A home that smells good naturally doesn’t rely on artificial fragrance, candles or plugins. What makes any home smell good is a fresh clean scent without any noticeable strong odors.
Clean homes that smell good are healthier too. When you get rid of the things that smell, you’re also getting rid of things that cause allergies, infections and potentially lower your immune system.
If you want to know how to make your home smell good all the time, the first step is understanding why your home may smell bad. Once you know what you’re dealing with you can move on to fixing it. A clean home has the best smell of all. Here’s how to get it done in a day.
Why Does My Home Smell?
- We love our pets don’t we, but it’s easy to become immune to how they smell. Pet beds, pet hair and litter boxes hold bacteria, dirt, outdoor soil and of course sometimes urine and poo too.
- Carpets and soft furnishings like pillows and upholstered furniture can act like a sponge that holds onto bacteria, hair, moisture, dirt and smells.
- Moisture can build up in bathrooms, playrooms and laundry rooms promoting the growth of mold and mildew. Mold is decaying matter which causes a room to smell musty and may cause allergies and infections.
- Trash and recycling cans, diaper pails and pet litter boxes all contain potentially harmful bacteria in addition to not so nice smells. In fact the smell is your clue to the presence of bacteria.
How to Make your Home Smell Good Naturally
1. Why Your Pets Stink
Pet beds, pet hair and pet litter boxes may be the number one reason your home doesn’t smell good. Pets roll in smelly things outside and bring it home where they roll around again. Your dog and cat shed on your beds, sofas, carpet and rugs transferring their unique odor to these surfaces which soak up smells like a sponge. Plus soft surfaces harbor dirt and bacteria in hard to reach places.
- Aquariums and tanks create humidity. Smells can come from rotting food, fish poop and vegetation at the bottom of the tank.
- Small caged pets like rabbits, hamsters or rodents may not smell, but their bedding and cages will if they’re not kept clean.
How to Cure Pet Smells
If you don’t want your home to smell like your pets, be ready to commit to a cleaning schedule. With dogs and cats, the best thing you can do is to brush and bathe them regularly. If you have an indoor cat, the litter box ideally is cleaned daily or more often as needed. Don’t want to mess with bathing? Find a local groomer that will do the job for you. Treat stains right away with an enzyme cleaner like Simple Green from Home Depot.
Can you wash a dog bed in a washing machine?
Yes, if your bed is machine washable and you have a large front loading machine. If not, take it to a local laundromat.
In between washing, take pet beds outside to shake and get rid of hair, bugs and debris, then leave in the sun to air out. Spray with a non-toxic natural freshener (see below).
- Use a water siphon to clean aquarium tanks of decaying plants and rotting food
- With small pet cages, remove leftover food every day and wash water and food bowls. Remove soiled bedding daily and deep clean cage every 2-4 weeks.
2. Why Your Couch and Carpets Stink
One of the main causes of a smelly home could be your carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, curtains, beds and bedding. Fabrics absorb smells easily. Think about it, we spend a lot of our time laying or sleeping on our sofas and beds.
Why do soft furnishings absorb smells?
Carpets have tons of surface area for dirt and bacteria to hide in. Your pillows, bedding and sofa all absorb body oils, perspiration and skin cells from direct contact with you and your family, including the family pet. Stains and spills, even if they’re wiped up, leave behind odor causing bacteria. If you catch the spill in time, spot treat with a natural plant based extract cleaner like this one from Home Depot.
Bed pillows and bedding are one of the biggest smelly culprits because we spend 1/3 of our life in bed!
How to Cure Fabric and Carpet Smells
Vacuum carpets regularly on a schedule so dirt and debris doesn’t build up. Sprinkle a non toxic odor absorber like baking soda onto your carpet before vacuuming to help remove odors. This works for area rugs too. Or you can toss small rugs into the washing machine.
Slipcovered sofas and chairs make it easier to keep on top of regular cleaning. IKEA makes a good range of slipcovered family room furniture.
If you keep on top of vacuuming regularly you’ll help keep dirt and soil from getting embedded in fabric.
Treat stains right away with a eco friendly natural stain remover. Use a natural fabric refresher in between washing or if you can’t machine wash. Recipe below!
Bedding like pillows and comforters can be machine washed at home if your machine is large enough. If not take them down to the local laundromat. Always wash at the hottest temperature of 60c (140f) to kill any bacteria.
Can you wash down pillows?
Yes, in fact down pillows wash well in your front or top loading machine. Wash several pillows together to balance out the load. Make sure they dry thoroughly because damp down feathers can mildew. To dry, put down pillows in your dryer at low-med temperature with a tennis ball or two to fluff them. I like to finish off drying my pillows in the sun.
These dryer balls from Home Depot can be used instead of tennis balls and naturally fluff all your other clothes too. No more fabric softener to buy!
When pillows are too soiled and the inner filling has broken down, it’s time to replace them.
Cooking smells can also linger and get embedded in fabrics. Use extractor fans when cooking and open windows to allow smells to escape.
3. Why Your Homes Humidity Stinks
Too much humidity creates mold and mildew with a chaser of funky smell. Damp towels or sponges in bathrooms and kitchens add to inside humidity levels. In humid parts of the country like Florida, carpet and upholstery can hold onto moisture like a sponge.
Why does my home smell musty?
A musty smelling home is a good indication there’s mold or mildew present. Lack of air movement also contributes to mold buildup and a musty odor.
How to Cure Smells from Humidity
To counteract humidity run your AC or air conditioner to keep humidity levels inside below 60%.
In confined spaces or where AC isn’t available, use a highly rated dehumidifier like this room model with hidden wheels for rolling from room to room.
For closets, bathrooms or small utility rooms try moisture absorbing products like Damp Rid or this charcoal hack. Line up charcoal briquettes in a sheet pan, in a tin with punched holes in lid or put them to hang in a sock. Charcoal will naturally absorb moisture. Be extra careful if you have small children or pets when using these remedies. Make sure they are out of reach at all times.
Hang up towels and bathmats to dry out in fresh air when you can to keep moisture levels in the house down. Wash and dry them more often so damp towels aren’t laying around the house. If your home doesn’t have good ventilation, a simple fan like this one will help, plus it’s rated quiet.
Rinse out sponges and air out in sun or fresh air until dry. Both of these hacks help reduce bacteria growth as well.
4. Why Other Smells Stink
Trash cans, recycling bins that haven’t been rinsed or emptied, diaper pails and refrigerators are all common sources of bad smells. No kidding right? Even if you empty the trash, recycling or diaper pail regularly, it may still have residue left inside that smells funky.
Drip pans under refrigerators are designed to catch overflow water and if not cleaned every few months may be the source of that puzzling stink in your kitchen.
How to Cure Other Smells
Empty trash and recycle bins more often, natch. Transfer recycles to an outdoor recycling bin if possible. Get in the habit of rinsing out trash and recycling bins with a hose or in the shower using your homemade cleaner.
Diaper pails really need to get cleaned out every day. Start by putting some baking soda at the bottom of the pail to absorb odors. Spray the inside of the pail with Lysol. Rinse and clean often with a solution of bleach and water. Bag up disposables and take outside as soon as possible.
How to clean refrigerator drip pan
Every 3 months check and clean your refrigerator drain pan. While you’re at it vacuum behind and under the fridge to catch dust bunnies or debris.
While you’re working on the fridge, take a moment and spot check inside shelves. Sometimes rotting vegetables or spilled condiments can hide under drawers. Start by tossing out anything even slightly rotten and wipe down inside walls with a squirt of dish soap and a splash of vinegar in water. Wipe clean and dry.
How do you make natural Febreze?
Looking for a green alternative to Febreze fabric freshener? Use either of these sprays on your soft furnishings like couches or upholstered chairs just as you would Febreze. To keep pillows and comforters fresh smelling, lightly spritz between machine washes.
Natural Fabric Freshener without fabric softener
- Empty spray bottle
- 1 1/2 cup distilled water
- 1/2 cup witch hazel/cheap vodka/white vinegar
- 1-2 tbsp of baking soda
- 10-20 drops of essential oil
Pour all ingredients into your spray bottle, swish and shake until combined well and spray! Safe for use on pet beds, but be careful not to use too much or often as some pets may be sensitive to essential oils. Always let dry completely after spraying.
Natural Fabric Freshener with fabric softener
- Empty spray bottle
- 2 tbsp. of baking soda
- 1/4 cup of fabric softener
- Hot clean distilled or filtered water
Add baking soda and fabric softener to spray bottle, fill with hot water and shake until well blended. Spray lightly on sofa cushions, pillows and pet beds, then wait until dry before using.
Both recipes for homemade fabric deodorizing sprays should be used up within 3-4 weeks