Breathe Naturally - January 2, 2024

How to Eliminate Pet Odors with Activated Carbon Filters


Key Takeways:

  • Activated carbon air purifier filters adsorb pet odors through small pores that trap gas molecules and odor particles.
  • Look for units with large carbon filters sized appropriately to match the room dimensions.
  • Combine activated carbon with HEPA filters to eliminate pet dander allergens as well as unpleasant smells.
  • Pre-filters capture hair and dust before they coat the carbon, helping maintain odor adsorption.
  • Replace activated carbon filters every 3-6 months as they fill up with odorous contaminants.

Pets bring joy to our homes, but also lingering odors. From litter boxes to accidents, pet smells can permeate furnishings and fabrics. Rather than masking odors with sprays and candles, activated carbon air purifier filters provide a safe, effective way to clear the air. Activated carbon removes airborne particles along with trapping gaseous pollutants responsible for pet odors.

How Activated Carbon Air Filters Work

The porous structure of activated carbon contains countless tiny chambers and holes, providing an immense surface area for adsorbing air contaminants. This includes pet dander, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other odor molecules.

As odorous indoor air circulates through the carbon filter, gas particles adhere to the porous material while clean air is returned to the room. With regular use, home owners experience a gradual reduction in lingering pet smells.

For optimal odor elimination, activated carbon filters work best when combined with a True HEPA filter. The HEPA filter first traps pet hair and dander allergens, then air passes through the carbon to capture odor molecules.

A higher quality of air for the ones you love

What to Look For

When shopping for an activated carbon air purifier to eliminate pet smells, larger carbon filters sized to your room dimensions perform the best. Units that allow you to customize layered filtration are ideal. Here’s what to look for:

Room Coverage – Check the recommended room size and ACH (air changes per hour) rating which signifies odor-removal capacity. Opt for units rated for at least 1-2 room air changes per hour.

Carbon Filter Size – Bigger is better when it comes to the carbon filter surface area. Measure the carbon panel thickness as well as overall dimensions to match room size.

Combination Filtration – Models allowing you to layer HEPA and activated carbon filters provide optimal pet hair and odor elimination.

Pre-Filters – Many units include pre-filters which are worthwhile because they prevent dander and fur from coating the carbon, helping maintain its odor trapping efficiency.

Smart Features – Air quality sensors, filter change reminders and speed adjustments optimize performance. WiFi connectivity offers control via mobile app.

By selecting the right sized activated carbon model for your space and needs, you can effectively eliminate those unpleasant lingering pet smells.

Maintenance Tips

To ensure your activated carbon filter keeps working properly:

  • Vacuum the pre-filter monthly to remove embedded hair and debris.
  • Replace the pre-filter every 3 months.
  • Change activated carbon filters every 4-6 months as odorous contaminants accumulate.
  • Whenever odors breakthrough, it’s time to swap in new carbon filters.

Take note of any pet odor resurgence which signals the carbon filters require replacement. Date used filters with a marker so you know when they need to be changed out. Proper maintenance keeps the pores free to continually adsorb smelly contaminants.


Clearing the Air

From litter boxes to accidents, pet odors can persist in your home. Rather than masking smells with sprays, activated carbon air filters provide a safe, permanent odor elimination solution. Just be sure to size your purifier appropriately for room dimensions and replace filters regularly. Then you and your pets can breathe easy without unpleasant lingering odors.


United States Environmental Protection Agency. "Introducing Activated Carbon." Document EPA/600/R-16/096. March 2017.