Why Does My Air Purifier Smell? (Reasons and Solutions)

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An air purifier is an excellent investment to purify the home air and eliminate fungus, bacteria, and even some viruses. It provides a nice and soothing feel unless suddenly the air purifier starts smelling bad and funky. Things can quickly get upside down when your favorite air purifiers start smelling bad. So, people ask, “Why does my air purifier smell?”

Well, an air purifier might smell odorous if the filters expire, off-gassing plastics and filters, mold and yeast growth, and ozone production. It could also be due to a faulty electrical system that supplies inadequate electricity to the air purifier to help it operate quickly.

When your air purifier starts smelling bad, you should quickly turn it off to find the actual reason. Then, you can troubleshoot the problem with ease.

We will discuss the possible reasons for a smelly air purifier and suggest you solve those problems with ease. So, stay with us if you don’t want to experience an unpleasant odor at your cozy corner.

What is the Smell, and What Does It Mean?

Although most air purifiers have their unique fragrance with different ingredients to offer a pleasant feel, it suggests something is wrong with the device when it starts smelling bad. If air purifiers become smelly, you must properly check their components, filters, and entire housing.

What is the Smell

Often mold and mildew growth will cause a bad smell. Plus, the biological and mechanical filters of the air purifier may become expiry. When the filters become expire, they will function otherwise. Hence, it will produce a bad odor instead of purifying the air inside the home.

Plus, at times, the air purifier may produce a ‘wet dog smell,’ which is close to the smell of a dog. If it happens, you must take proper precautions since it means that the germs have taken place inside the air purifier housing and around the filters.

Long story short, a smelly air purifier means it has stopped functioning properly. So, you should inspect the reason thoroughly ASAP and fix it to avoid further inconveniences.

Why Does My Air Purifiers Smell?

Air purifiers use multiple filters, UV-rays, or ionizing elements to accumulate the dust and germs from the air to purify it. When any of these filters, ionizers, or UV-ray tools get damaged or expire its lifespan, the purifier will start malfunctioning, and you will experience smells around the home.

Why Does My Air Purifier Smell

The most common causes of such incidents are described below. Thus, you could find the actual cause and solve it ASAP.

1. Inadequate ventilation

An air purifier needs proper ventilation to function correctly. Hence, it might not smell nice if you keep the air purifier in an enclosed location. The purifier will, therefore, lack adequate ventilation. It stops the device from ventilating appropriately.

If your air puffier works with an activated carbon filter, you will find this problem more frequent. On top of it, germs and odors will stay for an extended period in the enclosed space. So, the filters of the purifying device will need to work for a longer period, and it drains them soon. Consequently, the device’s filters run out shortly and leave your home with an unpleasant odor.

2. Off-gassed filters

Generally speaking, PCO or PECO air purifiers (photocatalytic oxidation air purifiers) work best to remove any remaining germs and dust from the air to offer you the purest air inside the home. But, even these devices will produce bad odor rarely.

The PCO air purifiers usually have titanium dioxide reactors. When it starts off-gassing, you will find bad smells coming from the device. Also, the filters will become off-gassed and might produce smells. Plus, you may get with less to no ferret odor in your room due to inadequate ventilation.

3. Ozone production

The ozone production could also cause bad odor production from the air purifier. In fact, many air purifiers produce ozone as a by-product while purifying the air. The ozone production might sometimes be part of the devices’ cleansing system.

When you sense any of the following smells from the air purifiers, it is surely producing ozone gas. The list includes:

  1. Metallic
  2. Chlorine-like
  3. Chemical

It happens when your air purifier operates with Plasma Cuter or ionic cleansing system.

4. Mold and Bacteria Growth

Many users have complained that their air purifiers have started producing a wet dog smell. It is one of the most annoying smells that an air purifier can produce. The cause might be mold, yeast, or bacteria growth around the air purifier filters.

Generally, excessive humidity or moisture will cause the microorganism growth around the filter. So, the filters will face reduced productivity and cause the wet dog smell to create nuisance inside the home.

5. Over-saturated Carbon Filters

When your air filter has inadequate ventilation, its carbon filters will soon become over-saturated due to moisture and humidity growth inside the home. But the story doesn’t end here.

A carbon filter may get over-saturated even after keeping in a well-ventilated space. It happens due to overuse of the filter and when it gets expires. Thus, you need to check the carbon filter function if you experience a bad smell coming from the air purifier.

6. Faulty UV-Light Filter

Sometimes, the UV-light filter of the air purifier becomes faulty and causes a bad odor. You will face plastic smells coming from the device when it happens. You might also face a strong ozone smell from the device. The easiest way of identifying a faulty UV-light filter is the strong odor that emulates burning plastic. Also, the UV filter might get damaged due to improper maintenance or inadequate electricity and voltage supply to produce an unpleasant odor.

7. Faulty Electric Supply

This problem occurs mostly with the air purifier that runs with electricity. Yes, corded air purifiers will highly likely suffer from a faulty electric supply. At the first point, the inadequate power supply will reduce the productivity of the filters. When it happens, you will most likely experience a fishy or metallic smell around the air puffier.

How Do I Get The Smell Out Of My Air Purifier?

We have discussed the top 7 reasons for a smelly air purifier. So, it’s time to suggest solutions to these problems so you may enjoy the purest air inside without any smelly feel. Plus, it will boost your pleasant moments further.

How Do I Get The Smell Out Of My Air Purifier

1. Ensure Ventilation

One of the best ways to eliminate odor from an air purifier is to place it in a well-ventilated location. When you place the air purifier in an adequately ventilated space, its filters won’t get saturated soon. Thus, it is less likely to cause any bad smell. It also prolongs the filter’s lifespan as it needs to work less in a properly ventilated space.

2. Remove Plastic Packaging

The plastic wrapping and packaging of the air purifier often cause the device to produce a plastic-like smell. Henceforth, we recommend you remove the wrappers and packaging from the device before you may start using it. Also, check the interior if it contains any plastic. If yes, you should also remove it.

3. Clean the Device Timely

The interior and filters of the air purifier will catch dust and germs over time due to regular use. Hence, you must clean the air purifier interior and filters appropriately to avoid a smelly experience. You should use chlorine dioxide and chlorite solution to clean the filters and the interior.

The chlorite will remove the wet dog smell often caused by microorganisms. It is a worldwide accepted solution to kill germs. However, you must not apply the solution directly to the filters. Instead, make the solution in a bowl and keep the filters on top of the bowl with another small container to don’t come in touch. You need to allow the chloride solution to work for a couple of hours to soak the microorganisms from the filters and remove the odor.

4. Maintain the Air Purifier And Replace The Filters Timely

The filters of your air purifier have a definitive lifespan. When the filters go beyond their suggested lifespan, they won’t work as efficiently as they should. Consequently, you will experience coming from the filter. Thus, you should replace the air filters following the user-manual suggestion to avoid such a smelly feel.

Next up, you should always maintain the air purifier. If the filters are washable, you should clean them. Also, clean the interior of the device to eliminate any smell.

5. Stop Ozone Production

If your air purifier has an ionizer or ozone generator, you may turn it off to stop smells caused by ozone production. But, it is not a pretty practical idea since turning off the ionizer may reduce the air purifier’s efficiency, and this is the last thing you would want.

6. Repair the Air Purifier

When all the above suggestions fail, the problem might be the air purifier itself. At times, its component may get damaged to cause a smell. Henceforth, we suggest you call a technician and let him take charge to see what’s causing the smell. It would cost you a few dollars, but it’s worth it since the air purifier will start working efficiently shortly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an air purifier supposed to smell?

Almost every air purifier will have a smell during the first few days of its usage. However, it is not common for the device to continue smelling even after days of usage. If it happens, you should try to find and fix the problem causing the smell.

Why does my new air purifier smell like plastic?

If you don’t remove your air purifier’s plastic wrapping and packaging, it might smell like plastic. It happens mostly when your air purifier is new and packed in plastic for a prolonged period.

Do air purifiers make your house smell better?

Air purifiers are quite good at removing odors from rotten food, pets, smoke, and garbage. You may choose a HEPA filter-based air purifier to eliminate the odor and help your home smell better, if not the best.

How do I get the plastic smell out of my air purifier?

You should remove the plastic wrapping from the air purifier and even from its interior to get rid of the plastic smell from it. Also, place the device in an adequately ventilated space to avoid such odors.


An air purifier at home is supposed to remove impurities from the air to offer you a healthy and pleasant interior. But, when the device starts producing a bad odor, you might ask, “Why does my air purifier smell?” We have discussed the top reasons for a smelly air purifier and also discussed the solutions elaborately. We sincerely hope it helps you keep the device odorless and improve its efficiency for a better and pleasant interior.

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