What To Do When Your Home is Not Up to Sniff

updated Sep 27, 2022
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(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)

Does your home smell a little lackluster these days? Scented candles and store-bought air fresheners like Febreze can only do so much, and they mostly just mask any funky smells you’re experiencing without getting to the root of the problem. Before you start dreaming up lavender sprays and cinnamon-filled simmer pots, figure out where any bad odors are coming from, clean them up to wipe them out, and then go aroma crazy—here’s how:

First: Tackle Bad Smells

Deodorize your kitchen

First thing’s first—make sure your kitchen sink (especially if you have a garbage disposal) isn’t letting out any funky smells. Then, clean up your dishwasher—and of course, make sure any trash cans in your kitchen are in good shape, smell-wise. Between leaky trash and left behind food bits, your kitchen can easily stink up the place, so check for and get rid of any hidden odors before you do anything else. To get all those kitchen smells in check, try these tutorials:

Clean up your carpets

A musty or stinky rug can drag your whole home down, but baking soda, vinegar and a wet-dry vacuum—and an enzymatic cleaning spray, if you’ve got pets (but we’ll get to that in a second)—can help you get your rugs and carpeting smelling as good as new, according to WikiHow.

Handle any pet odors

You love your pets, but they can also be a source of some not-so-cute smells in your home, so you’ll have to be prepared to work a little harder to keep your home aromas in check. Try our guide to dealing with pet smells (and this one on handling urine smells, just in case).

Take on your laundry room

If your laundry room doesn’t smell up to snuff (or, uh… sniff) your washing machine might be due for a serious cleaning. The good news is, it’s not that difficult—vinegar, baking soda, a toothbrush and a microfiber cloth are all you need.

Freshen up your furniture

If your furniture isn’t exactly smelling its freshest, take on those smells, too. You can get weird odors out of upholstered furniture by sprinkling baking soda on it and letting it sit—even better if you can leave it to air out outside (just, keep any pieces in the shade, because the combination of baking soda and the sun can bleach your furniture). You can also use vinegar to de-stink wood furniture,

Remove mystery smells

For weird mystery smells that you just can’t quite place, you can deodorize just about any room in your home with vinegar according to LifeHacker—just fill up bowls with vinegar and place them in any rooms that smell off, and it’ll absorb the odors. As an alternative, you can also use coffee grounds, according to ScienceDaily.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Then: Choose Your Scents

Diffuse essential oils

Essential oils can be a huge help when it comes to making your home smell amazing. An easy way to make them work? Diffuse them—and you’ve got options. You can buy a diffuser (like this one from Amazon for $18.95) or you can go the DIY route and make your own reed diffuser.

Mix up a room spray

Spritzing a little something sweet around your home can’t hurt, but if you’d rather use something homemade and natural over store-bought air fresheners, this lilac room spray tutorial from At The Picket Fence has you covered (and looks totally adorable).

Hide bars of soap

You can keep your clothes and linens smelling fresh with this easy trick from Free People—just hide bars of scented soap in the drawers where you keep them… or for that matter anywhere else in your home you think it might work. Whenever you open your closet or dresser, you’ll smell your favorite soap, and any linens you place around your home will smell like it, too.

Simmer something sweet

Simmer pots are another fresh and easy way to get your home smelling incredible (also one of my personal favorites, especially around the holidays). Our simmer pot recipe roundup is perfect for fall, but if you’re looking for some other scent alternatives, Thistlewood Farms has a few beautiful ideas, too.

DIY some gel air fresheners

For a hands-on approach (that will be totally hands-off later, once you’re done DIY-ing) gel air fresheners are great, because you just set them around your home and let them do their thing. This tutorial from One Good Thing by Jillee shows an easy way to make your own.

Re-edited from a post originally published 12.22.2016 – TW