Air Purifier Smells Like Plastic (All Odors Explained!)

  • Author: Irene Batres
  • Date: September 26, 2022
  • Time to read: 7 min.
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Does your air purifier smells like plastic?

You’ve come to the right article…

We do spend most of our time indoors, either at home or in a workshop.

But do you know that indoor air is more polluted than outside air?

Here is where air purifiers come in handy to trap bacteria, dust, dirt, and other harmful particles.

In the process, there are chances that your air purifier machine produces an awful smell.

It is a common problem that leaves homeowners questioning what might be causing the bad smell. And are there ways to fix the problem?

This article gives you adequate information in learning several problems and quick solutions to help get rid of the bad smell on your air purifier.

Whether you are experiencing awful smells like plastics, smoke, fish-like smell, wet dog smell, vinegar, and chlorine, you will get adequate information on each.

Why Would Your Air Purifier Smell Like Plastic?

The plastic smell emitted by an air purifier is a normal problem reported by most homeowners.

In the first few days of using an air purifier, it is normal for it to produce a plastic smell. 

The reason behind the plastic smell is freshly molding fumes in the package box.

The plastic odor is released on unboxing and will soon be completely released into the open air.

Do Air Purifiers Emit A Smell?

Air purifiers are prone to different types of smells. However, there are solutions on how to get rid of smells that might occur. 

How Do You Get Rid Of The Plastic Odor?

There are easy and simple processes that can help get rid of the odor completely.

You can release the plastic odor from your air purifier by continuously running it at high speed for at least 24 to 48 hours. 

If the plastic odor persists for a couple of days, there might be some other reasons like burning plastic due to wiring short-circuit.

All you need is to turn off the air purifier machine and return the machine to its manufacturer for service and repairs.

Such mechanical faults are within the warranty period. The repairs and services are free and should not keep you worried about extra costs. 

You might be experiencing a different problem. In some, a smoke smell might be emitted by your air purifier. 

Why Is Your Air Purifier Emitting A Smoke Smell?

After an amazing period of using an air purifier, it might develop some burning or smoke smell that eventually gets uncomfortable to your nose.

But what might have caused the smoke smell?

Yes, it is a common problem reported by most air purifier users.

Here are potential reasons that might cause your air purifier to emit a smoke smell.

1. Clogged air filter

When was the last time you changed the air filter in your air purifier? The air filter is prone to dust clogging, and when bogged with too much debris, the airflow is restricted. That can put more strain on fans, motors, and any other components in the air purifier system. 

That may result in air purifiers emitting a smell like smoke.


Check on whether the air filter is clogged, and if yes, consider replacing it with a new one. But if not, consider checking on the next problem.

2. Burning dust

Air purifiers may go for a while without running, but after turning on, a smoke smell like burning dust may fill your home or office. The smell is harmless, but it might be caused by collected dust burning on your heater or furnace.

However, it only rusts for a few minutes and later goes away. 


You can easily eliminate the smell by running it for a while. If the problem persists, consider checking on the next problem.

3. Broken capacitors

All air purifiers have a capacitor that works hand in hand with the powerful motor. In case the capacitor falters, it can lead to power motor overheating. That may lead to a burning smokey smell.

Meanwhile, several reasons lead to capacitors breaking. Some include circuitry or current surge all over a second, causing wear and tear. 


First, turn off your air purifier and call for mechanical support from a professional. It would be best if you also considered replacing the capacitor. 

4. Faulty motor

Just as the capacitors, faulty motors can be the reason behind smell like smoke. As a result of long-time performance, the bearing may wear out, causing overheating within the motor. 


on noticing the smoke smell, turn off the air purifier and rubricate the motor bearing. That will reduce the friction and save you from replacing it with a new motor.

If the problem isn’t solved, consider checking on the next problem.

5. Overheating belt-drive motor

Air purifiers come in a variety of models. Some have a belt drive rather than a direct drive blower. Those that have rubber belts can result in wear and tear as a result of frequent use. The wear can lead to burning and smoke smell. 


First, turn off the air purifier and check for wear on tear on the belt drive and if it is worn out, consider replacing and that will end the smell like smoke.

Additionally, you might wonder why your amplifiers smell like fish.

Why Does My Air Purifier Smell Like Fish?

A fish smell from an air purifier vent doesn’t mean that the smell originates from dead animals of formed mold.

However, the problem is dangerous and should be addressed with the agency. The fishy smell is commonly caused by overheating plastics in the electric components. 

It is the plastic electric component that contains a composition of chemicals that emit the fish smell. In extreme conditions, the plastic can turn hot or burn while the smell turns to be urine-like.  


If you can locate the smell source, turn off the air purifier to stop the odor from being drawn through an intake vent. Then after switching off, contact a professional technician to fix the issue. 

Why Does My Air Purifier Smell Like A Wet Dog?

A wet dog smell from an air purifier is the first sign of a foul odor caused by microorganisms and natural oils from inside humans.

When your air cleaner begins emitting the musty wet dog smell, it means there are bacterias, mildew, or mold growing in your air purifier. 

The smell is not just awful but also harmful to your health. 


Consider checking and cleaning air vents and filters to keep away grime and microbes infestations. Ensure it is completely dry and do repairs where necessary.

The Air Purifier Smells Like Vinegar

It is important to keep track of any unpleasant smell emanating from your air purifier. Some smells are a result of a foul with your machine.

Any unpleasant vinegar smell emanating from the vinegar can result from the power motor experiencing technical problems. 

However, some other issues like excess condensation on faulty filters, the coil, forming molds in the ductwork, or clogged condensation pan. 


Carry out a thorough cleaning and ensure you replace faulty components. If the problem is not solved, consider contacting a professional technician to solve the problem. 

The Air Purifier Smells Like Chlorine

Air purifiers emit a smell like chlorine and, to the extremest, a heavy cleaner scent.

Therefore, it means an ozone gas is being generated. Ozone gas is harmful to its high reactivity with oxygen.

Its chemical composition is harmful to our body and can damage our lungs. 

Some situations are extreme, causing aggravated asthma or a chronic respiratory problem. However, if the cleaning smell may not be very concentrated, there is no need to panic.

In some air, purifiers use ionic air and will create an ozone gas as a by-product. The only reason an air purifier would produce the chlorine smell is to signify it is working perfectly.

Some air purifiers will emit a by-product gas that has a mild-sent. 

It should only get to your attention when the chlorine smell gets stronger. 


Turn off the air purifier and reach your professional technician.

How Do I Get The Smell Out Of My Air Purifier?

If your air purifier emits any of the listed awful smells, there are a few tips that will help you bring it back to the best working conditions. Most of the awful smells emanate from the interior components.

Therefore you need to carry out an inside check. Some of the things to look out for are:

  • Dust
  • Mould
  • Faulty components
  • Dirt
  • Clogged fitters

Most of the air purifier’s problems will stem from the air filters. It would be best to keep checking and cleaning to get rid of grime, molds, dirt, and bacteria that often build up.

It is also important to know how long the filters need replacement with new ones to prevent faulty cases. 

It is vital to keep the house clean and dry to keep off mildew and mold from forming in your air purifier. 

An air purifier does not give off the awful smells, turn off the machine and contact the manufacturer for service and repairs.

All the listed smells are extremely potent in affecting your machine. Therefore, the information is important in helping you deal with the problem effectively. 

Final Thoughts

Air purifiers are vital tools in keeping away dust and bacteria, but they are prone to emitting unpleasant smells. By knowing the different smells and solutions of getting rid of smells, you can easily fix them upon occurring. 

If your air purifier smells like plastic I hope this article answered all your questions.

Looking For More Air Purifier Guides?

If you’re looking for more air purifier resources, consider checking out our other posts on air purifiers

irene mills author of freshairdevices


p>Irene Batres is eager to help others create an indoor allergen-free home. She has years of experience testing out air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and other products designed to help with indoor air quality. Learn more about me.