Eliminating Common Household Odors

eliminating household odors
source: Ice Foxx

One of my favorite things about the mild temperatures of spring and fall is that I can open all of the windows in the house to let the cool breeze blow through and air it out. We’ve all heard that indoor air can be extremely unhealthy, but with six of us cooped up in the house when it’s too hot or too cold to let it air out, it can be just plain stinky too!

I love to simmer a big pot of water with orange rinds and cinnamon sticks or burn a candle to sweeten the stale air, but sometimes a strong odor calls for a more direct approach. Here are simple home remedies to eliminate some of the most common causes of household odor:

1. Refrigerator

Prevent strong odors in your refrigerator by keeping a container of baking soda open on a shelf. To eliminate existing odors, start by cleaning out any food that’s gone bad. Then wipe the walls and shelves with a diluted vinegar solution. Cut up fresh citrus fruit and put the slices in a bowl on one of the shelves (just make sure you throw them out before they go bad!).

2. Garbage Disposal

Our house doesn’t have a garbage disposal because they’re not really recommended for septic systems, but when we did have one, my favorite quick clean task in the kitchen was to grind up ice cubes (to loosen any stuck food) and then orange rinds in the garbage disposal to freshen up the sink.

3. Cigarette Smoke

Sprinkle baking soda on carpet or upholstery and let it sit to absorb cigarette smoke odors. Vacuum with a HEPA filter to trap small particles (DIY Life).

4. Pet Odors

If you have a pet who is not fully trained, be sure to completely clean up any urine or feces so that they don’t continue to return to the same spot again and again. Use baking soda and vinegar for surface messes or a steam cleaner for messes on the carpet or upholstery that cannot be completely cleaned by just wiping the area. If the soiling has happened over a long period of time or the odor doesn’t disappear with the above methods, use an enzyme-based cleaner that can actually eliminate the odor-causing bacteria.

5. Trash Can

If you use a plastic or rubber trash can, you should clean your trash can with water and/or vinegar every few weeks to prevent odors from developing over time. Stainless steel trash cans tend to smell less because they don’t absorb odors, but cleaning them regularly is still a good idea. If your trash can has a strong odor, fill it with diluted vinegar and let it sit. After you rinse and dry it, sprinkle baking soda to absorb any lingering smells.

6. Dead Rodent

I know it’s gross, but if you’ve ever experienced the smell of a dead rodent in your walls, you know how horrible it is. We had this happen a couple of years ago when a mouse or small animal died in or near our dryer vent. We couldn’t find it to remove it, but we couldn’t use our dryer without having our home (and clothes) spread the smell. Ick.

Obviously the best solution is to prevent this from happening in the first place by making sure there are no openings for small rodents to get into your home, but if you notice the dead animal smell (and really, it’s an unmistakable odor), use open containers of activated charcoal near the source of the smell to absorb the odor. Eventually the carcass will stop smelling (again, ick, I know) and you shouldn’t experience any other issues.

How do you deal with common household odors? Do you have a favorite scent or method for freshening the air during the winter?