How to Get Rid of Bad Smells (2023)

How to Get Rid of Bad Smells (1)

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15+ Natural Remedies for Bad Odors in the Home

Margaret Boyles

May 8, 2023

How to Get Rid of Bad Smells (2)

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There are many ways to maskbad odorsin your home, but how do you truly get rid of them? Here’show to get rid of bad household smells once and forall!

WhyCan WeSmell?

Neuroscientists say humans can distinguish 10,000 scents, though we don’t have names for a lot of them.

Our sense of smell—the olfactory sense—brings depth and emotional richness to daily life. Think about the feelings and memories that flow when you catch a whiff of fresh-cut grass or lilacs in bloom, bury your face in a sun-dried bed sheet just off the line, or enter the kitchen just as a cinnamon-rich apple pie emerges from the oven.


Our olfactory system also alerts us to potential dangers: spoiled food, rot and decay, and harmful molds. Most American homes contain a variety of sprays, plug-ins, stick-ons, scented candles, and other products designed to mask or remove bad odors. However, many people suffer allergic reactions to the fragrances in some of these products, andsome air fresheners even containtoxins.

Yet a few inexpensive household essentials you probably have on hand already—vinegar, salt, coffee, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide—will neutralize most noxious odors around your home and in yourvehicles.

How to Get Rid of Bad Smells in theHome

Freshen Stale, SmellyAir:

  • To perfume the air indoors naturally, cut a lemon in half and set the cut halves in an inconspicuousplace.
  • Rub a bit of vanilla on a light bulb and the bulb’s warmth will scent theair.
  • During periods of nice weather, just open the windows! Let fresh air blow through and push out badsmells.

Neutralize Odors in the Kitchen andBathroom:

  • Most folks know that keeping an open box of plain baking soda in the refrigerator will neutralize bad odors. Sprinkle some into the bottom of the trash can and into the trash bag itself for similarresults.
  • Half a cup of baking soda in two quarts of water and a soft cloth or brush also work well for cleaning the fridge, as well as scrubbing down and freshening the tub, tiles, sinks, drains, trash cans, and toilet bowls. For stronger disinfecting properties, scrub with a strong vinegarsolution.
  • Fresh or leftover coffee grounds will also absorb unpleasant odors in a fridge, microwave, orcupboard.

How to Get Rid of Bad Smells (3)

  • Boil two parts water with one part vinegar in a microwave-safe container to remove bad smells from your microwave. The vinegar smell itself dissipatesquickly.
  • Add half a cup of vinegar to a quart of water and allow to simmer on the stove for a few minutes. This will remove smell of burnt food and many other odors from your kitchen (and burned-on food from your stainless steelpots).
  • Soak a piece of stale bread in vinegar and set it overnight in a lunchbox or wastebasket to remove built-up foododors.
  • Grind leftover citrus rinds in your garbage disposal to sweeten it. Or dump half a cup of salt down the drain and turn on the disposal. This loosens caked-on food and helps neutralizeodor.

Get Rid of Smells in Fabrics andCarpets:

  • You can get most smells out of carpets, rugs, and upholstery (including vehicle interiors) by sprinkling liberally with baking soda. Leave the baking soda in place for several hours, then vacuum or shake itout.
  • Urine or vomit on carpets and upholstery can be trickier to remove. If you can get at it immediately, blot first with a towel, then spray the area with a 3-parts cold water/1-part vinegar solution and blot (but don’t rub). Repeat several times if needed, until the smell disappears. The vinegar odor will dissipate in a fewhours.
  • Coffee groundswill sweeten the air inside your car or its trunk. For use in the car, place the grounds in a covered plastic container with holes punched in thelid.

How to Get Rid of Bad Smells (4)

  • Old-timers swear by this method for removing set-in odors and stains from carpets and upholstery. It works especially well on pet urine and skunk smells. You might want to test for color-fastness by soaking a small, inconspicuous area with the solution and leaving it for 24 hours before you treat the area with the stain.
    1. Put on a pair of rubber or latexgloves.
    2. Gently mix a quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, a quarter-cup of baking soda, and a teaspoon of liquid dish soap in a plastic container. Don’t mix far in advance or store in a closedcontainer.
    3. Pour or spray the solution directly onto affected areas and allow to sit for 24 hours before blotting excess liquid. Allow to airdry.

Clean Up aSkunkedPet:

  • Veterinarians also recommend the above recipe for bathing a pet that’s been skunked. After making the solution, massage it into the animal’s fur, then let it sit for 5–10 minutes. Rinse with warmwater.
  • See more home remedies for pets!

Deal With Mold andMildew:

  • If you suspect a mold problem in your home, don’t rely on simply scrubbing down the area with bleach or masking the odor with air fresheners. Some mold damage may require professional removal services. Beyond their unpleasant odors, molds and mildews can present special indoor health hazards beyond the scope of this post to describe. Some people are sensitive to certain kinds of indoor molds.

Need more advice? Here’s how to get rid of body odorand home remedies for pets.

Did we miss any of your favorite tried-and-true solutions? Let us know in thecomments!

Home and Health

Household Tips


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How to Get Rid of Bad Smells (5)



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Got a deep freeze set outside several months with spoiled food in it How do i get rid of odor?

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Clean with 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Spray around locks, hinges, and any crevices. Unplug and let dry for a couple days. If this does not work, here aresolutions:

1) Place trays of activated charcoal, clean kitty litter or baking soda on the shelves of the refrigerator or freezer. Run the appliance empty for 2 or 3 days. Activated charcoal can be purchased from stores that sell aquarium and terrarium supplies.
2) Place freshly ground coffee on cookie sheets in the refrigerator or freezer and close the door. Again, run the appliance empty for 2 or 3 days. A slight coffee odor may remain, but will disappear after washing and rinsing.
3) Pack each refrigerator or freezer shelf with crumpled newspaper. Set a cup of water on the top shelf or sprinkle the newspaper with water. Allow the refrigerator or freezer to run for approximately 5 or 6 days. This method is time consuming, but effectively removes strong odors.

Unfortunately, if the odor has penetrated the insulation due to dripping meat, etc, this might need a professionaltechnician.

  • Reply

My favourite way to get rid of smells is a diluted peroxide spray, 1 part peroxide to 9 parts water. It got dog smell off upholstery (do a test first to make sure it won't bleach the fabric) and sprayed around the air and on the carpeting helped when tenants hot boxed the hallway. My favourite use for it is that "boys have used my bahtroom" smell that sometimes persists even after cleaning, spray the toilet and floor and walls surrounding it with peroxide (here, I'll use it straight from the bottle but diluted also works) and the peroxide seems to react with whatever chemicals are making the smell. It's also a great carpet deodorizer, I now exclusively use that in my rug cleaner. Diluted peroxide does lose potency over time so mix a new batch if what you've got has sat around longer than a day or two. If you mark 150 ml on a spray bottle, add 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of 3% peroxide to the bottle then fill it with water to your 150 ml mark and you're good to go.

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AJ is correct regarding hydrogen peroxide.

Unlike bleach, 3% Peroxide is a safe oxidizing agent that can attack organic materials without bleaching most colors (always spot check in an inconspiculous place first). Peroside is actually a more powerful oxidizer than bleach and is safer for you and the environment. Although most parents didn't think of it in terms of a household cleaner or deoderizer, it is the goto for most parents for cleaning minor skin cuts and abraisions.

With that being said, it is also a safe alternative to bleach for disinfecting any tangible item including food. If you allow a 3% or diluted solution to sit on a tangible surface for 90 - 120 seconds you will disinfect - degrade organic matter as well as annihilating microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses, pathogenes) and providing full sterilization.

Mold or mildew in the home can contribute to smells in the home. These are caused by microbial VOCs and are just one example of smells that peroxide can eliminate. Peroxide will oxidize most organic materials, thus the reason it makes a great deoderoizer.

Peroxide can also reduce the smell of animals that have tangled with skunks. Skunk spray contains sulfer-based organic compounds and thiols. These natural chemicals can be neutralized by spraying your dog with a 3% peroxide, or a mixture of peroxide, baking soda and dawn dish soap. Leave on the fur for about 5 minutes, and repeat as necessary. Watch for irritation and possible hair bleaching but this should significantly reduce the skunk odor.

1 quart 3 percent hydrogen peroxide
1 teaspoon grease-cutting dish detergent
1/4 cup baking soda

The pH of 3% peroxide at room temperature is 6.2. Do not heat or cool this mixture as it becomes unstable and combustable.
Peroxides in stronger concentrations, should be handled with extreme caution as the higher concentrations do come with hazards and should only be handled by trained persons.

  • Reply

Another posted wrote: I keep a two-quart pan one-half full of water on a low flame, in which I add cloves or nutmeg or cinnamon. Keeps the entire kitchen, and part of the house, smelling just like Thanksgiving or Christmas. The spices will need replacing at times. comment: I will try this again as I have in the past; Cloves can be bought in large quantities; Cloves have a potent aroma; last long and are less expensive than Nutmeg.

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WANT A HEALTHY HOME. The ionic paint additive, permanently Eliminates, Airborne Pathogens, Smoking odors, Pet urine odors, without using electricity, or filters.

  • Reply

my house has a smell (i notice it when i come home and the house has been closed up) of stale cooking. Please does anyone have any tips for eradicating it! i have saucers of vinegar dotted around, and saucers of baking soda but it still seems quite overpowering. thanks

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Hi, I just bought a second hand car that unfortunately had one of those vanilla smelling trees hanging from the rear view mirror, it is causing asthma. We have washed the plastic interior with vinegar and sprinkled the car liberally with baking soda. Any ideas of how to get rid of this smell or how long it’ll take to go away? Thank you

  • Reply

My tiny apartment has a strange odor I've been unable to identify. It's not really a bad smell but it's not a fresh, clean smell either. It prevents the place from smelling like mine. I've tried a few things including strategically placed dishes of baking soda with separate dishes of white vinegar. When the weather's nice I open the windows to air the place out. Most recently I bought the bamboo charcoal bags. On top of this, I regularly burn incense (which I happen to enjoy). Nothing has worked so far. The odor is just as strong as it was when I first moved in 9 months ago. It hits me in the face every time I enter my apartment.

  • Reply

It sounds like you have a leak. When leaks dry out which can happen depending on the type and where its seeping through your appartment. Then you need to do some detective work. Stop the leak. Eliminate the smell. It might take months to dry out.

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