Air Purifier Smells Like Plastic or Burning

Air purifiers are designed to eliminate unpleasant aromas and other airborne irritants such as mold spores, germs, dust,asbestos, and dander from pets. It might be unsettling if your air purifier gives out smells like burning or plastic when it is operating. It’s not just you; several factors might cause an air purifier to emit an odor similar to burning plastic or freshly opened packaging.

Odors of burning or chlorine can be quite disgusting. Thus, it is important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. Even while the majority of the time, the source of these scents is a straightforward issue that can be fixed easily, they may also be an indication of malfunctioning components that might result in a fire. Additionally, if you have hyperosmia, these scents have the potential to cause you to experience extreme anxiety as well as melancholy.

You’ve come to the right site if you’re seeking to explain why your air purifier emits a scent similar to burning plastic. Let’s look at some of the possible causes of the various scents and some solutions to the problems they provide, shall we?


Why does my air purifier smell like something is burning?

Plastic is produced by a polycondensation or polymerization process, both of which emit aromas; furthermore, plastic tends to take on the odors produced during production.

Polymers are typically used in constructing air purifier housings, and these plastics can sometimes retain odors from the production process.

In other instances, a burning or plastic smell might result from the motor producing excessive heat when it rotates the fan to drive air through a clogged filter. This can result in the motor overheating.

Additionally, activated carbon filters and pre-filters with a high ash content are designed to capture odor molecules; nevertheless, due to the inherent problem of off-gassing, these filters and pre-filters might result in an unpleasant smell of plastic. This is rather frequent, and it is most likely the cause of your brand-new air purifier having a plastic-like odor.

Carbon filters can capture an unpleasant odor, only to release it later, which is a process known as off-gassing. This term refers to the emission of toxic gases caught in the air purifier’s shell during the production process. This is quite normal, and any unpleasant odor should go away during the first several weeks of use at the latest.

Certain odors are connected to the degree of humidity since a more humid atmosphere might magnify the foul stench there. Carbon filters are excellent at absorbing the vast majority of odor-causing substances; nonetheless, it is possible that they will not always be helpful.


Air Purifier Smells Like Burning

Turn off the air purifier immediately if it gives a noticeable burning smell similar to fish, urine, or a burning candle. It’s possible that a malfunction in one of the electrical components or a problem with the wiring is to blame for the plastic covering melting.

Most contemporary air purifiers also have a short safety circuit trip, which prevents the circuit from becoming overloaded and poses a fire risk. Sparks and smoke and the pungent burning odor are possible outcomes of a tripped circuit breaker or a blown a fuse.

On the other hand, an air purifier with an activated carbon filter can eliminate charred odors left behind by burnt food, cigarettes, and even external pollution such as wildfires. These odors may be removed from other damaged household equipment as well.

Even if it cannot eliminate all of the smoke at once, it can still prevent the unpleasant stench from spreading across the room. You won’t have to worry about breathing in any dangerous fumes for very long. Just make sure that the smoky odor is not emanating from the air purifier device itself.


Why does it Smells Like Chlorine?

It is quite likely that an air purifier is creating ozone if it begins to emit a smell similar to that of chlorine or another form of strong cleanser. Ozone is a kind of gas composed of three separate molecules of oxygen.

Two of those molecules make up the oxygen that everyone breathes, and the third of those molecules can separate from other molecules and then reattach to them. This third molecule can alter the chemical makeup of other molecules.

Is it thus a problem if the air purifier also generates ozone? Certainly not in every case. Ozone is produced as a by-product of the operation of air purifiers, particularly if the air purifiers in question are ionic air purifiers. Because ozone can smell like a cleaning chemical, reminding homeowners of chlorine, it may begin to smell like chlorine.

Even though the ozone will not be as powerful a disinfectant as chlorine would be, it may still provide some degree of comfort in the knowledge that the cause the air purifier feels like a cleaner is because it is effectively doing its cleaning function. There is a good cause to be concerned about the smell of chlorine when it is at an unusually strong level.

This is because ozone is a disinfectant. If the product emits a pungent odor reminiscent of chlorine or perhaps bleach, there is a good chance that it produces an unsafe ozone level.


An Oddly Delightful Scent

When an air purifier gives out a pleasant aroma, the scent is most likely caused by air that has been filtered using charcoal or carbon, particularly when the filter is still in its pristine state and has not yet been used. It is hard to pick up on this strange odor since it is not offensive, but it is not particularly pleasant.

Sometimes it will have a tinge of sweetness or a fruity scent that some people won’t mind inhaling for short periods. There is no need for alarm if that is the stench you smell because the odor does not endanger our bodies.

If the peculiar sweetness of the odor starts to dissipate, this might be an indication that the activated carbon filter needs to be replaced.

 It Smells Like a Wet Dog.

The musty, stale odor that can only be described as “wet dog” is recognizable to virtually everyone, regardless of whether or not they own a dog.

When an air purifier emits a scent similar to a wet dog, this may indicate an excessive amount of bacteria or mold developing inside it.

Due to the product’s characteristics will get filthy rather fast since it will absorb all of the dirt and grime present in the structure. This may be the origin of the foul odor that is produced.

If you detect this odor, it is most probable that one of the components of the mechanism inside has been damp, which has allowed some mold to begin to develop.

If this is the case, the mechanism has to be repaired. It’s also possible that yeast or mold is obstructing the airflow, which is why the odor is so intense while the air is being forced through.


Fishy odor is coming from my air purifier.

If you smell fish coming from the vent of your air purifier, it does not always indicate that the stench was caused by mildew or dead animals.

Nevertheless, this is a hazardous issue that the relevant authorities must handle. In most cases, the unpleasant odor may be traced back to the polymers in the electric components becoming overheated.

The polymer electric component includes a mixture of chemicals, and it is these compounds. They are responsible for emitting the fishy odor. Under severe circumstances, the plastic may get hot enough to burn, and the odor may become similar to urine.


Why does it Smells Like Vinegar.

You must pay attention to whether or not your air purifier emits any disagreeable odors. There may be a problem with your equipment if you notice certain odors. Any bad smell of vinegar coming from the vinegar might result from the power motor having some mechanical issues.

But there are also some additional problems, such as excessive condensation on malfunctioning filters, the coil, the formation of molds in the ductwork, or a blocked condensation pan.


7. Why does it Smells Like Plastic.

It is common for a brand new air purifier to emit a pungent smell of plastic during the first few days of operation; however, the odor should fade away with time.

The newly molded fume smell is still there within the original box, and there is no way to let it out by venting it to the outside air. As soon as you remove the air purifier from its packaging, the lingering plastic smell will be exposed to fresh air for the first time, after which it will gradually disappear.

If you let the air purifier run at high speed for between twenty-four and forty-eight hours, you will notice a significant reduction in the odor. If the strong plastic odors are still there after a couple of days, this may result from a wire short-circuit that has caused the plastic to burn. The machine has to be turned off and then returned to the manufacturer so that it may be serviced and repaired.


7 Ways to Get Rid of Smells from Your Air Purifier


Suppose your air purifier releases any of the foul odors that have been enumerated. In that case, the following advice will assist you in restoring it to its previous level of efficiency—the majority of the foul odors coming from the components located within the vehicle.


Air Out Your Air Purifier

Sometimes, after some time has passed, the “new appliance” scent that certain air purifiers give off and the plastic smell can be eliminated. On the other hand, if you want to hasten the process of getting rid of a stench, you may make an effort to air out your air purifier purposefully.

Try using your air purifier when the windows are open for a time and let it have some exposure to the outside air. When you are not using your air purifier, make sure to turn it off, remove the filters, and then take the whole thing apart and put it somewhere outside so that it can get some fresh air.

Perform the steps in this way each day for the next week. If there is no improvement, you might think about seeking a refund or a new unit, especially if you are certain that the unit you purchased has a defect that causes it to emit a scent.


Give your air purifier enough ventilation.

By ensuring that your air purifier has access to an appropriate ventilation supply, you can avoid the filters from becoming overloaded with smells, which would result in the cleaner releasing the unpleasant aroma trapped in its filters back into the surrounding air.

Implementing extra measures in your house or workplace to get rid of unpleasant odors is something you should do to avoid unpleasant odors produced by your air purifier due to its saturated filters.

To reduce the number of residual scents in your business or house, you may decrease their impact by installing exhaust fans, opening windows, placing activated carbon sachets around the rooms, installing a cooking hood, and even installing air movers.

Because of this, there is less of a chance that the filters in your air purifier may get overloaded with odor molecules and then release those aromas back into the air.


Clean your air purifier with sodium chlorite and chlorine dioxide.

When added to air purifiers that create an odor similar to that of a wet dog or dead fish, Sodium chlorite is said to help get rid of such aromas, regardless of whether they originate from the filters or the body of the air purifier.

Because they are active elements in various treatments used to control bacteria, fungus, algal slimes, chlorine dioxide, and sodium chlorite effectively eliminate these types of aromas.

Since bacterial microorganisms are responsible for the wet dog smell and any other such funny smell coming from your air purifier, sodium chlorite is a very effective method for dealing with such smells coming from your air purifier. This is because sodium chlorite kills the bacteria responsible for the smell instead of simply masking the odor.

Pour some of the solutions into a large dish to utilize sodium chlorite to eliminate a foul stench from your air purifier produced by bacteria, yeast, or other similar microorganisms. Pour just enough so that the solution covers the top of the dish completely but does not go below it.

The amount of solution in the dish should be less than 1 inch, and the dish itself should be broad enough to accommodate your filter when it is placed on top of it. After that, support the filter above the solution by either using the dish’s perimeter or a tiny plastic block positioned in the dish’s center.

Check to see that the filter does not come into contact with the solution. After you have positioned the filter so that it is above the solution, place a plastic cover over the filter and then cover the dish. After ensuring that the covering is as airtight as possible, the filter should be left in this position for twenty minutes while sitting on top of the sodium chloride solution.

When you are finished, the odor on the filter should no longer be there. You may repeat this process for your complete air purifier; however, you should perform it in a separate location from where you clean your filters to make the process simpler. You may need to use a huge bucket rather than a dish with your air purifier.


Before using your air purifier, remove any plastic packaging.

When an individual uses an air purifier for the first time, it is not uncommon to forget to remove all of the plastic wrappings surrounding the device. It’s possible that the wrapping around your brand-new air purifier won’t simply be on its surface but will also be around its filters and inside.

Therefore, before you use your air purifier for the first time or if you have already used it and it is creating odors similar to plastic, you might want to double check every single component of your air purifier for packing and remove any wrapping that you may have overlooked. This should resolve the issue with the unpleasant smell.

if you are buying an air purifier for medical reasons such as asbestos, eczema, or mycotoxins it is advised to use any electronic device without plastic wrapping as it will melt due to heat and you are Not saving yourself any money.


Your air should have less moisture in it.

Bacteria responsible for odors require a certain amount of moisture and humidity to flourish. Therefore, using your air purifier in a high humidity environment might accumulate moisture within its interior and on its filters. Consequently, odor-causing bacteria will continue to grow their colonies within the interior of your air purifier.

Because of this, if you want to stop your air purifier from emitting unpleasant odors that are caused by bacteria that thrive in environments with high levels of humidity, you will need to remove moisture from the location where you run your air purifier and the method that is by far the most effective for doing so is by using a dehumidifier.


Replace Air Purifier Filters

When the air purifier in your home emits an unpleasant odor, the problem may be remedied by simply cleaning or replacing a few of its components. Some models of air purifiers contain filters and prefilters that can be cleaned. These should be cleaned regularly, and the interior of your air purifier should be cleaned using a cleaning solvent that does not include any corrosive ingredients.

Even if it is not yet time to change the filters in your air purifier, you should consider doing so if it has filters that can be changed and you suspect that the filters cause the air purifier’s unpleasant odor. The scent might be eliminated by simply replacing the filters in your air purifier and keeping it in good working order.


Inspect and Replace Your Filters and Air Purifiers

In conclusion, if you cannot determine the cause of the foul odor from your air purifier, you may need to replace the device. If it functioned correctly in the past, the new filters you obtain might be to blame, and you might be able to fix the problem by looking for filters of a higher grade or authentic.

Suppose, despite your best efforts, the odor from your air purifier persists. You might consider sending it back to the company for a refund (if you are eligible for one) and purchasing a more advanced model that does not suffer from the same odor issues.

You could also try getting a replacement unit. Still, eventually, if the issue continues, you should try to obtain a refund you can since there are many alternative options available that do not have problems with unpleasant odors.

Suppose you are well past the time when you may request a refund, and you are unable to determine why your air purifier consistently emits an unpleasant odor. In that case, you could be better off simply purchasing a new air purifier.

If you decide to get a new air purifier, you should look for a hybrid model that contains UV light or antimicrobial filters to eliminate unpleasant odors such as those caused by wet dogs.

For the same reason, I would look for air purifiers constructed of high-quality plastics or, even better, air purifiers with a body made of metal if I wanted to steer clear of the stench of off-gassing plastic produced by these products. Therefore, these are the main actions you may follow to avoid certain unpleasant scents coming from the air purifier.


Choose an air purifier

Air purifiers have become extremely popular in recent years. However, with so many different variations on the market, it can be difficult to pick the right unit for your home. Click on this link and I’ll walk you through how to choose an air purifier. I’ll also look at some of the pros and cons of each type of air purifier. Click on the link to learn more!


Frequently Asked Questions


What may be causing my air purifier to smell like something is burning?

A persistent burning smell is almost always an indication that the air purification system has been compromised. A plastic smell might represent a manufacturing defect. This might be because of a smoky pollutant trapped in the pre-or True HEPA filter. Alternatively, a burning smell coming from a UV-C air purifier could indicate that the UV-C light lamp has either broken or is not performing properly.


Why does my air purifier have a strange odor?

Occasionally, the odor of wet air or chlorine will emanate from your air purifier. The primary reason for this is that certain air purifier models use ionizers as an additional method for assisting in the cleaning process. On the other hand, Ionization results in ozone production as a waste product.


Is there risk while using an ionic air purifier?

The vast majority of ionic air purifiers, also known as ionizers, are entirely risk-free and won’t negatively impact your health. As a method for cleaning the air, they release negative ions into the atmosphere, which won’t hurt you. Ozone producers, which release high quantities of ozone that can be harmful to one’s health, are frequently mistaken for these devices.


Wrapping it Up

If your air purifier emits a stench that is reminiscent of plastic or burning, it is possible that the filter needs to be replaced. The good news is that you should only have to replace the majority of your filters once every six months to a year. Make sure you verify the guidelines for the replacement schedule provided by your manufacturer. I want to thank you for reading and wish you healthy breathing!

I'm Julia, an air purification expert and certified Indoor Air Quality Professional. With a Master's in Environmental Science and a decade of research at the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, I've dedicated myself to understanding air pollutants and their health impacts. At 'PureAirly', my mission is to leverage my expertise in air purifiers and guide you towards cleaner, healthier air.

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