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Air Purifiers 101: Why Does My Air Purifier Smell Like Plastic?

When we’re at home or work, we tend to spend a lot of our time indoors. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to many, the air indoors can be more polluted than the air we breathe outside.

That is where an air purifier can come in handy. Air purifiers can trap dirt, dust, odor, and other pollutants in the air.

Air purifiers are usually overworked, which can lead to them producing funky smells in time.

The smell can be awful and mildly nauseating as the stench can smell like burning plastic. This means that there is something wrong with the air purifier and it should be fixed as soon as possible.

image - Air Purifiers 101: Why Does My Air Purifier Smell Like Plastic?
Air Purifiers 101: Why Does My Air Purifier Smell Like Plastic?

So, here is a detailed explanation of what is causing the smell and how you can fix the issue. One place we suggest looking if you want the assistance of a professional team is  Clover Services.

The Smell and Its Meaning

Air purifiers should not emit any odor. If it does, you need to find out what is going on. But first, you should know how to differentiate a good smell from a bad one as air purifiers tend to emit a wide range of smells.

It happens because the air purifiers are made from different materials. It also sucks different germs and particles in the air that accumulates in the filter.

We have compiled the different smells coming out of an air purifier for you to identify its meaning and source.

Chlorine-Like Smell

Sometimes, you can detect a chlorine-like or a heavy cleaner odor coming from the air purifier. It is a sign that the device is generating ozone.

It is a gas composed of three atoms of oxygen. We normally only breathe two oxygen atoms, and the third one freely attaches itself to another compound.

When it happens, the third atom can reconfigure the chemical composition of the said compound.

Generally, it is not bad when the air purifier is producing ozone. Air purifiers produce them, especially the ionic types, as a byproduct when it processes the air.

Your air purifier might smell like chlorine because ozone can have the same scent as that of cleaning products.

It is a good thing when the air smells this way because that means the air purifier is doing its job. A whiff of chlorine is not harmful.

However, when the smell becomes excessive, your air purifier may be producing more ozone than it should.

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Musty, Wet Smell

When you are smelling a recognizable wet dog odor coming from your air purifier, it usually means that it has plenty of molds and bacteria flourishing inside it.

It is normal for the air purifier to get dirty because of how it works. The dirt can immediately collect on its filter.

When your air purifier begins to emit a musty, wet dog smell, bacteria, mold spores, and mildew are most likely building up inside the machine. The air coming from the air purifier could contain potentially harmful allergens.

Check the machine for signs of infestation or the presence of dirt and grime. Clean it immediately and dry thoroughly.

Sweet Smell

When there is a sweet smell coming from the air purifier, it is a good sign because that means its carbon filter is new and it is working fine. A new air purifier usually emits a sweet, dessert-like smell.

There is nothing wrong when the air purifier smells sweet. It only shows that your air purifier has a new carbon filter. When it stops smelling this way, it is a sign that you need to change the filter.

Plastic Smell

If your air purifier is smelling like plastic, don’t get alarmed right away. It may just be the residual smell from the material where this device is made from.

Air purifiers are made of plastic, and during the process, it gives off fumes that remain even after being sealed in a package. When the unit is hooked into electricity, the plastic fumes will come off.

This plastic smell should dissipate after a few days of use. However, if the unit continues to emit a strong plastic smell, check the unit. There could be a piece of plastic that is burning inside.

Burning Smell

When a burning smell emanates from the air purifier but is not similar to a heavy plastic smell, there could be another reason.

You need to check what the air purifier is using to operate. If the unit is running on UV, the ultraviolet lamp could be the culprit. It could be malfunctioning and is causing the burning smell from the unit.

Having a broken ultraviolet lamp could also emit a chlorine-like smell. However, you need to identify the real cause instead of just assuming.

What Should You do About the Smell?

Now that you know about the unique smells coming from the air purifier, you need to treat the issue correctly and ensure that the unit is in good working condition.

Part of your routine check should be checking the filter. It should not be dirty or no longer working.

Most of the stench coming from your air purifier is from the air filter. Make sure to clean it regularly to remove the dirt and prevent bacteria from accumulating. Change it when it’s due for replacement too.

Another way to keep the air filter smelling fresh is to prevent molds and mildew from growing on its filter.

Place the air purifier in a clean, dry area of the house. Hot, humid air can harbor bacteria. After cleaning the parts, make sure that it is dried properly before replacing them.

When you are unsure where the smell is from and does not dissipate, do not use the unit and contact the manufacturer.

Final Thoughts

Air purifiers can clean the air from dirt, grime, and germs. However, it can also emit different types of smell.

Based on our guide, you can define what these different smells mean. Whether it is a plastic, burning, or musty smell, you will know how to handle the stinky situation.

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