Why Does My Air Purifier Smell?

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Updated July 7, 2022

If you have the best air purifier and it is putting out some foul aromas, you may have one question in your head. Why does my air purifier smell? We are here with some troubleshooting tips to stop the smell.

But before you dive in, check out our other info guides like how to clean an electrostatic air purifier, when to change a HEPA filter, and if your air purifier can clean more than one room.


  • Air purifiers can develop smells over time as the filter is used to trap and capture odor-causing particles.
  • Additionally, new air purifiers can emit a unique smell for the first day or so of use, like many appliances.
  • Be sure to regularly clean or replace the air filters and give them plenty of time to dry before powering up the air purifier.

What Causes an Air Purifier to Smell?

Before you understand what steps to take to reduce or eliminate a foul aroma emanating from your air purifier, it can be helpful to understand why smells accumulate in the first place. Air filters capture and trap aroma-causing particles. These particles can add up over time, causing a smell. Some air purifiers also smell for a day or so when you first power them on. If you are wondering why your air purifier is blowing out cold air, this article will explain it.

Insider Tip

Some air purifiers also smell for a day or so when you first power them on.

Tips to Stop the Smell

Here are some troubleshooting steps to take so you can get your air purifier smelling right as rain. But, if it doesn’t smell good even after cleaning, consider buying a new one after reading our comparison articles like the Mooka vs Koios air purifier and the AirGenius 5 vs air purifier.

Clean or Replace the Filter

Air filters can accumulate smells over time, especially if the filter was used to capture and trap some especially foul odors. You can nip this in the bud by cleaning or replacing the filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Generally speaking, a true or genuine HEPA filter should be disposed of and replaced once every six months to a year. Electrostatic filters and activated carbon filters should be cleaned every month. If you use an ozone generator, the ozone plate should be cleaned once every one to three months.

Keep All Components Dry

You must keep each component of an air purifier as dry as possible. If cleaning the filters, be sure to leave them out until they are fully dry before reinserting them into the air purifier. Electrostatic and activated carbon filters typically dry after an hour or so, but some HEPA-style filters can take up to a day to dry. If the air purifier is moistened, it could be a breeding ground for mold which will lead to unpleasant aromas.

Clean the Exterior

You can also clean the exterior of your air purifier with a microfiber cloth to nip potential issues in the bud. Keeping an air purifier cleaned and regularly maintained should reduce the severity of any foul smells it produces. Just as with the filter, take extra care to allow the purifier to dry completely before powering it on.

Here are some benefits of using an air purifier.

Insider Tip

Electrostatic filters and activated carbon filters should be cleaned every month.


Will an air purifier help with cat litter smell?

An air purifier will help with the smell of cat litter, though not as much as regularly cleaning the litter box and replacing the cat litter with fresh litter.

Why does my air purifier smell like plastic?

Air purifiers can occasionally emit a plastic-like smell when you power them on for the first time. This is nothing to worry about and it will go away in a day. If you have had the purifier for a while and it smells like plastic, it may need repair or maintenance.

What is an ionic air purifier?

An ionic air purifier, otherwise known as an ionizer, releases negatively charged ions into the atmosphere, where they bond and weigh down air pollutants. These pollutants are then brought to the ground where they can be vacuumed.

STAT: In a study of over 1,000 American adults, 34.7% reported health problems when exposed to fragranced products in the workplace. (source)

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