Air Purifier for Cat Litter Box Smell

Will an Air Purifier Help with Cat Litter Box Smells?

Can an air purifier help with cat litter box smell

One day I was chatting with my wife about what pet we should get and when I said the word cat she gave me the “are you crazy” eye. She went on to explain that she had a friend who owned a cat and whenever she would go over to her place her friend’s cat litter box smelt so bad walking into her house felt like she walked into a zoo. I had a good laugh at the story, then I remembered I actually blog about getting rid of odors and that’s how I ended writing this post.

So, in case you are wondering if air purifiers get rid of cat litter box smells, the short answer is yes. Air purifiers are able to eliminate cat litter box smells. Some air purifiers are specifically designed for pet owners, including cat owners and through various air purification methods clean not just pet dander and hair but also pet odors including cat litter odor from your indoor air.

Now that you know that air purifiers will help with your cat’s smelly litter box you are probably thinking about rushing out and getting one already. Don’t rush out yet, there is a lot you still need consider before you do. Before you rush out and get one it’s good to know the different types of purifiers that actually help with smells, how each type of purifier works, what to avoid and the alternatives you have to getting air purifiers. This will help you come up with the best solution for you and your cat as you freshen up your home.

What Type of Air Purifier Works for Cat Litter Box Smells?

The most recommended type of air purifier that will get rid of your cat litter box smell is a HEPA filter air purifier which contains an activated carbon filter layer. If you go for a HEPA air purifier, you have to ensure it has an activated carbon filter as this is what actually absorbs odors from the air. HEPA filters on their own are not very effective for odors.

HEPA filters are solely suitable for larger particles such as dander and hair which they trap through a process of exclusion by particle size. Activated carbon then comes in to deal with smaller air particles such as those that make up volatile organic compounds and other gasses including ammonia from cat feces and urine that cause the litter box smell.

Other types of purifiers that can deal with cat litter smells effectively include AHPCO-based purifiers and Biotechnology purifiers such as those produced by U-Earth. Some people claim ionizers also work but these are by far the least effective type of purifier and they primarily work for particles like pollen and dust.

A better option than ionizers would be to use ozone generators which actually destroy ammonia by oxidation but this is not advisable for home use as ozone is a known irritant that’s harmful to your lungs and eyes. That said, ozone generators are normally recommended for use by professional cleaning service providers. Comparing the different purifier technologies and based on user reviews, I would personally go with an activated carbon HEPA purifier for cat litter box odors.

So Should you Get an Air Purifier to Get Rid of Cat Litter Box Smell?

If you are really paranoid of having people over and smelling “CAT”, I would say on top of constantly cleaning your litter box and floors, and the automatic air freshener spray an air purifier is well worth it. Also, it is dangerous to live in atmosphere lingering with ammonia especially for the elderly and young children.

Exposure to ammonia fumes can cause irritation of the bronchial membrane leading to all sorts of respiratory issues and cleaning alone is not enough to keep you and your family safe. Just because the smell is gone after you clean it does not mean there is no ammonia left in the air. So to ensure the least amount of ammonia from your cat litter is floating around in your home it is a good idea to have an air purifier if you own a cat and place its litter box indoors.

Things to Consider When Choosing an Air Purifier to Eliminate Cat Litter Box Smells

If you go for an activated carbon HEPA purifier you should know that it needs occasional filter replacement.  After some time both the carbon and HEPA filter gets clogged and used-up. The carbon filter will actually lose effectiveness as well and it’s hard to tell when this happens and depending on the device manufacturers recommendations its good to change your carbon filter every 3-6 months.

As for the HEPA filter, most purifiers will last about 6 to 12 month before they need to be replaced. If you have some extra cash to spare, you can make your life easier by going for a smart air purifier which alerts you when you need to change your filters. Also, note that some devices come with a carbon filter attached to the HEPA filter while others have a separate carbon filter. As they are easier to replace and maintain, I highly recommend going for purifiers with a separated carbon filter.

You should also go for purifiers that indicate that they are specifically designed for pets and pet odors. Besides design issues, also keep in mind the cost of replacing your filter. Good devices also come with a warranty. I have seen some manufacturers that offer a Lifetime Limited Warranty on their devices and they also allow you to take your purifier in for repairs for up to 20 years after your purchase it if you maintain your purifier as they recommend.

Some manufacturers also offer an Allergy Relief Guarantee allowing you to get a full refund including shipping costs within 60 days of your purchase if you’re unhappy with their device. If you would kike to check out some air purifiers I highly recommend for pets and home use click here.

The other thing is that some HEPA purifiers can be a bit noisy. So in case, your cat hates the noise, this is where your 60-day guarantee comes in handy. In other words, make sure your cat can stand the device. A strange buzzing tower near your cat’s litter box could spook it and see it do its downloads (poop) elsewhere.

Next, you need to make sure you get the right size air purifier. So before you get your purifier, measure the room you plan to put your device in and check your chosen purifiers specs to see if it can cover the size of your room. HEPA purifiers can cover rooms ranging up to 2000 square feet. On the flip side, you also want to measure the device itself to make sure it fits well in your home.

Lastly, you need to consider the key air purifier metrics which include air filtration (ACH) and clean air delivery (CADR) rates and the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). When checking filtration rates look for the Air Changes per Hour (ACH) figure. The higher the figure the better.

The CADR indicates how much clean air will enter your room per minute from the device and again a higher figure is better. According to research CADR of 100 is bad while 350 is great. MERV indicates how efficiently your air filter is operating and the optimal MERV value is 10. Also look out for energy consumption levels as some purifiers can be quite energy intensive.

Where to Put Your Air Purifier

Once you get your purifier where you put it and how you run it is important to effectively get rid of the smell. Avoid placing the device next to the litter box so that you don’t annoy your cat. Your air purifier will best eliminate the litter box smell if you place it anywhere in the room where your litter box is.

Make sure to keep your windows closed, as the air purifier does its job as it works best when it recirculates the same air. Once you have found a good spot for your purifier, run it for at least four hours a day but preferably run it 24 hours a day. Air purifiers can take some time to achieve a “cleaning equilibrium”, so try to keep your purifier on for as long as you can.

Other Things You Can Do To Deal with Cat Litter Smell besides Using Air Purifiers

Can air purifiers help with cat litter box smell

As much as air purifiers can get rid of cat litter odor it is no substitute for cleanliness. So you still have to change your cat litter and you cannot put this on hold. If you don’t smell anything from your cat litter box because of your new air purifier but your cat now does its downloads outside then it’s probably time to change your cat litter. In addition or alternative to running your air purifier, you should continue to use other measures to make sure your cat litter box does not smell.

There are many things you can do to keep the air in your house clean when you have cats. Here is a list of 11 alternative measures to get rid of cat litter box smells people have recommended across the internet:

  1. Use a litter deodorizer
  2. Place activated carbon bags under your litter
  3. Use an automatic cat litter box
  4. Don’t use cheap litter.
  5. Pick an Open Location
  6. Frequent Cleaning
  7. Change Your type of Litter
  8. Use a litter liner
  9. Use Cat Wipes
  10. Use Carbon Litter Box Liners
  11. Change Your Cat’s Diet

Final Thoughts

You should not just use an air freshener to get rid of litter box odors as this just masks the smell. A good quality air purifier can let you enjoy fresh air again in your home and save you from embarrassments but it’s no excuse to stop cleaning your cat litter box. You need to maintain good litter box hygiene not only for your sake but also for your cat’s sake. As always, I hope my post answered your air purifier questions and if you have any comments or any more questions please do share in the comments section below.

About the Author


Jean is a research economist by profession and he runs Fresh Air Genie. He is enthusiastic about maintaining good air quality at home and on the go and he shares his knowledge about this here at Fresh Air Genie.