10 Ways To Make Your House Smell Good

Help! My House Smells Bad!

Want to know some quick, guaranteed ways to make your home smell good? Keeping your home fragrant and fresh requires dedication, but sometimes you need a quick fix.

Maybe unexpected company announced they will be over within the hour, and your house smells stale. Or the ghosts of yesterday's fried bacon.

If you spend a lot of time in your house, then its easy to become accustomed to the funky odors that outsiders might detect right away. The good news is you can eliminate those pretty quickly, and it doesn't cost very much.

Here are 10 ways to make your home smell great in no time at all:

10 ways to Make Your House Smell Good
10 ways to Make Your House Smell Good | Source

1. Air Out Your House

The best way to get the old, musty air to move out is to open the windows and let clean, fresh air come in. It's a scientific fact that old air and new air hate each other, and new air will always win.

For best results, open windows in multiple rooms to get a cross-breeze.No wind blowing outside? That's okay. Turn on your ceiling fans and place box fans or desk fans near the windows to draw in fresh air.

This might not be practical if it is very cold outside, but even a few minutes of open windows can really help the rooms smell clean. If you just want to impress a few guests, try only airing out the rooms they are most likely to visit if it is too chilly outside for opening all the windows.

10 ways to make your home smell good
10 ways to make your home smell good | Source

Eliminate the Cause of Odors

A bit more time-consuming, but you won't be free of the yucky scent in your house until you've tackled the source. Sometimes, this can take a bit of sleuthing.

Some places to look for nasty smells:

  • Pet beds/homes
  • Upholstery
  • Damp laundry
  • Ancient leftovers in the fridge
  • Ruined produce
  • Mildewed bathroom corners or window sills
  • The oven
  • Kitchen and bathroom sink drains
  • Trash cans/diaper pails
  • Throw rugs
  • Pillows
  • Really dusty places

Its no joke--dust stinks! What can you expect from something that is made primarily of decomposing skin cells? To help cut down on dust in your home, try decluttering before you start deep-cleaning. Its much easier to keep clean, clutter-free surfaces dust-free and smelling nice!

Speaking of decomposition, if you notice a particularly rotten stench, you might want to examine the corners and behind furniture for dead insects. Deceased crickets and large spiders can really reek.

Sources of Home Odors and Their Solutions

Smelly Area
Chemical Cleaner
Natural or Homemade
Litter Box
Pet odor neutralizing spray
Baking soda
Scented carpet powders/Febreeze
Baking soda, Borax, baby powder
Trash Can
Hot vinegar or lemon juice+baking soda
Mildewy Areas
Tea Tree Oil
Rooms in general
air freshener spray, potpourri
Essential oils, dryer sheets, homemade potpourri
Homemade fabric refresher, Diluted Lysol or other cleaner
A few of the ways you can tackle bad odors at their source.
10 Ways to make your house smell good.
10 Ways to make your house smell good. | Source

3. Candles, Incense or Air Fresheners

These products are the strong and fast way to bring some lovely fragrances into your home. However, to keep from being stifled by too much perfume, it is best to make sure all the scents are the same, or at least complementary. Too many different fragrances and your home will smell like a potpourri factory.

Another tip for using candles, air sprays, incenses or plug-ins, is to not use them in the kitchen while you are cooking. Some smells just do not go well together, and it may be more repulsive to your guests to smell onions mixed with fruity potpourri, floral airspray, and soapy candles than to just smell the onions themselves.

5. Homemade Potpourri

This is super-easy. You don't even need to dry any flowers. All you have to do is boil a pan of water on the stove and add items that smell great, like orange peels, cinnamon sticks, cloves, essential oils, etc.

You can mix and match for the perfect scent. The steam will carry the smell throughout the house.

If you need something even stronger, try filling the tub halfway with hot water, and adding a few drops of scented oil. You could even use a very yummy shampoo.

4. Carpet Freshener

You can make your own carpet freshener or use a store bought version. Either way, sprinkling the carpet and then giving it a quick vacuum can make a big difference in only a few minutes.

If you have light colored carpet, you can even get by with leaving the powder underfoot--just sweep it into the fibers for longer-lasting appeal. A huge plus to this is that when you vacuum up carpet fresheners, your vacuum cleaner will smell good too.

If you don't have any carpet refresher on hand, and no time to make some, a quick sprinkle with baby powder works well too. I would not recommend it for darker carpets though if you are in a hurry. It can take awhile to vacuum it up entirely, but the light, sweet scent is oh-so worth the trouble.

6. Quick Wipe-down With Household Cleaner

I recently discovered citrus-scented Lysol. It smells wonderful! I keep some diluted in a spray bottle and use it whenever I need a clean smell in a hurry. (or whenever I need to sanitize something!)

Since you can wipe just about anything with Lysol, its easy to go over furniture, tables, the fridge, the counters, etc. in just a few minutes before people arrive. You can also add some to your toilet bowls and the scent will quickly fill your bathroom.

10 ways to make your house smell good.
10 ways to make your house smell good. | Source

7. Fabric Refresher

You can use Febreze brand (or generic alternatives) to take the stinky out of furniture, carpet and curtains. The result is usually a fresh,rather than perfumed, scent.

Another great trick I have used is to lightly spritz fabrics with the bottle of diluted Lysol. Whereas Febreze temporarily masks the scents, Lysol kills the germs and bacteria causing the odors, so it lasts a lot longer. And the kind I use just leaves the sofa smelling faintly of oranges.

If you want something a little more "clean" or "soapy" smelling than Lysol or another diluted cleaner, you can make your own fabric refresher by diluting some fabric softener in water. Homemade Febreze for only a few pennies? Life can't better than that!

8. Cotton Ball Perfume Bombs

This is an old trick, but it really works to make your house smell good. Soak cotton balls in your favorite scented oil or cologne and tuck around the house out of sight:

  • Between cushions
  • In silk flower arrangements
  • Behind furniture
  • In the A/C panel
  • In your vacuum canister

These are like little whiffs of pleasure when you roam around the house. Just don't forget where you hid them all.

Candle Warmers Are for More Than Just Candles

If you don't know what a candle warmer (sometimes called candle burner or candle plate) is, you have been missing out. This little gadget heats jar candles slowly so that the scented wax melts. The candles last longer and the fragrance is stronger.

But don't stop with candles! Save those empty candle jars and use them to make your own potpourri. I've heated a lot of different concoctions on my candle warmer:

  • A favorite shampoo
  • Fabric softener
  • A favorite cleaner (Mr. Clean with Gain, yum!)
  • Essential oils
  • Febreze (diluted)

As far as I know, just about any liquid that smells good will smell even better when it is heated. This is much more efficient than leaving the stove on for hours to boil potpourri, too.

It is also kind of a cheat, but a good cheat. If you are desparate to convince someone that you have been cleaning house, heating a cleaning mixture (dilute it first, trust me!) can make it seem like you've been slaving away all day over a hot mop.

Candle warmers are cheap too, so you can have several working at once to help make you seem like the domestic goddess (or god) that you know you really are.

9. Let Your Laundry Do the Work

One of the most wonderful smells in the world is laundry. Except, for some reason, it always smells better at other people's houses.

Although science hasn't solved that mystery, it works to your advantage. If you need the house to smell good quickly, go start a load of laundry. Unless you are one of those people who avoids laundry at all costs, you should have enough items lying around to at least tumble a small load.(With a scented dryer sheet, of course!)

You can also use scented dryer sheets instead of cotton balls to tuck around the house. Tucking a dryer sheet into sunny windows can make the whole room smell as clean and fresh as your laundry room, too.


The Smell of Home

Does Your Home Smell Clean and Fresh and Super-Inviting?

  • If "clean scent" was in the dictionary, a picture of my house would be under it. It smells that good.
  • Its like falling into a vat of freshly washed laundry.
  • It smells great right after I clean, but gets a bit stale between cleanings.
  • Yeah...but only because I use tons of scented stuff to cover up the stink.
  • Um...I wouldn't say it smells great.
  • Nope. Smells like a combination of sewer, gym socks and wet dog.
See results without voting

10. DIY Furniture Polish

To me, most furniture polish brands get smelly after they've sat on the furniture for a couple of hours. I like the Behold brand best, but recently I've been making my own.

If you have a lot of wooden surfaces, you can try this too. Take a carrier oil, such as olive oil, add a drop or two of essential oil and a little vinegar.

Use just a bit for dusting and polishing. It will cut through fingerprints and dust, shine up the wood and leave behind whichever scent you chose to add. ( I tend to go for clove and lavender, because they last a long time.)

Think of it as getting two jobs done at once. You are removing that stinky dust, and replacing it with a much more inviting perfume.

Keep On Top of Household Odors and Always Have a Home That Smells Great!

Most of these "solutions" are quick fixes for semi-emergency situations. Like when your mother-in-law decides to do a home inspection, or you want to impress that date who is coming to pick you up in an hour or so.

For long-term smell good, you really do have to keep the odors from starting in the first place. See option two above for places that need daily or weekly attention to prevent build-up of horrific, hair-curling stench. And don't forget to air your house out regularly. It is good for you, your house, and your future house-guests.

More by this Author


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 2 years ago from Canada

Hi Sharkeye! This is a great article and it deserves more comments, but I am honoured to be the first one. You did give me a new idea: the candle warmer, and I hadn't thought of doing laundry for the smell but you are right ... it does smell good! Have a great day. Pinning this one!

Sharkye11 profile image

Sharkye11 2 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Thank you, prairieprincess! I got the idea for the laundry because my mother's house always smells SO GOOD. And even though I use the same soap, dryer sheets, etc., I could swear my laundry has no nice smell. But other people walk in and comment on it, so I always use it is as a super-fast way to make everything clean-smelling if unexpected guests drop in!

And I love my candle warmers! I had two, but one finally just fell apart on me. I will have to replace it--its indispensable! Hope it works for you too!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Thank you for the ideas. With two dogs and a cat, we need this.

Marina7 profile image

Marina7 2 years ago from Clarksville TN

I think the reason why it smells better at other people's homes, the laundry, is that at our own home we get used to the smell and then don't smell it.

sheilamyers 2 years ago

These are some great tips. Some I've heard about; others I haven't. I'll have to try the homemade fabric freshener; however, I do have a question about it. I've never used Frebreze or any of the others because I'm paranoid my cats will lick it and get sick. I've always heard that if Lysol is diluted enough, it's safe for children. Is the same true for pets or should I check the internet for more information about it?

MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 2 years ago

Nothing like a clean-smelling house. I like the natural way of running a lemon, orange, or lime peel through the garbage disposal to remove odor and make it smell like citrus. Also, there is a type of lamp one can buy that has an odor eliminator built in. It uses a fragrant oil of one's choice, and doesn't just mask odors. I have one, and I'm ashamed that I can't remember the name of it. Very good hub.

Sharkye11 profile image

Sharkye11 2 years ago from Oklahoma Author

@Bill--Yep, houses with pets can be a bit smelly at times. I learned most of these tricks because we had the cat, and the house is it seemed like the litter box was in every room! We also had a pretty funky turtled at that time, too. Hope some of these work for you! Thanks for reading!

Sharkye11 profile image

Sharkye11 2 years ago from Oklahoma Author

@Marina -- I guess so. Its funny how it happens though. It seems like I wouldn't be able to smell laundry at my mother's house, since we use the same soap, but I can. To me, my own clothes just smell like water, and a faint trace of the dryer sheets. But other people comment on how nice they smell, so I guess I'm doing something right!

Sharkye11 profile image

Sharkye11 2 years ago from Oklahoma Author

@Sheila -- I'm not sure. I would probably research it or call a vet just to be safe. I used Febreze with my cat and she was never sick, but she also never licked anything but her food bowl and her fur, and she never got on the upholstered furniture.

As for Lysol, I've diluted it for years as a cleaning solution. We used it on the farm and it was fine for animals, and we used it in both the nursing homes where I worked and at the children's museum. I think animals (or kids) would have to consume quite a bit for it to be toxic, and the taste would probably stop them from drinking that much.

But I would recommend asking a vet, if you are really worried, or if you have pets that are more likely to lick. The fabric softener solution might not be a good idea in that case, but the Lysol would probably be okay, or water with a drop or two of essential oil.

Marina7 profile image

Marina7 2 years ago from Clarksville TN

The same with me Sharkye11. I can smell how great other people's laundry smells and not mine!! My daughter always comments how other people's laundry smells better than ours. Yes the senses getting used to a smell can be so frustrating!! :-)

oldiesmusic profile image

oldiesmusic 2 years ago from United States

Nothing feels worse than a stinky room especially that my nose is so sensitive. I do my own efforts to make my house smelling fresh, but I thank you for additional tips. They're very helpful for me.

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

So many good ideas for an instantly fresh-smelling room here. Realtors promote the use of the cinnamon spice mixture on the stove (or warming device) for a homey smell during open houses. I like the open the windows idea and running a load of laundry. Sometimes I pour bleach in the corners of the tiled shower and I'm amazed at how the clean scent permeates the entire house. As a bonus, it kills that pesky mold that tends to find damp places like the tub. Up and interesting.

sheilamyers 2 years ago

Sharkye: Thanks for the additional information and advice. I'll do some research before using anything.

lambservant profile image

lambservant 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

Bake bread.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

So many of us are nose blind that we should probably do these things anyway, even if we believe our house already smells good.

Marina7 profile image

Marina7 2 years ago from Clarksville TN

Yesterday I did smell my laundry and I was thinking maybe I just don't put enough of the detergent in. My husband uses more I think so it did smell good.

Paula Atwell profile image

Paula Atwell 2 years ago from Cleveland, OH

Good suggestions. I do many of these, but opening the window is my favorite. (Or cleaning). :)

Country-Sunshine profile image

Country-Sunshine 2 years ago from Texas

I keep my windows open as much as possible, as I like the smell of fresh air. I hadn't thought of using diluted Lysol, but think I'll keep some handy in a spray bottle. Good tips!

Snakesmum profile image

Snakesmum 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

Love the idea of cotton ball perfume bombs! Just got to try that one. You have some really good ideas here, and sometimes the cat smell gets a bit much, not to mention the cooking aromas. Thanks for the tips.

Arachnea profile image

Arachnea 2 years ago from Texas USA

Great hub. Some wonderful ideas. I've been looking for a way to scent my apartment. Incense doesn't work. I want the scents to hang around for a while.

DreamingBoomer profile image

DreamingBoomer 2 years ago from Jackson, MS

Wow these are awesome tips! I am kind of paranoid about how our house might smell to guests, since we get used to the way it smells.... and we have cats! I am definitely using some of these.

tazzytamar profile image

tazzytamar 2 years ago from chichester

Excellent tips! Certainly for any household with pets these are really handy to have read!

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Thanks! Love these ideas. ..especially the cotton ball. Bombs.

MJ Martin profile image

MJ Martin 2 years ago from Washington State

Airing it out is my favorite choice and using lots of great candles with awesome scents.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 24 months ago from Central Oklahoma

Gee, Jayme, I'd never heard of candle warmers. Thanks! But putting a tensy-tiny drop of your favorite essential oil on the bulb of a lamp (before turning it on!) will serve the same purpose in a pinch. I've also just wet a clean bath towel and thrown it into a dryer with a fabric softener sheet to get that "fresh laundry" smell in a hurry.

Great tips! Upped and shared! ;D

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 24 months ago from East Coast, United States

Opening the windows for a good air out is the best way to get rid of stale household smells. Even on a bright winter day, I turn down the heat and open up. But I find evenings can be the worst. After preparing a delicious dinner which often includes sauteed onions and other things that smell great when cooking and eating, I find that afterwards, it stinks to high heavens. The old cooking odors wind their way up the steps and right into my bedroom.

Pollyanna Jones profile image

Pollyanna Jones 24 months ago from United Kingdom

In England, we have something called "Cooks Candles"; they come in a little tin and are to an old formula that neutralises strong smells from cooking. They were a godsend when I was suffering from morning sickness too! I make sure our windows are opened at least an inch each day, to circulate the air. Can't beat it to freshen up the house.

Fiddleman profile image

Fiddleman 24 months ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

Great hub and wonddrful common sense suggestions. The house always smeels good with those aromatic candles and a good mopping with pinesol. Taking out the garbage and keeping short accounts with the laundry hamper help. Nothing like opening a window or two to let in fresh air.

mary615 profile image

mary615 24 months ago from Florida

One of my children gave me a candle warmer last Christmas, and I love to melt cinnamon scented candles I buy at the candle store.

I love the way Pinesol makes my house smell, too. I think we all get accustomed to our own house's smell and don't notice the smell as much as guests would.

Great Hub, voted UP, etc. and shared.

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 24 months ago from USA

Each home does have a distinctive odor and I have tried to make sure that the odor in my home is a good one, but I'm not sure I always succeed. I have an "odor day" at my house, where instead of random cleaning, I clean things that might be causing an odor. This means cleaning out the refrigerator, taking out all the trash, changing bedsheets, washing dishes and doing all laundry. I hadn't thought about dust as being the cause of odor, but yes, you're right. And books and paper tends to get musty too.

You're provided a great list of tips on making the house smell good.

Laura Schneider profile image

Laura Schneider 24 months ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

You're my hero! I got so many great ideas out of your article I can't count them! I love all of your home-made solutions to stench and look forward to trying them. Here's one that I've used in the past: turn on the bread maker and enjoy hours of homey goodness smells. Thanks again for your great ideas!! My dog and I might finally declare peace, or at least a truce :-) .

aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 23 months ago from Stillwater, OK

These are all wonderful tips!

Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 19 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Very useful. I love the scented dryer sheets tip for the windows, though I have only doors and only one window and door in front of my apartment. Would that work as well? Voted up!

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 14 months ago from India

I use scented candles. When we sit behind closed doors, we don't actually realize the bad smell.

One of my friends suggested that candles without scent also help in removing bad smell especially the smell after cleaning fish.

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