Have you ever forgotten to take the trash out before vacation? You come home to a house ridden with a very unappealing smell. Even when the garbage is disposed of, the odor can linger for days.
While it can be tempting to spray down the home with a store-bought air freshener, these contain chemicals that are harmful to human health. Over 20 percent of the general U.S. population have reported having adverse health effects from air fresheners. There are ways to make your home smell better and healthier!
To help you get rid of common household smells in a safe way, we’ve created a guide on how to deodorize a room. It includes a natural DIY room deodorizer recipe and 7 hacks for getting rid of specific home odors. Read through to find what household items you can use to rid these unwanted smells.
How to make a basic DIY room deodorizer
To create a natural air freshener that isn’t harmful to your health, you only need 4 items. Make this spray and use it when an unwanted smell comes into your apartment.
- 1 ½ tablespoons baking soda
- 3 cups water
- 30-40 drops of essential oil
- Misting spray bottle
Step 1: Add 30-40 drops of your preferred essential oil with the baking soda. Stir until it’s completely mixed together.
Step 2: Pour this baking soda and essential oil combination in a spray bottle.
Step 3: Add the three cups of water to the bottle. Shake to mix.
Step 4: Spray the area on the light misting setting.
This natural DIY home deodorizer can be personalized with any scent. Each essential oil has its own unique properties, so be sure to pick one that fits the space you are using the cleaner in. For example, a scent that promotes slumber is better for the bedroom than the kitchen.
Why does baking soda work to deodorize a room?
Many room deodorizing recipes, including the one above, call for baking soda. Why is this? Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate has a low pH level. Most bad odors have a high pH level, meaning they are acidic. By adding baking soda to the environment, you are neutralizing the area, causing the odor to fade.
Essential oils to add to each room
When making this DIY room deodorizer, you can choose your preferred natural scent to use. If you aren’t sure what will smell best, here are some essential oil suggestions for each room.
The living room is an area you’ll be hosting people as well as relaxing. Depending on the tone you are trying to set, vanilla or cinnamon essential oil could be a good fit. Vanilla is known to improve relaxation and create a tranquil environment. If you want to relax after a long day in your sparkling-clean living room, vanilla is the right choice for you. For those who are having friends over for a book club or social event, cinnamon might be a better fit. The scent of cinnamon boosts memory and increases alertness.
Make the kitchen a productive place by using a citrus or peppermint essential oil when scenting your DIY deodorizer. If you have a long afternoon of meal prepping ahead, citrus is known to boost energy and improve your mood. For the non-chefs who can get frustrated in the kitchen, a peppermint scent will alleviate stress and reduce irritability.
A restful space, the bedroom can benefit from lavender or chamomile essential oils. These calming scents both reduce anxiety. Lavender also promotes relaxation which can help you fall asleep. Chamomile can improve your mood, great for those who wake up on the wrong side of the bed.
If you have a laundry room, playroom or any other room that needs to be deodorized, you might consider tea tree or eucalyptus oils. These natural smells each have their own unique properties. Tea tree oil has antifungal benefits and is an immune booster. Eucalyptus essential oil is cleansing and known to lift moods. Both will help keep your space clean.
7 common household smells and how to rid them
Whether your home is new to you or you’ve lived in it for multiple years, you’ve probably come across one of these common household smells. We explain why they happen and how to rid them from your home. In addition, we suggest an essential oil that you can use to keep the space smelling fresh.
1. Stale air
Stale air is a smell that’s hard to describe, but easy to identify. It’s usually caused when the indoor air begins to feel stuffy or humid due to a lack of fresh air. If the weather is nice, you can rid this smell by opening the windows and letting fresh air in. However, if it’s too hot or too cold out, this might not be an option.
In that case, you can create your own stale air deodorizer by cutting lemons in half and placing them throughout the home. Another quick solution is to rub a little vanilla essential oil on the outside of your light bulbs. Be sure to do this when the light is off. Once you turn the light on, it will heat up and start smelling sweet.
2. Carpet smells
Whether you are moving into a new apartment with carpet or you spilled something on your rug that has caused a stench, this absorbent flooring is prone to smelling.
To get rid of carpet smells, baking soda is your friend. Sprinkle baking soda on the entire carpet and let it sit for a few hours. Then vacuum it up. The baking soda should soak up any bad smells. It’s best to do this when you are out of the house for a period of time. The baking soda doesn’t have any chemicals, but it can leave a mess if people in your house walk through it.
3. Fridge odors
Does your fridge smell even after you clean out your leftovers? This is because the plastic in the refrigerator absorbs odors. Even if you’ve scrubbed out every crumb and spill, the plastic might still stink.
To prevent or mute this odor, try putting a box of baking soda in the fridge. Baking soda will absorb these smells and leave your fridge smelling clean after just a couple of days. Another alternative to this is leaving coffee grounds in a container in your fridge. Similar to baking soda, coffee grounds can absorb odors and leave your fridge smelling like a freshly brewed cup of joe.
4. Garbage disposal stink
If you go to wash dishes and notice there is an odor coming from your drain, it could be your garbage disposal. It’s easy for food to get caught in hard-to-reach places, preventing it from being washed down the drain.
Some people put citrus peels down their garbage disposal to mask this odor, but this doesn’t clean the food that is causing this smell. To clean, place a handful of ice in your sink drain. Then pour a cup of salt on top. Run the water and turn on the garbage disposal. The ice and salt will slowly drain into the garbage disposal, cleaning it and sharpening the blades.
5. Mold or mildew
Mold and mildew can leave a musty smell in your home. If you have a serious mold issue, it’s important to have a professional take care of it. Mold is known to cause many respiratory issues.
If the smell of mold persists, you can use an odor absorber to dull the scent. Baking soda, charcoal and kitty litter are all items that can soak up any moisture in the air and get rid of the smell. Place one of these in a bowl near the musty smell. Be sure it’s out of reach of small children or pets.
6. Washing machine smells
Your washing machine is meant to make your clothes fresh and clean, but what do you do when it begins to have a mildewy or sour scent? Washers are prone to a build-up of soap, dirt or hair. Over time, this can lead to an unnatural moldy stink.
To clean, begin by getting rid of any debris that’s caught in the gasket, or rubber liner, of your machine. Wipe this rim down with a mixture of vinegar and tea tree essential oil. This is an antifungal formula that will clean off any leftover dirt. Then use this same mixture, measuring two cups of white vinegar and 20 drops of tea tree essential oil into the liquid tray. Run on a hot cycle or cleaning cycle. When done, wipe the interior with a microfiber cloth.
You can prevent some of this build-up by leaving the lid open after each wash cycle. This will allow your washer to dry out completely. It’s also helpful to use the correct amount of detergent. Creating too many suds can leave leftover residue that dirt clings to.
7. Skunk stench
If your clothes or your pet has been skunked, the attacker will leave a pungent smell that can last for weeks. This stink can easily be transferred to the house.
For houses that smell like skunk inside (but not outside), open the windows and turn on the fan. Heat up a tray of vinegar on the stove on a low heat. This should overpower the skunk smell.
If the smell is on your pet, The Humane Society suggests mixing together a quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, a quarter cup of baking soda and a teaspoon of dish soap. Use a pair of gloves and wash your pet with this mixture. Be sure to avoid their eyes and don’t store this mixture, it has the potential to explode in a bottle.
Keep your apartment fresh
Regular cleaning will keep your home clean and free of these unwanted smells. For more home hacks like these, check out this cleaning and maintenance advice page.