Nasty smells are one of the most common household problems, but they're also very annoying to deal with.
Unlike a messy home, or a pest problem, it can be hard to tell where the bad scents are even coming from.
The problem is our homes are full of stinky things: shoes, old food, sweaty clothes, and even our own bodies.
If you're fighting a losing battle against foul odors, we have just the thing.
These 15 natural odor-fighting techniques will have your home smelling fresh as a daisy in no time.
1. Make your own plug-in refills
These handy plug-and-forget air fresheners have been on my grocery list since they were first released.
But buying all those refills really adds up.
Luckily, it's pretty easy to make your own refills at home that work just as well as store-bought ones.
Simply pop off the refill's lid and pour in your favorite scented oil.
You'll have to watch the plug-in the first time you use it - to make sure your oil can stand the heat.
2. Neutralize smells with natural ingredients
Certain ingredients just have a special power for soaking up bad smells.
You can use them in almost any room of your home to absorb and lock away foul odors.
Vinegar, tea leaves, baking soda, and charcoal are all handy odor-blockers.
Leave them in small spaces - including your fridge - to keep them smelling fresh.
Just keep the baking soda and charcoal out of reach of children and pets.
3. Take the stink out of plastic containers
No matter how many times you wash them, food odors will still cling to your reusable containers.
You can absorb the smell by storing balled-up newspaper in the containers between uses.
For really tough cases, rub out the container with baking soda paste or fill it with white vinegar and leave it to soak overnight.
4. Beat lingering smoke smells
I love to save money by shopping at thrift stores, so I'm used to bringing home books, clothes and furniture with a gross, smokey odor.
There are a few ways to deal with these:
- Small objects and clothes can be stored in a Ziploc bag with dryer sheets for a day or two. They'll come out smelling fresh.
- For furniture, you can leave a bowl of baking soda or charcoal on or inside the piece to take the smell away.
- Hard surfaces and objects can be wiped down with a mix of white vinegar and warm water.
- For wooden objects and walls, a new coat of paint or primer may be required to cover up a really ingrained smell.
- You can treat sofas and other soft furniture with carpet cleaner, or wash the fabric by following the directions on its label.
5. Fight body odors with baking soda
It's not just for your fridge anymore.
Baking soda's odor-absorbing powers make it great for cleaning the stinkiest parts of your body.
You can clean your toes and feet with it, wash out your pits, and even gargle it to clean away bad breath.
In a pinch, you can use a small amount of Listerine for many of the same problems. It kills bacteria which cause bad smells.
6. Break out the dryer sheets
Instead of using harsh chemical cleaners, you can keep dryer sheets around your home to leave it smelling fresh.
A few drops of essential oils turn the sheets into simple air fresheners.
Or use them as wraps for other nice smells - chopped herbs, tea leaves, spices - and leave the sachets in drawers and closets around your home.
Plus, if you leave a dryer sheet in your fancy clothes, they won't smell musty when you pull them out of the closet.
7. DIY room fresheners
You don't need to buy these from the store - just make your own.
It's very easy to fill a mason jar with sweet-smelling ingredients like lemon, rosemary, and vanilla extract.
Simply pop a few holes in the top and leave them throughout your house.
Even a tea bag with a few drops of essential oils will fill a room with a refreshing scent.
8. Take the funk out of your carpet
Even if you vacuum your carpet regularly, nasty smells can cling to the fabric.
If you don't treat this underlying smell, then nothing else you do in that room will make any difference.
I find the best trick is to sprinkle something sweet into your carpet, then vacuum it up.
Baking soda mixed with cinnamon, tea leaves or rosemary powder will work well.
Let the scents "soak in" for about 20 minutes, then vacuum up the powder.
9. Clear the air
Here's one more cleaning product you can take off your grocery list: air freshening sprays.
There's no end to the combinations you can make using a base like water, vinegar, or vodka and your favorite scent.
Some of my favorites include cinnamon (I leave the whole piece of bark in the spray bottle), lemon juice, and lilac oil.
10. Let the sweet smells simmer
This is a little extravagant for everyday use, but I like to try it when I have company coming over.
Make a potpourri of sweet, fresh ingredients like chopped fruit, mint leaves, herbs, essential oils and vanilla extract.
Then, leave them in a simmer pot over a low heat.
Your home will fill with the rich aroma that will leave your guests wondering just how you do it.
11. Make a reed diffuser
You can buy these at the store, but once again it's cheap and easy to make your own.
You'll need a slim vase, essential oil, and bamboo or rattan reeds (which you can find at any craft store).
Let the reeds soak up the oil and diffuse it through your room. Flip the reeds about once a week to make the fresh smell last even longer.
12. Kitty litter is good for more than just the litter box
Here's a product that's specially designed to soak up bad smells.
You probably have a big box of litter in your home right now, but you're only using it for pet odors.
Like baking soda, litter is great for any stinky space in your home.
Leave a bowl of it in the fridge, in the closet to soak up moisture, in your diaper pails, or put a sachet in stinky shoes.
13. Protect your clothes with chalk
This biggest cause of that musty clothes smell is moisture.
As I've already mentioned, leaving odor and moisture-absorbing ingredients in your closet will keep the smell under control.
But one handy smell-stopper you might have overlooked is chalk.
Chalk soaks up moisture very effectively, so hanging just a few pieces in your closet will protect your clothes.
14. Beat bad breath
Mouthwash will help fight bad breath, but worrying studies have connected the product to a higher risk of diabetes.
Luckily it's easy to make natural mouthwash from ingredients like cinnamon and baking soda.
Plenty of natural teeth whitening ingredients also kill bacteria and remove plaque, the two leading causes of bad breath.
15. Zero in on bad smells
While most rooms in your house just need a little deodorizing, something more serious could be causing nasty smells.
Once a year, it's worth checking your home for some of these stinky suspects:
- Mold, especially inside cabinets, under sinks, or behind furniture.
- Faulty heaters and water tanks
- Leaking pipes
- Rodent or bug infestations
- Building materials that are rotting or breaking down
What's your most hated household smell?