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The 5 best air purifiers for pet odor

From smelly beddings and carpets to pets on the stinkier side, the right air purifier can remove those smells and clean the air from dander and allergens too.
By
Updated on February 14, 2024
Written by
Amparo Lopez
Amparo is a staff writer for HouseFresh, having joined us in 2023. She is a sustainability advocate, holding degrees in communications, human-centered design and environmental policy. Her work has a focus on air pollution and climate change.

Our verdict

 

  • Our top pick is the Levoit EverestAir, the fastest air purifier with a washable pre-filter and smart features.
  • For tight budgets, the Levoit Core 300 offers a high CADR for under $100 and three-stage filtration.
  • The Alen BreathSmart 75i is our go-to choice for large spaces, featuring 3.6 lbs of activated carbon and a CADR to cover up to 1,300 sq ft.

Living with a pet means coexisting with their smells. Some of those scents can be loved by pet parents and transmit a sense of reassurance and joy. 

Yet, when it comes to other funks produced by litter boxes, urine, wet dogs or bad breath, that’s a whole different story.   

But when it comes to pets at home, it’s not just odors that get in the way of our air being clean and fresh. The tiny bits of skin (dander) and fur shed by our pets tend to build up around the house, contributing to smells but also to allergies.

The thing is pet odors can linger, even with regular brushing and grooming, swiftly cleaning up after an eventual mishap or proper litter care. That’s when an air purifier can become a valuable investment.

Air purifiers are excellent odor removers and a great ally when it comes to keeping dander and fur at bay. However, there are a few things to consider when choosing the right one. Based on our test data, we have selected the best air purifiers suited for the job.

  1. In our home lab of 728 cubic ft, we light an incense stick to generate particle pollution and VOCs.
  2. We set up our trusted Purpleair Indoor Sensor with the latest Bosch gas sensor to track levels of PM1ug/m3, PM2.5ug/m3 and PM10ug/m3 and VOCs in the air.
    purpleair
  3. We switch the air purifier to its highest speed and measure how long it takes to get our room air quality down to PM1 level to 0.
  4. We use an energy meter to measure precisely how much electricity is used when running the unit at the lowest and highest fan speed settings.
  5. We track sound levels emitted by the air purifier at different fan speeds with the help of a commercial sound meter.
    sound meter

We made sure to include units packed with enough activated carbon to remove even those stubborn odors, robust filters capable of dealing with large (fur) and small (dander and allergens) particles and a variety of smart features and cleaning power to suit different needs and room sizes.  

Staff picks: Top 3 air purifiers for pet odor

If you don’t have time to read our full report, here are the top three units we recommend for pet odors. 

👑 BEST OVERALL💰 FOR TIGHT BUDGETS🛋️ FOR LARGE SPACES
Levoit EverestAirLevoit Core 300Alen Breathsmart 75i
AIR CLEANING SPEED ⚡13 minutes40 minutes24 minutes
CADR 👩‍🔬360 CFM145 CFM347 CFM
FILTER TECHNOLOGY 💨3-Stage Filtration (Pre-filter for large particles, main filter for airborne particles, high-efficiency activated carbon filter for odors and gasses)3-Stage Filtration (Pre-filter for large particles, main filter for airborne particles, high-efficiency activated carbon filter for odors and gasses)True HEPA H13 filters with activated carbon pellets + Ionizer technology
MAX ROOM SIZE 📏558 sq. ft.219 sq. ft.1,300 sq. ft.
WEIGHT ⚖️20.7 lbs (9.38 kg)7.5 lbs (3.4 kg)27 lbs (12.2 kg)
OUR REVIEW 🔍Levoit EverestAir reviewLevoit Core 300 reviewAlen 75i review
PRICE 💵$529.98$84.99$748.99

Last update on 2024-02-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Read on to find out more about the complete selection; deep dive into the units’ specifications and strengths that make them ideal for tackling pet smells in your home. 

1. Best overall: Levoit EverestAir

The EverestAir boosts power and smart features in a sleek white and silver design that makes it stand out from the crowd.

Levoit certainly stepped up their game with this air purifier. It is far from an inexpensive unit but a premier choice for savvy pet parents looking for a comprehensive solution to deal with pet-related pollutants in style. 

The high CADR on this air purifier can recircle clean air 4.5 times per hour in a room as large as 558 sq. ft. at the utmost speed. It’s the fastest air purifier we tested so far; it only took 13 minutes to clean our home lab. So, there is no need to worry about pet allergens with this one. 

What we really like

The VeSync app is easy to navigate and offers remote control and air quality readings
It runs very quietly at low fan speed and still performs well (cleaning our test room in 33 minutes)
Large pelleted carbon filter for pet odors
Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home for voice control 

What we think could be better

It’s not the smallest unit
The air purifier and genuine replacement filters are expensive 
Levoit’s standard 2-year warranty, despite being their top-tier unit 

And yet, the EverestAir also has its fair share of smart features. The auto mode is powered by Levoit’s AirSight Plus technology and three built-in air sensors that will adjust the fan speed according to the pollution levels in the room. Plus, the air quality readings can be displayed on the unit’s screen and the Vesync mobile app.

The EverestAir comes with Levoit’s three-stage filtration, including a prefilter, the main filter for airborne particles and a honeycomb-activated carbon filter to remove smells. I love the fact that the prefilter is washable and so easy to remove to clean. It helps a lot with pet hair. 

SPECS & FEATURES

HouseFresh Rating:★★★★★
Time to clean our test room:13 minutes
Air purifier technology:3-Stage Filtration (Pre-filter for large particles, main filter for airborne particles, high-efficiency activated carbon filter for odors and gasses)
Recommended room size:558 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):360 CFM (612 m3/h)
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):18.9L x 8.5W x 23.2H inches (48L x 21.6W x 58.9H cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):20.7 lbs (9.38 kg)
Noise level (low – high):24 – 56dB
Filter life:12-15 months
Warranty:2 years
Estimated energy consumption:$87.25 per year
Country of manufacture:China

2. Best for large spaces: Alen BreatheSmart 75i

A powerful and reliable option with an H13 HEPA filter and enough activated carbon to remove pet odors and pollutants from rooms as big as 1,300 sq. ft.

The 75i is Alen’s most premium unit, with a high CADR of 347 CFM. It’s an excellent choice for large rooms or open-concept spaces. The Austin-based company makes air purifiers to last a lifetime, and to ensure that is the case, they offer a lifetime warranty for anyone who registers for a filter subscription. 

The 75i filters are robust, featuring a washable, easy-to-remove pre-filter (which is particularly useful to extend the life of the actual filter when it comes to filtering lots of pet hair), a H13 HEPA filter (to capture 99.9% particles as small as 0.1 microns, including pet allergens) and an activated carbon filter.

I must point out, though, that choosing the right Alen filter is key to removing pet smells. Alen’s Fresh filter uses a large amount (3.6 lbs) of activated carbon to adsorb odors, while the Odor filter uses Alen’s OdorCell technology to neutralize smells. Either of the two will perform nicely odors-wise, and there’s just a $10 difference between them. You get to choose which one you prefer when purchasing the 75i.

What we really like

It has an efficient auto mode and great app support
The control panel has a color-coded air quality indicator that provides real-time readings 
It’s straightforward to install and set up — no tools required
Prefilters are easily removed and washable
The ionizer function can be turned on and off

What we think could be better

Replacement filters are not cheap
The cheapest filter option (Pure) doesn’t have activated carbon
It’s a large and heavy unit

The 75i also has built-in ionizing technology, which releases ions into the air capable of forcing airborne particles to fall to the ground. It does seem like a useful feature for airborne dander and pet hair. But it can actually be harmful to pets (and humans). The good news is the ionizer can be switched off in this unit. 

Design-wise, the BreatheSmart 75i is sophisticated and low-key, so it can effortlessly blend into your home. An unexpected great: the air intakes of this unit are located along the sides, so you can place it close to a wall and it won’t affect its performance — quite handy if you have a large pet as having it against the wall will reduce the chances of the unit getting knocked over.

SPECS & FEATURES

HouseFresh Rating:★★★★☆
Time to clean our test room:24 minutes
Air purifier technology:True HEPA H13 filters with activated carbon pellets + Ionizer technology
Recommended room size:Up to 1,300 sq. ft. (2 ACH)
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):347 CFM (589 m³/h)
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):27H x 18.5W x 11.5D inches (68.58H x 46.99W x 29.21D cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):12.2 kg (27 lbs)
Noise level (low – high):24 – 49dB
Filter life:12 – 15 months
Manufacturer’s warranty:Lifetime (with product registration & active filter subscription)
Estimated energy consumption:$47.30 per year
Country of manufacture:China

3. Best smart option: Mila Air Purifier

The air purifier with the most comprehensive suite of smart functionalities to keep your home air clean and odor-free with no effort on your end.

When it comes to dealing with the large amount of shed fur flying around, dander triggering your allergies and stubborn pet smells, Mila’s smart features have you covered.

Equipped with eight air quality sensors and an onboard computer, Mila will scan the air in your home and get to work with the power and fan speed your environment needs the moment it needs it. That also means energy efficiency at its best. 

What we really like

The Mila mobile app has an excellent UI, allowing you to monitor air quality and program the unit remotely
The unit is very easy to set up and use, with plain, relatable language on the manual and the app
It has a stylish design to blend easily in any home — closer to a piece of furniture than an appliance
Its smart features and looks don’t compromise its performance

What we think could be better

It comes with a high price tag and so do the replacement filters
It’s not the simplest air purifier to operate in manual mode 

Another remarkable feature of this air purifier is that you can choose from seven different filters to customize the unit to your needs. For pet-friendly homes, I’d go for the thorough Critter Cuddle because of the H13 HEPA filter, its 0.84 lb of activated carbon and the included Mila Sock, a washable soft mesh that will prevent large particles and fur from reaching the main filter.

However, if stubborn odors are your main concern, then the Home Wrecker may be a more suited choice. The 1.96 lbs of activated carbon on this unit will take care of any pet-related smells.

SPECS & FEATURES

HouseFresh Rating:★★★★☆
Time to clean our test room:35 minutes
Air purifier technology:HEPA (ranges from H12-H14) + Activated charcoal (granular carbon)
Recommended room size:1000 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):263 CFM (447 m³/hr)
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):12L x 12W x 15H inches (30.48L x 30.48W x 38.1H cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):18 lbs (8 kg)
Noise level (low – high):24dB – 74dB
Filter life:6 months 
Manufacturer’s warranty:1 year
Estimated energy consumption:$52.56 per year
Country of manufacture:China

4. Best for under $100: Levoit Core 300 

Low initial price, accessible replacement filters and Levoit’s comprehensive three-stage filtration to remove particles and odors.

Levoit’s Core 300 is a straightforward and cost-effective option if you are looking for an affordable yet reliable air purifier capable of removing pet odors and dander in smaller rooms of up to 219 sq. ft. 

At its price point, it doesn’t have fancy features such as auto mode or app support, but it boosts a solid performance. It was able to clean our test room in 40 minutes from all airborne pollutants – only a minute slower than the smart 300S

It also has a robust filtration system, including a nylon pre-filter, a main pleated filter to capture airborne pollutants (including allergens) and the activated carbon filter with Levoit’s air recomposition formula that chemically decomposes foul odors and VOCs. When you look to replace the filter for your Core 300, be sure to choose the Core 300-RF-PA, which has been designed specifically for pet odors.

What we really like

The unit with the lowest energy consumption on this list
It’s super lightweight, easy to move around
It runs virtually silent and with all lights off in sleep mode
It offer great CADR for price point

What we think could be better

It lacks wifi connectivity and app support
With no air quality sensors onboard, it has no auto mode
I wish the pre-filter could be removed for cleaning

The cylindrical design allows for a comprehensive air intake, drawing particles and smells from a 360º radius. So, if your pet is curious about the new gadget in the house and likes to sit close to it, the purifier will still do its magic, suctioning air from a broad area. 

The Core 300 is also very easy to use and set up. The simple one-touch control panel is intuitive and uncomplicated. It has three fan speeds and a lock button to prevent mischievous pets from changing the setting. Plus, even with a low price tag, this unit runs silently at 24dB at the lower fan speed to avoid disturbing your furry friends.

SPECS & FEATURES

HouseFresh Rating:★★★★★
Time to clean our test room:40 minutes
Air purifier technology:3-Stage Filtration (Pre-filter for large particles, main filter for airborne particles, high-efficiency activated carbon filter for odors and gasses)
Recommended room size:219 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):145 CFM (246 m3/h)
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):8.7L x 8.7W x 14.2H inches (22L x 22W x 36H cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):7.5 lbs (3.4 kg)
Noise level (low – high):24 – 50dB
Filter life:6 – 8 months
Manufacturer’s warranty:2 years
Estimated energy consumption:$47.30
Country of manufacture:China

5. Best for serious pet odors: Austin Air Healthmate

A straightforward (and hefty) powerhouse with a 15 lb activated carbon and zeolite filter that excels at removing stubborn, pungent odors and VOCs.

The HealthMate is an air purifier to deal with severe smells that no regular air filter can tackle — say, old cat urine on the carpet or an unvented area in a home with several pets. It’s a large and heavy unit; it’s expensive and definitely not the quietest air purifier (it reaches 40dB at the lowest fan speed, while the average, based on our tests, is 29dB).

But when it comes to removing VOCs and odors, no unit matches the massive amount of activated carbon in the HealthMate. The complete filtration system also includes a True HEPA filter and two prefilters for large and medium-sized particles. The comprehensive four-staged filter is also long-lasting; it only needs replacement every five years.  

What we really like

It’s suited for large spaces
Can handle the most stubborn smells thanks to the sheer amount of activated carbon blended with zeolite (another absorbing material)
It has castor wheels to move it around 
It is easy to use, thanks to the one-dial control

What we think could be better

The filters are pricy, but considering the sheer amount of activated carbon they have and the extended life, the cost seems adequate
It has a high rate of energy consumption
Accessing the filter is not as straightforward as with other units; it’s at the bottom and protected with four screws

The Austin Air is an efficiency-oriented unit. There’s no complicated control panel but just one dial to choose from three fan speeds. However, this also means there are no built-in sensors or auto mode. Instead, the HealthMate is a straightforward, powerful option for users looking for uncomplicated, practical solutions.

SPECS & FEATURES

HouseFresh Rating:★★★★☆
Time to clean our test room:36 minutes
Air purifier technology:Carbon Filter, HEPA Filter, Pre-Filter, Large Particle Pre-Filter
Recommended room size:750 to 1500 sq. ft. 
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):150 CFM (estimated based on HouseFresh tests)
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):23H x 14.5W x 14.5D inches (58.4H x 36.8W x 36.8D cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):47 lbs (21.3 kg)
Noise level (low – high):40dB – 62dB
Filter life:5 years
Warranty5 years
Estimated energy consumption:$138.76 per year
Country of manufacture:US – Buffalo, New York


Other units we tested but don’t recommend for pet odors:

  • Pure Enrichment PureZone Mini: As a portable air purifier, the PureZone Mini lacks the power to make meaningful air changes in your living spaces. This tiny and lightweight purifier has a limited CADR of 10 CFM; it’s better suited for places like a car.
  • Blueair Blue Pure 411: Blueair purifiers combine mechanical filtration (that’s the prefilter, HEPA and activated carbon filters) with ionizer technology that can’t be switched off. While ionization makes an air purifier more efficient at removing small air pollutants, it’s not as efficient for larger particles such as dust and pet hair. Besides, the process releases chemical by-products that can cause health issues to humans and pets.
  • Levoit Core Mini:  This is a reasonably powerful unit for its mini size. But its CADR of 32 CFM and room coverage of up to 178 sq. ft. are not tailored for the average room, even in small apartments. Besides, with smaller filters than the bigger brothers (Levoit Core 200S or 300), you’ll need to replace them more often. Yet, with similar filter costs, it results in higher overall expenses.

What to look for when buying an air purifier for pet odors 

On top of ensuring a healthy, happy life for your pet, good pet-parent practices make a significant difference in the air quality of your environment. But that’s not always enough to achieve the odor-free home you probably want if you landed on this page. 

With the right purifier, you could turn the tables and remove all those lingering unwanted pet smells once and for all. To find out if the unit you are considering is the right one for the job, these are a few questions that will guide you in your search:

1. Does the air purifier have the right filters? 

When it comes to pets, a three-stage filtration system is the most comprehensive option, as it includes a prefilter, a HEPA filter and activated carbon. Let´s double-click on each one: 

Stage 1: Pre-filter

These are designed to pick up larger particles (such as pet hair) before they reach the main filter. Their key function is to prevent fur from clogging the HEPA, thus extending its lifespan. Removable prefilters are more straightforward to clean; some are even washable to rinse out the shed fur effortlessly.

Stage 2: Main HEPA filter

High-efficiency particulate air filters are made of pleated sheets that create a maze of randomly assorted fibers capable of capturing at least 99.97% of airborne particles, including dust, pollen and pet dander. Besides, a robust filter is vital in removing allergens from your indoor air. 

As of October 2023, the company has decided to remove from its advertising the claim that its units use HEPA-grade filters. 

Even considering this new information, we still believe Levoit’s air purifiers make great units when it comes to performance. Our tests back up this belief, and we feel confident each time we recommend a Levoit unit.

Stage 3: Activated carbon filter

This is the layer that will remove unwanted pet smells—the carbon works by absorbing odors (and VOCs) that pass through the filter.

2. Is the air purifier capable of dealing with your room size?

This is a key issue when choosing the right air purifier for you. A unit suited for smaller rooms won’t be able to make the air changes per hour (ACH) needed to clean the air in large spaces. Therefore, it won’t be efficient at removing the odors and lack the power to remove all airborne pollutants.

On the other hand, a more powerful air purifier suited to clean ample spaces usually has a higher energy consumption rate, resulting in unnecessary and monthly extra costs if used in smaller rooms. 

This is where the unit’s CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) comes in, indicating its cleaning performance in CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute). We’ve included each unit’s CADR and room size recommendation in our spec tables. But those are standard measurements. Find the exact CADR you need with our CFM Calculator; it bases the results on the EPA airflow recommendations to improve indoor air quality: an ACH of 4.8. 

3. Does the unit produce any chemical by-products?

Ozone-generating and ionizer features are often found in air purifiers to enhance their performance. While these promise to remove odors and particles more efficiently, the fact is that both technologies are proven to be harmful to pets and people. 

Ozone is a dangerous gas that reacts with chemicals in the air, creating further toxic VOCs. In fact, it can temper the sense of smell, masking existing odors but not actually removing them.

Ionizers emit ions (electrically charged particles) that attach to airborne particles, forcing them to stick onto surfaces such as walls, floors and furniture and settle out of the air. However, while this may work for small air pollutants (such as the ones in tobacco smoke), it’s not effective against larger particles like pollen or pet hair, nor gases or smells. Yet, the ionization process releases toxic VOCs into the air, including ozone and hazardous ultra-fine particles. 

So, it’s much safer to rely on mechanical air filtration such as the one provided by the three-stage filtration system of ozone-free, non-ionizing air purifiers.


Frequently asked questions about air purifiers and pets

In a word, yes. Air purifiers can get rid of pet odors, but as long as their filters have activated carbon. HEPA filters are not efficient against odor molecules or gases; they cannot remove them from the air. 

On the other hand, activated carbon is capable of trapping smells and VOCs through a process called adsorption. When gaseous pollutants pass through the filtration system, they stick to the porous surface of the activated carbon, unable to re-enter the room.

The amount of carbon a filter has is directly related to its capacity to adsorb gases. The wider the surface, the more cleaning power the filter will have.

That depends on a variety of factors, including the size of your home, how sensitive your pet is to noises and how much fur it sheds. But as a rule of thumb, the air purifier you choose should have:

  • An adequate amount of activated carbon 
  • A CADR capable of renewing the air in the room you’ll be placing it
  • A three-stage filtration system
  • A low dB (noise level) on at least the lowest fan speed

I have also written a step by step guide with actionable advice on how to get rid of dog smells in the house.

The pungent, ammonia-like smell of urine is produced by bacteria decomposing the urea (protein breakdown waste). So, you’ll need a HEPA filter to reduce bacteria in your environment and activated carbon to tackle odors. 

Make sure the air purifier you choose has the cleaning power to improve the air in the room with the issue.

There’s no doubt Dyson air purifiers are a display of innovation and high-end design. Their top technology developments are capable of combining air cleaning with heating/cooling and humidifier functions. 

Yet, when it comes to the cleaning power, Dyson’s CADR scores are significantly lower than other units (under 100 CFM). At the same time, the filters have low amounts of loose-fill activated carbon or carbon impregnated into the HEPA filter. For a fairly lower price in most cases, the purifiers featured on this list have much more robust filters better suited to tackling those unwanted smells.

Final thoughts

As much as we love the four-footed members of our family, there’s no denying that they produce smells (some more unpleasant than others). Taking good care of them, with frequent grooming, healthy food and periodic visits to the vet, is a solid step forward in reducing their odor. Regular home cleaning makes for another important element in the equation. But that’s not always enough.

If that’s the case, a top-quality air purifier is, without a doubt, the thing you are missing to achieve the fresh-smelling home you want. Just ensure the purifier you decide to invest in has an activated carbon filter and can manage the room size you’ll place it in. 

Last update on 2024-02-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About the author

Amparo Lopez

Amparo is a staff writer for HouseFresh, having joined us in 2023. She is a sustainability advocate, holding degrees in communications, human-centered design and environmental policy. Her work has a focus on air pollution and climate change.