10 Tips to Get Rid of Household Odors - Quicken Loans Zing BlogI’ll take a stab in the dark and bet that, like me, you’ve been keeping all your doors and windows shut with the onset of cold weather. The problem is, as soon as I started keeping the windows closed, the house started to smell a little musty and stale. While you could just spray copious amounts of Febreze or AXE around the house, here are some tips that you might find a little more successful.

Stale refrigerator smell
If opening your fridge takes the edge off your appetite, stick an open box of baking soda in the back on one of the shelves to trap odors. You can put a box in your freezer, too, if it’s smelly. If the baking soda isn’t quite doing it, put some activated charcoal in your refrigerator. You can find it at home and bath stores.

Cigarette smoke
Cigarette smells like to stick around a long time in carpet and upholstery fibers, even after the smoke has cleared away. One trick is to sprinkle baking soda over the affected area, and let it sit for a couple hours. It’s important to give the powder enough time to soak up the smell.

Then, vacuum up the baking soda with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter; this is important to pick up all the small particles. If this isn’t enough, you’ll probably have to rent a carpet/upholstery cleaner, like the Rug Doctor machine.

Smelly garbage disposals
There’s not much worse than cooking your dinner in a kitchen that has a faint smell of last night’s dinner rotting in the sink. To get rid of the smelliness, try pouring white vinegar down the disposal while it’s running, or freeze the vinegar into ice cubes and let the disposal chop them up. Another option would be to pour oxygen bleach down the disposal.

The stinky garbage can
You want to empty your garbage can pretty regularly, even if it’s not completely full. But, if the odor remains after you put a fresh bag in, you probably need to scrub the can, inside and out, with a disinfectant cleaner. For a more natural clean, you can use an eco-friendly cleaner, and then get rid of the smell by spraying the garbage can with white vinegar, let it sit for a few minutes to soak up the odor, and then wipe it clean.

Pet smells
Something as simple as shifting your furniture so it’s in the sun for a while can get rid of some pet odors, and airing out the furniture – or at least removable parts like pillows – while beating it with a broom to get rid of as much household dust as possible is also good to do. Then, you can vacuum the furniture with that trusty HEPA filter. Next, soak the problem areas with pet-odor-specific cleaning products, like Nature’s Miracle or Get Serious. Febreze isn’t a good choice, though, because it just covers up the odors instead of removing them.

You can also run a HEPA certified air purifier while the furniture is drying. This type of purifier has strong, odor-removing capability. Any IQair model would be a good choice.

Musty drawers
I might be starting to sound like a broken record, but it’s for good reason. One of the best ways to draw odors out of furniture is baking soda. Sprinkle some in your drawers, and let it sit for a few hours at least – a few days would be even better – and then vacuum it up with that HEPA vacuum.

A stale-smelling dishwasher
This is one of the smells I hate most. There’s not much worse than opening up the dishwasher expecting nice, clean dishes, and instead being met with a musty/moldy smell. To get rid of this, run the dishwasher through its cycle empty, but with two cups of white vinegar instead of soap.

Compost pile
That compost pile in the backyard is a great way to cut down on how much garbage you throw out, and it’ll save you money on fertilizer, but you have to make sure the smell from it doesn’t start taking over your whole backyard. If it’s producing a fetid odor, turn the pile over to aerate it, and then mist it with water. If you do this once a week, you’ll probably avoid any bad odor in the first place.

Funky coffee pot
Waking up in the morning and thinking you’re about to get a fresh cup of coffee only to get a stinky one can really put a damper on your day. To avoid this, periodically run a full pot of one part white vinegar and two parts water through your coffee maker. This should do the trick, but you want to make sure to run a pot of water through the maker without any coffee first, otherwise you’re going to get a vinegar-infused cup o’ Joe!

Mildew in the bathroom
Cool, moist places like the bathroom are perfect habitats for mold and mildew to form. There are a couple things you can do to cut down on those smelly and slimy visitors. First, a good exhaust fan will help a lot, especially with the steam from the shower. If you don’t have, or can’t install, an exhaust fan, an oscillating fan will still help move the air around. Opening the windows or running a dehumidifier will also get rid of a lot of the moisture.

It’s also important to regularly wash towels and rugs as they get damp. You need to wash the shower curtain and liner in the laundry every once and a while, but make sure not to put the plastic liner in the dryer or it’ll melt, shrink up and have to be thrown away.

I hope you find these tips helpful. As always, leave a comment about what tricks you have to get rid of bad household smells!


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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. This is just what I needed! I’ve been trying to get rid of the previous owner’s pet smells, I will definitely be trying out your tips, Thanks!

  2. Some of these tips are ingenious! As a cleaning business owner, my clients are always asking me for tips on how to keep things smelling fresh!

  3. Great article – I often notice my dustbin continues to smell even after a put a fresh bin bag in, so i’ll try spraying it with white vinegar, as you suggested 🙂 Thanks

  4. These are some great tips! I’ve been trying to get rid of the previous owner’s cat smell from our new apartment for months, will have to try this out, Thanks!

  5. I’ve been looking for something for the smell of cigarette smoke! My family comes over and I just cannot get the smell out of my house, Thanks for sharing!

  6. We learned this trick a few years ago and has never let us down. Coffee grounds absorb odors over time. We have run across several apartments where the previous tenant were heavy smokers. Leave the windows open, open up 2 or 3 large boxes of baking soda along with 3 large cans of coffee beans(not ground) and let sit for a few days. You will be amazed at the results, we aren’t promising perfection but the difference will be noticeable. When you factor in how inexpensive coffee is vs. a removal service, we think this is definitely worth a try as a first approach.

  7. Being a painting contractor, we run into a lot of rental homes and apartments with pet and tobacco smoke problems. Painting the inside walls will not remove the odors as they are impregnated in the carpet, carpet pads, upholstery and drapes making the home harder to sell or rent, looks good smells bad. If you have to repaint the inside walls add the Air-ReNu additive, works like a charm, no odour, no electricity, no filters. Air-ReNu is a permeant solution for odors and poor indoor air. Something to consider if you have an odour problem, their web site.

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