Are you tired of having a smelly house?
Or maybe you have one particular room, like the basement or kitchen, that smells worse than the others?
Either way, you’ve come to the right place if you want relief.
An air purifier is an excellent device for removing odors because it eliminates the particles that actually cause those unpleasant smells.
But, here’s the thing…
Not all air purifiers are built the same.
Your machine must contain certain features for it to do an effective job at odor removal.
And that’s exactly what you’ll find on this page — an in-depth guide on how to choose the best air purifier for odors that works.
Below, you’ll find out what the best air purifier for smells is for general purposes as well as the top options for tackling specific concerns, like the kitchen, dog and cat smells, garbage, chemicals, and more.
So, if you want the best air purifier for odor elimination to make your house (or room) smell good again, this guide was written for you.
Use these links below to jump to a specific section of the page:
- A Brief Background on Odors
- What to Look for in an Air Purifier for Odors
- List of the Best Air Purifiers for Odors (Products and Reviews)
- Enjoy Air That’s Free of Odors
In a hurry? Here’s a glimpse of the two best products you can get.
You’ll find out more about these air purifiers in the detailed reviews and buying guide below.
Levoit LV-PUR131 (for General Odors)
Winix HR900 (for Pet Odors)
A Brief Background on Odors
Before we jump into the list of the top air purifier odor removers, we wanted to go over two things:
- The real cause odors
- How smells travel through the air
Knowing this background information will help you better understand—and appreciate—how air purifiers work to eliminate odors in your home.
What Causes Odors?
Odors don’t just come out of thin air.
In fact, even though smells are invisible molecules, they always stem from a particular source, such as mold, pets, cooking, garbage, chemicals, etc.
An odor is caused when the chemical compounds within a substance become volatilized (released as a vapor). And that smell (or scent) can be perceived as pleasant (fragrant) or unpleasant (repulsive).
Some substances are very volatile and produce a large number of odor molecules. That’s what makes things like rotten food or chemical cleaning agents smell so strongly.
Other substances are not very volatile and barely have a scent at all, like metal and steel.
The truth is that some odors occur naturally during evaporation while others only happen during decomposition or chemical changes.
A fun fact is that the human nose can detect about one trillion odors which makes your sense of smell more powerful than people think.
Most Common Types of Indoor Odors
As for the most common types of indoor odors, they stem from:
- Kitchen (cooking food, spices, and associated smoke)
- Garbage (rotting food)
- Chemical Cleaners
- Pets (Dog skin and Cat litter boxes)
- Paints and Varnishes
- Construction Materials (carpeting, wood, and drywall)
- Mold and Mildew
- Damp Rooms (basements and bathrooms)
Fortunately, an air purifier can eliminate most of the odors that come from those places so that the air around you smells fresh.
We’ll get to the exact features for what to look for in the best air purifier for odors in the next section, but first, we wanted to share with you how smells travel through the air.
How Do Smells Travel Through the Air?
Unlike solid substances, like dust and pollen, that clump together and attach to surfaces, smells are free-floating gaseous molecules.
Therefore, odors don’t collect in one spot and remain there, but rather spread out far and wide through a process called “diffusion”.
Diffusion is a process where a high concentration of particles moves to an area of lower concentration. This happens naturally with odors because gaseous particles move randomly from place to place without any controlled path.
Diffusion is the reason why even small sources of odors, like a dog bed or a burnt piece of toast, can spread throughout an entire room or house. The odor molecules can’t stop invading the fresher air.
What to Look for in an Air Purifier for Odors
Air purifiers are amazing machines.
However, not all air purifiers can remove odors.
In fact, if an air purifier doesn’t contain at least one particular type of filter, then it won’t reduce any odors at all.
Also, some air purifiers claim to be odor eliminators, but the technology they use only masks the smell as opposed to getting rid of the gaseous molecules.
So, to make sure you get the best air purifier for odor elimination without wasting your money, you’ll want to look for these features in the product that you buy:
Activated Carbon Filter
An Activated Carbon filter is the only type of filtering material that can actually eliminate odor molecules.
It’s a highly porous substance that traps the organic chemicals that create smells.
As air passes through the Activated Carbon filter, odor particles are adsorbed to the material, while fresh air passes through the other side.
On a scientific level, Activated Carbon is a specially processed form of carbon that contains millions of microscopic pores. This results in a greater surface area that’s designed to trap gaseous molecules of all types.
If removing odors is your top concern, then make sure that the air purifier you choose has a thick layer of this material in its filter. (The top three air purifiers we recommend below meet this criteria.)
The advantage of Activated Carbon filters is that they can remove smells from all sorts of sources, which is why you’ll find them in the best air purifier for pet odors, mold smells, cooking, garbage, paint, chemical vapors, etc.
While many of the top air purifiers today come with a HEPA filter, it’s important for you to know that this particular filter cannot remove odors.
Instead, HEPA filters are designed to capture solid particles, like dust, pollen, pet dander, visible smoke, and bacteria.
Gaseous vapors pass right through the HEPA material.
However, some solid particles do emit odors, like mold spores and tobacco smoke, which is why having a high-quality HEPA filter on your air purifier is still essential.
The HEPA filter will trap solid particles inside a dense mesh and help reduce the spread of smells around your home.
An ionizer is another form of technology you’ll see advertised when looking for an air purifier for odors.
In fact, some products are labeled specifically as an “air purifier odor remover” that only contains this functionality.
You’ll also find other air purifiers that include both the Activated Carbon filter and HEPA filter in addition to an ionizer. In these cases, the ionizer is a supplemental feature that works to boost the efficiency of the machine.
But what is an ionizer and how does it help reduce odors?
Ionizers emit negatively charged ions into the air that latch onto particles to weigh them down. This causes pollutants to fall onto the floor or stick to surrounding surfaces.
Vapor molecules that have been ionized cannot scatter throughout the air, and therefore, won’t radiate their smell. However, those particles still technically remain in the room, so if you turn the ionizer off, the smells may come back.
Something else you should know about ionizers is that some versions do create ozone as a by-product, which also has air neutralizing capabilities.
But, ozone can be harmful to your health if you’re exposed to high concentrations of it.
Fortunately, most ionizers emit an ozone level of less than 0-0.05 ppm which is considered safe for humans by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
As you can see, an ionizer can boost the air cleaning power of your air purifier, but it’s not an essential feature. It’s optional. The only true filter you need to eliminate odors with an air purifier is an Activated Carbon filter that we covered first.
The Best Air Purifier for Odors
Now that you know a bit more about how odors are caused and what features to look for in the best air purifier for odors, we can now move onto the list of reviews.
Below, you’ll find the top air purifiers for reducing odors for the most common circumstances.
We hope you find the best air purifier for your needs on this list.
Disclosure: At Home Air Quality Guides, we believe in an education-first philosophy. We never make product recommendations until after we educate our readers on what to look for in the top-performing devices and then only suggest items that meet those specific criteria. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases made through the links below. If you buy a qualifying product, you’re not charged a penny more, but we’ll get a small commission that supports our work. We hope you enjoy this free guide and find the best product for your needs through these recommendations.
1. Best Air Purifier for Odor Elimination (General Smells)
If you’re looking for the best air purifier for smells that’s not only affordable but also gets rid of the widest range of odor particles, this is it.
For less than $150, you can enjoy some of the cleanest, freshest air possible indoors.
The Levoit LV-PUR131 comes with a thick Activated Carbon filter for trapping millions of gaseous particles and a True HEPA filter to capture 99.97% of other airborne contaminants that contribute to indoor smells.
It’s 100% ozone-free and doesn’t produce any harmful by-products during the air filtration process.
The LV-PUR131 is great for small to medium size rooms up to 360 sq. ft., which makes it perfect for areas like a living room, kitchen, bedroom, or small basement. A larger LV-H133 model is also available that covers up to 538 sq. ft. for even more coverage.
If you want the best air purifier for odor elimination without breaking the bank, this machine is a great choice.
2. Best Air Purifier for Dog Smell (and Other Pets)
Are you looking for a powerful air purifier for pet odors?
If so, then this is the model for you.
While dog owners especially love this machine, it also works well for all other pets too.
If you need an air purifier for dog smell, cat litter odors, birdcage aromas, etc., the Winix HR900 has you covered.
Inside you’ll find an Advanced Activated Carbon filter to eliminate all types of pet odor molecules. It also includes a True HEPA filter to remove 99.97% of other airborne contaminants down to 0.3 microns in size.
The best part, however, is the patented Plasmawave technology that safely breaks apart odors, chemical vapors, and other pollutants at a molecular level. It’s 100% safe for humans and produces zero ozone or other byproducts.
As for room size coverage, it handles up to 300 sq. ft. and works best when placed in the room that your pet frequents the most.
For a pet owner who wants a cleaner smelling home, you can’t get much better than this air purifier right here.
3. Best Air Purifier for Kitchen Odors (Cooking and Garbage)
Do you like to cook?
But hate the odors that your stove and food leave behind?
If so, you’ll get a lot of value out of this air purifier.
The Austin Air HM400 is a one-of-a-kind machine that includes more than 780 cubic inches of Activated Carbon in its filter (or about 15 lbs.).
That amount of carbon is unmatched in the marketplace and is what gives this machine one of the highest ratings for removing airborne smoke, chemicals, gases, and odors.
It also includes a large True HEPA filter to eliminate other common indoor contaminants so your home not only smells fresh, but is as clean as it can be.
What also makes it the best air purifier for kitchen odors is the 360-degree air filtration system. Air is sucked in from all four sides as opposed to just one like other products. This makes the Austin Air HM400 more efficient for larger spaces.
This unique design and large filters allow it to clean up to 1,500 sq. ft. and is one of the most powerful air purifiers you can buy today.
If you want a dedicated cooking odor air purifier that will keep your home from smelling like a restaurant, this product will far exceed your expectations.
4. Best Ionizer Air Purifier Odor Remover
Perhaps, you’re looking for a small, compact air purifier for smells that only uses ionization to purify the air.
Or maybe you just need something that’s travel size and can take with you.
Either way, this ionizer only air purifier might be the perfect device for your needs.
The ionBox a mighty little air purifier odor remover that doesn’t emit any ozone, yet covers up to 500 sq. ft. of space.
You can also plug it into a wall outlet or power it through a USB port, which makes it great for when you’re on the go.
What’s even better about this tiny machine is that it works non-stop to freshen the air and never needs any filter replacements.
For the price and power, the ionBox is hard to beat.
5. Best Ionizer and Ozone Generator for Smells
Our final recommendation for an air purifier for odor removal is this cherry wood cabinet device by Ivation.
It’s unique in the fact that it combines an ionizer and ozone generator in one device.
As we mentioned earlier in this guide, ozone is a powerful air neutralizer but it’s harmful to your health when you’re exposed to high concentrations.
However, if you set this device up to run on the ozone setting while you’re not at home, it can eliminate practically any household odor. Then, when you return, you can turn off the ozone feature so it’s safe for you to be indoors.
As for the ionizer function, it can be used at any time without any health worries. And, you can control the level of ionization with the control dial to meet your exact needs.
In total, this air purifier odor remover can cover up to 3,500 sq. ft. when you run it on full blast.
That’s more than enough coverage for most people and is a great device to buy for people who want something cheap, but effective against odors.
Enjoy Air That’s Free of Odors
We hope you found this guide on how to choose the best air purifier for odors useful.
As you learned, the best air purifier for smells is one that includes an Activated Carbon filter.
Activated Carbon is the only material that can truly trap and remove smells from the air around you.
So, regardless if you’re looking for an air purifier for dog smell (or other pet odors), a cooking odor air purifier, a paint smell remover, or a machine to get rid of musty smells in a basement, an Activated Carbon filter is the best filter to handle those gaseous pollutants.
But, if you want to save a bit of money on your air purifier purchase, the second best air purifier for odor elimination is one that uses an ionizer.
Ionizers are a special type of technology that neutralizes odors without using a physical filter material. However, they’re not as efficient as an air purifier with an Activated Carbon filter since ionizers don’t actually remove the odor particles from the room.
Ionizers are still a good cheap option for removing smells if you can’t afford a higher-priced filter-based air purifier.
Finally, no matter which air purifier you choose on this page, you can rest assured that the odors inside your home will be greatly reduced or go away entirely—leaving your space smelling fresh and clean.