Monday, November 26, 2012

De-Stinking (Part 2) - How to Make Your House Smell Good - Naturally

Sharing my natural fragrance spray the other day (and preparing for more holiday visitors!) has gotten me thinking about how my home smells.  The turkey and pumpkin pie scents have faded since Thanksgiving, but the dog, husband, kids, and their accompanying odors, are still around...

Have you seen the massive wall of "air care" products at retail stores these days?  Unfortunately, many of these products are just fragrances or perfumes (many of them synthetic, or petroleum based) that cover up smells, but don't do anything to remove them.  I don't know about you, but I'd rather eliminate odors altogether.

If you'd like to freshen up your home, see if any of these tried-and-tested ideas might help you freshen up your home:
  • Go straight to the source.  Fix that under-sink leak that makes the kitchen smell like mildew.  Think about a dehumidifier if your whole home is damp and musty.  Take out the trash!  Quickly! 
  • If you have carpets and rugs, vacuum and dust frequently.  Especially if you have pets, the more often you vacuum, the less dander, pet hair, and pet skin cells will collect and get ground into carpet, upholstery, and other soft surfaces.
  • Address any pet issues that may be causing unpleasant odors.  Sometimes (not always), pets smell bad because they have some type of underlying issue that you may not know about, like skin irritation,  skin infection, or reaction to something in their diet.  Many pets smell better when they are on a more natural, low-grain diet, or if coconut oil or omega-3's are added to their diets.  
  • Open the windows when the weather is nice.  
  • Try setting stinky items outside in direct sunshine if you can't wash them (like the unwashable insert to a dog bed).  Sunlight is a fantastic natural deodorizer.  (Be careful about things with bright colors - sunlight can do some bleaching to colors, too!)
  • If you are lucky enough to have hard surface floors, choose rugs that are easy to wash, or clean rugs and set them out in the fresh air regularly.
  • Instead of reaching for expensive packaged "odor eliminator" sprays, start with common natural cleaners you may already have on hand, like baking soda, vinegar, borax, or lemon juice.
    • Baking soda: sprinkle over carpets, upholstery, mattresses, rub in, leave a few minutes, then vacuum up.
    • Vinegar: great for hard surfaces, and also often works to spot-treat carpets (I've even had success deodorizing puppy puddles with hot water and vinegar).
    • Borax: can be sprinkled/vacuumed like baking soda on soft surfaces.  Also perfect in the laundry to get urine smell out of fabrics - particularly synthetics, like polyester toddler pajamas.
  • Really stubborn smells may call for more serious products.  Try a natural enzymatic odor eliminator like Nature's Miracle or BioKleen.  
  • If you do choose to use a "cover up" scent to help your home smell good, try a natural alternative rather than chemical-laden sprays or scented paraffin candles.  You can make your own natural fragrance spray, clean with citrus-infused natural products for a fresh scent, or just make sure something delicious is baking when guests arrive!
What do you do to keep your home smelling clean and fresh?  Share your best tips in the comments below.


  1. Great suggestions!
    Also, make sure you run your garbage disposal frequently with hot water. And drains (especially floor drains in basements?) that are mostly dry can get smelly, but it is quickly remedied with a little bit of boiling water poured down the drain.
    When cleaning doesn't cut it... I will put a small pot with lemon (or oranges) and rosemary (or other strongly fragrant herb) on my stove simmering in a little water. You can also throw in cinnamon sticks or cloves if you like the spicy scent. I cook frequently with citrus, so it's nice to be able to use up the 'leftover' parts to fully use what is often a pricy ingredient in my kitchen!

    1. Ooh, great suggestions! I didn't think of the garbage disposal or drains. Mmm, orange peels and cloves might be the best combination ever.

  2. Hi Danielle, these are some great ideas! I use baking soda alot, too. Before vacuuming sometimes I mix a bit of soda with a couple sprinkles of cinnamon and then sprinkle it around the carpet. I also have a diffuser that I fill with water and essential oils - peppermint oil is lovely this time of year, and antibacterial too!

    Thanks so much for sharing this on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday! I've pinned it and look forward to seeing what you've been up to this week :)

  3. I'm using less of the chemical laden stuff in my home too. I found using rubbing alchol to take out stains on my carpet works wonders. I actually removed a stain that had been there at least 8 years in my son's room. I don't even know what it was, but I do know that the carpet cleaner didn't remove it.

  4. Thanks for the great ideas. I'm the odor queen around our home, and I have a hubby that works with wild animals, so I'm always looking for great ways to "de-stink" our home. Ha ha!


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