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Man plugging his nose while in a basement with mold and musty smell

Will an Air Purifier Help with Musty Smell?

Is your house starting to smell like a dirty gym sock? Or are you currently in the midst of fighting a damp basement? No matter how much you clean, that musty smell won’t go away, will it? If this is you, then you’re probably here to see if an air purifier can help, and wondering if an air purifier can remove musty smells from your home.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air pollution can be up to 5 times worse than outdoor air pollution, and musty smells can be a sign of poor indoor air quality. If your home suffers from musty smells, then you need to take steps to get rid of them to help prevent any dangerous respiratory issues in the future.

The good news is there are ways you can reduce the number of musty smells in your home and improve indoor air quality at the same time.

In this article, we’ll clear the air on:

So let’s jump in!

How Do Air Purifiers Get Rid of Musty Smells?

According to the Mayo Clinic, musty odors in homes are caused by mold and mildew growth. With mold spores a major source of mold and mildew growth, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself and your family from the risk of breathing in and potentially developing long-term health problems. One of the best ways to get rid of musty smells and improve indoor air quality is with an air purifier.

Air purifiers get rid of musty smells by pulling in airborne pollutants, such as mold spores and their odors, and filtering them out before recirculating clean air back into the room. In your search for the best air purifier for musty smells, you’ll come across many filter types like High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA), activated carbon, and UV-C light. Each filter works differently to remove different types of contaminants from the air, but some are better suited to removing musty smells than others.

  • HEPA filters are the most common type of air purifier filter and are highly effective at removing mold spores 
  • Activated carbon filters work best at soaking in musty odors and harmful chemical fumes
  • Ionizers release negative ions into the air to neutralize mold spores making them too heavy to remain airborne and fall to the floor to be cleaned up later

It’s not uncommon for air purifiers to use a combination of filter types to reduce musty smells. The Austin Air Healthmate uses 4 different filters:

  • a large particle pre-filter to remove dust and pet dander
  • a medium particle pre-filter to capture mold spores and pollen
  • 15 pounds of activated carbon and zeolite to soak in odors and gases
  • 60 square feet of True Medical-Grade HEPA to capture 99.97% of all remaining particles larger than 0.3 microns
Blue Austin Air Healthmate Air Purifier Removing Musty Smells in Living Room

How Do Air Purifiers Help with Musty Smell?

Air purifiers help with musty smell by using a fan to pull in odor-causing airborne contaminants like mold spores and trap them in a series of filters before pushing clean air back into the room. Two of the most common filters you’ll see in air purifiers for musty smells are HEPA and activated carbon filters.

According to the EPA, HEPA filters can capture particles as small as 0.3 microns with an efficiency of 99.97%, making them ideal for trapping odor-causing mold spores that typically range in size from 2 to 100 microns. Once trapped, these musty particles are removed from the air, resulting in cleaner, fresher air to breathe.

But to get rid of the musty smell and harmful chemical fumes, you’ll need an activated carbon filter, too. This type of filter works by using pounds of densely packed activated carbon to soak in odors and chemicals and prevent them from sticking to various surfaces in your home where mold can grow, as well as being inhaled. Without an activated carbon filter, you’ll be filtering out the mold spores but still have odors and chemical fumes in the air that can hurt your health.

Does an Air Purifier Help with Musty Smell? Yes!

Air purifiers are a proven means for anyone looking to remove musty smells from the air and improve indoor air quality in their home. They work by filtering out the leading cause of musty smells (mold spores) and their odors and recirculating clean air back into the room.

However, it's important to keep in mind that air purifiers aren’t a complete solution to your musty smell problem, and you should continue to take additional measures to reduce humidity and mold from spreading in your home. Regular cleaning and improving ventilation in areas prone to musty smells can be one of the best steps in helping to reduce it.

An air purifier for smell can make a significant difference in your quality of life and the air quality in your home. Ultimately, the decision to get one is a personal one. But if you're struggling with musty odors you can’t seem to get rid of, an air purifier is a tool worth considering.

Want to purchase an air purifier for musty smells, but not sure where to start? Check out our latest list of air purifiers for mold and mildew to find the perfect model for you.

Still, have questions? Speak with our team of world-class air purifier experts at (877) 791-8083 or send us an email at and we’d be happy to help.

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