After an hour or more away, you may walk into your house and immediately wonder how to make your home smell better. Time away from home overcomes “nose blindness” — your brain’s desensitization to the standard smell of your home.
Scented candles, wax melts, and air fresheners can only do so much. They mask odors more than anything. Once their fragrance starts to fade, those odors will return. And if you have indoor allergies, you already know how much worse they are when you use such products.
The good news is that, with a little sleuthing and some elbow grease, you can get rid of the odors and make your home smell better.
How To Make Your Home Smell Better
Most of us become nose blind to the smells in our home. If you can quickly identify the source, you’re already ahead of the game. For the rest of us, it’s a good idea to go through the house tackling these areas one-by-one as part of a regular house cleaning routine.
No one likes the thought of having to clean more or more often. But, the truth is, most house odors are the result of skipping steps in the cleaning process or only doing them half-heartedly.
So, review this list and make sure you’re cleaning all of the smelly spots and that you’re using the right method to clean them.
Get Rid of Kitchen Odors
Most kitchen odors are the result of cooking. You can’t entirely give that up, but there are a few steps you can take to minimize smells.
- Run your range hood fan when using the stove.
- Tuck half a lemon in an oven-safe bowl and put it on the upper rack after roasting meat. The lemon scent will spread in your kitchen as the oven cools.
- Empty and clean the trash can. Make a habit of rinsing meat wrappers and cans before tossing them, and bagging strong-smelling foods like cantaloupe rinds.
- Purge expired foods and leftovers from your refrigerator before you go grocery shopping, then wipe the shelves and drawers with a clean, soapy rag.
- Clean your garbage disposal weekly and run it every time you do the dishes.
- Your kitchen drain can cause odors, too. Clean it.
- Line your refrigerator’s meat drawer with paper towels to catch drips. Change them every few days to eliminate that rotting meat smell.
- Keep your sink free of dirty dishes. Wash them after use and give the basin a daily scrub, too.
- Even with regular use, dishwashers can grow mold and food particles stuck in the trap start to stink. Clean your dishwasher at least once a month.
- Make sure the source isn’t a smelly dish rag.
- Wipe up food spills from the floor nightly. No one is saying you’ve got to mop the whole room, but a quick wipe with a damp towel will help.
- Don’t forget to check your potatoes and onions! Most of us store those in closed cupboards where, if we ignore them, they’ll sprout or turn into a liquid, nasty mess. Check your stash before grocery shopping and toss anything that looks like it’s about to spoil.
Make Your Bedroom Smell Better
- Don’t leave the dishes or food wrappers from your midnight snack sit around. Take them to the kitchen in the morning.
- Empty your bedroom trashcan at least once a week and give it a quick wash.
- Those tennis shoes or slippers you kicked off before bed may be stinking up your room. Wash your smelly shoes, if possible, or try these other methods to get rid of shoe odors.
- Dirty clothes and damp towels don’t belong on the floor — they’ll sit there and stink. If you’re the type who wears jeans more than one day in a row, consider installing a hook on the wall or back of the door and hang them up. Ditto for towels.
- The biggest thing in your room can be the biggest source of odors, too. Clean your mattress to eliminate sweat smells, mold, and mildew.
- Wash sheets weekly, duvet covers every two weeks, bedspreads monthly, and pillows every two months. You’ll be amazed at how much stink they acquire.
- Keep soft furniture such as chairs and ottomans vacuumed. Dust catches moisture which leads to mildew and odors.
- Wash your bedroom curtains every season.
Eliminate Laundry Room Odors
- Wipe laundry hampers with a disinfecting wipe you’ve finished the laundry. This keeps smells from your dirty clothes from transferring to clean things that you take out of the dryer.
- Detergent and body oil can build up in washing machines, leading to a smelly HE machine. Even traditional washing machines need cleaning, too.
- Check beneath your washer regularly to make sure it’s not leaking or hasn’t overfilled. Moisture beneath a washer can grow mold, start to smell, and eventually ruin your floor.
- Forgetting about laundry in the machine leads to mildew. Get that smell out of your laundry before running it through the dryer.
Make Your Living Room Smell Better
Open your windows and let the room air out on pleasant mornings.
If your dog likes to drag his rear-end on the carpets, chances are he does it on your sofa, too. Find out how to clean pet stains to freshen your furniture quickly.
Don’t let food wrappers or dirty dishes accumulate. Do a quick tidy up nightly to make sure the room is picked up.
Avoid overwatering houseplants. They’ll die from too much water, and before that their soil will grow mold and mildew that stinks up your home.
Get Rid of Lingering Bathroom Odors
Run your bathroom fans after every shower or bath. They’ll reduce humidity which means you’ll reduce mildew and its odors, too.
Run the fans after you poop. If you can, install a timer so people can run them for 5 minutes after doing you-know-what. Or keep a bottle of Poo-Pourri Before You Go Toilet Spray handy.
One of the leading causes of bathroom odors isn’t the people: it’s the mildew that builds up. Treat shower and tub mildew for dramatically fresher air. Then keep the mildew from returning.
Like their counterparts in the living room, bathroom rugs pick up foot odor. If you have males in the house, they pick up other things, too. Wash your bathroom rugs weekly.
Of course, a dirty toilet and other bathroom grime can certainly produce smells. Use a homemade disinfectant to get them clean every week, and homemade wipes between cleanings, to keep the bathroom fresh.
Get Your Musty Garage Smelling Better
A smelly garage lets a cloud of odor into your home every time you go through the door. Pay attention to these areas to keep your garage — and thus your home — smelling fresher.
- Rinse recyclables before sorting them. Be sure to wash the bins weekly, too.
- Slip kitchen trash bags into larger outdoor trash bags to contain odors. You can often fit two or three kitchen bags into each larger one.
- Keep trash can lids shut tight. You might even consider using bungee cords to make sure the top stays closed.
- Wash your garbage cans thoroughly using soap and hot water at least once a season.
- And at least once a year do a garage deep-cleaning.
Find and Fix Hidden Smells in Your Home
Keep pets clean and dry. Rub pets down with a towel when they come indoors on a rainy or particularly hot day. Bathe them weekly during the summer, too. Doing this will also help keep your furniture and carpets smelling better.
Treat musty spots. Get rid of musty smells in closets, basements, and cupboards by leaving an open box of chalk tucked in one corner. The chalk will absorb moisture, so mildew doesn’t grow. Replace it monthly.
Bathe. If you’ve been working outdoors, or you just came home from the gym, take a shower before sitting down on your furniture. Otherwise, you’ll transfer your smell to your furnishings, and they’re not so easy to clean.
Let the light shine. Sunlight controls moisture and kills many odor-causing organisms in the air, so don’t keep your house shut up and dark all the time. Open curtains and windows daily for at least 10 minutes to let fresh air into your home while allowing odors out.