17 Foul Odors Only Your Guests Can Smell & What You Can Do About It

Trash, pets, babies and daily living can create distressing odors that take up residence in your home. You might not notice them because you're used to them (known as nose blindness), but your guests can smell these odors. However, fear not, you can get rid of them. Follow these suggestions to make your house odor-free again.

Moldy Windowsills

Moldy Windowsills
In addition to being an eyesore, mold causes an unpleasant odor that can permeate a home. Mix a solution of one part bleach and three parts warm water. Scrub the black mold off the windowsill with a nylon brush. Dip the brush in the bleach mixture often. Wipe away the scraped mold and excess water with a clean rag. That should do the trick.

Smelly Carpets

smelly carpets
To clean up stinky carpets, sprinkle baking soda on them and let sit for a while--perhaps even overnight. Then, thoroughly vacuum the carpet and the baking soda along with it. If that doesn't get the job done, you might need a deeper clean. Rent a carpet cleaning machine or steam cleaner.

Stinky Walls

clean wall
Add warm white vinegar to a spray bottle and apply on tough stains. For less noticeable stains dilute using a one-to-one ratio with warm water. Apply the warmed vinegar mixture directly to the walls. Vinegar removes both smells and stains.

Odor-Filled Trash Can

smelly garbage can
Foul-smelling garbage can attract insects and rodents so it's important to keep it as clean and odor-free as possible. Here are 4 methods:
1) Clean out the trash can with bleach and warm water on a regular basis.
2) Leave 1 cup of baking soda in the bottom of the can after it has been washed and dried to absorb moisture and odor.
3) Use cat litter in the bottom of your trash can to keep moisture and odor away.
4) Toss a dryer sheet into the trash can to offset unpleasant smells.

Rotten Fridge Odors

food in fridge

When cleaning your fridge it is preferable to use a mild cleaning solution on a regular basis as opposed to bleach or harsh chemicals because you certainly don't want your food coming into contact with anything hazardous. To keep your fridge smelling fresh, wipe the interior with a mixture of 2 tablespoons baking soda and 1 quart of hot water. Rinse with a damp cloth. Be sure to wipe dry. Don't leave bowls of leftovers open. Store food in airtight containers. Don't forget to wipe clean ketchup, mustard and salad dressing bottles before putting them back in the fridge.

Nauseous Dishwasher Odors

dishwasher odors
Your dishwasher needs a simple cleaning every month or so, and it's as easy as running the dishwasher empty with a cup of vinegar. Alternatively, you could sprinkle some baking soda across the bottom of the dishwasher and run it. Beyond the basics, however, every dishwasher needs an occasional deep cleaning, and if yours smells like gross, old food, it's probably high time for a scrub down. Focus on cleaning the seals and the dishwasher trap.

Kitchen Countertop

Kitchen Countertops

Be sure to clean all dishes and wipe down your countertops daily to remove any leftover food particles that could contribute to a stale kitchen smell.

Stinky Ovens

clean oven

Fight the stink before it starts by sprinkling salt on any food spills in the oven. Do it while the appliance is still hot and not only will it keep the odor to a minimum, it will ease the dreaded process of wiping it up too.

Air Ducts

air duct
Over time, dirt, allergens, molds, and pet hair build up inside air ducts. These materials can emit foul smells and may have an adverse effect on your health. While cleaning your air ducts will remove foul smells from your home, you'll need to hire a professional to get it done.

Pet Odor

pet odor care

The first step to cleaning up pet smells is to make sure your pets are kept clean, so be sure to bathe and groom them regularly. Additionally, you'll need to be consistent with your vacuuming routine. If your pets have a favorite couch or cushion, cover it with a blanket and wash it weekly along with the cushion cover. Every time you vacuum, start with a heavy sprinkle of baking soda on the carpet.

Garbage Disposal

clean smelling garbage disposal

Inside the garbage disposal foul odors occur from a buildup of food debris. To eliminate this drain odor, place ice cubes, and lemon or orange peels in the disposal and run for 30 seconds. Next, pour a little liquid dish detergent into the disposal while it is running. To clean out the peels simply run cold water into the drain for about 30 seconds.

Stinky Dish Sponges and Dish Towels

washing dishes

Be sure to replace your dish sponges and wash your dish towels on a weekly basis to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.

Shower Drain

clean shower drain

If the opening of the shower drain contains build-up or soap scum, it creates a place for bacteria to thrive. The secret to getting rid of bacterial growth is to use drain chemicals/cleaners more than once. What's the recommended time frame? Try pouring it down the drain several times per day over the course of a week.

Toilet Flushing Odors

toilet flushing odor

Usually, a foul odor when flushing the toilet means the toilet wax ring is not sealed to the toilet or to the floor. Whenever you put water into a drain, it first has to push the air away. If the wax ring is not sealed, it will simply push it between the floor and the bottom of the toilet into the room, instead of down the pipe. To eliminate the bathroom odor, you should reseal the toilet to the floor and the clear the main vent of debris. If you can't do it yourself then call in a plumber.

Smelly Couch/Chairs

sofa odors

Upholstered furniture can absorb a variety of foul smells, from body odor to cigarette smoke. Deodorizing your furniture may be the key to keeping your room smelling fresh. There are a variety of ways to remove odors from your furniture without harsh chemicals, including:
1) Spritz your furniture with a homemade deodorizing spray. Mix together 1 tbsp baking soda, 2 to 3 drops of essential oil, and distilled water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and shake. Mist your furniture with the spray.
2) Cover the piece of furniture with a fine layer of baking soda. Allow the product to sit overnight and then vacuum it up.

Stinky Shoes

shoe closet

Here are 3 ways to prevent your shoes from smelling like a gym locker.
1) Sprinkle baking soda in the shoes and leave overnight. 2) Fill shoes with clean kitty litter and leave overnight. 3) Place dryer sheets in your shoes and wear them.


clean mattress

Freshen your mattress occasionally so that it's pleasant to sleep on at night. Cover the mattress with a thin coat of baking soda. Let it sit during the day to soak up the odors. Vacuum the baking soda off the mattress before going to sleep. Don't use toxic cleaners on your mattress. Each night, you breathe in anything you have sprayed on the mattress, so use only nontoxic substances.

Proactive Ways to Keep Your Home Smelling Fresh Every Day

hygge home with plants

NASA studies have confirmed that low-light houseplants can improve the quality of indoor air. NASA uses a variety of potted plants to filter out chemicals and carcinogens from their space stations. Use these low-light plants to purify your air and eliminate the smell of varnish, paint, glue, carpet, and detergents. NASA suggests "having 15 to 18 houseplants per 1800 square feet". Recommended plants include English ivy, Spider plant, Pothos, Peace lily, Snake plant, Philodendron, Rubber plant, Areca Palm, Boston fern, or Aloe plant. Plants also add comfort and beauty to your home.

Lampe Berger

lampe berger

Many recommend the Lampe Berger which purifies and perfumes the air in enclosed spaces. It works by destroying the molecules responsible for undesirable smells. The pleasant odor is consistent and long-lasting, even in large rooms.

Air Out Your Home

air out your home

According to the EPA, the level of indoor air pollutants is higher than outdoor levels of pollutants. In addition to smelling bad, these toxins can negatively affect your environment and health. Circulating fresh air throughout your home can eliminate toxins and remove bad odors. Open up your windows, turn on a few fans, and allow the wind and sunshine to naturally eliminate toxins and odors from your home.

Bake Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon rolls baking

Buy ready-to-bake cinnamon dough and you are all set. If you don't like the smell of cinnamon, then make banana bread, chocolate chip cookies or pecan pie to create a delicious aroma.

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