Are Air Purifiers True Pet Odor Eliminators?

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Air Purifiers True Pet Odor Eliminators | Know Your Facts

This Article is Updated on – 28/01/2024, Originally posted on – 09/03/2021

Pets bring great joy into our homes. But caring for cats, dogs, and other furry friends also comes with some unpleasant side effects, namely unwanted odors. From accidents around the house to fur and dander, pet odors can quickly make their presence known.

Many pet owners invest in air purifiers, hoping these devices will permanently remove unpleasant smells from their homes. But do air purifiers live up to their claims as pet odor eliminators?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the effectiveness of air purifiers for reducing pet odors. You’ll learn:

  • The most common sources of pet odors in your home
  • How air purifiers work to capture and filter pet smells through HEPA, carbon filters, and UV light
  • Key factors that impact air purifier success against odors include room size, filter types, and more.
  • Tips to maximize your air purifier’s odor-fighting capabilities
  • The best air purifier models specifically designed for pet smells are based on high CADR ratings and large carbon filters.
  • Alternative odor removal options to use alongside an air purifier, like enzyme cleaners and baking soda

By the end of this post, you’ll know whether investing in an air purifier is worth it to eliminate those pesky pet odors once and for all. Let’s dive in!

Common Pet Odor Causes

Pets can create a variety of unpleasant smells that can linger in your home. Here are some of the most common sources of pet odors and how they happen:

1. Pet Urine and Feces

Are Air Purifiers True Pet Odor Eliminators
Pet urine and feces is reason to indoor odor

One of the most offensive and pervasive pet odors comes from urine and feces accidents around your home. Pets who are not properly house-trained may urinate or defecate on floors, carpets, and furniture. The smell comes from ammonia in the urine. Feces also emit an unpleasant odor.

Even after cleaning up accidents, the odor can stubbornly persist. Urine can soak into porous materials like carpeting, pads, and wood subfloors. The underplay and subflooring then become breeding grounds for bacteria that feed on urine and produce gaseous byproducts, which equals more bad smells.

  • Urine odor persists due to:
    • Porous surfaces allowing urine to soak in (carpet, padding, wood)
    • Bacteria feed on urine and produce gaseous byproducts.
    • Underpads and subfloors hold odors once urine soaks in.
  • Feces odor comes from:
    • Bacteria and gases emitted from fecal matter
    • Can stick to surfaces and fabrics

2. Pet Fur and Dander

Are Air Purifiers True Pet Odor Eliminators?
Pet fur and pet dander

Fur, skin flakes, and other particulates from pets are another source of odors. As skin cells from pets die and flake off, they accumulate as dander. This builds up on surfaces around your home. Dander carries the distinct odor of your pet’s skin oils and secretions.

When dander gets stirred up, such as when your pet moves around, it becomes airborne. The swirling dander spreads the smell. Allergens in dander can also cause musty dust odors.

  • Danger-related odors caused by:
    • Accumulation of dead skin cells and fur
    • Dander holds a pet’s natural skin oil and secretion odors.
    • Air circulation spreads odor when dander becomes airborne.
    • Musty dust smells from dander allergens

3. Saliva and Anal Glands

Are Air Purifiers True Pet Odor Eliminators?
Odor from saliva and anal glands

Saliva from licking and grooming contributes to pet odors. The smell comes from proteins and bacteria in your pet’s saliva. Cats also have odor-causing anal glands that release secretions. As pets groom themselves, these secretions transfer to surfaces.

  • Saliva odors come from:
    • Proteins and bacteria present in the saliva
    • Transfers to surfaces as pets lick and groom
  • Anal gland secretions from cats cause odors by:
    • Releasing during grooming and transferring to surfaces
    • Has a very strong, unpleasant smell

4. General Pet odors

Pets produce natural oils that protect their skin and coat. But these oils also create a general pet smell. The accumulation of fur, dander, oils, and secretions means our pets and the areas they frequent have a certain odor about them.

  • Lingering general “pet smell” caused by:
    • Buildup of fur, dander, skin oils, and secretions
    • Attaches to pets as well as bedding and furniture
    • Smell clings to fabrics and soft surfaces.

Now that we’ve covered where common pet smells come from, next, we’ll look at how air purifiers work to combat these odors.

Are Air Purifiers True Pet Odor Eliminators?

Are Air Purifiers True Pet Odor Eliminators
Are air purifiers true pet odor eliminators – Image Credit

Air purifiers are frequently marketed as solutions for eliminating pet odors. But how exactly do they work to capture and filter out smells?

Air purifiers remove odors through a combination of specialized filtration techniques.

  • HEPA Filtration: HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters capture dander, hair, and other airborne particles down to 0.3 microns. Traps odors attached to pet dander and allergens.
  • Activated Carbon Filtration: Activated carbon filters adsorb gases, VOCs, and odor molecules. The porous carbon material traps smelly compounds rather than letting them recirculate. More carbon means more odor removal.
  • UV-C Light: Some air purifiers use UV-C light to destroy bacteria, viruses, and airborne organisms that cause odors.

By pulling air through these specialized filters, air purifiers can capture some of the pet smells and particles as the air circulates. Units with high Clean Air Delivery Rates (CADR) for smoke, dust, and odors will perform the best.

However, air purifiers do have limitations when it comes to fully removing pet odors.

  • They only filter airborne particles and gases, not surfaces.
  • Odors return quickly when the purifier is off.
  • They don’t eliminate odor sources or destroy particles.
  • Odors can overpower filters if the source is strong.

While air purifiers can help reduce pet odors to some extent, they generally work best paired with other odor-elimination techniques. Next, we’ll look at factors that impact purifier effectiveness against smells.

Factors That Impact Air Purifier Effectiveness Against Odors

Several factors influence how well an air purifier can combat pet odors in your home:

Types of Filters

  • HEPA filters are essential for capturing dander, hair, and other particulates that contribute to odors. Look for a true HEPA rating of 99.97% efficiency at 0.3 micron particles.
  • Large activated carbon filters adsorb odor molecules most effectively. More carbon means more odor removal. Look for at least 5–10 lbs of carbon.
  • UV-C light destroys airborne odor-causing bacteria. Light intensity impacts effectiveness.

Room Size vs. Purifier Capacity

  • The purifier must be the right size for the room.
  • Look at CADR ratings and room-size recommendations. An undersized purifier won’t cycle air quickly enough. We need a higher CADR for larger rooms.

Intensity of Odors

  • Light odors are easier to remove than strong, pervasive smells.
  • Purifiers take time to gradually reduce odors. Very strong smells may overpower them. Be realistic about the severity.

Proximity to Odor Source

  • Place the purifier near the odor source for optimal performance, like close to the litter box.
  • It can only filter air that passes through the unit. Keep it within 5–10 feet, ideally.

Fan Speed

  • Run the purifier at the highest fan speed to circulate air more frequently.
  • Lower speeds mean slower odor removal. Max speed is best for pet odors.

Filter Maintenance

  • Change filters regularly. Old, saturated filters recirculate odors. Follow manufacturer guidelines on timing.

Properly selecting, placing, and maintaining the right air purifier model for your space is key to maximizing its odor-fighting capabilities. Next, we’ll go over some tips for getting the most pet odor removal from your air purifier.

Tips to Maximize Odor Removal

Are Air Purifiers True Pet Odor Eliminators
Clean the indoors are often

Follow these tips to get the most pet odor-eliminating power from your air purifier:

  • Place the unit near odor hot spots – Position it close to litter boxes, pet beds, and other frequent odor sources. Within 5–10 feet is ideal.
  • Run the purifier at the highest fan speed – Faster air circulation equals faster odor removal. Use max speed for pet smells.
  • Change filters regularly – Don’t wait until they are saturated. Follow manufacturer guidelines, typically every 6-12 months.
  • Use the right filters for odors – Look for large 5-10 lb activated carbon filters and UV-C light. True HEPA also helps.
  • Combine with odor-eliminating products – Use enzyme cleaners and odor neutralizers to attack smells at the source.
  • Let it run all the time – Purifiers need consistent runtime to keep removing odors.
  • Vacuum and dust frequently – This removes dander and hair before it accumulates.
  • Clean fabric items – Wash pet beds, linens, and fabric furniture regularly to prevent the buildup of odors.
  • Control humidity – Lower humidity inhibits odor-producing bacteria growth. Keep levels below 50%.

With smart placement, the right filters, and proper maintenance, an air purifier can provide noticeable pet odor reduction in your home. But they work best paired with direct odor removal techniques.

Best Air Purifiers for Pet Odors

Looking for an air purifier specially designed to eliminate pet odors? Here are the top models to consider:

1. Levoit Core 300

air purifiers
Levoit Core 300


  • Large 5.38 lb activated carbon filter
  • Covers rooms up to 219 sq ft
  • VOC removal and true HEPA filter
  • Odor CADR rating of 141
  • Optional pet odor filter

2. Winix 5500-2

air purifiers
Winix 5500-2


  • Washable AOC carbon filter captures odors
  • PlasmaWave technology helps destroy odors
  • 300 sq ft coverage
  • Odor CADR rating of 116
  • Pet-specific model available (5500-2 Pet)

3. Austin Air Healthmate Plus

air purifiers
Austin Air Healthmate Plus


  • 10.5 lb activated carbon and zeolite filter
  • Covers 1,500 sq ft rooms
  • HEPA filtration and UV-C light
  • High odor removal capability
  • Popular for pet smells

When selecting an air purifier for pets, look for large carbon filters, coverage for room size, and high CADR ratings specifically for odors. Units with pet-focused features are ideal.

Alternatives and Add-Ons for Pet Odor Removal

essential oil
Use essential oil to reduce the indoor pet odor

While air purifiers can help tackle pet odors, they work best when paired with additional odor-busting solutions:

  • Enzyme cleaners – Break down odor compounds at a molecular level. Great for urine stains.
  • Steam cleaners – Heat and steam loosen odors trapped in fabrics.
  • Odor-absorbing materials – Baking soda, charcoal bags, and zeolite minerals absorb smells.
  • Furniture shampoo – Removes odors from upholstered furniture.
  • Vent fans – Helps direct odors outside rather than spreading through the home.
  • Essential oils – Certain oils like lemon, lavender, and peppermint can mask pet odors.

With smart placement, the right filters, and proper maintenance, an air purifier can provide noticeable pet odor reduction in your home. But they work best paired with direct odor removal techniques.


While air purifiers can help reduce pet odors to an extent, they generally work best when combined with other odor-elimination techniques. The key is attacking smells at the source and thoroughly cleaning areas with pets frequently.

Investing in a high-quality air purifier tailored for pet odors, along with diligent maintenance and smart placement, can provide a helpful reduction in smells. But air purifiers alone are usually not enough to fully eliminate all pet odors in your home. A multi-pronged approach works best to create a pet odor-free home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do air purifiers remove pet odors?

A: Air purifiers use HEPA filters to capture dander and hair. Activated carbon filters adsorb odor molecules. Some also use UV-C light to destroy bacteria and organisms causing smells.

Q: What factors affect an air purifier’s ability to remove pet odors?

A: Filter types, unit capacity for room size, odor intensity, proximity to odor source, fan speed, and filter maintenance all impact performance.

Q: What tips can maximize a purifier’s pet odor removal?

A: Place near odor sources, run at high speed, change filters regularly, use large carbon filters, combine with other odor removers, and let it run consistently.

Q: Are air purifiers enough to fully remove pet odors on their own?

A: Generally, not. Air purifiers reduce airborne odors but work best paired with direct source odor removal like enzyme cleaners for the best results.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this review are based on the author’s personal experience and research. Individual results may vary. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions for proper usage and maintenance of the product.


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