What's That Smell? Identifying and Eliminating Common Household Odors

A man holding his nose and pointing at the phrase, "DIY Odor Removal."

Is there a constant smell in your home that you can't quite put your finger on? You've probably tried everything to eliminate it (or cover it up), including perfumes, odor removal sprays, soap, and even household cleaners. While some smells are hard to identify, they can be even harder to get rid of. Try a few of these techniques to get rid of odors -- with a few items you probably already have around the house.

Periodically Wash Out Your Trash Can

Is there a constant smell in your home that you can't quite put your finger on?

When it seems you’ve cleaned everything but there’s still that lingering unpleasant smell floating around, it could very well be your garbage can. The trash in your trash can will begin to spoil right away, especially if you have been eating a lot of fresh food such as fruits, vegetables, and meats. Sometimes these foods can leak through the bag and into the trash can. To help eliminate this odor, clean the inside of your trash can the next time you empty it. If it’s really far gone, rinse it with a hose first in your yard. Then, wipe it out with paper towels and a strong disinfectant, such as vinegar and water or a store-bought cleaner. Once the inside of the trash can has been wiped dry, sprinkle a few tablespoons of baking soda in the bottom to help eliminate odors until the next time you clean the trash can. If the actual trash is what is causing the horrible smell due to fresh foods, try getting a smaller trash can than can be emptied every day for these kinds of waste.

Flush Your Drains With Baking Soda and Vinegar

Periodically Wash Out Your Trash Can

Sometimes that lingering yucky smell in your kitchen can be seeping from the kitchen sink drain. Many times food and waste that is disposed of in the sink or when washing dishes collects in the drain. If this builds up, it can begin to release a terrible smell throughout the kitchen. Instead of taking the plumbing apart or paying a plumber to clean it out, pour a mixture of vinegar and baking soda down the drain and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then pour boiling hot water down the drain to wash the grime away. If this solution doesn’t work after a few uses, use bleach or drain clog remover liquids. However, never use more than one of these solutions at the same time. Also, make sure to give each solution plenty of time to sit in the pipes before rinsing them away.

Make Your Own Pet Odor and Stain Remover

Removing the scent left behind from your pets can be a real trick. While there are pricey cleaners and solutions on the market, a few simple ingredients can be combined to help eliminate odors in a jiffy. For a quick treatment to use on carpets, rugs, and furniture, simply mix 2 cups of white vinegar, 2 cups of warm water, and about 4 tablespoons of baking soda together in a spray bottle. This spray will combat any scent your pets leave behind. Be sure to test the solution on the surface before using it to clean a new surface, and blot any stains or liquid up as much as possible before applying the cleaner. Let your vinegar solution sit for 5-10 minutes, then blot it up to remove pet odors and stains. A few tablespoons of vinegar can also be added to a load in the washing machine to eliminate pet odors on any washable clothing or blankets.

Spray the Skunk Smell Away With Hydrogen Peroxide

When it seems you’ve cleaned everything but there’s still that lingering unpleas

The smell of skunk can be one of the most difficult to get rid of. After the unfortunate event of being sprayed by one, removing the smell from yourself, pets, or other items can be extremely difficult. To remedy this odor and get things smelling normal, combine 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup of baking soda, and 1 tsp liquid laundry soap or dish washing detergent. Use this mixture immediately, as it will bubble and if stored in a container for very long, it could explode. If put in a spray bottle, you can spray this onto pets, furniture, rugs, or anything the skunk odor has attached to. Be sure to rinse the mixture thoroughly from anything you apply it to. This solution could also be used in small amounts in the washing machine to remove that skunk odor from clothing, rugs, blankets, or anything that can be thrown in the wash.