Get Rid of Troublesome Household Odors

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What You'll Need
Baking Soda
Citrus fruit
Ice blocks
Commercial Air Fresheners

One of the first things visitors notice when entering your home is its smell. They might even sense an odor before ever opening the door to see the inside. Odors are your home's first impression, so when your home smells bad, you'll want to do something to rid your home of the offensive odor for good.

All of these methods are effective at beating household odors, but the important thing to understand is that none of them are universal. Depending on the odor you have, it's important to know the best approach.

Masking Smells

While there many products on the market that you can use to add a pleasing scent to your home, if you’re genuinely trying to figure out how to remove bad smells, these scent products do nothing on their own. They cover odors but do not eliminate them at the source. Identifying the source of an odor and remedying the problem is the only way to keep your home smelling good. Masking odors is rarely the best way to approach the situation.

Neutralizing Smells

If an odor is the result of something you can actually see and clean up, like pet that has had an accident indoors, you can neutralize the smell.

Saturate any soiled carpets and fabrics with a product or household item that will neutralize the chemicals creating the smell. When mixed with a little water and applied to stinky spots, both vinegar and baking soda are effective at neutralizing common odors

If the area is moist, either from whatever is causing the smell or your choice of cleaner, dab the area with a towel to absorb the moisture. Avoid rubbing, as that only spreads odor causing chemicals around and can actually force them deeper into your carpet or fabrics.

TIP: A small fan that will circulate the dead air around or away is useful for removing any bad smells. Place it near the area both during cleaning and after cleaning.

Absorbing Smells

There are always smells that cannot be neutralized at the source because the source cannot be accessed. A musty basement, stale smelling closet, or a hidden animal nest in an inaccessible wall can carry odors and spread those bad odors to the rest of the home. All of these culprits are also either inaccessible or too spread out to be tangibly removed or cleaned up.

For these types of odors, you need a product that can absorb the smell before it emanates throughout your home.

Baking Soda

As with neutralizing odors, absorbing odors can be done with commercial products or common household items. Again, baking soda is an excellent odor absorber. Open a box and leave it an area, or sprinkle baking soda on a smelly carpet, wait and hour or more, and vacuum the powder and the odor away.

Similar to baking soda, cat litter is also dry and has chemical properties that are great for containing odors.


Charcoal is known to effectively absorb and trap odors, but you will want to control the potential mess it can make. Place charcoal in a container with several holes poked in it, and leave it in an area that smells bad. Throw the entire assembly away when the scent is gone. Also like baking soda, charcoal has a great ability to absorb moisture from the air and will especially help remove the source of an odor if it is moisture related.


Rotting food trapped in your sink or garbage disposal can also stink up your kitchen and house quickly. Because you can’t just reach your hand and a scrubber into your pipes easily, this is another case where absorption is favorable to neutralization. Placing a cut orange or lemon down the drain with some ice can do just that.