Does your house smell as good as it looks? Whilst the interior may look welcoming, house smells are enough to make even the most gorgeous of homes unappealing.
Household odours are pretty common, and it's not necessarily caused by uncleanliness. During the changing seasons, the humidity, lack of aeration and heating can quickly cause rooms to become stuffy or develop a musty smell. Not to mention our pets, who can bring all sorts of weird smells into our homes.
Want to banish bad smells once and for all? There's no need to go buying expensive air fresheners. Expert Home Tips have 12 handy hacks to help you eliminate all kinds of odours.
Ready to make your house smell fresh? Let's get started.
Editor's Note: This post was originally posted in January 2018 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness in December 2018.
Combat bathroom odour
Bathrooms can, unsurprisingly, get pretty smelly pretty quickly. It's not only the toilet that's to blame, but the stagnant water around the sink and condensation from the shower can make musty smells common.
1. Toilet roll hack
One of the easiest ways to add a refreshing fragrance to your bathroom is using essential oils. Add a few drops to the inside of your toilet roll tube and they will fight against unpleasant odours to leave your bathroom smelling fresher.
2. Toilet spray
Get your toilet smelling fresher than ever with a DIY bathroom spray. Today's Creative Life's No.2 Poo Spray is a real lifesaver, and will keep your bathroom smelling fresh no matter what goes on in there!
An alternative to bathroom spray is using shower onions - it sounds weird, but read our article and give it a try.
3. Toilet brush hack
There's no avoiding it - toilet brushes are pretty nasty by nature. Keep yours smelling as fresh as can be by squirting some scented cleaner into the bottom of the toilet brush holder. Not only will this keep the brush clean, but if you use something like Flash, it will give the whole room a lovely citrus smell.
4. Smelly towels
If you follow our blog, you should already know how often to wash your towels to keep them fresh. Unwashed towels are not only unsanitary but will make your bathroom smell damp and dirty too.
To make them smell fresher than ever, wash them after every 3 uses. You can throw in half a cup of baking soda every couple of washes for extra freshness too.
Banish bedroom smells
5. Wardrobe deodorizer
Wardrobes are home to all kinds of smells - socks; stinky shoes; that dusty old dress you've not worn in years.
Go into your kitchen and grab a few tea bags - they can be used as a wardrobe deodorizer. Herbal tea bags work best and something powerful with chai or cloves is ideal. Place them in your wardrobe, preferably hung over the rail. The herbs will absorb bad smells and release gorgeous new ones to release a burst of freshness when you get dressed every morning.
6. Smelly mattress
If your bedroom looks clean, but smells rotten, the answer could be something a little hidden - your mattress.
To freshen up your mattress in three easy steps:
- Sift a cup of bicarbonate of soda onto your mattress.
- Leave it to sit for 30 minutes.
- Vacuum over your mattress using the brush attachment.
Say goodbye to kitchen smells
7. Fridge odour absorber
Cheese - need I say more? It may be delicious, but it can be overwhelmingly pungent. A quick opening of a cheese-packed fridge is enough to leave your whole kitchen smelling like a cheesemonger's.
Fighting off bad fridge smells may seem intimidating but it's actually relatively easy. Just place half a lemon on the centre shelf and it will make the whole thing smell fresher than you ever thought possible. Replace weekly to fight those extra-cheesy smells.
8. Smelly kitchen sink
Drains may be out of sight, but they certainly won't be out of mind once they've started to smell bad. Luckily, the solution requires just two ingredients, which you probably already have in your cupboard - vinegar and bicarbonate of soda.
Pour one cup bicarbonate of soda onto the drain, then follow with two cups of vinegar. Let this bubble away happily for five minutes, then flush repeatedly with very hot water.
For more amazing uses for bicarbonate of soda, check out Anushka's article. We also have other solutions for your blockages in our guide on how to remove hair from drains.
9. Cooking odour eliminator
Cooked a tasty fry up? Your kitchen will no doubt be paying the price. Get rid of cooking smells easily with the help of bicarbonate of soda.
Place some in a small bowl and leave on your countertop overnight. It will dissipate any bad smells and banish any evidence of your indulgent breakfast.
10. Bin odour neutraliser
Tacking out the rubbish isn't a job anyone likes to do - what a stench! We have a great hack to make it much less unpleasant.
Sprinkling bicarbonate of soda or cat litter onto the base of the bin can have a dramatic effect on the way your bin smells. Either of the solutions will work as a bin odour neutraliser by absorbing bad smells and preventing them from escaping out into your lovely, clean home.
Refresh the living room
10. How to get rid of pet smells
Your home wouldn't be the same without your furry friend, but it could probably do without that 'dog smell,' right?
If you've tried even the most potent washing powder you own to no avail, we could have the answer - white vinegar.
Place half a cup of white vinegar into the fabric softener compartment of your washing machine along with your usual choice of detergent. Post-wash, all traces of dog will be banished...until next time.
11. DIY candle
There are candles, and then there are candles that make your whole home smell glorious. There's no need to spend a fortune of freshening your home - great results can be achieved at home using coffee beans a few tea lights.
Fill small, shallow glass jars with coffee beans, and place a tea light in the centre. You'll be amazed at how powerful your coffee candle can be!
12. Sofa smells
Sofas aren't something many of us consider washing often, however, just like your mattress, they do need occasional TLC.
The same mattress baking soda hack can be used for your sofa- sift baking soda onto your sofa, wait, then vacuum off for instant freshness. Your visitors will be asking if you've bought a new one!
Do you have any unusual tips of your own to make your home smell great? Share them with us in the comments below!
What can be done about an awful smelling washing machine? I've tried the products you can buy specifically for this from the supermarket such as the Dettol product but it still doesn't work. Can you use bicarbonate of soda in the washing machine? It seems to come up time and time again as the answer to so many things or do you suggest something else?
Hi Amanda. Thanks for getting in touch. We actually have a whole article on this. Collette's guide will get your washing machine cleaner than ever in no time at all. Check it out >> https://experthometips.com/how-to-remove-washing-machine-mould
Some great sounding tips here, thanks. I plan to try some of them. The coffee candle sounds amazing. Thanks XXX
Hi Louise. We're so glad you enjoyed our tips! Please come back and visit us soon :)
I have a tip that I use regularly, pick one of your usual nice smelling soaps then with a knife slice thin pieces of the bar a bit like wood bark, then put them in to a small candle holder jar or saucer like container and place in your bedroom or bathroom, you can mix different colours together the smell is wonderful and can last for several weeks,then just freshen then up each time.
Hi Margaret. We just LOVE this tip! I have lots of fresh smelling soaps I have received for Christmas presents so will definitely be giving it a go. Thanks so much for sharing :)
You don't want to be breathing in soap could cause other issues
Place a container of used tea bags in the fridge and change daily. This will keep your fridge smelling sweet.
Hi Julie. Finally, a use for all those tea bags! Top top - thanks for sharing :)
I am surrounded by neighbours that smoke and they do it outside, the smell of cigarette smoke gets into my house and it stinks. Any ideas on how to get rid of this, I don't really want to use chemical air fresheners to do it. Thanks
Hi Caro, We've just written a brand new post all about getting rid of smoking smells :) Check it out here: https://experthometips.com/how-to-get-rid-smoke-smells-cigarette-tobacco-odour
Can you help me to get rid of Nicotine smells please? The former tenant used to smoke and I am a reformed smoker, so I am hoping that you will be able to help me please. Many thanks Mark
Hi Mark, We've just written a brand new post all about getting rid of smoking smells :) Check it out here: https://experthometips.com/how-to-get-rid-smoke-smells-cigarette-tobacco-odour
I spray zflora into a binbag before I put it in.my bin I also put zflora into the bottom of my toilet brush holder
Hi Maureen. We love Zoflora here at Expert Home Tips! Thanks for pointing out just some of it's many wonderful uses :)
I put bleach in the bottom of my toilet brush holder. I put in enough to cover the brush and when it evaporates I wash the brush and holder in a cleaning bucket and then do the bleach thing again. But, I've not got little kids or animals so no risk of accidents
Hi Pamela. My mother used to do this, and our bathroom always smelled lovely and fresh. Great tip - thanks for sharing :)
On the doggy smell one, what goes in the washing machine, dog, carpet or couch?
That depends how thorough you want to be I guess, Phil!
But seriously, what are you suggesting to be washed in the washing machine to eliminate the dog smells? ????
Phil Fieldhouse: Brilliant comment, I love it :)
spray soft furnishings with your fave fibric conditioner diluted with warm water. the house smells lush for days. or put couple drops lavendar oil on a cloth wipe all light bulbs then when in use the heat spreads the smell allover its also great to help relaxing.
Hi Helga. What a great tip! Sensationally simple and easy - we love it. Thanks so much for sharing :)
I use a spray bottle filled with diluted fabric conditioner to spray on my fabrics and also on my rugs and my radiators leaving my home smelling fresh for days.My dogs bed gets a spray to keep nasty dog smells away.
Hi Sue, This sounds like a lovely tip and it's very easy to do too! We bet your home smells great. Thanks a lot for sharing.
We have a smell that only occurs in one area of our house... unfortunately, it's near the front door. It usually only occurs during humid weather. My husband says its from the attic - which has old insulation. The problem is that we recently got new insulation, but in that particular area of the attic, there is nothing to be done to remove the old insulation due to how the previous owners built an addition to the house. How can I mask that? The area is somewhat large, including entry, formal dining room, and two stair cases. Pleases help!
Hi Nancy! Can I ask if you have had a professional come and look at it and whether they had anything to say?
Hi, I have a strong smell of Ghee around the house left by tenants. Any ideas how to get rid of it? I have tried neat white vinegar for a few days & smell is still there. Thanks.
Hello Sue, where would you say the smell is coming from? Just so I know what kind of surfaces you are trying to treat.
Hi I also have a problem of a smelling Apartment I moved in and it was stinking from the previous tenants I've cleaned the bathrooms and kitchen still nice stinks and its mostly from the kitchen to the living area please help.😥😭
Hi Yola! What sort of smell is it?
Have foul smell coming from my unit.. have blocked vents, used peppermint oil and air freshners. Anymore suggestions?
Hi Hayley. What unit is this?
I have the same problem as Hailey. Just moved into a place n it smells terrible i washed the walls carpets floors etc n it still smells bad
Lots of tcp used in bathroom smell is overpowering!having bad headaches.What can I use to neutralise this.ma
Hi Maureen! TCP is one of those smells that seems to linger forever! You could give some of the tips in this post a go - essential oils are very potent so would be perfect for masking this kind of thing. I'd also suggest keeping the windows open as much as possible and maybe even cleaning and repainting the areas that seem to have the TCP smell. Hope this helps!
How to get rid of carpet smell. Seems like combo of musty and stale chlorine. Very disgusting
Hi Luba! Hope is not lost. We have a really easy fix. Just sprinkle baking soda in a thin layer over your carpet. Leave it for a few hours if possible and then vacuum it up. The baking soda will help to neutralise any smells.
Number 10 seems to be missing something. Re-read... what does the washing machine have to do with the living room?
Hi there Jason! We're talking about how you can clean fabrics that might be in your living room - blankets, cushions, pet beds etc. Hope this clears that up!
Everything smells bad in my house
Sorry to hear that, B! Do you know what might be causing the problem?
I found a tiny, dead mouse in my basement this morn, and it seems to have caused a foul odor in my house. How can I get rid of that smell?
Hi Lori! That can't have been a very nice find. Firstly, be cautious as finding one dead mouse is normally a sign that there are more lurking around your home that you haven't yet found. I'd suggest spreading ground coffee on the spot where you found it. This should absorb a lot of the odor. As you found the mouse in your basement, do all you can to ventilate the room. If that doesn't work, you can look into odor remover bags, ionizers and even calling in a professional if the problem persists. Hope you manage to get rid of the smell soon!
My friends son is staying with me for a while. His shoes and stinky feet odor is awful. He sleeps on the couch and my chair is across the room. The smell is now going into my bedroom and cloths. Should I keep the fan on my thermostat on. Can't tell him or his mom. He's trying to get back on his feet. No pun intended. I can't breathe. Awful
Hi Elizabeth! That's very kind of you to help out your friend and their son. Sorry to hear that it hasn't worked out quite as you were expecting! What have you tried so far?
Hi how can I get rid of really strong Indian curry smell from my next door neighbors house that is coming into mine especially upstairs and in my hallway
Hi there! It would help to have a little bit more information. How do you think the smell is getting into your house and what sort of accommodation is it?
Small hallway with lots of shoes on rack , that smells awful. How can I get rid of smell . Thanks
Hi Suzanne! The best way to get rid of the smell is to kill it at the source. Your best bet is to give your shoes a clean with a deodorizing shoe spray or to take some kitchen roll soaked in Zoflora disinfectant (See our article here: https://experthometips.com/uses-for-zoflora ) and allow the shoes to soak it up. You could also switch out your shoe storage by getting something with doors or a lid so that the smell is a bit more contained.
Plz some body help . my Uncle have fill the water tank with water then add a big bottle of dettole and Alum .now there is a very bad smell .we empty the thank but there is very very bad smell. how to finish this bad smell?
Hi there, Kokab! We're sorry to hear that. Do you know what it was that might have caused the bad smell, or could you describe the smell to us?
Hi I left food in the oven and fell asleep woke up with the flat smelly what's the best way to get rid of the smell?
Hi Paul! What have you tried so far? We'd begin by opening windows to get some fresh air into the flat.
Hi, my mother-in-law passed away about 10 years ago and we moved into the house, we changed everything, carpets, wardrobes, beds, gutted bathroom installing new toilet and bath, new carpets all through house, gutted kitchen including flooring and put in new. Problem is whenever my daughter calls round she says the house ( especially in the hallway) smells of nanna. I've tried and tried to solve the problem but not havi g any luck. HELP.
Hi Renie! I'm sorry to hear that your mother-in-law passed away. It's quite strange that you haven't been able to get rid of the smell even after all that time. It could just be the smell of the building, which your daughter associates with her nanna. Have you tried anything else apart from gutting/redecorating?
My cousin stayed with me for two months, she had this body ordour that i’m not sure what to associate it with, the smell settled in couch she slept in and in the bathroom (my place is quite small). She’s been gone for a few days and the smell is still there and I leave the sliding door open the whole day. Not sure what do, please help.
Hi Zinzi! Have you tried deep cleaning your home? Start by cleaning your couch and bathroom to try to eliminate the smell.
How do you get rid of my unit smelling of perfume from the previous tenant.
Hi there! What have you tried so far?
Did you mean sprinkle baking soda , not baking powder?
Yes, baking soda is best for cleaning.
In response to Renie, about house smelling like Nanna: My parents were very clean. Each person has their own particular smells that loved ones recognize. Neither of my parents died in their home, yet 20 yrs. after they passed, I was invited in to reminisce by the new owner of 19 yrs. I immediately smelled "my parents "- unless you completely gut the home of wallcovering & flooring, you might try scentsys or essential oil in a diffuser
That must have been quite a surreal feeling, MaryBeth!
Every morning no matter the season, I open all the windows and doors and leave them as long as possible depending on weather. Empty garbage cans clean and empty often. Try to keep dirty laundry washed asap.
Great idea! You can't beat fresh air.
My daughter’s cat has peed on everything and her house stinks so badly. Not even sure where all the smells are. Can I do anything before hiring a professional?
Hi Linda! If you can do so without damaging the surface, apply shaving foam to the areas that the cat has urinated on and scrub. It helps to remove the smell.
Lighting a candle seems to disperse many odours and putting Washing Soda in the wash frequently stops the washing machine from any build up of smells, or as was said put half a lemon in the fridge. But aren't I glad that I do not have a great sense of smell some things are a blessing but you do not realise until something happens or someone tells you, my daughter sometimes asks me what something smells like and half the time I do not smell anything,
We definitely do become nose blind! Thanks for sharing those tips.
I use a Neutralizing spray called with sniff blocker. I spray it when perfumes offend me in public, when I'm with friends that smoke and in the carbon area. My best tip is my best hidden secret. I spray the bathroom to remain descret after I go poop.
How interesting! I've never had someone's perfume offend me in public, but I suppose it could be useful.
I bought a house with a casita . The casita is attached to garage. It has an odor but the garage does not. I have cleaned and painted the walls and ceiling. Bleached the floors and resealed them and added new baseboards. I have cleaned the bathroom including the drains. The odor is gone for a little while but comes back. Help! What more can I do?
Hi Susie! When does it tend to come back?
Hi Stephanie. Spray bottle +warm water +backing soda+fabric conditioner helps. Also coffee beans or cup of vinegar can neutralise odours. Thank you Robi
Thanks for the tip!
Hi I’ve just bought a new house and downstairs there is a horrible “fishy” smell,. The previous owner had a house rabbit and hamsters and I’m not sure if they have peed on the floor. I’ve had the windows open, used vinegar and baking soda across the floor ( currently I am gutting the whole house a dripping everything out. I have sprayed with anti bacteria solution, bleach and used scented wax burners. It’s like I can mask the smell for a bit but it doesn’t go. When I go back to the house and walk in it stinks 😷help any advice ?
To eliminate the fishy smell in your new house, consider renting a carpet cleaner or steam cleaner, removing fabric materials, checking ventilation, using an odour-neutraliser spray, or hiring a professional odour-removal service. Be patient and persistent, and seek professional help if needed.
I’ve recently purchased a lovely thick blind second hand. Since putting it up the smell is awful, I keep spraying it but obviously the smell of the spray wears off after 30 minutes or so. I am desperate to get rid of this horrible smell that’s coming from the blind. I’ve always had curtains so I’m unsure of how to deal with this problem.
Sorry to hear that, Leah! Over time, sun exposure should help eliminate any smells. Alternatively, you could try placing activated charcoal near the blind to absorb unpleasant odours. If that doesn't work, you may need to hire a professional cleaner or replace the blind.
Feline smells such as urine and nasty spray can be ousted with white vinegar! For my needs, I don't use sparingly. For heavily soiled set in smells, soak in a bucket for a couple of days then agitate in cold water, rinse and wash on cold as normal.
My neighbours have an oil fired boiler. Unfortunately I believe the glue installed is too short, consequently if the breeze is in my direction I suffer from the all pervading odour and my conservatory gets residue deposits. How do I deal with this? I have raised concerns in the past but have been told it meets the required regulations. I don't want to fall out with them as they are elderly and are generally very kind, but the smell is often quite pungent.
You can try talking to your neighbours again and explaining the impact of the odour or contact your local council or environmental health department for help. If necessary, consider installing a filtration system or seeking legal advice.
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