Natural Ways to Make Your Home Smell As Good As It Looks!

We can spend a lot of time finding the right furniture, making the perfect accessories, and overall creating the right atmosphere for our homes, but if there’s a bad smell,  then our humble abode is far from perfect. While a pleasant aroma can’t make a home beautiful, a bad odor can turn even the most beautifully decorated home into a place to avoid.  Below, we take a look at the reasons our houses might have a bad smell, and things to do for a fresh scent. As usual, I love using natural remedies as much as possible. Some simple home remedies use plants and basic cleaning with baking soda, vinegar, salt, and other natural cleaners. 

Air It!

Open the windows and doors and get fresh air. Have you noticed when you return home after being away a few days that your house has a stale odor? I hate that smell. Open the windows and get a nice circulation of air through your home.

Outlook, Window, Nature, Heaven, View, Blue, Bright

Clean The Air With White Vinegar and/or Lemon Juice

Place a bowl of white vinegar in the room to absorb odors. I have a bowl on the counter in my kitchen at all times. It helps dissipate old cooking odors.(This is NOT RECOMMENDED for homes with cats or dogs as vinegar is toxic to cats. Lemon juice is toxic to both) For years, my sister has placed bowls of vinegar around the rooms when having a party. It helps absorb cigarette smoke too. If you want to clean the air and add a fresh scent, boil lemon peels in water. Remove from stove and when cool, put strained lemon water in a bowl. Place in room that requires freshening. Add a small fan if necessary.

Vinegar, Cleaning, Cleaner, Clean, Wash, Natural

Absorbed Odors & DIY Carpet Odor Removers

If you’ve been living in your home for a while, then it has probably absorbed plenty of smells. The carpet, stuffed furniture, and walls are magnets for smells.  If you’re not periodically removing the trapped smells, then they can  affect your quality of life.

Baking Soda, Box, White, Powder, Sodium, Bicarbonate

Carpets and Rugs

This is particularly the case for carpets or large area rugs, which are always put through the ringer with spilt drinks, foods, and other smelly substances. Many products made to clean carpets have too many chemicals and strong artificial perfumes. I don’t like that and neither do my allergies. You can remove smells from your carpet with a simple, ecofriendly DIY carpet odor remover using household supplies. The simplest method is to liberally sprinkle baking soda on the carpet and let it sit at least 15 minutes. You might even sprinkle a room at night before you go to sleep and vacuum in the morning. I’ve done this for some years. If you’d like a slight pleasant smell with the odor removal, add a little cinnamon to the baking soda.  When you vacuum up the baking soda, your family will wonder if you’re baking. Works perfectly for a pre-holiday cleaning for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Salt and cornstarch also work, but I do truly love using baking soda throughout my house.  This should be a regular task especially if you have a cat or dog.
If your pet or child has an accident in the house, and you have urine in the carpet, grab your bottle of cheap white vinegar and 2 old towels.  Blot the wet urine with an old towel to soak up as much urine as possible. Sprinkle white vinegar on the wet spot, sprinkle baking soda on top of the vinegar, and allow to dry.  After it dries, vacuum up the baking soda. Repeat if necessary. (Always do a patch test of vinegar on your carpet in an area not seen such as under your furniture.) 

If you need to replace your carpet, go with wood or tiles. You’ve made upkeep easier and taken a giant step at a room makeover at the same time. 

Upholstered Furniture

For your upholstered furniture, wipe your couch or chair with a clean cotton cloth or a stiff clean brush to get dust and dried particles off. Sprinkle baking soda over couch and let sit for at least 25 minutes. Vacuum baking soda off couch. I find that washable slip covers, chair and couch protectors, and large throws on the furniture are very helpful in protecting the furniture in homes with small children and pets. Wash them frequently to remove any odors from spills etc.

Bed, Bedroom, Carpet, Curtains, Pillows, Cushions

Draperies and Curtains

Draperies and curtains should be cleaned on a regular basis. For weekly care, use the upholstery brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to vacuum heavier weight curtains. The tops of the curtains along the rod are especially susceptible to dust accumulation.  You can use a long-handled dusting tool to gently brush and dust the area or the wand of your vacuum cleaner. Delicate and light weight curtains should be shaken not vacuumed.  Washable curtains should be laundered frequently following care instructions on label. Draperies requiring dry cleaning should be professionally cleaned periodically.

All Natural Cleaning of The Appliances

Kitchen, Dark Cabinets, Dark Cabinetry

Our heavy use appliances can also give off bad smells, specifically our refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers and hot water tanks.

You might think that it’s unusual for a dishwasher to smell bad as it should be “self-cleaning”, but it makes sense: all the food and grease that’s being washed off dishes have to go somewhere, and not all of it will drain away. At a minimum, you should be cleaning your dishwasher once a month.  Check  your drain at the bottom of the dishwasher daily for utensils and at least weekly to remove any bits of food too large to drain.  Monthly clean the dishwasher by running a full hot water cycle with a mug of white vinegar in the top rack. Follow with a cup of baking soda sprinkled in bottom of the dishwasher and a short hot water cycle.  This will keep your dishwasher fresh and clean.

A refrigerator can smell because of the food we place in it. If food is forgotten and spoils, you can have a smell even after the offending item is thrown away.  Deep clean your refrigerator by removing all items and cleaning the inside with a thick paste of baking soda and water. Rinse with clean water and dry. Frequently maintain the fridge by wiping up spills with white vinegar and water.  Place an open box of baking soda in the back of the refrigerator to absorb odors.  If you want to add a pleasant aroma, place a cotton ball soaked in vanilla in the back of the refrigerator.

The oven is another area of the kitchen which can produce lingering odors from baked on grease. Clean your oven regularly. I use an aluminum liner on the bottom of the oven to catch spills. Periodically I recycle the liner and replace it with a new one. I don’t use the non-stick liner because it outgasses as the oven heats up. I avoid strong chemicals as much as possible.  Use a natural, eco-friendly method to clean. Use 1/2 cup of baking soda to about 3 tablespoons water to make a spreadable paste.  Wearing gloves, spread paste all over oven interior avoiding heating elements. Leave it for 12 hours or overnight.  Wipe down interior walls.  Spritz vinegar on any patches of baking soda. If you need to scrape, use a spatula. Use more vinegar or water as needed to wipe interior clean.

For garbage disposal and kitchen sink upkeep, see How to Prevent Kitchen Clogs.

There’ll also be a lot of sulphur in your hot water tank, which can cause smells. If you think that’s the culprit then have it checked out by a plumber.

Under the Surface

Those pipes that flush away your water and waste are connected to a much larger, much smellier system. While these tubes are supposed to only flow one way, from time to time, you might notice a sewage smell, which usually occurs when the seal breaks that prevents sewage smells from entering your home. In this event you’ll need to have it repaired. Once it’s fixed, you should notice the smell disappear when the room is aired with open windows.

Add Plants To Clean The Air

We love plants for their beauty and texture in our homes. NASA studied  houseplants’ ability to reduce indoor air pollutants. Many items in our home, like MDF furniture and rugs, outgas chemicals for years after production. Since the release of the initial 1989 study, further research has been done including a 1993 paper and 1996 book by B. C. Wolverton, the primary researcher on the original NASA study. A different study in 2004 has also shown that the micro-organisms in the soil of a potted plant remove benzene from the air, and that some plant species themselves also contribute to removing benzene. Note some of the plants are toxic to cats, dogs, or other pets. If you are a pet owner, check the toxicity of the plant before bringing it home.  I personally always have a Peace Lily in the living room. I like the way it looks and love the way it absorbs 5 of the chemicals NASA listed.   If you also want to add a pleasant fragrance with cleaner air, consider geraniums, Arabian jasmine, eucalyptus, gardenias, corsage orchids, and Cuban oregano. Try jasmine in your bedroom.  See my post, Air Cleaning Plants,  for more information.

Jasmin, Solanum Jasminoides, Arrangement, Garden

Poor Air

It a foul odor persists despite these cleanings and maintenance, it might not be anything within the home, but the air itself. This is a common problem for most of us who have HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems in our homes. If the air filter hasn’t been regularly cleaned or replaced, then the appliance will be transmitting dirty – not to mention unhealthy – air into our rooms. Change or clean the filter frequently. To save money and be eco-friendly, buy a washable AC Furnace Filter. No need to spend money on throw away filters; just clean the filter regularly and pocket the money.

The Old Nemesis

Foul odors in the home might indicate that you have a problem that all homeowners try to avoid: mold. A little bit of mold won’t cause too much damage, but if you’re beginning to smell it, then it’s got to a point where it needs to be removed. You should be looking for musty, damp smells, like those found in basements. Once you’ve found the moldy area, deep clean it.  Most websites suggest you mix one part bleach with three parts water in a bucket and scrub. I DISAGREE. DO NOT USE BLEACH. According to home maintenance expert, Henri De Marne: 

Both distilled white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide will do an effective job of killing mold spores in porous materials. Bleach can only kill mold on non-porous surfaces, as it does not penetrate porous surfaces; so mold roots are left to grow again.

To kill mold spores and their roots, pour straight 3 percent peroxide (H2O2), undiluted, into a spray bottle and saturate … with it.

Let the H2O2 do its work for 10 to 15 minutes, and scrub the walls to remove all dead mold.

You can add vinegar to the H2O2 in the spray bottle to make the solution stronger.

I like that vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are natural and not toxic to people. (If you have a cat, hydrogen peroxide is highly toxic if a cat ingests it.DO NOT LEAVE IT OUT.)  If mold has permeated a large section of dry wall, replace the dry wall. Extensive mold invasion requires a professional mold remediation. 

Avoidable Smells

Some of our homes smell because of our lifestyle choices. If you smoke inside your house, then it’s inevitable that it’ll always very lightly smell of smoke, even if you’re opening the windows to air the place out. It is possible to deep clean your furniture to remove the smells, but you’ll have to do it regularly if you’re planning on continuing to smoke indoors. Instead, if you can’t quit smoking for your health, then just go outside to smoke. Also, as much as we love our pets, it’s hard to deny that they have issues when it comes to their smell. Regularly bathe your pooch, and use laundered protectors for cats and dogs to sit on the couch and other furniture.

Dog, Cat, Pets, Mammals, Animals, Friends, Friendship

In the Fireplace

Finally, if you have a fireplace, it’s recommended that you make sure it’s not giving off any bad smells. Excess moisture, debris, and soot that hasn’t been removed can all create bad smells. After each winter, have your fireplace serviced by an expert to make sure it’s clean and in good working order.

Add Seasonal Fragrance

To add natural fragrance to your home, use potpourri, natural candles, essential oils in diffusers or simmer pots of natural herbs and fruits. My Fall Stovetop Potpourri and my Holiday Stovetop Potpourri are simple recipes to fill your home with the smells of the season.

By following these tips, you’ll have a home that smells as good as it looks!

Soft fall Subscribe

Thanks for the visit. Get exclusive free printables & all the news straight to your mailbox!


* indicates required


I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

25 thoughts to “Natural Ways to Make Your Home Smell As Good As It Looks!”

  1. I have to fight a musty smell that comes from antique furniture. I use candles, baking soda, and I open the windows, but I still wonder if the smell is present since I can’t really smell it since I live there. Do you think I should wipe down the inside of cabinets with hydrogen peroxide?

    1. Try using the green wood clean of 1/2 cup of vinegar mixed with 1/2 cup of olive oil. Put on soft, clean cloth and rub all over. Leave to dry. It can help remove dirt, leaves a shine. I would do that frequently to see if that helps I’ve also read that you can use lemon juice and oil but I personally haven’t tried that. If odor persists, try putting a dish or box of baking soda in the cabinet over night. Throw away the soda. Let me know if that helps. I haven’t used hydrogen peroxide on furniture as I’m afraid it would bleach it. Peroxide is a fabulous cleaner though.

  2. Some great tips here. You have reminded me to get our chimney swept now that autumn is around the corner. Using cinnamon in baking powder is a great idea. I have used shake n’ vac in the past but I don’t like the smell. #pocolo

    1. I used the commercial brand a couple of decades ago and hated it. Switched to baking powder and really like that.

  3. Great tips Carol! I love the fact that your tips are chemical free too! With five dogs that we are lucky that we live in a climate where we can air the house daily. All our rugs carpets come up in spring and get a good wash before being rolled up for the next winter. I always have bottles of white vinegar at hand, it has so many uses. I never thought to put bicarbs on our sofa and soft chairs. Next time we wash the chair covers I’ll give the cushions a liberal sprinkling!

    Thank you for linking up with the #MMBC!


  4. Such great ideas! There’s nothing like the clean smell of fresh air and natural cleaners. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  5. You’re so right, when you come back after a break away, I can’t wait to air our house. The smells are maybe there all the time though and we just don’t realise because we’ve been away… #pocolo

  6. Bicarb and vinegar are my best friends when it comes to natural cleaning but I had not thought of using bicarb to clean carpets. We only actually have 2 large rugs (the rest of the floors are wooden or tiled) but having recently started to do my stretching exercises on one of these I realise it does not smell very pleasant … thanks dogs and cats .. so I will definitely give this a go. This is a great post with many more ideas I will now implement pinning it for future reference.

    Thank you so much for adding it this post to #GoingGreen

    1. You might want to get a small yoga mat or use an oversized beach towel for exercise. I’ve used both before. No matter how much you clean, rugs aren’t always clean enough to my thinking for laying on and doing exercises.

  7. I love all your great tips on how to make keep your house smelling good. I love using essential oils and your citrus recipe sounds like something I would like to try. I also thing having as many plants as possible is a great idea to keep the air clean. Have a healthy, happy & blessed day. Congratulations on being featured on #GoingGreenLinky. Sharing your post on twitter & pinning.

  8. Congrats Carol! Your post is FEATURED at the #WednesdayAIMLinkParty! We are reviving this party from October 4, 2017, yes that’s correct, not a typo. Starts at 9pm central tonight (Wednesday the 5th) and there is a giveaway too!

I love to make new friends and get to know you.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.