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You're not a total slob. You know you need to clean out your fridge before leaving for a long weekend and to wipe up spilt milk from under the kitchen table. But why does your house still smell bad? Because bacteria! And mold! And food smells!
Here's where it all hides:
With a family that includes messy kids and pets, this isn't an exhaustive list for me. Here's where I find bad odors in my home and what I do to clean, and hopefully prevent, them.
Yes! You can, as long as you do it safely. Here's how I use essential oils to get rid of bad smells in my house:
The easiest way to effectively utilize essential oils as an air freshener is just to diffuse them. I have this diffuser set up in my bedroom which is also connected to the master bath. We're clean people, okay, but sometimes that well-used area of our house gets a funk to it between tub scrub downs and sheet changeovers.
If you've never used a diffuser before it's pretty simple - just use the provided measuring cup to add a little cool water to the diffuser base, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (I love to use a citrusy oil like grapefruit, lemon or orange, but you can use whichever scent you like best), put the lid back on and just turn it on! Once it gets going it lets off a stream of cool mist (the thing doesn't get hot, it stays cool) and throws the scent throughout your space.
Using Essential Oils for Cleaning
Another way that I use essential oils to scent my home is by cleaning with them.
Again, you can use a citrus scent to rid your house of strong smells or a little lavender if you want to give things a more calming aroma but my favorite is to use this germ fighting blend from Plant Therapy. This is basically a way cheaper version of Young Living's Thieves blend. I'm not really a oil snob and I have to stay within a budget so this is a more affordable option for me and the truth is, if I'm cleaning up a super heavy duty mess, like say raw chicken or eggs, I'm using bleach anyway.
However, when it comes to the daily wipe down of my kitchen counters, stovetop and bathroom surfaces I just mix a few drops of that germ fighting blend (which includes lemon, clove bud and eucalyptus oils) with a cup of warm water and spray everything down before wiping it away with a microfiber cloth. The scent immediately dissipates any lingering cooking odors and gives our home a nice fresh feeling to star the day.
If you have stone countertops or surfaces make sure to check first to see if essential oils are safe to use on them.
The stinkiest odor culprits are definitely our furry crew. With two cats and a large dog whose technically still a puppy (and getting into smelly puppy situations), I've got my work cut out for me. If I smell something suspicious, here's where I investigate first.
This is the most obvious culprit, of course. But even if you've just scooped the litter, you might still be dealing with lingering odors, especially if you haven't rinsed out the box in a while. Or, you know, ever. Not the most pleasant job, here's what you need to properly clean and sanitize a litter box so you can get rid of that nasty bacteria stinking up your house:
For you, that might be a nice little dog bed and blanket that you can just run through the wash on weekends. For me, it's the couch because my dog eats every bed I buy her, and since I have upholstered couches that soak in odors she stinks them up. Ideally, the best way to get rid of trapped pet odors in your furniture is to have all genuine-leather furniture.
But for those of us not able to drop five grand on a new living room setup, an upholstery cleaner will have to do. I use this one to clean my couch, love seat and upholstered glider once every season. To get the most out of it I:
I also have slipcovers on both sofas that I can pull off and throw in the wash every other week to keep smells at bay. It's kind of a production but since I live in a small space and like to have people over, I don't want my house reeking of pets as soon as they walk in.
If you have pets, there's a good chance you have pet stains somewhere. Thank goodness, my cat has stopped peeing in weird places since we moved into our condo, but sometimes when he's peeing, it leaks out of the seam in our litter box, onto the tile in the utility room. If you have cat pee underneath or next to your litter box it might be reeking up your space without you even noticing.
Lift that thing up and see what the status is. If you need to get fresh or old cat urine out of a rug or carpet here's how. But, if it's just in tile or something similar, you should be able to use paper towels to wipe up the mess and a gentle cleanser, like the Mrs. Meyers I mentioned earlier to clean up the mess. To prevent further stains set the litter box on top of a large plastic trash bag or two.
Ever noticed a funky fish-tank like smell in your kitchen, mudroom or wherever it is you keep the pet dishes? That could be a build up of mildew and bacteria on your pet's dishes and dish mat.
Cleaning Pet Dishes
To clean the dishes, throw them in the dishwasher with a bleach-based detergent or soak them in the sink with a capful of bleach, then scrub and rinse thoroughly. If there's a lip on the dish (like on the non-skid ones) you'll have to get in those crevices to really scrape out the gunk.
Cleaning Pet Mats
As for the dish mat, toss those waterproof mats—they're hard to clean anyway—and use a fabric placemat or dish towel instead so you can throw it in the wash regularly. Plus, it's easier to tell when those get damp. While those are washing, make sure to wipe the floor where the mat was to get rid of any lingering bacteria which can cause bad odors.
This should be obvious but honestly, I forget sometimes that the easiest way to keep my pets from stinking up every square foot of our house is just to bathe them. When it comes to the cats, this just means a quick brushing followed by a mist of pet spray.
But for my dog, I have to give her a deep clean. Not only is she you know, a dog, but she's also a mop and the catcher of most cups of spilled milk and bowls of shredded cheese. Thinks get gnarly.
Besides getting her groomed every couple of months, I bathe her in our walk-in shower with a dog-friendly shampoo and blow dry her afterwards so she won't spread that damp dog smell.
|Incense||Litter Powder||Fabric Refresher|
Yes! Whenever I've finished scooping my cat's litter box I light an incense to help clear the air of the urine smell. I don't know the magic behind it, all I know is that it works! Not a fan of smoke? Try a lavender or vanilla scented incense instead of a more complicated scent so it'll wear off quickly.
I use the Arm&Hammer brand litter box powder. Sprinkle a little in the box each morning and it'll mask heavy smells until you can get in there to scoop it.
If you don't have time to deep clean your couches or anywhere else your pets decide to make their own, use a fabric refresher to mask the scent until you can. I like Febreeze products for this, but if you want to go more natural mix a few drops of tea tree oil with water and spritz over the affected fabric.
I mentioned I live in 1200 square feet right? While it's not exactly a tiny house, there isn't exactly a ton of space to hide—or get away from—bad smells. That means I've gotten pretty good and tracking down and getting rid of them. Here's what I clean regularly to keep my house smelling acceptable.
This is the first place we're going to look, right?! Clean these things in your bathroom to freshen up the most popular room in the house:
Is your kitchen holding some odd scents even after you've changed the trash, inspected under the sink and cleaned your garbage disposal? Here's four other things to clean:
Never underestimate the power of fresh air. Whether it's the dead of winter or the dog days of summer, opening up all of your windows to get a cross breeze going during the most comfortable part of the day, even if it's just for five minutes will do a lot to cleanse your home of stinky smells. Here's some other stuff you can clean if you're on a roll:
© 2019 Kierstin Gunsberg
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on March 16, 2020:
Excellent article. Nice tips.
Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on April 16, 2019:
Great tips. For me, the waste bin is the worst especially during summer. So I don´t really wait until it is full. Thanks for sharing.
Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 15, 2019:
Excellent tips! I have three indoor cats. Adding straight baking soda to the litter box is one way to cut down on odors. I use Scoop Away for Multiple Cats. I find it to be the best at fighting stinky business.
I'll have to keep your tea tree oil tips in minds. I don't use bleach because we're on septic. Bleach kills the good bacteria in the tank. I also prefer to use chemical-free products in my home. Tea tree oil seems like a great alternative.
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on April 12, 2019:
We have two furry babies (well, old ones) that love THEIR upholstered couches. You're right, the leather ones we also have are the best and I will never, ever get upholstered ones again.
Love the helpful humor!
Robie Benve from Ohio on April 12, 2019:
Great tips! For me the worst is usually is the waste basket (quick fix though) and yes, that oven right after it becomes hot when I need to bake something, I remember it needed cleaning, lol.