Whether it’s odors from pets, bathrooms, cooking, or any one of many sources, odors can be a big nuisance. Personally I can’t focus on work or relaxing at home if there are noticeable odors nearby. Ideally you’ll eliminate the problem at its source. However an air purifier is a great and simple way to deal with them – especially if some can’t be eliminated.
But how do you choose the best air purifier for odor elimination? Let’s take the guess work out of this.
In my post I’ll help give you the basics and share with you the things you need to know before spending money. I’ve also got a great list down below of some of the best purifiers that can eliminate odors with reviews and the pros & cons.
Infographic – Choosing the best air purifier for eliminating odors
What are odors? Where do bad smells come from?
Indoor odors originate from source materials, both organic and man-made, that are volatilized (released as a vapor) and disperse molecules into the air. Some occur naturally during evaporation. Others like food and dead animals occur during decomposition.
In cases like the bathrooms, kitchens, and other areas which we all know frequently have strong or bad smells, air fresheners are sometimes used. These do help, but it’s important to understand that most don’t actually eliminate odor sources.
Most simply mask it and you don’t notice the odor after it has cleared out naturally.
Dealing with bothersome smells
There’s a huge list of common odor sources:
- Dogs and cats (natural odors)
- Kitty litter boxes
- Cooking strong foods
- People with digestive problems
- Damp & moldy surface or trapped moisture
- Older homes construction materials
- Drafts rising from a smelly basement
- Downstairs neighbors cooking
Having downstairs neighbors cooking in the past was one of the worst for me! I learned the hard way how odors can rise through the floor and walls. It was very bothersome.
People with pets also have to deal with odors as well. One of the strongest I’ve had to deal with was a cat’s litter box – I was amazed how strong the odor was! Dog odors are another bothersome problem, too.
In every case I learned how helpful an air purifier is for eliminating odors.
Choosing the right air purifier for odor relief
For good odor elimination, you’ll need to choose a quality air purifier that features an activated carbon (also called charcoal) filter. The best models sold today normally are sold as “3-in-1” purifiers. A HEPA filter eliminates finer microscopic particles. The pre-filter captures dust and larger elements. It’s normally attached to a carbon filter. Carbon is porous and processed in order to have absorption properties. Shown: GermGuardian AC4825, one of the most popular purifiers today.
You’ll want to avoid ozone generators and ionizers. While they do have some properties that can affect odors in the air, they don’t work the same as filter-based purifiers.
Filter based purifiers normally have 3 filter sections, although 2 are often built together:
- Pre-filter section
- Activated carbon (charcoal) section
- High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter
HEPA and pre-filter sections
HEPA filters are designed to be very efficient and serve to capture fine air particles, dust mite matter, pet dander, and so on down to 0.3 microns in size (A micron is 1/1,000,000 of a meter!). They’re fantastic for allergy relief and other air quality issues but don’t really affect odors.
The pre-filter is normally attached to the activated carbon filter section. It’s usually a thin, somewhat course material that traps larger matter like hair, larger dust, and so on.
The activated carbon filter is the portion of an air purifier that eliminates odors and traps them, leaving fresh air behind.
A carbon filter contains carbon (charcoal) pieces that are processed to be porous and are good at trapping odors and chemical vapors. I recommend purchasing a model that allows replacing only the carbon filter and/or pre-filter section like this example.
After some use a purifier’s filter will become used-up and clogged with foreign matter. The carbon filter, after being in use for sometime, will lose effectiveness as well. Most purifiers have about a 6 to 8 month filter lifespan for the HEPA filter.
Some have a filter replacement feature to remind you when to check it. Some filters are replaceable as one complete unit – but at additional cost.
For best effectiveness and to reduce maintenance costs, I recommend models with separate carbon filter sections you can replace independently. They’ll allow you to spend less per filter and extend the life of the HEPA filter.
After all, if you’re eliminating odors you’re not likely to completely saturate the HEPA section during the first use. For pet owners and allergy sufferers, however, that’s a different story.
5 of the best air purifiers to eliminate odors
Reviews and pros/cons
1. GermGuardian AC4825 – A super-popular model with easy use and good value.
The AC4825 doesn’t try to be “fancy” and have shiny features. However, it’s a winner because of hassle-free ease of use, great performance, and many happy buyers. I’m one of them!
With more coverage than some models like the Levoit LV-H132, it’s a good value as well.
An ultraviolet (UV) germ killing feature provides safe and ozone-free elimination of germs and microbes where you live. It’s a nice additional feature to have.
The true HEPA filter design works very well to remove smoke and contaminates from your air. Filter replacement is easy and carbon filter/pre-filters are sold separately, allowing you to extend the HEPA filter life and get more odor relief while saving money.
It’s in such demand that I even bought one to see what the fuss was about! I’m very happy with mine. You can read more about it in my detailed review here.
A 3-speed fan control is makes use simple and hassle-free. When the push-button control is used to switch one the UV-C feature, the trim glows blue.
Time to check or replace the filter? Just open the rear door and pull it out. The replacement reminder will turn red when it’s time to check the filter.
At 22″ height, it’s not smaller and compact like several others. But the tower design helps it to fit well in corners. Replacement filters cost about $30 and last approximately 6 months.
(Note: You can also find 3rd party brand filters which are cheaper)
- Simple 3-speed fan switch is great for nearly everyone
- Good overall value for performance & room size vs. the Levoit LV-H132
- Great filtering performance
- Quiet fan operation on low speed setting
- Germ & microbe-killing UV-C feature not found in many others
- Filter replacement reminder
- Soft LED when power is on
- Vertical size is great for corner or areas with more vertical space
- Good room size coverage (155 square feet)
- 3-year limited warranty
- No auto-sensing modes
- No electronic controls
- No auto-off feature
- Cannot wash & reuse filter
- Design is less stylish and attractive than other competitors in its price range (ex. Levoit LV-H132)
- Warranty requires paying for return shipment for service
It’s also available in a sharp-looking twin, the AC4900CA. In that case you’re not limited to only one style.
My AC4825 is definitely a good performer and judging by how many others agree, it’s a very popular purifier you should consider. Check out the best price and thousands of happy buyer reviews over at Amazon.
2. Levoit LV-H132 – A best-selling purifier with night light and other nice features. Get rid of odors in style!
Another super-popular purifier, the Levoit LV-H132 (smaller sibling to the Levoit LV-PUR131) is a great buy. Got odor problems? It’s a good choice for nearly anyone with small to medium-sized rooms.
Like its competitors, the true HEPA filter works well (alongside the pre-filter and carbon filter) to eliminate air quality problems including bad smells.
Although it provides less coverage (89 square feet) than competitors like the GermGuardian AC4825, the Levoit makes up for this by providing features others don’t. As well as being great looking choice, it compliments today’s interiors well.
It’s one of the best-selling purifiers on the market today.
The fan offers pleasant and quiet operation on low speed. A built-in night light with 2 brightness settings is a bonus feature.
Replacement filters cost near $30. The top cover removes easily for replacement and a filter replacement reminder lets you know when it’s time to check it or replace.
- Shorter height than competing tower purifiers
- 2-year warranty
- 3 fan speeds
- Night light with 2 brightness levels
- Nice looking, modern design
- Electronic soft button controls
- Quiet operation on low level won’t disturb sleep
- Filter replacement reminder
- Great build quality & high reliability
- Easy filter replacement
- Now available in black
- Smaller room coverage than others in its price range (89 sq. ft.)
- No auto-off timer feature
- No air quality sensor
- Electronic controls may not be suitable for some
- High speed is not quite a fast as other products
Buyer reviews are great. Check out the fantastic reviews and see why it regularly receives best choices awards at Amazon.
UPDATE: A new black version is now available here as well!
3. GermGuardian AC4100 3-in-1: The same quality odor removing ability and germ killing in a smaller size.
A great lower-priced model, the AC4100 may be a little brother to the larger AC4900CA but it features the same excellence I’ve come to know from GermGuardian.
Like other in the company’s line of products, it’s a non-nonsense, easy-to-use model for nearly everyone.
Measuring only 7.5 x 6.5 x 11″ in size, the 3-in-1 design (HEPA, pre-filter, carbon filter) works to remove odors, dust, allergens, and much more. Great for a small room like your bedroom, office, or dorm room.
A UV light (with on/off control) works with titanium dioxide to neutralize germs. The result is healthier air and sickness-causing microbes are gone.
Replacement filters cost about $18. There’s no automatic filter reminder. However, a filter installation date wheel on the rear to help you know when it’s time to replace it.
Carbon filter replacements are sold separately so if you’re dealing with odors you can restore used-up carbon filters for less money than replacing the entire 3-in-1 filter set.
It’s really easy to use – just switch it on or off using the 3 speed rotary control.
On full speed the noise level is moderate in my opinion. On low speed, it’s hardly noticeable to most people and works well at bedtime.
Unlike similar larger models such as the AC4825 and AC4900CA, the UV germ killing switch is an on/off type rather than a push button. One thing I don’t like is that there’s no indicator light for the UV feature like the larger models. That’s a pretty small gripe, however.
- Simple 3-speed fan control and on/off UV-C switch
- UV & titanium dioxide germ killing feature
- Great filtering ability for its small size
- High speed setting moves a lot of air for purifying quickly
- Filter replacement reminder wheel (month installed)
- Low filter replacement price (about $19)
- Filter replacement date wheel (marks month installed)
- Sleek, modern design
- 1 year warranty is shorter than other models
- No indicator light for UV feature unlike larger models
- Fan speed on high could be slightly better
- No filter replacement light
- No additional colors offered
Speaking from personal experience I can see why GermGuardian is one of the biggest air purifier manufacturers today. I also own an AC4100 and find it easy to use and well-made.
For small rooms with odor problems, it’s an excellent choice. Find out more and check out the many satisfied owners that helped it become one of the highest selling products at Amazon.
4. Levoit LV-PUR131 – Great odor removal for medium-large rooms. Advanced features, too! Another best seller.
Got a medium or slightly larger sized room? The LV-PU131 is a top seller and I’ll also add one of the coolest looking ones, too. One of the best-selling points is the range of features included for the price.
Check out the reviews – it’s an excellent addition to your home, office, or even workplace and great at removing smoke along with the other problems that come with it.
The Levoit brand is well-known and they produce a number of home products. All are well-made and well regarded. They’re also known for the great LV-H132 purifier I recommend as well.
The electronic controls are simple to use. The clear LCD display operational status and the timer information to make using it a snap.
The sleep mode feature means it works almost silently at night and doesn’t wake you up. The self-off timer lets you select from 1 to 12 hours of operation.
What makes this Levoit model such a wonderful choice is not just the same 3-speed push button fan control. But the automatic auto-sensing mode which adjusts fan speed as needed as air conditions change. Really cool!
Filter replacement is about every 6 months. The replacement will let you know when it’s time to check the filter. (It’s around $35 or so to replace one)
At about 11.2 lbs in weight and 14.5 x 7.2 x 18.5 inches in size, the PUR131 provides more square feet coverage (322 square feet) than others but can fit in a few areas comparable products can’t.
A 2 year warranty is provided.
- More room coverage for the money (322 sq ft)
- Auto-sensing mode adjusts fan speed automatically
- Sleep mode for very quiet operation
- Electronic, simple controls
- LCD display
- Auto-off feature: 1 to 12 hours for “set and forget” operation
- Great cigarette smoke removal performance
- Excellent overall reviews and customer satisfaction
- Lower weight and smaller size than others – can be used more places
- 2 year warranty
- Sleek, attractive appearance
- No remote control
- Auto-sensing mode does not indicate air quality levels visually
- No night light
- Replacement filters aren’t the cheapest (near $35 or so)
- Warranty is shorter than some competitors
- White color only
It’s a great compromise between cost, room size coverage, features, and performance. Head over now to see why it's a best seller and top rated purifier.
5. Honeywell HPA300 – Powerful odor removal for large rooms. A popular and reliable workhorse with nice features.
The Honeywell provides the greatest room size coverage and odor elimination capability of the units listed here. Have a large room with bad smells? No need to look any further, this is it!
The HPA300 is a solid workhorse – a large and heavy unit, weighing about 21 lbs. The filters (carbon/pre-filter section, and separate true HEPA filter sections) are more complex but still simple to replace. Replacement filters are about $68 but you can replace carbon filters separately to keep costs down.
Filter life averages about 3-5 months depending upon use. The HEPA filter can be extended if you’re swapping out carbon filters and the HEPA filter isn’t saturated from odor removal.
The top-facing electronic controls are and indicators are:
- Fan speed
- Auto-timer selection (2, 4, 8 hrs)
- Operational mode
- Filter replacement
Indicators give separate reminders for both the HEPA filter and the pre-filter/carbon filters.
Turbo mode provides high-speed cleaning ability. On low, however, it’s quiet enough to not disturb your quiet time.
Automatic mode shuts off the unit after either 2, 4, or 8 hour operation. The HPA300 also has 3 operational modes: allergen, general, and germ modes. (General mode is fine for cigarette smoke removal)
What I especially like is that the filter replacement reminders are separate – one for the HEPA filter and one for the pre-filter. That’s a feature unique to the Honeywell design. I don’t care however for the limited auto-off time control being limited to 3 choices.
- Electronic touch controls
- Maximum room size capability for the money (below $300 range)
- Turbo mode for heavy air cleaning operation on demand
- Automatic operation with 2, 4, and 8 hour settings
- Quiet low speed operation
- Largest room/house coverage (465 sq. ft)
- Separate filter replacement reminder for both HEPA and pre-filter sections
- 5-year warranty
- Dimmer control
- Auto-off timer adjustable only in increments of 2 hours – no 1hr settings
- Not as sleek-looking as others
- No auto-sensing mode for self-adjusting ability
- Black color only
Want to eliminate odors in larger rooms? You can’t go wrong with the HPA300. Many happy buyers back up my recommendation because it's one of the best large room air purifiers sold today.
Eliminating odors means not just masking it with air freshener – but by treating your air. A quality air purifier like those I’ve recommend can remove and trap unpleasant airborne molecules and let you enjoy fresh air again.
However, you’ve to be sure to one that’s effective, reliable, and a good value. I wouldn’t want you to spend money and be unhappy, so be sure to look over my the models above.
Unsure how many air purifiers you’ll need? Click here to read more.
As I’ve been enjoying my own GermGuardian AC4825 so much, I wrote a thorough review here to help others decide if it’s right for them as well.