Removing Odors from the Home

A cigarette on a black background.

Nothing can be worse than lingering odors in the home. Whether it is from cooking, pets, or mildew and mold in the home, the smell can be very offensive to both you and your guests. Removing lingering odors from the home can be a daunting task, but many easy steps can be taken to insure that embarrassing odors are eliminated.

Many products are on the market for killing odors in the home. There are sprays, plug-ins, and even candles that can be burnt in the living area that help relieve those offensive smells. What do these products do in eliminating odor? Actually, very little. What the lion's share of these products do is simply mask the offensive odor, and work to cover up the smell.

Sometimes, simple cleaning that is ordinarily not carried out goes a long way in eliminating odors in the home. Here are a few things you can do in the fight against odor.


Probably one of the worst smells is the strong odor of sewage that can invade the home. Knowing the cause and the simple solution will effectively eliminate this smell. In a sewer system, all drains have a trap that is placed between the actual sewer and your home. This trap should always be filled with water, because this water acts as an odor barrier between the home and sewer. If the trap dries out, sewer odors are allowed to enter the home. Many times, simply pouring water into a little used drain, such as a floor drain in the basement, will recharge the trap with water and effectively restore the odor barrier.


If there is a strong smell of sewage or urine around the toilet, and careful cleaning does not eliminate it, then the culprit may be the wax ring that seals the toilet from the drain. Attempt to move the toilet bowl from side to side. It should resist several pounds of force, and if the toilet bowl moves easily, then the wax ring has failed. Although this problem can be fixed by an experienced do it yourselfer, it might be a good idea to seek help from a professional.

Garbage Disposal

A kitchen garbage disposal can be a real problem area when it comes to kitchen odor. If adding bleach, baking soda, or vinegar does not end the problem, suspect the rubber ring around the opening to the disposal. The rubber ring can over time collect a lot of gunk, and because it is generally damp most of the time, is a real source of odor in the kitchen. Scrub this ring thoroughly underneath with a stiff brush or rag and your favorite antibacterial cleaner.


Cigarette smoke can be a real problem in both a home and a car. Cigarette smoke penetrates the wood and finished materials in your home, and will linger a very long time. To eliminate the odor, place several small dishes of ordinary Pine-Sol in the room, and close the room off if possible overnight or even for a couple of days. The fresh pine detergent scent is very strong, and eliminates and covers up the smell of cigarette smoke. After closing up the room, air it out thoroughly by opening the windows and allowing the outdoor air to freshen the room. The strong cigarette odor will be almost virtually eliminated.


Kitchen odors can be tough to eliminate. One of the easiest ways to eliminate cooking odors is to place a bowl of ordinary baking soda in the problem area. Baking soda absorbs the odor, and it is cheap to buy. Placing an open box of baking soda in the fridge also works wonders to eliminate odor. Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of a cat's litter box to keep odor down. Make a square box from aluminum foil, pour some vanilla extract in the box, and place in an oven that is set on "warm." The vanilla extract, as it evaporates, will effectively eliminate odors in the kitchen.

Negative Ion Generator

Many of these tips are easy fixes for eliminating odor. Homeowners, though, should be aware of other possibilities that effectively eliminate offensive odors. A negative ion generator works very well in both cleaning the allergens and bacteria from the air, and eliminating odors. Negative ion generators are approved by the FDA for removing allergens, and have been tested by Good Housekeeping Magazine. A test by the US Department of Agriculture revealed that ionization led to 52% less dust and 95% less bacteria in the air. Because pollutants are borne on dust particles in the air, it is easy to see how effective a negative ion generator is in eliminating odor.

Studies have also shown ozone is a very effective cleaner of the air. Ozone in nature is a powerful cleanser, and you will notice the fresh scent of ozone after a particularly close lightning strike during a thunderstorm. You should be aware, though, that there is controversy over using ozone generators as an odor eliminator in the home. Research on the Internet can give you a lot of good information to help you decide if an ozone generator works for you.

Eliminating odor in the home can seem like a full time task. By carefully checking drains, traps, and other odor causing sources in the home, you can go a long way in keeping offensive odor to a minimum. And technology today provides a lot of good resources for the consumer willing to do a little research.