How to Eliminate Unpleasant Household Odors

T i d a l  R i s e

It may seem odd that I am writing a blog post about this but yesterday while showing a home to a client we were both unpleasantly greeted with offensive household odors in a particular home. The owners attempted to hide the smell with a dozen of the plug in air fresheners which only made matters worse. If you are selling your home, it is very important that your home smells fresh. Even if you are not selling your home you may be wondering how to eliminate nasty odors rather than just masking them for a little while.

The first step in eliminating the odor is finding the source of it. Does your pet need a bath? Does your fridge have a funky smell you get a whiff of every time the door is opened?  Does your home smell musty? Often times if you are used to a particular odor you don’t notice it as much. This is when it is time to get a second opinion from a friend (who will tell you the truth). Ask a friend to help you identify any unpleasant odors and then try to determine the source of the smell.

Some common causes of unpleasant odors are pets, cigarette smoke, mildew, garbage, air vents/filters, the refrigerator, or smells from cooking meals such as fish or broccoli. Once you have identified the source, it is time to take action. If you have a lingering smell that has made its residence your home then you will need to do a little more than just light a candle. Remember that light fresh scents are more pleasing to the senses than strong perfume-like smells when selling your home. The idea here is to eliminate the source of the smell and then freshen with a light natural scent. Try out these tips to eliminate unwanted household odors.

Cigarette Smoke

Maybe you have quit smoking or have decided to sell your home after it has been smoked in. Unfortunately cigarette smoke absorbs into all porous surfaces.  Deep clean all linens and curtains. Replace air filters and dab a few drops of your favorite essential oil on the filter. Replace vacuum cleaner bags and filters. Old odors will return when you crank up the vacuum cleaner if you haven’t replaced the bag and/or filter. Walls and carpet really like to hold on to the cigarette smoke so a fresh coat of paint will do wonders. It would be best to replace carpets but if this is not possible a good deep carpet shampoo will help and steam clean upholstered furniture.

Cooking Odors

Some foods smell awful while being cooked such as fish, broccoli, and cabbage. If possible, avoid cooking these foods prior to a showing if you are selling your home. Try boiling some water and add lemon and/or orange peel.  A candle that is very popular among chefs that works miracles in your kitchen is a Fresh Wave Candle. Check out Fresh Wave products here.

Garbage Odors

Empty your garbage regularly at least once a day. If you have something that is rather smelly, tie it up in a plastic grocery bag and take it to an outside trash can. If the trash can is grimy and smelly even after the trash has been emptied, take the water hose and some dish soap to it. Ground coffee is a great odor absorber so tie some up in a coffee filter and keep it in the bottom of your trashcan. Another great odor absorber is baking soda which can also be tied up in a coffee filter to keep in the bottom of the trash can. Even better, sprinkle a few drops of lemon or orange essential oil into the baking soda.

Pet Odors

Bathe your dog at least once a week. To permanently get rid of urine in the carpet buy an enzyme pet cleaner. This stuff works wonders! When house training our puppy we found ourselves cleaning up numerous urine spots. The last place I wanted to sit was on the carpet…disgusting! Even after cleaning up the spots, we were not confident that we had eliminated the urine. One day my wife put it to the test. If you turn off the lights in your home and then shine a black light on the carpeted areas you will find a nice surprise awaiting you. All of the spots you thought you had cleaned are still there glowing under the black light. This is where the enzyme cleaner comes in. It actually breaks down the enzymes that are left behind after using your typical carpet cleaners. The spots disappear forever along with any urine odors. Works great for vomit too. Vacuum furniture and floors regularly. Change/clean vacuum filters regularly. For a DIY carpet deodorizer try this: Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with 8-10 drops of your favorite essential oil. Sprinkle on the carpet and let it sit for a while and then vacuum.

Refrigerator Odors 

Throw out any old food and wipe down the shelves with a multipurpose spray. Place an open box of baking soda in your fridge and change every 30 days to keep it fresh.

Musty Odors

Musty smells are caused by too much moisture which leads to mildew. To eliminate the moisture in the air use a dehumidifier and then spray a mixture of rubbing alcohol and tea tree oil on anything that smells musty.

Closet Odors

Most closets don’t receive much air circulation which results in a stale odor. Charcoal is a great odor absorber. Purchase a charcoal odor absorber and place it in the bottom of your closet. Create a hanging air freshener by adding 10-20 drops of essential oil on a piece of fabric and hanging it up with your clothes. The amount of essential oil to use will depend on the size of your closet.

Keeping it Smelling Fresh

Once you have eliminated the odors you can use the following natural solutions to freshen up your home. Add several drops of essential oil to your air filters and vacuum filters. Fill a jar partially with baking soda and add drops of your favorite essential oil. Place the jar in an area that needs to freshen up a bit and let the baking soda work its magic. Another great way to use baking soda is to mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with water in a slow cooker. Heat on low and the warm baking soda will absorb odors in the air. Try one of my wife’s favorite DIY air freshener sprays. Mix 1 cup of water, 3 drops of sweet orange essential oil, 2 drops of peppermint oil, and 2 drops of lavender. Shake before each use and spray furniture, curtains, carpets, and linens.


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