Air purifier that specializes in eliminating odors
January 24, 2023 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend an energy-efficient air purifier that will excel at eliminating odors—especially cooking smells—in a large-ish room (500 ft2 / 46 m2). It seems most purifiers focus on particulates, allergens, and pathogens by using a HEPA filter. But a HEPA filter isn't really effective for odors and VOCs, so I need a purifier that also has a very robust activated carbon filtration system (or some other tech that accomplishes the same thing) in addition to the HEPA.

This would primarily be used in the kitchen/living area of an apartment that has no range hood, poor ventilation, and where—for various reasons—opening the windows isn’t necessarily a good option.

A relatively compact unit that's somewhat automated (i.e. not a DIY Corsi-Rosenthal box type thing) is preferred. A quiet setting for use in the bedroom occasionally would also be nice. Looking for something under $300-ish and available in the US.

Please, no suggestions for masking the odors with other scents.
posted by theory to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: The Coway Airmega has HEPA filtering but also has a pre-filter and an odor sensor. I can tell you conclusively that it works actively to address smell issues because not only does it have strong opinions about us cooking fish, but it's not so far from my dog's bed and acts as an informal dog fart warning system. We run it exclusively on auto and change the filters on a regular basis and it really helps.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:44 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]


We have this Honeywell HEPA air filter, which has a pair of pleated HEPA filters, plus a pre-filter for odors etc. We don't really have odor problems; we use it mostly for allergens and for smoke during wildfire season. But when the neighbor is smoking weed on his deck and it comes in through the windows, the filter makes quick work of eliminating that odor. I use the compatible filters from Amazon, and despite Honeywell's dire warnings about only using their Very Expensive Filters, the compatible ones work just fine.

I've also used the filter in a room on high, after painting the walls, and it got rid of the paint smell and fumes pretty quickly.
posted by xedrik at 10:53 AM on January 24


I almost didn't post because they do not meet either your size or budget requirements, but I have not found anything that works better than Austin Air's filters. If you factor in the cost and frequency of filter replacements the price might not sting so much. I have owned a couple of the Coways mentioned above and while they are nice they did nothing for my musty basement smell.
posted by phil at 11:29 AM on January 24


Best answer: Austin Air HealthMate would be the recommendation, but it's at least twice your price point. The HealthMate just has immensely higher amounts of activated carbon and zeolite (15 pounds, just in the filter) than any other normal HEPA filter. There are also inline carbon fan filters on Amazon for grow operations but you have to DIY them.

You're probably limited to HEPA units that have an 'activated carbon' filter with actual carbon pellets in it, like the Winix 5500. Most HEPA units have a "foam sheet" style of filter that has a lot less carbon in it (like the very similar and slightly cheaper Winix 5300, or the normally recommended Coway Mighty). The Winix has a VOC sensor too, reliably goes off when I pass gas anywhere in the room.
posted by meowzilla at 11:32 AM on January 24


I really like Medify's air purifiers.They've done amazingly well here in Oregon's wildfire smoke, which has always been more difficult than any odor issues we have.
However, I can't say how well they deal with stronger food smells, as the worst we tend to have is when one of my kids decides preparing an entire bag of caramelized onions is a good idea.
It's also successful at removing secondhand pot smoke that wanders in from the downstairs neighbor.
We purchased ours off the jungle place, because it was a better deal at the time.
We have three, and we went for overkill on the sq ft coverage, since we'll hopefully be moving into a larger place sooner or later. That decision has also allowed us to keep them on a lower, quieter setting while still being quite sufficient.
posted by stormyteal at 11:39 AM on January 24


On the budget end...I have these small Holmes air purifiers in every room of my house. They use the AER-1 filters which come in various types--the odor eliminator one really works well. If smoke is the primary issue, I've also use their Smoke Grabber filter during California fire season with great results.
posted by assenav at 11:42 AM on January 24


I have a Mila air purifier that I've been super-happy with. It's $350, though, so a bit outside your price range. They have a variety of different filters available that are targeted at different things -- I use the "Critter Cuddler" one that has an additional carbon filter for pet odors, but it seems like it's been pretty effective for food odor as well. There are 7 available, and 5 of those have additional carbon filters. Their marketing is kind of annoying, but the actual product has been really solid for me, and I like the additional data available in the app showing levels of VOCs, different particle sizes, and CO2 among other things.
posted by duien at 11:52 AM on January 24


IKEA's FORNUFTIG air purifier ($80cad) has an optional activated carbon insert ($13cad) in addition to the included pleated particulate filter. We have several of these units and I can attest that the one that has the odour removal insert works quite well in the bedroom of a cannabis smoker.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:32 PM on January 24


Shark Clean Air IQ. Purchased Shark Air Purifier MAX true HEPA for 1200 sq ft and the 500 sq ft version. Work as advertised. Takes those cooking smells away especially something fishy and works removing 3 types of particulates. Even when it works overtime to clean the air, it is quiet.
Shark site
posted by onair at 4:07 PM on January 24


Best answer: Levoit sells a filter that is for smoke - it has a carbon pre-filter around the HEPA portion. I absolutely adore it and it does a FANTASTIC job of pulling these kinds of smells out of the air.
posted by Bottlecap at 5:18 PM on January 24


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