The Top 5 Worst Household Odors and Natural Solutions

When Americans were surveyed to determine the five worst home odors, more than eight out of 10 said rotting garbage or “garbage can” odor is the most offensive household smell. Rounding out the top five, in order, were pet odors, mold, body odor/sweat, and tobacco odor.

Nearly 70 percent of all respondents ranked these five domestic smells as the worst, with significantly more women (75 percent) turning their noses up at tobacco odors as compared to men (59 percent).

How do you get bad smells out of your house?

Naturally, the best way to prevent odor is to eliminate its source (e.g., take out the garbage, keep pets outside, and don’t smoke in the house), but what about existing odors already permeating your home?

Since the biggest odor complaints often originate from the tiniest particles – and often reappear after traditional remedies such as air fresheners or candles lose their strength. So, what absorbs bad smells for good? Using a particle-form adsorbent such as baking soda can help neutralize odors by bonding with them so after you remove the baking soda they’re completely eliminated.

How to get rid of carpet odor?

Carpet and upholstery are examples of porous materials that may harbor and emit odors. Rather than covering offensive smells with deodorizing sprays or powders, consider greener solutions. Baking soda is the best carpet odor remover that’s all-natural. Sprinkling baking soda on carpet or upholstery and vacuuming can eliminate odors through adsorption (spelled with a “d” because odor molecules adhere to the baking soda particles, and vacuuming removes the baking soda along with the odor source). 

Professional carpet cleaners recommend that you clean your carpets, or hire someone to do it for you, at least once a year. In between deep cleanings, freshen your carpets and upholstery with baking soda:

  • Sprinkle the baking soda liberally over the carpet or upholstery.
  • Wait a couple of hours.
  • Vacuum it up using slow back-and-forth passes. 

Vacuuming with a HEPA or other effective filter on your vacuum cleaner helps to suck up, trap, and remove particles such as pet dander, pet hair, human skin flakes, mold spores, dust and other allergens – microscopic or tiny fragments that generate volatile organic compounds (VOCs) through bacterial activity and other biological processes – helping to deodorize your home.

How do you get the chemical smell out of new furniture?

You’ve probably noticed a strange smell coming from your new furniture. You may be wondering if this new furniture smell is dangerous. Not only is it only annoying, but it could also be toxic. So, how do you get rid of chemical odor from new furniture? 

Some vinyl and flame retardants used on new upholstery contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can pollute the air in your home. Eliminate the smell by keeping the room well-ventilated and turning on a fan until the smell fades. Another step is to invest in a high quality air purifier.

Why does my dishwasher have a bad odor?

The combination of moisture, mold, and rotting food residue can become a breeding ground for bad smells. Here’s how to clean your dishwasher when it smells:

  • About once a month, clean the dishwasher screen and filter in the bottom of the machine. 
  • Check the dishwasher sprayer arm ports for blockages from food. 
  • In addition, open the dishwasher door all the way and spray the bottom edge and lip area closest to the hinge with a degreaser spray. Let it soak for a few minutes and scrub it clean. 

If you have hard water, you’ll want to fill a bowl with a cup of vinegar and place it in the lower rack of an empty dishwasher. Without adding detergent run a normal cycle on hot and select extra rinse if you have that option. 

How do you freshen up a garbage disposal?

It is common for leftover food particles and grease to stick under the blades and around the edges of the garbage disposal, so it smells bad. To get rid of garbage disposal odor, you can purchase garbage disposal cleaners, or you can put a cup of ice and ½ cup of table salt down the disposal, turn the water on cold and run the disposal. 

There are also special brushes you can purchase specifically shaped for sticking down into the disposal and scrubbing out the interior.

How can I get rid of a bad smell in my fridge?

If a funky odor is hitting you on the face every time you open your refrigerator, the most obvious thing to do is to empty it, throw out all old and outdated food and condiments and clean the shelves, bins, and entire interior with warm water and dish soap. There are also several things you can do on an ongoing basis to clear the air. The first few are obvious:

  • Clean up spills immediately
  • Throw out spoiled food
  • Wipe the bottom of any jars or containers with a clean cloth before you place them inside.

If you’re looking for the best refrigerator deodorizer, it is also helpful to place an open container of activated charcoal or baking soda inside and replace it every three months. 

How do I stop my bed sheets from smelling?

It’s hard to freshen sheets without washing. Since bed sheets absorb our body odor and sweat for hours as we sleep, it is recommended that we wash our sheets and any other bedding that touches our skin once a week. Hot water above 140° F will kill bacteria and viruses on the bedding, especially if a person sleeping in the bed has been ill.

What can you put in a closet to absorb odors?

How do you get the chemical smell out of new furniture

Closets can smell bad, especially if you store your stinky shoes and dirty laundry baskets there. Keep closet doors open to allow air to circulate and prevent moisture from collecting. 

Get rid of the stinky shoe smell with the best closet deodorizer: sprinkle baking soda inside the shoes overnight and dump the baking soda out in the morning before you wear them. You can also try sliding a dryer sheet in each shoe.

 Wash your dirty laundry at least weekly (or more often if it is especially pungent), and add a desiccant or a mini dehumidifier to absorb moisture, especially if you live in a humid area.

How to make my bathroom smell like a spa?

Mold loves warm humid places, which is why you will often find it in bathrooms. Mold often smells pungent and earthy, like rotting wood or sweat socks. Once you remove the mold from your bathroom ceiling, tub and/or shower, and other affected areas, with a bleach, peroxide, or citric acid cleaner, there are things you can do to keep the mold from coming back as quickly. 

Open a window or run a ventilation fan to remove humidity from the bathroom after bathing or showering. Keep the shower door open or leave at least six inches of each side of the shower curtain open after showering. You can also keep a bottle of diluted white vinegar mixed with your favorite smelling essential oil in the shower and spray down the walls and corners after use.

What causes a front loading washing machine to smell?

It’s not uncommon to have a smelly washing machine, especially if you own a front-loader. If they are not maintained correctly, and unfortunately the musty odor transfers to your clothes. Prime real estate for mold growth are the base of the door seal and detergent drawer, where moisture collects. Here’s how to remove odor from a washing machine:

  • Always leave the door and the detergent drawer open after running a wash cycle to let these areas air dry. 
  • If you are battling a smelly front load washer, consult your owners manual for instructions. Look for a “self clean” or “sanitize” option on the controls and run that cycle with bleach or tablet specifically made to clean front-load washers. 
  • You can also try white vinegar. You might have to do this several times, depending on how bad the problem is. Don’t forget to clean the drain trap of the washer either. 
  • Once the moldy odor is under control, at least once a week wipe the door and gasket areas down with white vinegar, and pull out and take apart the detergent drawer to give it a good scrub. 
  • Clean the drain trap every six months or so, depending on how much use your machine gets.

What are some other odor remedies?

Other easy ways to absorb bad smells in a room are: 

  • How do you freshen up a garbage disposalOpen a box of baking soda and place it on a shelf in the room with the off odor.
  • Wash dish sponges and scrub pads in the dishwasher nightly and let air dry before using again.
  • Pour a teaspoon or two of ground cinnamon and cloves on a baking sheet, and put it inside a 200°F oven for half an hour, keeping the door ajar.
  • Orange peel is a great room deodorizer. Add several lemon and orange peels and a cup or two of water to a small saucepan and let it simmer for a few hours on your stove top. You can also try this trick with cinnamon and cloves.
  • Place a cotton ball with a drop of your favorite perfume inside the drawers of your dresser to make your underwear drawer smell fresh. You can also tuck these fragranced cotton balls behind curtains or under sofa and chair cushions.
  • Dampen a cotton ball with vanilla extract or lemon juice and leave it on a refrigerator shelf to add a pleasant fragrance when you open the fridge door.
  • Toss leftover orange or lemon peels into the garbage disposal to keep things smelling fresh.
  • Use this old real estate agent trick – place a couple of drops of vanilla extract, or your favorite perfume or essential oil fragrance on cool light bulbs throughout your house. When you flip the lights on, the heat from the light bulbs will gently spread the scent and make your home smell wonderful. This does work better with incandescent bulbs which get hotter than CFL bulbs.
  • Another way to keep odors in your fridge at bay is to place a plastic lid under each container in your fridge, like a coaster, to catch residue on the bottoms of the containers and contain spills and drips. When they get dirty or start smelling, toss them in the dishwasher.
  • When a power outage causes your refrigerator and freezer to stop working, you can mitigate the smell of spoiled food by placing fresh coffee grounds (although even used grounds will work) in them overnight. You can also try activated charcoal and crumpled newspaper.
  • To keep putrid garbage odors at bay, sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of your trash can to help neutralize the smell of kitchen scraps. Wipe out and replace the powder each time you take out the trash.
  • Sprinkle baking soda in diaper pails and litter boxes, too.
  • Place scented candles in the linen closet, or anywhere else fabrics will absorb the scent of the candle. 
  • Soak a cotton ball with your favorite perfume or essential oil and drop it in your vacuum bag before you vacuum to gently release a wonderful scent into the room as you vacuum. You can also use granular potpourri in the vacuum bag instead of scented cotton balls.
  • Throw a few lemon or orange peels into the flames of your fireplace to add a lovely scent to your fire.
  • To mask an unpleasant odor in your microwave when you don’t have time to clean it thoroughly, pour two tablespoons of vanilla extract in a bowl and set the microwave on high for 30 seconds to one minute
  • Next time you replace your furnace or HVAC filters, add a few drops of essential oil so the fragrance will waft through your home via the air vents.
  • If you have a smoker visit your house and want to get rid of the lingering odor of cigar or cigarette smoke, pour white or apple cider vinegar into a bowl until it is about three quarters full and place it in the room you want to deodorize. The vinegar will remove smoke odor within a day.
  • Freshen up work boots and shoes by filling up an old cotton sock with cedar chips and placing the socks into the shoes or boots at night. The cedar chips absorb moisture and eliminate odors. Bags of cedar chips are sold as pet bedding in pet stores. Change out the chips every month or so.
  • Freshen up mattresses with baking soda by sprinkling it on the mattress surface, letting it sit for a few hours, and vacuuming it up.
  • Make sure you clean your dusting tools and other cleaning supplies regularly.

Castle Keepers can help keep your home smelling good

Here at Castle Keepers, we’re committed to helping clients live their best lives. This is why we offer a variety of cleaning packages and tackle every job with care. After we’re done, your home will be freshly scented, hygienic, and guest-ready. Our team will arrive at your address fully-equipped with top-quality cleaning supplies and ready to handle any challenge, from removing wax stains from your carpet to properly cleaning your wood furniture.

Check out what our customers have to say about us, then give us a call or contact us online. Let’s set up an appointment and take the burden of housework off your shoulders!


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