Why Does My Air Purifier Smell?

Air purifiers have become a staple for many households, especially those keen on maintaining a healthy indoor atmosphere. This is because the devices help eliminate bad smells, contaminants, and other harmful airborne elements, in enclosed spaces.

However, air purifiers also have some downsides, despite being such handy devices. Air purifier smell is one such downside that many homeowners complain about. Sometimes, the device can be creating the same problem it was initially meant to solve – bad smells.

Why Your Air Purifier Smells

If you are reading this, it’s because you’ve asked yourself this question or have heard someone ask: why does my air purifier smell? Well, there are several reasons why your air purifier might smell. Also, the smells are not all similar.

The fact is, some people will complain of a bad smell, wet or dumpy smell, and others a nice, sweet smell. Each of these smells results from different causes.

But, whichever the type of smell, here are the leading causes:

  1. The New Appliance Smell

Why does my air purifier smell like plastic? This is a question that most homeowners grapple with. Most people will report cases of a sweet or somewhat plastic smell emanating from their purifiers.

If this is your case, then it’s most probably because your air purifier is still new or you’ve recently changed the air filters. The sweetish smell is mostly caused by the carbon filter and is a good sign that the purifier is working.

On the other hand, the plastic smell is due to trapped plastic fumes or burning plastic inside the air purifier. Generally, plastic molding produces strong fumes that are sometimes left trapped in the product during the initial process. When you hook up your air purifier to an electricity socket, these fumes reemerge, resulting in the common plastic smell.

However, this smell shouldn’t last for long. It will diminish with several uses. And, in case it doesn’t, the air purifier should be inspected as some plastic might be burning on the inside.

  1. Ozone

If you notice a chlorine-like smell emanating from your air purifier, the main culprit is most likely ozone. It usually has a clean smell, almost like the smell you would experience after a thunderstorm or in a chlorine-treated swimming pool.

Ozone is a byproduct of some air purifiers, and this might be why you have that disturbing smell in your house. Sadly, not many people realize that their air purifiers produce ozone during operation.

If you have a PCO, PlasmaCluster, or Ionic air purifier, the foul smell you’ve been experiencing in your house is undoubtedly ozone.

Some of the side effects and symptoms of ozone irritation include:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness

Luckily, since ozone is a strong lung irritant, the production of ozone-based air purifiers has been banned in some states like California.

  1. Insufficient Ventilation

Poor ventilation is another culprit for the bad smell that your air purifier is producing. In poorly ventilated spaces, the carbon filters might be saturated with different odor particles. 

Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that where you store your purifier isn’t a hub of awful smells. This is because once the air purifier is filled with bad odor particles, it will produce that same smell when you turn it on.

You could be dealing with all sorts of smells here including paint, dust, tobacco, fragrance, and more. Activated carbon filters are notorious for these issues. But, with ample ventilation, all will be well.

  1. Bacteria, Mold, and Yeast Growth On Your Filters

These cause air purifiers to produce quite an annoying smell. If you have noticed a foul wet dog smell when you turn on your purifier, these microorganisms must be the culprits.

When these microorganisms infest or grow inside your air purifier, the smell that results is not pleasant at all. This is the same smell that occurs when bacteria or mold infest your heating and cooling system (HVAC).

Usually, moisture is the main reason why these microorganisms grow on the filters. So, ensure that your air purifiers are well stored to prevent moisture build-up. Also, make sure to use filters that have antibacterial and UV properties to inhibit the growth of said microorganisms.

  1. Faulty UV Light Filter

An awful stench from your air purifier might also result from a faulty UV air filter. If the UV light in your air purifiers is damaged, you’ll start getting that burning plastic smell every time your air purifier is on.

For this reason, inspect your air purifier regularly to ensure that everything is in good shape and that the UV light is working.

So, if you’ve been wondering where the bad plastic or ozone smells are coming from, you now have your answer.

How to Eliminate Air Purifier Smell

  1. Clean or Replace the Filters

The solution to most of your air purifier’s smells is as simple as cleaning or replacing the filters. If your air purifier contains a washable filter, then cleaning it up will be enough. Simply ensure that the filters are clean and that they are not the cause of the smell. Use non-corrosive cleaning agents only.

However, many other purifiers won’t have washable filters. If yours is one of these, you will have to replace the filters to completely remove the stench. If you can’t replace the filter yourself, you can take the purifier to your local technician to help you with that.

  1. Clean the Air Purifier with Sodium Chlorite or Chlorine Dioxide 

Sodium chlorite or chlorine dioxide solutions work perfectly to eliminate the awful wet dog smell coming from your air purifier. Use these solutions to clean up your purifier’s body and its filters.

The solutions are quite effective as they are mostly used in controlling fungi, bacteria, and algal slimes. And, since these microorganisms cause the wet dog smell, a sodium chlorite or chlorine dioxide solution will effectively solve your purifier’s smells problem.

Regular cleaning and maintenance of your air purifiers ensure that your household is free from these odors. And, since your air purifier helps with smell control, this keeps the air in your house clean and healthy.

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