter, just like the Austin Air Healthmate HM400, which is ideal for homes with pets, pollen, and mold, and uses UVC tech to eliminate germs. This device comes with an effective activated charcoal filter to eliminate odors from cooking fumes, pets, and mold, which makes it a fine air purifier for mold. A built-in change filter indicator enables timely maintenance. The air purifier is available in black and white colors to appeal to a wide variety of people. However, this device gives off a slight burning smell at high fan settings.
This GermGuardain AC4825E also has a pre-filter to protect the inner filters from clogging. The housing opens easily for cleaning or replacing filters. It’s recommended for spaces of up to 743 sq. ft., making it a good choice for large bedrooms or living rooms. Featuring a vertical design, this air purifier requires little space and seamlessly fits on tables, desks, and counters. It also has top-facing controls for simple operation.
Award: BEST FOR BEDROOMS
WHY WE LIKE IT: Modern features such as a delay switch-off timer and filter replacement indicator support convenient operation. Its sleek appearance adds a welcome focal point to any part of the home.
The Pure Enrichment PureZone Air Purifier uses a three-stage filtration system to eliminate pathogens and undesirable odors. Featuring a HEPA filter, this device removes even microscopic dust and pollen particles. Its filter assembly includes a prefilter to protect other filters. An activated carbon filter in this unit eliminates odors. With a UVC light, this device takes out harmful microorganisms for a healthy living space. However, with a CADR of just 80, this device is only suitable for moderate-sized rooms of up to 200 sq. ft.
This Pure Enrichment PureZone air purifier has a stylish sound speaker-like design that will bring a contemporary vibe to any room. A 360-degree intake system optimizes air purification, while the 60W fan is remarkably efficient. With three different fan speeds, this device enables precise customization. A top-facing touch control panel on this model allows for easy operation. An indicator alerts users when it’s about time to replace the filter. The device has a Sleep mode and delay switch-off time for convenience. This model unfortunately can’t take on large rooms, so you’d need the best air purifier for large rooms.
Award: BEST FOR LIVING ROOMS
WHY WE LIKE IT: With advanced features such as Delay Switch Off and a pollution level indicator, this device not only purifies but also allows you to monitor room parameters. It has a coverage of up to 361 sq. ft., making it a good choice for moderate-sized rooms.
The Coway Airmega AP-1512HH air purifier is a powerful system designed for rooms of up to 361 sq. ft. This device has three different fan speeds to enable customization. An Auto mode puts customization on autopilot. It also has an Eco mode to save time. This device will efficiently eliminate small and large particles with a powerful four-stage filtration system. A HEPA filter removes allergenic particles, while its deodorizing filter handles unpleasant odors. However, this device has a slightly vibrating sound when set to the highest fan speed.
This Coway Airmega AP-1512HH air purifier has intuitive buttons for easy control. A color-coded air quality LED indicator allows users to monitor the air quality in the room. It has filter indicators for alerting consumers about maintenance. This device also has a built-in ionizer to facilitate fast smoke removal. Featuring a delay switch-off timer with settings for 1 hour, 4 hours, and 8 hours, this air purifier is suitable for bedrooms.
Award: BEST BUDGET
WHY WE LIKE IT: This device has an impressive design that will make a lasting impression. It has a powerful air cleaning system that keeps unpleasant odors out of small rooms, making it a great air purifier for a dorm room.
The Hamilton Beach TrueAir air purifier impresses with its stylish design that will capture attention in any room. This device has a white color scheme that blends in with most room color schemes. Featuring an activated charcoal filter, the air purifier is especially effective with odors from cooking, pets, and mold. However, with a low CADR, this device is only ideal for small rooms of up to 140 sq. ft. It’s not too different than the Airthereal ADH80, which covers 160 sq. ft.
An effective zeolite air filter removes minute particles as small as 0.3 microns, so the device is good for homes with pets. This Hamilton Beach TrueAir air purifier has a three-speed fan that enables wide-ranging use. Its 360-degree intake design maximizes filtration. A manual dial on this unit allows hassle-free operation. The device operates quietly, making it a good pick for bedrooms and study rooms. This device is easy to open when replacing filters.
Award: BEST FOR MOLD
WHY WE LIKE IT: A proprietary filtration system with multiple purification stages on this model keeps the room free of odors, VOCs, and allergens. It has a delay switch-off timer to simplify operation.
The Winix 5500-2 air purifier uses proprietary PlasmaWave technology to rid the air of harmful vapors and other pollutants. It has a HEPA filter for removing everything from pet dander and pollen to dust particles. Featuring an ozone-free system, this device is safe to use around humans and pets. A unique touch control panel on the purifier facilitates a smooth operation. However, this air purifier is not very effective in places with smoke and fumes.
This Winix 5500-2 air purifier has a delay switch-off timer for convenient operation. It has four different fan speeds to enable precise customization. The device has a carbon filter for eliminating odors from mold, cooking, pets, and VOCs. The air purifier comes with intuitive remote control for easily adjusting settings and switching the device on and off. This device is ideal for rooms of about 300 sq. ft, so it’s good for bedrooms and moderate kitchens.
As the name implies, a great air purifier for smells is an appliance specifically designed to remove not just irritating pollutants from the air, such as airborne particles and contaminants. But, using a pre – filter will also remove substances in the air that can contribute to odors. Using one of the best air purifiers to remove odors can help reduce odors like particles, chemicals, gaseous pollutants, and airborne contaminants. In fact, these elements are the main causes of odors.
That said, most regular and high-end air purifiers for odor elimination are designed with specific types of filters that are effective at either completely removing or neutralizing odor-causing molecules in the air. However, there are three common types of filtration technology — each with varying levels of efficacy. You can also check out our Mooka vs Koios air purifier comparison of two great brands.
The biggest difference found between the best air purifier for musty smells and a standard air purifier is that the former is designed specifically to remove smells from the air while the latter doesn’t always successfully remove odors. That’s why it’s important to know what you need before buying a standard purifier instead of a leading air purifier for odor removal.
For example, many HEPA filter-based air purifiers aren’t intended to remove odors — even if they sometimes can technically filter out solid particles that can release odors. This can include particles like mold spores and tobacco smoke. Units like the top air purifiers for smoking weed can also eliminate other strong smells.
In contrast, premiere air purifiers for odors in 2023 specifically feature filtration materials such as activated carbon or an ionizer that help to either completely capture odor-causing particles and chemicals or neutralize them. If you like the thought of the room always smelling good as well, check out our diffuser vs air purifier comparison.
Air purifiers that remove odors (or simply: a good air purifier with odor eliminator) tend to work in the same function as other air purifiers, just with a filter that’s specifically designed to remove odor-causing particles and chemicals. The air purifier draws air into the container where it’s passed over one or more filters.
Often there’s a washable pre-filter that’s designed to trap larger particles, helping to extend the longevity of the primary filter. As air passes over the primary filter, more particles are removed from the air, and the cleaned air is released back into the room. In most cases, reliable odor eliminator air purifiers will feature either one of the following or a combination of them: activated carbon filters, HEPA filters, or an ionizer.
HEPA filters are the brand standard if you’re focused on removing dust, mold spores, and other solid particles from the air. While they’re not specifically designed to remove odors, some brands will promote these filters as odor removing because they can remove solid particles that contribute to odors like smoke and mold spores. But if other substances are causing odors in your home, an air purifier that only includes a HEPA filter won’t be sufficient.
Activated carbon filters are considered one of the best options for eliminating lingering odors in your home. This is because these filters can also trap gaseous vapors — often a primary cause of odors. And because activated carbon has been treated with oxygen to increase its surface area, these filters can trap more odor molecules. If you have your heart set on an air purifier with a HEPA filter, but you want odor control, opt for a model that incorporates both a HEPA and an activated carbon filter. In addition to odors, if you want to remove harsh chemicals from the air, the best air purifiers for VOCs and formaldehyde might better suit your needs.
An ionizer is another option if you want to neutralize odors, however, it’s not as effective as an activated carbon filter. Ionizers work by emitting negatively charged ions into the air. These ions connect with particles, weighing them down so that they fall to the ground. Because they’ve been ionized, these particles can’t travel through the air and can’t transmit their smell.
However, this method of neutralizing odors isn’t as effective because as soon as the ionizer is turned off, the smells will return. Additionally, some ionizers are known to produce ozone as a byproduct. For people with respiratory conditions, ozone can make symptoms worse such as coughing and wheezing. While you can find air purifiers that only rely on ionizers, often it’s offered as an add-on feature for a HEPA or activated carbon filter air purifier.
Lingering odors can be off-putting. Even if you’ve gotten used to them, they can be a turn-off for house guests, as well as get into clothing and soft surfaces — following you everywhere you go. Plus, if you frequently cook strong-smelling foods, the last thing you want is to smell dinner from two days ago when you walk into the house.
To eliminate germs in the air, the best germicidal air purifier is another option to consider.
You Frequently Cook Strong-smelling Foods: Flavorful dishes are wonderful, but they tend to linger long after the meal is finished. A good odor-removing air purifier can help neutralize odors so no one knows what you had for dinner last night.
Your Home Smells of Mold: While you should probably get your home inspected to find the source of mold, an air purifier — even a HEPA filter-based model — can help remove that odor.
You Have Pets: Animal friends are awesome, but sometimes they come with smells that can be gross — especially if you keep litter boxes or training pads around the home. Neutralize those offending smells with a good air purifier.
Your Home is Often Smoky: If you often grill indoors or have a wood-burning fireplace that you run occasionally, an odor-removing air purifier can help to remove a large number of odor particles caused by smoke. The more powerful air purifiers can quickly clean the indoor air quality within a large number of square feet. This way, you can avoid having your home smell like some wildfires were roasting inside it.
You Don’t Have a Mildew Issue: If your home is properly sealed and you’re not fighting leaks, an odor-eliminating air purifier might not be essential.
You Don’t Frequently Cook Strong-smelling Foods: If you’re not into the spicy life and you only occasionally dabble in more fragrant food ingredients, focusing solely on odor removal when buying an air purifier may be unnecessary.
You’re a Serious Smoker: Air purifiers can remove smoke particles from the air, but heavy smokers and especially people who frequently smoke indoors will put any air purifier to the test because of the large concentration of smoke particles they’re emitting — and beat it.
As with other air purifiers, the actual device can last for a long time as long as you treat it right. But the real question is the lifespan of the filter. Most air purifiers feature filters that must be replaced periodically to maintain efficiency.
Consider that for air purifiers targeting odors, there are two types of filters you’ll potentially need to replace — HEPA and activated carbon filters. HEPA filters tend to be the most expensive option, with a price range anywhere from $80 to $200. But they only need to be replaced every six to 12 months.
In contrast, activated carbon filters are significantly cheaper. Often they don’t cost more than $50. However, they’ll need to be replaced more frequently, usually at a range between three to six months. So, factor in the fixed cost of the replacement filters and then consider how frequently you’re willing to replace that filter.
Not all air purifiers are equal if your goal is to eliminate odors from your home. Along with some standard criteria that apply to all air purifiers, keep the following specific factors in mind as you shop for an odor-eliminating air purifier.
Even though three filtration technologies can tackle odors, some are more effective than others. For odor removal, activated carbon filters are considered the top pick because they can not only tackle smoke and mold spores but can also absorb gaseous chemicals that also cause odors. If you’re potentially dealing with toxic radon gas in your home and are after a radon air purifier, we recommend one with a carbon activated filter.
In contrast, an air purifier that only contains a HEPA filter can only eliminate smoke and mildew smells. A HEPA air purifier (HEPA standing for “High-Efficiency Particulate Air”) can remove those airborne pollutants and help relieve allergy symptoms and give allergy sufferers a better night’s sleep. If you prefer a HEPA filter because of its dust removal efficacy, find a model that also includes an activated carbon filter. This way you can remove pesty dust mites from your home more effectively.
The CADR stands for clean air delivery rate and essentially outlines room size compatibility for an air purifier. Note, though, that the maximum CADR score varies depending on the particles being removed. If smoke is your target, the highest CADR is 450. And, with the CADR score being high, it could also serve as the best air purifier for dust removal.
The three common technologies for removing odors are HEPA, activated carbon, and ionizers. Again, activated carbon is considered the most effective because it traps both solid particles and vapors. Ionizers can neutralize odors but are only effective as long as the ionizer is activated. And HEPA filters can only remove solid odor particles.
While activated carbon filters are great for removing odors, they’re not as effective at removing common air pollutants like dust. So, often activated carbon is paired with other filtration methods to improve overall efficiency. Note though that activated carbon can remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Also consider appliances with air quality sensors as this can allow the device to automatically adjust operation settings when the air quality dips below optimal conditions.
Your choice here is going to be between HEPA and activated carbon filters. HEPA filters are more expensive — sometimes as much as $200 per replacement filter — but only need to be replaced every six to 12 months. An activated carbon filter is significantly cheaper — at no more than $50 per replacement filter — but must be replaced more frequently every three to six months.
No one wants a machine that’s so noisy it sends them running from the room when it’s operating. Most air purifiers feature a quiet mode like the quietest HEPA air purifier which means that they usually emit somewhere around 50 decibels of sound, which is around the lowest setting for noise level.
Air purifiers are intended to run continuously for the best results. So ideally, you should be able to quickly adjust settings either through the control panel, a remote, or in some cases a smartphone app if you have a smart air purifier that uses smart features. If you have to struggle to understand how to operate an air purifier, keep looking elsewhere.