If you’re like most people, your home doesn’t always smell as fresh as you’d like. Maybe it’s from the litter boxes or your spouses love of garlic and onion. Or maybe it’s just that musty smell that some homes seem to have.
Many people wonder if air purifiers can remove the odors from their home. The short answer to that questions is yes. The longer answer is yes, provided you get the right kind.
In this blog post we’re going to dive into what causes odors in the first place and how you can be sure you choose the right air purifier to trap and remove those odors.
What Causes Odors?
You may wonder why, after you’ve taken out the garbage and cleaned your kitchen, you can still clearly smell your fish dinner. It’s because odors are actually airborne chemicals, and many of the scents in your home arise from volatile organic compounds (VOCs). While some VOCs, such as formaldehyde, can be dangerous to you and your family’s health, most are harmless odors that linger in the air.
For instance, flowers like roses and geraniums have something called geranyl acetate, which is a natural organic compound that gives them their flowery scent. This chemical is commonly used in the production of soaps and candles.
An organic compound called isoamyl acetate is what gives bananas and pears their fruity smell and taste.
All scents, no matter if they are nice or not-so-nice, come from chemical compounds that, when they hit our olfactory receptors, cause us to “smell” the scent. These chemical compounds are gaseous in nature and that’s important to understand when shopping for an air purifier.
Unless you’ve been living under a proverbial rock, you’ve no doubt heard of HEPA filters. Your vacuum cleaner and HVAC system may currently use a HEPA filter.
Many (if not most) air purifiers come with HEPA filters, which are incredibly effective at removing 99.9% of very tiny particulate matter. When we say tiny, we mean it. HEPA filters can remove particles that are 0.3 microns in size. When you realize that the average human hair is 50-75 microns in size, you get an idea of how powerful HEPA filters are at removing tiny particles like pollen, mold spores and pet dander from your home’s air.
The word to focus on here is particles. HEPA filters are outstanding at removing particulate matter from the environment, but when it comes to odor-causing gases, they simply can’t do the work. For that you need an air purifier that comes with an activated carbon filter.
What is an Activated Carbon Filter and How Does it Work?
Activated carbon filters are made from small pieces of carbon that have been treated to be extremely porous. Is it the vastness of the surface area that allows these filters to absorb exponentially more contaminants than traditional carbon filters. This makes them ideal at trapping odor-causing gases.
When air is pulled into an air purifier using an activated carbon filter, there is a chemical reaction causing the VOCs to stick to the carbon filter. The more porous the activated carbon, the more airborne chemicals it can trap.
Are all Activated Carbon Filters the Same?
While all activated carbon filters will be able to remove significantly more VOCs than regular carbon filters, not all activated carbon filters on the market are the same. Some filters simply contain more activated carbon than others, and this will play a big role in how effective the air purifier will be at removing odors in your home.
Beyond being able to trap more contaminants, the more activated the carbon in the filter, the longer that filter’s lifespan. This means you won’t have to replace your carbon filter as often.
Another thing to mention is that the size of activated carbon particles will have an effect on your purifier’s filtering rate. Typically speaking, the smaller the particles, the faster the absorption rates. You will also find the more advanced activated carbon filters are also infused with other compounds like magnesium dioxide and copper oxide that can remove hazardous chemicals from their air such as carbon monoxide.
So the moral of the filter story is, if you are looking to remove odors from your home then you have got to make sure the air purifier you select comes with an activated carbon filter. By all means, choose a model that has both an activated carbon filter and a HEPA filter, as this unit will remove not only odor-causing gases from your home’s air, but also common allergens like pollen, pet dander, mold spores and dust.
Other Factors to Consider
Beyond the kind of filter your air purifier uses, there are some other things to consider to ensure your unit does an effective job of making your home smell clean and fresh. They are:
Get the Right Size
It is very important that you measure the rooms in your home so you know the square footage of each. You have got to make sure the units you buy can handle that square footage.
Like an air conditioner, each air purifier has been built with certain specs. One unit may be able to only handle a room that is 300 square feet in size, while another can handle a room that is 800 square feet in size. You cannot expect a unit built for a small room to handle your large living room. So measure and be sure to read the specs on the box or online before making the purchase.
Change Filters Regularly
It goes without saying that your air purifier can only work as good as the air filters inside. For your units to be effective, you must remember to change the filters as often as the manufacturer recommends. If you have pet odors in the home you may have to change more frequently.
If you think you won’t remember to change the filters (life gets busy, after all) look for a unit that comes with a “change filter” alert. And make sure to always have new filters on hand so you can just pop one in.
No one wants to live in a house that, well, stinks. An air purifier can help your home smell fresh and clean so your family and guests can enjoy themselves.
If you’re ready for life to smell better, take a look through our air purifiers that are specifically built to handle tough odors.