Controling Strong Odors in Your Home

I am surrounded by stench. No I do not live in a swamp; I live in a house full of males. Don’t get me wrong. Woman can emit strong odors, too, but males really have a talent for it. When the weather doesn’t allow all my doors and windows to take care of the offending party naturally, I look to creative solutions. Some people are happy with scented candles and sprays. After growing up around a mother who lost her sense of smell after a bad cold and still refused to stop wearing L’air du Temps perfume in quantities she could smell, I find many scents offensive. This includes many natural fragrances and flowers from the most delightful vacation spots in the world. So, what is a gal like me to do? I have found a combination of natural deodorizers and passive light fragrance, layered in continuous trouble spots to work well. Here are some of my fixes for tough rooms:


Anyone who cooks regularly will eventually need to prepare something that offends the nose. I always say the best way to get rid of an odor is to prevent it in advance as much as possible. Big cooking offenders are fish, cauliflower, garlic and onions. Whenever I can cook fish on the grill outdoors, I do. Otherwise, I will bake fish in a covered dish and while I am preheating the oven I start my vent fan on low. Pre-venting is extremely helpful. Close off the kitchen to prevent the smell from reaching other rooms, especially ones with lots of fabric like towels, bedding, upholstered furniture, curtains and closets. Onions, garlic and cauliflower can only be contained then covered up later. I find the odor removing candles work pretty well in a small contained space after I’m done cooking. They impart a small scent, but it’s not very intense.

The refrigerator is all about packaging. A sliced onion wrapped in plastic will smell more than if you put it in a zipped plastic bag. Take a trip to a house wares store and buy tight sealing containers for the items you regularly keep in the refrigerator. Foods like butter, milk, cheeses, some vegetables absorb more odors. Wrapping them in good containers and keeping a fresh box of baking soda is still the best helper here.


We have an English springer spaniel that even when we’ve trained him not to sleep on furniture and beds, he will inevitably find someone’s bed when we’re out. Fortunately, he won’t sleep on couches so that’s one less problem. The best way to prevent his stench is to keep him clean and when we bathe him I wash every comforter and dog bed in the house, too. Winter is the hardest as our soil has a high clay composition and really makes his paws smell. Surprisingly, his ears and chin are the biggest stink culprits. If you have a dog breed with floppy ears or jowls, take note. We make an effort to clean his ears with clove and tea tree oil regularly and wash his chin under his jowls with anti-bacterial soap. Check with your veterinarian about breed specific smell issues. It’s not just dirty fur.

I never had a cat, but litter boxes seem to let me know when someone has a cat. With all the great products now for homes with multiple cats and self-cleaning litter boxes there really is no excuse for a smelly cat. However, placement of the box is the best way to prevent odors. Find the least social part of your home and place it there. Even if you have a small apartment, take the effort to create an inconspicuous location for the litter box. Nothing says, “My cat matters more than my friends,” than a visible litter box in the guest bathroom. Additionally, a passive scent nearby is also cheap insurance for your guest’s noses.


I have a very athletic husband and a young son. They run themselves to smelliness regularly. The prevention here is keeping the smell contained upon entry. If they come in from a sport or other smelly activity, I try to get them to strip down the damp clothes and toss them into the laundry baskets that I provide on top of the washing machine. Their athletic shoes are stored in their gym bags which hang out in the garage. Even after they shower, I notice their towels can start to smell. Now you would think they are clean from the shower, but there are enough bacteria to still smell. I just replace towels regularly. When they aren’t around, I also spray their jackets with a clean scented deodorizer.


This is definitely one room where passive scents supplemented with sprays and candles are essential. First, if you have carpeting in your bathrooms please replace it with tile or linoleum. Even if you dry your feet after showering, the moisture from the warm water will eventually create bacteria in the carpet. If you use throw rugs, make sure they are the kind that can be laundered. The bamboo scent diffusers are my new favorite passive scent. They help with the light everyday odors. A coordinated spray is a quick fix for those extra smelly times the vent fan isn’t helping fast enough. When guests come to call, light your candles for a welcome and inviting room.

Other rooms can use passive bamboo diffusers, potpourri in decorative bowls, scented candles, fabric sprays and even those timed sprays you plug into the wall. I highly recommend you coordinate your scents to suit the members of your household. What smells great to you might offend others in your family. Less seems to be more. Favorites are clean linens and lemon scents. Try prevention first including lots of fresh air whenever possible and your home will always be inviting to every nose that enters.

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