How to Get Rid of Nearly Every Household Smell

Bad smells … we’ve all got ’em! Worse than any other household problem, foul odors are actually pretty easy to solve, as long as you know what to use against them. Here are our tips for getting rid of smells in each room of your home.

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin
4-minute read
Episode #9

Laundry Room

What to Do if You Left Your Laundry in the Machine

It’s happened to the best of us—you accidentally left your laundry in the washing machine and now it smells like a mildewy mess. To get your clothes smelling fresh again, leave them in the washing machine and add a couple of cups of white vinegar and nothing else. Wash on the highest heat setting acceptable for your clothes; when it’s finished, wash them again using your regular laundry detergent. Then dry on the highest heat setting possible until completely dry (the heat should kill any remaining mildew). If the laundry still smells funky when it’s completely dry, try this intense overnight soak: Place it back the washing machine and stop the cycle once the machine is filled with just enough water to cover the clothes (again, use the hottest water possible). Add 1 cup ammonia and stir to distribute thoroughly into the water; let soak overnight. The next morning, add detergent (make sure it’s one with no bleach added), continue the wash cycle, and dry in the dryer again. By now, you should be able to say farewell to the funk!

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How to Fix Smelly Shoes

Got a funk in your shoes? Sprinkle baby powder into them, then lit them sit for 10 minutes. Let the excess powder fall into a garbage can before slipping back on. It’s also been said you can kill shoe smells by putting your shoes in the freezer overnight!


Get Rid of Cooking Smells Before They Start

If you’re cooking something smelly like fish, add a splash of vinegar to the pan. It will neutralize the odors from the food before they even hit the air.

Get the Smell Out of Storage Containers

If you have a plastic storage container, lunchbox, or thermos, get the smell out with newspaper. Simply crumple up the newspaper and pack it into the container, and leave it closed overnight. Then newspaper will soak up the smell and any remaining moisture.

Make a DIY Air Freshener Out of an Orange

Did you know you can make an air freshener out of an orange? Here’s how to make it, plus more easy DIY air fresheners.

Stovetop Air Freshener

We love this air freshener for Christmastime! Simmer some Christmas spices like cinnamon, cloves, and orange peels in a pot of boiling water on the stove to infuse your home with a wonderful, festive scent.


Make Potpourri Like New

Has your bathroom potpourri lost its scent? Freshen it right up with a little vodka. Yes, vodka! Put some in a spray bottle and spritz the potpourri, mixing it up so each piece is saturated. It will give off its beautiful aroma again.

How to Make Homemade Poo-Pourri

You may have heard about poo-pourri, the bathroom freshener you add right to the toilet. Make this homemade version for a fraction of the cost! Combine 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon rubbing alcohol, 1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid, 10 drops blue food coloring (optional), and 50 drops lavender essential oil. You’re welcome, everybody!

Around the House

Start with Your Filter

Make your whole home smell wonderful by adding several drops of vanilla extract or essential oil to your furnace/air conditioner’s filter! It will fill your whole home every time the air moves through it.

DIY Air Freshener Spray

Make a cheap and easy homemade spray to freshen your home: Just mix 2 cups warm water with either ¼ cup vinegar or ¼ cup vodka or 2 tablespoons baking soda. Add some vanilla extract if you want!

Get Rid of Mustiness

If you have a musty basement or another room in your home, put some charcoal or cat litter in a coffee can and leave it in the corner. It will suck up the moisture, and the smell.

Your Car

DIY Car Freshener

Here’s a way to personalize your car and make it smell great. Find an image you like online, make two print-outs, and cut them out. Next, glue each print-out to a cereal box and cut out around each shape again, so you have two cardboard-backed images. Now take a new dish sponge and cut it out in the same shape. Glue one image to each side of the sponge with superglue. Next, use a needle to thread a string through the top of the sponge and tie it in a loop. Finally, squeeze about 10 drops of your favorite essential oil (or vanilla extract) onto the sponge and hang in the car. The best part is you can just add a few more drops of essential oil when the scent starts to fade!

Car Freshening the Easy Way

Want an easier way to freshen your car? Just put some dryer sheets under the seats, and throw some cloves into the cup holders. Then make sure to keep your windows shut when your car is in your garage. The smell will fill your car.

These tips are even more fun when you listen to them on our podcast—which also includes a Lifehack Lightning Round and more! Check it out on iTunes or StitcherAnd don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook!

About the Author

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin

Bruce Lubin and Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin are the proud parents of three boys and more than a dozen books. After saving thousands per year using everyday tips and simple lifehacks, they started their own business in the hopes of sharing their knowledge with others. They have been known to go into their friends' refrigerators to turn their eggs upside down so that they last longer.