Why Does My Air Cooler Smell?

Because an air cooler uses water to cool the room, it’s susceptible to developing different sorts of unpleasant smells caused by moisture-loving mould, mildew, or bacteria. 

Here’s a guide on what to do if your air cooler is smelling and how to keep it from developing bad smells in the future. 

Why Does My Air Cooler Smell? 

why does my air cooler smell

Your air cooler is smelling likely because there’s something inside that should not be there. In most cases, that’s usually mould, mildew, bacteria, or particles like dust and pollen. 

Depending on exactly what’s causing the smell, the stink can be fishy, musty, mouldy, or dusty. 

There are three components in an air cooler that are most likely to produce an unpleasant smell. 

  • The water tank. If you don’t change the water and clean the tank often, mould, mildew and bacteria can develop, causing the air cooler to smell.
  • The water pads. The absorbent pads are perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mould.
  • The air filter. Most air coolers have an air filter to remove dust, pollen and other particulates from incoming air. If the filter is clogged, the air cooler will produce an unpleasant smell. 

The water itself can also be the source of the unpleasant smell. That’s why it’s important to use fresh, clean water. 

Tap water works fine. You can also use distilled or filtered water. 

Why Does My Air Cooler Smell Fishy?

One of the most common complaints from people who use air coolers is that it smells fishy. One moment it’s working fine, the next your entire home is smelling fishy. 

A fishy smell from an air cooler is likely caused by bacteria, usually on the cooling pads. 

The moist environment of the pads encourages bacteria to grow on it, resulting in a bad smell. 

The best way to deal with a fishy smelling air cooler is to replace the cooling pads. 

If you don’t want to spend money on new pads, try these solutions.

  • Remove and clean the cooling pads. Soak the pads in a solution of vinegar or bleach and water. It’ll kill the bacteria and eliminate the smell. Let the pads dry completely before putting them back into the cooler. 
  • Switch the air cooler to the fan-only mode and let it run that way for a few days. This will dry out the pad and hopefully kill the smell. 
  • Add a 1:1 water and vinegar solution to the tank and let the cooler run on that. As the solution soaks into the cooling pads, it’ll kill some of the bacteria and deodorise the pads. 

How Do I Stop My Air Cooler From Smelling?

How Do I Stop My Air Cooler From Smelling

Whether your air cooler is giving off a fishy, musty, or mouldy smell, here are some tips on how to stop it from smelling. 

  • If your air cooler is smelling, clean every component including the cooling pads, the tank, and the air filters. The user manual should have instructions on how to take apart the cooler and clean various parts.
  • Change the water. Leaving water in the tank for too long will cause a bad smell. If all the water in the tank doesn’t evaporate, change it every three days. This will keep mould, bacteria and other stuff from growing in the tank. 
  • Only use fresh and clean water from your tap or a water filter. 
  • Deodorise the air cooler by adding a vinegar and water solution to the water tank and then running the air cooler as normal. You can also add a few drops of essential oil to water in the tank to make the air cooler smell nice. 
  • Whenever you are running the air cooler, turn on the fan-only mode 15 minutes before you shut it down. This will keep the cooling pads dry and smell-free when the air cooler is not in use. 

How To Clean An Air Cooler

Regularly cleaning the air cooler is the best way to get rid of a bad smell and keep the air cooler smelling fresh. 

You’ll need to take apart the air cooler to access some of the components like the air filters and honeycomb pad. 

  • Start by draining the water tank. If the tank is removable, detach it from the air cooler and wash it with regular dish soap and water. If it has scale deposits or mould, add water and vinegar to it and let it soak for a few hours then rinse. 
  • If your air cooler has a non-removable tank, add the vinegar solution the same way you’d add water. Let the mixture sit in the tank for an hour or so then drain. Add fresh water and drain again. 
  • Remove the air filters from the back of the air cooler and wash them under a tap. You may need a soft brush to clean off the gunk trapped in the filters. Lay the filters on a surface to air dry. 
  • Next, remove the cooling pad. If it’s not smelly, you can just rinse it under the tap. If it’s smelly or has mould or any discolouration on it, soak it in a water and vinegar solution then rinse. Let it air dry. 
  • Put everything back together. 

Here’s a helpful video on how to clean your air cooler. It’s specifically for a Honeywell cooler, but the cleaning process also works for most other brands. 

Repeat the cleaning process at least once a month. 

Can You Add Dettol to An Air Cooler?

Yes, you can use Dettol or any other non-corrosive disinfectant to clean and deodorise an air cooler. 

Add the recommended dosage of Dettol to water in the air cooler tank. Run the air cooler in the normal cooling mode for 15 minutes. 

This gives the disinfectant time to soak into the cooling pads and sanitise them. 

Drain the water tank and add fresh water. The air cooler is now ready for use. 

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