Sometimes, no matter how clean you keep your house, there are just some stubborn odors that refuse to go away. Whether it’s from the bathroom, nursery, kitchen, pets, trash cans, mildew, or cigarette smoke, it can start to seem like the smell follows you no matter where you go. That’s why having a reliable odor eliminator in your home can be so important.
Unlike air fresheners that just mask smells, odor eliminators work to neutralize and remove the scent from your home. But there are quite a few odor eliminator products on the market, so choosing the right one can be tough. You have to decide on the type or formula you prefer, as well as what ingredients and scent will work best for your needs.
If you’re shopping for an odor eliminator, you’ll find our top choices in the product list above. If you just want some general tips on choosing odor eliminator products, keep reading our handy shopping guide.
Types of odor eliminators
When you’re trying to decide which type or formula to choose, it’s important to consider how and where you plan to use the odor eliminator.
Spray: Most liquid odor eliminator sprays are acidic and work by bonding with and neutralizing the alkaline odors. You can spray it wherever there is an odor – a large room or a concentrated area, including fabric-covered areas, such as carpets, curtains, or furniture. These odor eliminators typically come in a small spray bottle, though you can also find gallon containers.
Gel: This odor eliminator has a thick, jelly-like texture that absorbs odor molecules from the air. You pour the gel into an open container that you place near the source of the odor. The gel eventually evaporates, taking the odor with it. This is an ideal option if you want to eliminate odors from a bathroom, nursery, or kitchen.
Packet / sachet: You place these small bags filled with odor-absorbing ingredients near the source of the odor, and the ingredients pull the odor molecules out of the air. Packets and sachets work best in a targeted area. Some are disposable and ideal for tossing in the bottom of a diaper pail or trash can. Others are reusable, so you can hang them in a musty closet or keep one in your car to keep the air smelling fresh. You can reuse the bag for up to two years.
- Air purifier: For the most effective odor elimination over a large area, an air purifier is your best bet. Purifiers are typically plug-in devices that have a fan to pull odors in and a series of filters to neutralize the scent. The device then sends the purified air back into the room, minus the bad smell. Depending on the size you choose, you can remove odors from a room up to 100 square feet.
Did you know?
Some odor eliminators are also antibacterial. They kill germs while they remove odors.
Testing odor eliminators
We researched 21 types of odor eliminators over the course of 5 hours before picking our top 5 favorites. We then purchased our favorite model and tested it in our lab.
Odor eliminator features to consider
Odor eliminators use a variety of active ingredients to neutralize the smells in your home. Unlike air fresheners, which usually contain chemicals and synthetic ingredients, odor eliminators typically often rely on natural ingredients, so they’re usually nontoxic and not hazardous to children or pets.
Activated charcoal is one of the most common ingredients in odor eliminators. It’s an extremely porous form of charcoal that’s been processed using heat or chemicals to “activate” it. Because the charcoal is so porous, it can absorb odors from the air to help freshen your home.
Enzymes like protease and amylase start a chemical reaction that neutralizes soil-, protein-, and starch-based odors, such as urine, feces, foods, and beverages. The enzymes break down the proteins in the odor to remove the bacteria that create the foul smell.
Lime, cedarwood, clove, pine, anise, and other natural extracts are used by some odor eliminators to neutralize smells.
While odor eliminators are not designed to mask odors, they can be scented to help instantly freshen the air in your home. They often have natural scents, which are less likely to affect you if you’re sensitive to fragrance. Some common scent options include the following.
If you are very sensitive to fragrance, there are many odor eliminators that are completely free of scent.
Ease of use
Gel, packet, and air purifier odor eliminators are the easiest to use because they work continuously without you having to do much more than put them in place. With gels and packets, you simply set them out and they go to work. To use an air purifier, you plug it in, turn it on, and occasionally replace the filters.
Spray or liquid odor eliminators require more work on your part because you must apply them to the source of the odor. In some cases, you might need to reapply the odor eliminator multiple times.
“Air purifier odor eliminators usually use carbon filters that need to be replaced periodically.”
Odor eliminator prices
Odor eliminators range in price based mainly on the type or formula. In general, you can expect to pay between $5 and $150.
Depending on the size of the bottle, spray or liquid odor eliminators usually cost between $5 and $35.
Depending on the size of the container, gel odor eliminators usually cost between $5 and $45.
Depending on the size of the packets and the number included, packet or sachet odor eliminators usually cost between $10 and $60.
Depending on the size of the room it covers, an air purifier odor eliminator usually costs between $25 and $150.
You can recharge an activated charcoal odor eliminator. If you’re using an odor eliminator packet, bag, or sachet that contains activated charcoal, you can recharge its odor-absorbing power by placing it in the sun for several hours. The heat can help make the charcoal more porous again, so it’s better able to soak up the odors in your home.
Spot test a liquid odor eliminator on fabric first. While spray or liquid odor eliminators are usually safe for use on fabrics or upholstered surfaces, it’s a good idea to spot test the formula in an inconspicuous area to make sure it doesn’t affect the color.
You can adjust the speed setting on an air purifier. Air purifier odor eliminators usually have a couple of speed settings. A low setting works well if you’re using the device at night because the purifier operates more quietly. A high setting works best if you’re trying to remove a particularly bad odor.
- Never dispose of odor eliminator gel by pouring it down the sink. It could clog your pipes.
Q. What kinds of smells can an odor eliminator remove from my home?
A. Odor eliminators can handle almost any smell that might plague your home. Bathroom, cooking, trash can, pet, diaper pail, musty basement or closet, cigarette smoke, and sweaty shoe odors can all be tackled by most odor eliminators. But you should keep in mind that some may work better for certain odors than others, so read the product specifications to see if it’s the best choice for your particular concerns.
Q. Are odor eliminators safe to use around children and pets?
A. Many odor eliminators contain natural ingredients that are nontoxic and nonhazardous, so they are perfectly safe to use if you have small children and/or pets in your home. However, some formulas may contain chemicals that can pose a health risk. If you’re concerned, make sure that any odor eliminator you’re considering is labeled as nontoxic and nonhazardous. And even if the product is labeled as nontoxic, don’t leave it unattended where children or pets can reach it.
Q. How long does a gel odor eliminator last?
A. It depends on how large the container of gel is. In most cases, you can get up to six months of odor-removing action with a single jar or container. Many gels are affected by ambient airflow, though, so if you place the gel directly in front of a fan, you may find that it evaporates more quickly.