Home Remedies For Odor Removal

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Left untreated, smells can float through the house and settle in the bedroom, living room and dining room, bothering you and guests. There are plenty of sweetly fragranced products that will temporarily get rid of the odors, but what are the best home remedies for odor removal? If you want to get rid of bad smells completely, you’ve got to fight them at their source.

How To Find Out What’s Causing Bad Smells In Your Home

The first step in tracking down pesky odors is to get to the source of the problem. You’ll have to use your nose and sniff out the cause of the smell. Once the source of the odor has been located, completely remove it, clean the surrounding area and air out the area. Here are some tips on how to track down some of the worst odor inducers around the house.

How To Get Rid Of Smells In The Kitchen

Kitchen odors come from a variety of places. Some common sources are the garbage can and dirty dishes.

  • Scrape food scraps off dishes immediately after a meal and rinse the plates right away. Leaving dirty dishes in the sink will allow mold to grow, which will add to the smell of rotting food as it sits in your sink, not to mention the food can build up in your drain.
  • Garbage that accumulates in the kitchen should be taken out every evening.
  • Some cooking oils (such as coconut oil) cause less odor and do not linger like other oils and fats.
  • Throw away old leftovers and spoiled foods in your refrigerator, freezer and cupboards.
  • Wash out the interior of the refrigerator or freezer on a regular schedule. Take out removable parts (such as drawers) and wash with warm soapy water. Wipe down the interior with a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda and 1 quart warm water.
  • For intense odors use baking soda, activated charcoal, cat litter, imitation vanilla, or fresh ground coffee as an odor absorber. Remove everything from the refrigerator, spread the odor absorbing material on a pan, and place in the refrigerator for several days.
  • Place a few slices of lemon in a bowl of water, put in the microwave, and heat for 2 minutes. Let set for a few minutes and odors in the microwave will be gone.

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How To Clean A Garbage Disposal & Get Rid Of Drain Smells

Here are a few tips to keep drains clean and fresh:

  • Check your garbage disposal. Sometimes the blades can’t reach every nook and cranny of your drain, leaving chunks of food sitting inside for days, weeks or even months. When the disposal is off, use a flashlight to check your drain. If you can see food inside the disposal, chances are it’s been sitting there for a while, making your kitchen stink.
  • Flush the drain with water using a hose attachment on your sink. If you don’t have one, turn on the faucet, and carefully try angling the spray of the water using a spoon. You’ll need to try to direct the water around the edges of the drain, rather than straight down. If you can’t flush out food debris with water, try scraping the drain with a bottle brush. Never stick your hand inside the garbage disposal drain.
  • Fill your drain with ice, then turn on your faucet and run the garbage disposal. The ice chunks will break up and scrape food debris off your drain and disposal blades.
  • Keep garbage disposals smelling fresh by cutting up a lemon or an orange and running the fruit’s rinds through the disposal. Do this once a month.
  • Clear a blocked drain with a mixture of 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup baking soda.
  • Run water through seldom used drains to keep the sewer trap from drying out. This trap acts as an odor barrier between the sewer system and the house.

How To Get Rid Of Bathroom & Laundry Room Odors

It’s important to keep bathrooms and laundry rooms dry to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. If possible, open the windows to let air circulate or use a fan to help dry the room. Areas around toilets and bathtubs should be kept clean and dry. Leave the lid to the washing machine open so that the inside has a chance to dry out.

How To Get Rid Of Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are common in areas that are frequently wet and cause musty odors. Bathrooms, basements, closets and areas under sinks frequently become wet or remain humid for long periods of time. Poor air circulation promotes mold and mildew.

Here are some home remedies to remove odors caused by mold and mildew:

  • Reduce moisture and mold smells from basements, damp closets and cupboards by scattering large pans of baking soda, charcoal or cat litter around the space.
  • Remove severe mildew smells from fabrics by rinsing in the washing machine with cold water and 1 cup of white vinegar. Follow with a regular wash.
  • Keep towels smelling clean by adding 2 tablespoons of baking soda to each laundry load.
  • If you begin to see mold growing on your walls or ceilings, immediately wipe them down with a disinfectant, and air out the room. Do not touch the mold with your bare hands.
  • If your bathroom doesn’t have a window, you’ll need to keep the overhead fan and light on for at least 15 minutes after every bath or shower to help reduce the amount of moisture in the air. Never shut your bathroom room after a bath or shower, as this will trap the hot, moist air inside the room, rapidly breeding mold and mildew.

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How To Get Rid Of Pet Odors In Your Home

When pets live inside the house, it’s important to keep the pet, the pet’s space and their bedding clean. Dog and cat beds should be washed on a regular schedule. Birdcages should be cleaned every few days. Litter boxes should be kept fresh and as far from pet and human beds as possible.

Here are a few quick tips for removing pet odors:

  • Clean up pet accidents as quickly as possible. Remove the solid matter, clean the area with warm soapy water and air out the room. Use distilled white vinegar to neutralize odors without harsh chemicals.
  • To get rid of pet odors in a carpet, clean the carpet with a hot water extractor or steam cleaner. Spot cleanings can be done by sprinkling baking soda over an area, letting it sit for an hour and vacuuming the area.
  • If an aquarium has a foul ammonia-type odor, it is time to change the water. This odor is accompanied by a blue-green algae growing in the aquarium. This isn’t healthy for you or your fish, so always try to clean before you notice this stage of decay.

Search For: Pet Odor Removal Service

Homemade Air Freshener Recipes

Once you’ve removed these top odor causing substances from your home, keep the air smelling fresh with these DIY air fresheners.

  • Place a few drops of vanilla, orange or lavender extract or essential oil onto a cotton ball, set on a small tray or dish.
  • Fill a mason jar with one cup of baking soda and a few drops of essential oil. Place the jar on your bathroom counter, toilet tank or laundry room shelf.
  • Fill a spray bottle with water or white vinegar and add essential oil in a pleasing scent, to your liking. For a stronger smell, use at least 10 drops. Lavender, lemon and vanilla are common choices.
  • See The Best Natural Air Purifiers

Household odors can be easily eliminated with regular attention and controlled with a few items commonly found in most kitchen cabinets. When you have an odor problem, try one of these solutions:

  • Use white distilled vinegar in the kitchen, laundry room and bathroom to kill bacteria, eliminate mold and neutralize odors.
  • Baking soda absorbs odors in refrigerators and carpets. It also makes a mild abrasive.
  • Lemons remove odors from kitchen appliances and cutting boards.

For more cleaning tips, see:

Last Updated: April 11, 2013
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About Coletta Teske Coletta Teske has 25 years' experience in tech journalism, as well as home and gardening topics. She has freelanced for Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing and Microsoft, published more than two dozen computer books for Prima Publishing and Macmillan, and worked as a freelance correspondent for West Hawaii Today. Coletta has been an avid gardener since she was 2 years old. While living in Hawaii, she achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a certified master gardener.

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