Sometimes, no matter how clean you keep your house, there are just some stubborn odours that refuse to go away. Whether it’s from the bathroom, nursery, kitchen, pets, rubbishbins,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 odour eliminator in your home can be so important.
Unlike air fresheners that just mask smells, odour eliminators work to neutralize and remove the scent from your home. But there are quite a few odour 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 odour 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.
An air purifier odor eliminator is an ideal option for a room with poor air circulation, such as a bathroom without a window.
Types of odour 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 odour eliminator.
Spray: Most liquid odour eliminator sprays are acidic and work by bonding with and neutralizing the alkaline odours. 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 odour eliminators typically come in a small spray bottle, though you can also find gallon containers.
Gel: This odour eliminator has a thick, jelly-like texture that absorbs odour molecules from the air. You pour the gel into an open container that you place near the source of the odour. The gel eventually evaporates, taking the odour with it. This is an ideal option if you want to eliminate odours from a bathroom, nursery, or kitchen.
Packet/sachet: You place these small bags filled with odour-absorbing ingredients near the source of the odour, and the ingredients pull the odour 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 odour elimination over a large area, an air purifier is your best bet. Purifiers are typically plug-in devices that have a fan to pull odours 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 odours from a room up to 100 square feet.
Did you know?
Some odour eliminators are also antibacterial. They kill germs while they remove odours.
Testing odour eliminators
We researched 21 types of odour 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.
Odour eliminator features to consider
Odour eliminators use a variety of active ingredients to neutralize the smells in your home. Unlike air fresheners, which usually contain chemicals and synthetic ingredients, odour 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 odour 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 odours from the air to help freshen your home.
Enzymes like protease and amylase start a chemical reaction that neutralizes soil-, protein-, and starch-based odours, such as urine, feces, foods, and beverages. The enzymes break down the proteins in the odour to remove the bacteria that create the foul smell.
Lime, cedarwood, clove, pine, anise, and other natural extracts are used by some odour eliminators to neutralize smells.
While odour eliminators are not designed to mask odours, 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 odour eliminators that are completely free of scent.
Ease of use
Gel, packet, and air purifier odour 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 odour eliminators require more work on your part because you must apply them to the source of the odour. In some cases, you might need to reapply the odour eliminator multiple times.
"Air purifier odour eliminators usually use carbon filters that need to be replaced periodically."
Odour eliminator prices
Odour 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 odour eliminators usually cost between $5 and $35.
Depending on the size of the container, gel odour eliminators usually cost between $5 and $45.
Depending on the size of the packets and the number included, packet or sachet odour eliminators usually cost between $10 and $60.
Depending on the size of the room it covers, an air purifier odour eliminator usually costs between $25 and $150.
You can recharge an activated charcoal odour eliminator. If you’re using an odour eliminator packet, bag, or sachet that contains activated charcoal, you can recharge its odour-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 odours in your home.
Spot test a liquid odour eliminator on fabric first. While spray or liquid odour 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 odour 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 odour.
- Never dispose of odour eliminator gel by pouring it down the sink. It could clog your pipes.
Spray or liquid odor eliminators can sometimes be tricky to use because you may not fully remove the odor if you don’t apply the product correctly. Read the manufacturer's instructions carefully.
Q. What kinds of smells can an odour eliminator remove from my home?
A. Odour 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 odours can all be tackled by most odour eliminators. But you should keep in mind that some may work better for certain odours than others, so read the product specifications to see if it’s the best choice for your particular concerns.
Q. Are odour eliminators safe to use around children and pets?
A. Many odoureliminators 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 odour eliminator last?
A. It depends on how large the container of gel is. In most cases, you can get up to six months of odour-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.