Best Furnace Filter For Odors (2021 Review)

If you’re looking for the best furnace filter for odor reduction in your home, you need look no more!

In this proHVACinfo guide, we’ll look at the following:

  • What are furnace filters for odor? (what makes them different?)
  • What are the different types of furnace filter for odors?
  • How do furnace filters for odors work? (why they’re worth the investment)
  • What do you look for in the best washable furnace filters? (what separates the best from the rest?)
  • Our review of the best furnace filters for Odors! (2021 Review)

And much more!

Below is a quick round up of all of our top recommendations, keep scrolling to learn more.

  1. Flanders PrecisionAire (Our Top Pick)
  2. Nordic Pure Pleated Filters With Activatd Carbon (Best High-End)
  3. Filtrete Odor Reduction Filters (Best Budget)
  4. AirX Odor
  5. FilterBuy Odor Eliminator  

Our Overall #1 Rated Pick

After reviewing a bunch of really great furnace filters for odor reduction, we gave the top spot to the Flanders PrecisionAire 4 pack.


Flanders have provided a viable alternative to the usual activated charcoal or carbon saturated options by using an age old solution to stubborn odor problems – simple baking soda.

The baking soda infused filter pleats absorb and eliminate lingering odors, neutralizing the problem, and making the air in your home more enjoyable.

They offer excellent filtration of pollen, pet dander, mold and fungal spores, as well as airborne dust and dirt. They are a great all round filter, and we’re confident you’ll love them too.

What Are Furnace Filters For Odors?

A furnace filter for odors is a mesh media placed in front of an air intake to your furnace or HVAC system.

Like regular furnace filters, furnace filters for odors still prevent pet dander, pollen, dust, dirt, and other airborne contaminants from making their way into your HVAC system, but they have the added benefit of an additional layer, like activated charcoal, to absorb odors from VOCs, smoke, pets, food, and more.

What Are The Different Types Of Furnace Filters For Odors

 There are a couple of different types on the market, let’s take a look at the most common ones:

Activated Charcoal/Carbon Based

The charcoal used in activated charcoal filters undergoes an intensive chemical process in order to actually ‘activate’ it.

This gives it a porous structure that allows it to be useful in the capture of odors.

Contrary to popular belief, activated charcoal doesn’t actual absorb odors, it works by the process of adsorption, in which is chemically binds impurities to itself.

Baking Soda Based

A little less common are baking soda infused filters. Baking soda is a more natural choice, and is still highly effective at neutralizing odor.

Because the chemical makeup of most odors is acidic, baking soda (being a base) pH neutralizes those acids and removes the noticeable smell.

How do Furnace Filters For Odors Work?

Filters designed for reduction of odors are used in place of a standard disposable or washable filter (not in in conjunction with).

They rest at the intake side of your HVAC system and rely on woven mesh in order to capture airborne particles and contaminants as they are drawn through by the fan.

The specific odor neutralizing material that is either infused into the filer or layered with it is the part that will help to reduce bad smells in your home.

As the affected air is pushed through the filter media, the activated charcoal or baking soda component will get to work on destroying or capturing the odor.

The process isn’t instant, but over time as air is circulated through the system a few times, you will achieve a noticeable improvement in smell.

What Do You Look For In The Best Furnace Filters For Odor?

Washable furnace filters are relatively simple items, so the core differences between them are few, but there are still some things that separate the best filters from the rest.

Construction Quality

It seems strange to consider construction quality as a factor in a throwaway disposable filter, but if it’s going into one of your home’s major systems, you should still want the best build quality you can get.

A poorly made furnace filter will quickly buckle under the suction of your HVAC system’s powerful fan, and when this happens you create gaps where there is no filtration, allowing particles and odors to circulate through the system with no resistance.

MERV Rating

The MERV rating (short for “Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values”) helps compare the performance of different filters. The MERV ratings range on a scale of 1 to 16, where higher indicates a better quality filter.

You might want to go out and buy the highest quality filter you can find, but it’s a bit more nuanced than that.

With a MERV rating, you need to consider the limitations of your system before rushing to buy the highest rated filters.

If your system is rated for MERV 8 filters, then MERV 12 filters will put a lot of stress on the rest of the system as they fight against the resistance created by the filter.

However, if you choose a lower rated filter, more odor causing particles will be able to slip through without being neutralized.

Pleats Per Foot

In this case the more, the better. The more pleats your filter has, the greater its surface area. The greater its surface area, the greater its odor neutralizing power is. Of course, the trade off is a more costly filter, but if you have severe odor problems, you’ll definitely want to invest here.

Our Reviews Of The Best Washable Furnace Filters

Flanders PrecisionAire With Baking Soda (Our Top Pick)

Baking soda is a powerful natural agent that works efficiently to rid your home of bad odors.

We loved the combination of effective particle filtration that easily tackles pollen, ped dander, dust, dirt, and mold, together with the power of baking soda for killing bad smells.

This filter has a MERV rating of 8, which is pretty much industry standard, ensuring compatibility with almost all household furnaces.

It’s well made, and should hold its shape well for its full lifespan.

Thanks to its V-shaped pleats, you get a nice, large surface area for filtration, but resistance to airflow remains low.


  • Great value for money
  • Reinforced frame
  • Top odor neutralizing capability


  • Lifespan reduced during colder months
  • Packaging isn’t protective

Nordic Pure Pleated Filters With Activated Carbon (Best High-End)

These premium filters are coated with activated carbon in order to augment the superb particle performance with odor neutralization.

They have the highest MERV rating of all of the filters on test, with a score of 12.

The filter media has an electrostatic coating, adding to the efficiency of its particle capturing abilities.

It’s rated to reduce the presence of airborne mold, dander, pollen, lint, dust mites, smoke particles and more. If you have a severe odor issue, these could be the best bet for you.


  • High MERV rating of 12
  • Antimicrobial filter media
  • 33% greater surface area than standard filters


  • Can last as little as 30 days
  • Very expensive

Filtrete Odor Reduction (Best Budget)

Our best budget winner was this activated charcoal filter from well known 3M brand, Filtrete.

They have a solid MERV rating of 11, and thanks to the electrostatic media, particle reduction performance is superb.

The activated carbon does a fantastic job of reducing odors, including food, pet and smoke smells. We loved the clear direction indicators that make it clear exactly how this filter should be installed.

As a bonus, they have the backing of their parent company, chemicals giant 3M, meaning satisfaction is guaranteed.


  • Household brand name
  • MERV 11 rating
  • Outstanding smoke smell reduction


  • Prone to collapse
  • Clogs quickly

AirX Odor

These are basic filters with the addition of activated carbon.

AirX have a no frills, no nonsense approach that just works.

The carbon element effectively neutralizes odors for up to 90 days in most homes, meaning they have to be changed less frequently.

Cost effectiveness is a big factor in our rating of filters, and these AirX odor furnace filters really offer great value for money.

They are sturdy, and are proudly made in the USA. They offer excellent airflow, and they come in a pack of 6 – so for one low price, even if you change filters every 2 months, you’re covered for around a year.


  • Improve furnace operating efficiency
  • Frustration free packaging


  • Not the sturdiest construction
  • Carbon lifts off the panel easily

FilterBuy Activated Charcoal Filters

These FilterBuy Activated Charcoal Filters use activated carbon to reduce unwanted odors and smells in your home.

They feature 12 pleats per foot, providing a huge excellent surface area with which to trap odors.

They are rated to MERV 8, and provide great airflow – this is vital for the overall operation of your system. The poorer the air flow, the more stress on the overall furnace or HVAC unit.


  • Great for system efficiency
  • Large surface area


  • Inconsistent carbon application
  • Frames are easily damaged

Final Thoughts On the Furnace Filters For Odors

If you’ve been struggling with odors or bad smells in your home that no amount of cleaning seems to get rid of, you could very well be in need of a specialist furnace filter for reduction of odors.

This is a passive solution that requires no extra effort outside of installing a regular air filter, and it will make a world of difference to the air quality in your home.

Air quality in and of itself isn’t strictly limited to removing dust and other particles from the air – odors caused by VOCs can also be hazardous to health, and investing in a filter that captures these odors and prevents them from lingering in your home is a no-brainer.

Stephen Marks

Stephen Marks

Stephen is an HVAC and home-repair enthusiast. He's here to answer any of your questions about HVAC!

Leave a Comment

Stephen Marks

Stephen Marks

Stephen is an HVAC and home-repair enthusiast. He's here to answer any of your questions about HVAC!

About proHVACinfo

You’ve got HVAC questions. We have the best answers from a network of seasoned pros.

Recently Published Guides