Table of Contents
Everyone loves a good smelling home and according to Scientific American, scents are proven to put a person in a good mood.
However, the flip side to a house that smells good and lift your spirits and productivity, is a house that smells bad which can have the opposite effect. A stinky home will always make your nose crinkle and have everyone running to the windows desperate to let in some fresh air. When a home smells a bit ripe, there aren’t enough fans in the world to push out those horrible aromas as quickly as possible.
The origin of some of these bad odors is often quite obvious – you cooked dinner last night with exotic spices, left some wet laundry in the washing machine or maybe your dog left a “surprise” for you in a corner.
Other odors are a little bit more of a clandestine problem, requiring some thought and exploring on your part to find the source. Perhaps that rotten smell is radiating from behind the refrigerator or moisture is causing black mold to form somewhere in your home.
No matter what the cause for the odor, if you want to have a house that smells good, the first step is always finding and then eliminating the underlying source of each of these smells. Then you can work on filling the air with pleasant scents that appeal to you.
So to start, let’s figure out what might be causing the smelly stench in your home. Below are the most common source of bad smells in your house.
Eliminate The Underlying Sources Of Bad Smells In Your Home
When you are ready to have a house that smells awesome, you are going to want to make sure you are not just covering up a bad scent with a good one. That would only work for a few minutes and would be a waste of your time and more importantly, your money!
So take a look at each of these 9 items below that would prevent your house from smelling good and they will need to be resolved first.
If any of them apply to your home, fix that item or items. If none of them apply to your house, you can skip right to our section Ways To INSTANTLY Make Your House Smell Amazing!
9 common sources of bad smells that need to be resolved:
- A home that needs a “Spring Cleaning”
- Mold, Mildew and Fungus
- Smoke Smells
- Pet smells
- The garbage disposal
- The HVAC ducts
- Sewage gas
- Rodent infestations
Next we will take a detailed look at each of these sources of bad smells and how to you can resolve that nasty odor in your home.
1. Give your house a good “Spring Cleaning”
You can begin by cleaning your house.
Well, more than just vacuuming and dusting and wiping off the counters. Consider doing what’s called Spring Cleaning.
This type of cleaning isn’t just for those who live in areas that have really cold winters and have sealed every window and door to keep the cold out, which also keeps the dirt, dust, and odors in.
Spring Cleaning is deep cleaning that should be done periodically by everyone.
Open the windows, wipe off every surface, take the throw rugs outdoors and shake them free of dust and dirt. Have all rugs and cloth furniture such as sofas and chairs professionally steam cleaned to remove any smelly scents lurking in them.
Also wash the drapes and curtains, change the stove filter in the vent, scrub the floors, wipe down the walls and more.
This is also when the kitchen cabinets get inventoried by pulling out all canned and boxed goods in the pantry and cookware from the cupboards. Wipe down the interior of each cabinet and drawer and make note of expiration dates on the food items.
This deep cleaning will often remove the general odors that accumulate on fabrics and surfaces when the house hasn’t been aired out in a while. Accomplishing a good spring cleaning will make for a good baseline to seek and destroy the other sources that could be causing odors in your home.
2. Hidden Mold, Mildew and Fungus, YUCK!
Mold and mildew and other types of fungus can hide from your sight but not from your nose.
That earthy, musty smell will come and go depending on the moisture level and air flow in the area where it is hiding. Neither air filters nor ionizers will remove that smell. You must remove the mold, mildew, and fungus. Find the cause, stop the source of moisture, then clean it and remove it, and you’ll remove the odor.
The Center for Disease Control says that “…mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding.”
The obvious place to check first is the bathroom. Look closely at the showerhead, tiles, shower curtains, under the rugs, pipes under the sink, and under the wastebasket. These are hiding places for mold and mildew.
Check the potted plants in various rooms. Or more accurately, check the pot and the windowsill it sits on. While there may not be standing water, there is moisture on the bottom of the pot and that can often be overlooked as a source for mildew.
In the kitchen, check under and behind the refrigerator, under the trashcan, and around the pipes under the sink.
Check in your basement for any musty smells to remove, look around your water heater, check around the basement walls for leaks. Look closely around the entire basement for mildew and mold.
Don’t skip over your washing machine or laundry area and check the connections and the walls and flooring near for moisture.
Have an attic? Definitely check the rafters for mold, the insulation for moisture, and the vents for moisture.
Anything you find you will want to have fixed and remediated ASAP. This is mandatory not only for eliminating the nasty smell but for the health of everyone who lives or enters the home.
If the mold is extensive, you should seriously consider hiring a professional mold remediation company and not risk putting your health at risk.
3. Remove Smoke Smells
If you are a smoker, you need to do something about the stale smoke smell.
Whether from cigarettes, cigars, or other tobacco products, the smoke will leave a greasy residue on furniture, walls and ceilings. Over time, this residue becomes visible, but initially, it is hidden from sight. And, as with most odors, it’s not hidden from the noise.
As a smoker, you might not even realize the impact it has on your home’s air quality. But believe me when I say that if you smoke in your house, your house smells like smoke and it’s lingering everywhere.
Removing smoke smell from a home is not a simple task, it requires a professional cleaning or a lot of effort on your part. But it needs to be done and once the smoke smell is removed you will want to stop smoking in your home or at the very least invest in an air purifier for smoke.
4. Eliminate Pet Smells (But Keep the Pets)
Hair, dirt, dander, and ‘accidents’ throughout the house. All courtesy of our beloved pets.
While removing the pets will definitely remove the smells they bring into the house, it’s not necessary to throw the dog out or give the cat away.
Mopping the hardwood and vinyl flooring with a damp cloth or mop will pick up the offending hair and dander without tossing it into the air like when you simply sweep with a broom. Change out the filters in your HVAC system, air purifiers, and humidifiers.
Oh, and don’t forget to wash the pet’s bed. Most small beds are foam and fabric and can be tossed in the washing machine and then the dryer. The larger beds may need to be taken to a commercial laundromat or even a dry cleaner. Depending on the type of fabric, some have been made to be cleaned with basic soap and water using the garden hose. Check the label and wash accordingly.
So keep your pets but periodically clean up the smell they leave behind. Having a loving pet in a house that smells good is sure to put you in a good mood everyday!
5. Clean the Garbage Disposal
While the garbage disposal is an excellent way to grind down stray bits of food, no matter how often you rinse with water you cannot remove all the organic bits that get stuck in the bolts and blades.
Oh, and if you lift the rubber flaps you might notice a black film on the underside. Yep, that black film and the accumulation of ground bits of food can cause a smell that will make your nose crinkle and wish you’d eaten out more often.
That smell can be removed by first using a vinegar and water mix on a sponge and wiping the black slime from the underside of the rubber flaps and then cutting a lemon into small pieces and throwing it, rind and all, into the disposal. Run cold water, turn on the garbage disposal, and let the citric acid do its work.
And, if the smells just won’t go away, this might be the perfect time to simply disconnect the garbage disposal and replace it with a new one. It’s a fairly simple job if you are handy or a good plumber can do it in no time.
6. Clean the HVAC Ducts
Most people don’t think of the HVAC ductwork that runs through their home as a source for odors.
Usually, we think the filters do the work of catching dust and debris as well as the smells that come with them. But, that which isn’t caught by the filter is stuck to the sides of the ductwork.
Duct cleaning, in general, includes the supply and return air ducts and registers, grilles and diffusers, condensate drain pans aka drip pans, fan blades, and cooling coils. Some of these areas you can clean yourself with a general disinfectant and wiping down with a cloth.
As for the actual ductwork, a Shop Vac is better than a house vacuum because … well … you’re going to suck out the stuff in the ductwork and you’ll need more power than the average vacuum can give you! You will want to access the ducts so disconnecting in some areas is necessary.
Or, you can hire a professional cleaning service to come in and do it for you.
7. Prevent Stinky Sewage Gas
An odor that is really obvious is sewage gas.
Sometimes it suddenly appears after an extreme amount of rain, sometimes it slowly seeps into the house and you notice it every once in a while.
Either way, it can be rough to smell and difficult to find, but not difficult to take care of.
Look first at the basement drain and water drain p-traps in sinks and showers. If they are dried out from infrequent use, it might need to be flushed or if anything is cracked, it will need to be replaced.
The second most common source of sewer gas is the toilet, either the wax seal on the bottom needs to be replaced or the water level in the bowl dropped to low and let gas seep up into your home.
One other place to check is the vent stack. There could be a crack in it.
If you can take on these problems yourself, then it could be a simple fix. However, if you are not comfortable or your efforts don’t resolve the problem, you should call a professional plumber, this is a standard fix for them.
8. Remove Any Rodent Infestations
No one likes the thought of rodents in the walls of their house. And yet, it can and does happen in the nicest of neighborhoods.
Rodent doesn’t refer just to mice and rats. Other rodents that can cause odors and really icky smells include chipmunks, squirrels, gophers, hamsters, and gerbils. All are common rodents that can get into the house and live rent-free in the space between the walls.
Aside from the gnawing on wood and electrical wires, because they have built a home of their own, there is also their hair, dander, urine, and feces to contend with. Oh, and the occasional dead rodent will bring with it an odor that you will want to remove as quickly as possible.
If you do, indeed, have a small (or large) family of rodents in the house, removing them will remove the smell. We put together a handy guide for you on how to get rid of mice, that includes recommendations of the best mouse traps you can buy.
Keeping them out can be tricky, a mouse can enter a home through an opening the size of a dime. Find any openings and seal them up tight but don’t pass over having a professional pest remediation company assessing your situation if you need some help.
9. Get Your Garbage Under Control
Where there is garbage there is a smell. If you can find a way around that problem, let me know!
Kitchen garbage cans, bathroom trash bins, the home office trash can, and the main outside rubbish containers will hold strong smells.
Regularly emptying them will keep those garbage odors gone. But, wait…if you empty them and put the trash in outside cans, make sure you have those cans as far away from the house as is feasible. An outside trash can with food bits in it, combined with summer heat, will definitely create a smell that can put a nasty odor in your house.
The further away from the house those cans are, the less likely that smell will waft its way in through the windows. Fortunately, this is a fairly simple fix that shouldn’t require professional help.
Ways To INSTANTLY Make Your House Smell Amazing!
Now that we eliminated any source of a bad smell that would prevent your house from smelling good no matter what you throw at it. Let’s talk about how we can make your home smell really, really good!
So what smell do you like? Is it a flowery scent with a hint of mint? Or maybe you enjoy a citrus smell, like lemon or orange?
Having your house smell amazing is based solely on your preference. And, today you have a wide variety of options to choose from for the type of aroma you want and how you want to create it. With choices that range from simmer pots to potpourri, from essential oil diffusers to air fresheners and for those who prefer a more natural option we have that for you too!
It all begins with what scent will make your house smell amazing to you.
Aromatherapy to Fill Your Home
I love the use of the word “therapy” in “aromatherapy”. It’s been used by humans for thousands of years and for many reasons including medical and religious.
For our purposes, we’re talking about using it to promote a sense of well-being in your home. If your home smells of wonderful things that make you smile and lift your spirits, then aromatherapy is something you simply must do for yourself.
7 different types of aromatherapy to make your house smell good:
- Scented Candles
- Candle Warmers
- Essential Oil Diffusers
- Simmer Pots
- Dryer Sheets
- Fabric Sprays
- Home Air Fresheners
Each of these options has can be used however you think would be best to fill your home’s air with pleasant scents. Some are quick and easy and others require a bit more work but each of them work and you should try them all and see which one you like best.
Below, I’ll go into more detail on each aromatherapy option.
1. Scented Candles
Available at discount stores, boutique shops, craft fairs, and specialty shops, and in almost any size, color and scent you can imagine. The simplicity of lighting a candle and filling a room, or your home, with your favorite scent, is definitely the reason scented candles are so popular and easy to find.
2. Candle Warmers
An alternative to having an open flame with scented candles is candle warmers which are small electric appliances that come in a variety of shapes and colors and styles that fit any home décor. The way they work is simple: melt a scented candle to release the scent without the use of an open flame.
3. Essential Oil Diffusers
There are two very popular types of the best essential oil diffusers: The Nebulizer aka cold air diffuser and The Ultrasonic Cool Mist Diffuser. The Nebulizer, other than having a really cool name, is based on the principle of using an air pump to push a stream of air across a nozzle tube that is covering the essential oil. This creates a vacuum, pulling the essential oil up through the tube. The essential oil droplets hit the moving air and become micro-particles, filling a glass reservoir.
From there, the micro-particles rise and leave the glass reservoir through a glass cap and becomes a vapor released into the room. The best thing about this type of diffuser is that it doesn’t dilute the essential oil, so all of the wonderful smell associated with that oil is released into the room. An interesting point here is that this is an electric unit with an air pump, so it can be a bit noisy.
The Ultrasonic Cool Mist Diffuser has a water reservoir covered by a lid. The bottom of the unit has a small, flexible membrane that vibrates ultrasonically, passing energy to the water and breaking it up to become a vapor. This vapor is pushed into the air and carries with it the components of the essential oils, dispersing the oils into the room and helps them to stay suspended for a long time. Both offer the ability to have the full strength scent of the essential oil, so check them out and choose one that best fits your needs.
4. Simmer Pots
A small pot with a bit of water and herbs, spices, various nice smelling things thrown in and set to simmer to emit wonderful smells into the room. You can use a small pot of your own and put it on the stove or you can purchase a small electric simmer pot otherwise known as a crockpot that is used for just this purpose.
What is wonderful about simmer pots is that you can use pre-purchased potpourri available in most stores or you can create your own mix of natural ingredients based on your favorite smells. For instance, if you want your home to smell like Thanksgiving then try this recipe/mix:
- 1 Orange
- 1 Lemon
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- 1 handful of fresh cranberries
- 1 Tablespoon of cloves
Put about 1 cup of water in a small pot and put on a stove burner set to simmer. Slice the orange and lemon into ¼” thick slices. Clean out the ‘ends’ of each and slice the rind. Put all in the water. Add the 2 cinnamon sticks, fresh cranberries and a tablespoon of cloves. In about 30 minutes you will begin to smell the wonderful smells of Thanksgiving. You’ll need to add water every hour or two so watch the pot.
Love pumpkin? Drop a bit of pumpkin flavoring into the pot.
Love vanilla? Add a drop of extract.
The fun part is that truly you can make your own recipe.
5. Dryer Sheets
If you forget to throw them in the dryer when doing the laundry, you can use them to freshen up your clothes as you put them away in the drawers and closet. Just lay them in the drawers and between the clothing as you fold and put it away, and in the closet simply drape a sheet or two over the hanging blouse or slacks.
Because they’re infused with deodorizers and softeners, these little gems can be placed in garbage cans between the trash liner and the can. They’ll absorb odors from the garbage and help keep the air in your house fresh between trips to the trash can outside.
6. Fabric Sprays
Spray it on your smelly upholstery or blankets or clothes and eliminate that offensive odor! Oh, that sounds so good, doesn’t it?
Indeed, there are some sprays out there that will do exactly that and make your house smell amazing. But did you know you can make your own fabric spray? It’s easier than you might think.
All you need is a small spray bottle filled with water, add a bit of baking soda and mix well, now add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil. Or, if you have a need to experiment, create a scent using a couple of different essential oils. Shake well so that the baking soda, oil, and water are mixed.
Now spray on your fabric covered furniture, the throw blanket in the living room, your pillow.
7. Home Air Fresheners
Air fresheners are an inexpensive alternative to incense, essential oil diffusers, and scented candles. Especially if you want to use something daily.
Whether the air freshener is an oil, a gel, or a glob of material that slowly shrinks as it sends wonderful aromas into the air, it will last longer than the other options. You can find one that plugs in the wall socket, sits on a hard surface or is sprayed as a liquid from a bottle.
The scents available include everything from earthy and natural to flowery, from ocean breezes to fruit scents. Some air fresheners cover up bad smells and others actually purify the air by absorbing the odors and leaving the house smelling fresh.
The wonderful thing is that it’s your choice. Whatever you choose, it will help your house to smell amazing.
Natural Solutions For Fresh Scents in Your Home
If you have a concern about chemicals or oils or toxins being added to the air in your home, you can have clean, fresh air in the house and still have it smell great.
4 natural ways to make your house smell good:
- Open the windows
- Lemons and other fruits
Naturally solving a problem is always a bonus and these options are a great way to do just that. Being a responsible consumer can leave a positive impact to the environment. These natural options below can leave your house smelling great with a minimal impact to our planet.
This is the perfect option if you have a green thumb! Nature’s air purifiers. Using photosynthesis, plants convert light to energy and carbon dioxide to oxygen. And while some plants have flowers that add wonderful smells to the home, there are a few plants that are especially good at purifying the air in your house. Here are a few that you just might want to pick up for your own house:
Snake Plant aka Mother-In-Law’s Tongue. This plant is extremely easy to care for because it can doesn’t need special light. It can be in full sun or a room with no windows. It needs watering every other week and an occasional wipe of the leaves to remove the dust.
Golden Pothos is an easy to care for plant as well, but it will rot if it sits in water, so keeping the soil lightly moist is pretty easy to do. It grows quickly so you will have a natural air purifier in no time at all.
Peace Lily is a plant with big, arching leaves. And when it matures it has an occasional white bloom.
Of course, there are other options available. A trip to your local home improvement store or nursery will show you the many plants you can choose from.
Experts say that to keep your house fresh smelling all you need it 1 plant for every 100 sq ft. Not bad considering that the average bedroom or office is 10′ x 10′. Get a plant, set it in the corner and have fresh air.
2. Open the Windows
Chances are good you didn’t need to be reminded of this one, but it really does need to be on the list. A house that is filled with fresh air and scents from a garden nearby will always smell amazing. Unless, of course, you live near a garbage dump or animal sanctuary.
Opening the windows on all four sides of the house will get a cross flow of air that will quickly move out the old and bring in the new.
And, if it’s Spring, Summer, or Fall, then it’s likely that there will be a breeze that helps move the air through the house.
3. Lemons and Other Fruits
We covered using lemons and oranges in simmer pots, but don’t forget that you can add other citrus fruits as well such as lime and grapefruit to the mix.
Now let’s put them to use as a natural air freshener and deodorizer by adding some salt. No, not to the water. This is something different.
What you’ll need is some sea salt, your favorite citrus fruit, some fresh herb leaves such as mint or basil, and maybe some cloves. Slice the fruit in half. Remove the fruit and pulp leaving only the rind. Pour sea salt into the rind and fill about halfway. Add either a herb leaf or some cloves.
Now place this near the source of bad odors in your home. The garbage can area, near the pet bed. Change it out every couple of days. An easy way to deodorize and freshen the air in your house, naturally.
For most people, and likely for you as well, nothing is better than a house that smells like fresh baked cookies, pies or bread.
It’s such a warm, cozy smell that evokes feelings of calm and comfort. So, treat yourself to some fresh-baked cookies or your favorite pie and enjoy the lingering aroma for a day or so to come.
Bad smells, strong odors, and those weird but annoying smells that fall between the bad and strong can ruin a good mood quickly. Walking in the door to our house and being greeted by an odor that makes the nose crinkle and the eyes water is even worse.
Knowing how to eliminate these odors by getting to the source and removing it is something everyone can benefit from. Even better are the numerous ways that we can make our homes inviting and comfortable to walk into with simple, easy to find products, produce, and cleaning routines.
And when you are ready to sell your house (shameless plug for us) be sure to get your house ready to sell by making sure your house smell good and continues to smell good ever day it is on the market!