Tips For Removing Bad Odors From Your Home

Being away from your home will give you a fresh (or stale) perspective of what it smells like to guests that you regularly invite over.

This is due to a survival instinct we've evolved with known as "olfactory adaptation" or "odor fatigue". In short, your nose starts ignoring familiar smells in an effort to make unfamiliar scents easier to detect in the case of an emergency.

Thankfully there are a few tips that you can apply to reduce or even remove the odors completely.

Replace or Clean Your Stove's Range Filters

If you frequently cook at home, you are likely to have oils and food particles accumulate in your stove's range hood filters. This prevents the effectiveness of absorbing harmful smoke, grease, and removing odor.

As a rule of thumb, it's recommended to replace your filters every 3 months or 120 hours of cooking. You can buy new filters relatively inexpensively, or if you are trying to save money, use this recipe to clean your current filters:

  • Large bowl or bucket filled with 1/2 gallon (~2 liters) of hot water
  • 1/4 cup Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster
  • 2 tbsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp borax powder
  • 1 squirt of degreasing dish soap
  • Paper towels

Once you've created the cleaning solution, place your filter in the water so that it's completely submerged. If you can't find a bowl or bucket to cover it, try using your sink as a cleaning vessel. Leave it soaking for up to 15 minutes. If it's still covered in grime when you pull it out of the water, lightly scrub the filter with a brush and rinse it with cold water. From there, place it on your paper towels and wait for it to dry.

Replace or Clean Air Conditioning Filters

Not only does the efficiency and performance of your air conditioner degrade when you don't clean or replace it regularly, it can also trap the smells that have been circulating throughout your home and in turn cause allergies.

If your filter has a metal mesh, you can simply rinse it with water or clean it with a solution of water and dish soap. If it's a Polypropylene or fiber glass filter, you should buy a new replacement.

Replace or Clean Vacuum Filters

Your vacuum cleaner can also contribute to the foul smells in your home if you don't replace the filters or bags. Some vacuums come equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (hepa) filter, that most often should be replaced every year.

Other vacuums allow you to restore the filters by simply using an air compressor and hosing it down with water before allowing it to dry. Check with your manufacturer to see which option you should use.

Wipe Your Walls With a Damp Rag

A touch of vinegar on a damp rag will go a long way to remove odor from various parts of your home including cabinets, counter-tops, walls, baseboards, shutters, and even floors.

For greasy walls, you can use Dawn dishwashing liquid to break down the bonds first and then wiping over with the vinegar rag.

Clean Your Dishwasher

It may sound a bit ironic, but dishwashers need to be cleaned as well. They can trap grease build-up, old detergent sludge, food particles (seeds, beans, corn, etc.), and eventually become a breeding ground for mold and mildew.

To clean your dishwasher:

  • Start by completely emptying the dishwasher and taking a damp cloth to wipe down the entire inside of the apparatus.
  • Fill a bowl of distilled vinegar and place it on the top rack.
  • Run the dishwasher on the hottest possible setting to let the vinegar clear out any grease build-up, detergent, and sludge left behind from previous cycles.

Augment your normal dishwasher detergent with Rinse-Aid, which will help hygienically clean your dishwasher.

Open Up The Windows

Fresh outside air can really help filter out the bad smells in your home -- especially while cooking. Check the air quality index before opening your windows, and leave them open for a few hours each day.

If you have a ceiling fan, make sure it is set to rotate counterclockwise. This will help push the air down into the room.

Clean The Bottom of Trash Cans

Juices, food, and other undesirable bacteria can start growing in the bottom of your garbage can. Prevent this by regularly cleaning your garbage can with soap and water. You can also line the bottom of your garbage can with a layer of bleach to kill any bacteria that may be present.

Use Odor Removers

Using products such as Febreeze or Zero Odor will neutralize some of the bad smells in the air by using cyclodextrins to bind and trap odor molecule bonds. You can use them on your shoes, clothes hamper, furniture, and more. We recommend using scent-free.

Use a Dehumidifier

If you live in a humid climate, you may want to consider using a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air. This will help prevent mold and mildew from growing in spots like under the rim of your toilet:

Mildew built up from a bathroom in a humid area
Mildew built up from a bathroom in a humid area

Boil a Pot of Water With Cinnamon, Clove, and Orange

If you prefer a natural solution rather than using synthetic odor removers, try the following recipe.

  • 4-6 cups of water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • A pinch of fresh slightly crushed cloves
  • Grated orange peels/orange slices

Bring the concoction to a low simmer and let it vaporize during the day. As the water evaporates, simply keep refilling until the scent is to your desired liking.

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