No matter how fastidious you are, your house is going to create some odors. If you leave your sofa, carpet and trash can odors unchecked, they’ll eventually start wafting a powerful and unpleasant stench in all directions. Different areas require different tactics, but all of these de-stinking tricks can be accomplished with a few household items you probably already own.
Do an odor inventory. Before you can remove smells, you have to find them! Walk through the house with your nose to the ground (not literally) to find out which rooms need work. A few common stink spots are the kitchen, basement, closets and anywhere pets like to hang out. Note: If you catch a whiff of a musty, wet-sock smell behind or around your walls, you may be smelling mold. This can be serious problem, and requires further inspection. For details, read: Check for Mold.
Make a list of problem areas. Identify and remember which areas of the house are smelly, and then move from room to room, following these strategies for each situation.
Trash cans. Your trash cans are always a good place to begin your de-stinking mission, since they often contain rotting food. To combat trash smells, sprinkle a few tablespoons of baking soda into the bottom of the can. The alkali nature of the baking soda will absorb odors. Note: This only reduces trash smells, if you don’t empty the garbage for two weeks, baking soda won’t save you from a smelly bag of trash.
Entire rooms. Over time, rooms with a lot of space like your living room, basement, kitchen or bedrooms can develop a musty funk. Rather than trying to mask these smells with air fresheners, soak them up with vinegar! Place a bowl of white vinegar in each room of your house and let it sit overnight. The vinegar will absorb pretty much any odor – everything from cigarette smoke to pet odors. Don’t worry about the vinegar smell that may remain, it will dissipate quickly once the vinegar is removed.
Closets. Since closets often store clothes and shoes, this area can frequently smell like mothballs or feet. You can try using baking soda if you’re closet odors aren’t that bad, but sometimes this isn’t enough. Should you need a more powerful option, try leaving a bowl of kitty litter in your closet for a few days. If it can absorb the smell of cat poop, it can absorb the smell of your clothing and shoes.
Furniture. It’s easy for a piece of furniture to get funky, especially if you have a pet with a reserved spot on the sofa. For wood pieces, mix a 1-1 solution of vinegar and water, then wipe a light coating of the mixture on your furniture with a sponge and allow it to dry. For fabric sofas, sprinkle some baking soda on the cushions and let it sit overnight, then vacuum it off in the morning. This trick generally works better than store-bought fresheners, and doesn’t include any chemicals or toxins! Note: While the baking soda is working its magic, keep the sun off your furniture to avoid a bleaching effect.
Cabinets. You could place a small dish of baking soda in your cabinets to keep them stink-free, but why not give your dishes some extra love? Put a few sprigs of lavender or mint into a glass jar and leave them in your cabinets. That way, you’ll get a waft of fresh herbs every time you reach for a plate. Tip: If you have ants in your cabinets, try adding some cinnamon, which will repel them naturally.
Carpets and rugs. For specific odors, you can sprinkle your carpets and rugs with baking soda and then vacuum, just like you did with fabric sofas in step #6. To keep things consistently fresh, squeeze some lemon or lime juice into your vacuum bag before each use. The scent will be transferred to your rug or carpet so you can enjoy a nice citrus smell. For more tips, read: Clean Your Rugs.
The kitchen. Your stovetop is a natural de-stinking tool. For light odors, simmer some citrus zest and a teaspoon of cinnamon in some water for 10-15 minutes to cancel out minor smells. For stronger odors, simmer white vinegar for 30-45 minutes to absorb and remove the problem.
Pet odors. If your furry friend is leaving behind an odor, one of the best ways to control it is by giving your pet regular baths. If you have fish, be sure to clean the tank regularly as well. For “emergency” issues, try blotting with white vinegar followed by club soda if the problem is still wet. If it’s dry, or odor still remains, sprinkle some baking soda and then vacuum a few hours later. If you just can’t seem to get that pet odor off the sofa, it may be time to set some new boundaries for your pet!