10 Reasons Your Friend's House Always Smells Incredible

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall
Credit: Shutterstock / Enjoy The Life

Do you always wonder why your friend’s house smells so good? After all, they have pets, kids, dirty laundry, and other odor challenges, just like you. But you don’t crinkle your nose when you’re at your friend’s house. There are a few reasons why your friend’s house smells great, and you can use them to make your home smell better, too.

Neutralize odors with baking soda, charcoal, and similar products. Regularly clean obvious odor sources, like litter boxes, the fridge, garbage cans, and diaper pails. Eliminate excess moisture to prevent mildew and musty smells. Plants help freshen the air or try an air purifier. Use essential oils, herbs, and other subtle scents to add a pleasant aroma to your space.

Lucky for you, it doesn’t take a big budget or lots of fancy products to make your home smell clean and fresh. But plan to devote elbow grease and extra time at first, depending on the source of the unpleasant smells.

10 Ways To Make Your Home Smell Better

Obviously, cleaning your house regularly goes a long way to making it smell better. But even with routine cleanings, odors can hang around. Or, if you live in a multi-unit building, you might even deal with bad smells coming through the walls.

These tips will give you the ideas you need to achieve that fresh feeling in your home.

1. Neutralize Odors Instead Of Covering Them Up

Ideally, at its neutral point, your home wouldn’t have any smells. Air fresheners and scented candles add a pleasant aroma to your space. However, if you don’t do anything about where bad smells are coming from, these solutions only offer a band-aid to odors. It’s like popping a mint to hide bad breath instead of brushing your teeth.

To create a fresh-smelling home, it's essential to neutralize odors, not just cover them up with something that smells good. Simple baking soda or activated charcoal absorbs and eradicates odors. Place an open box of baking soda or sachet of charcoal in your fridge, the bottom of your garbage can, and anywhere else bad smells tend to linger.

2. Tackle Obvious Odor Sources

Make cleaning obvious sources of odor, like diaper pails, garbage disposals, pet items, and trash cans, a part of your typical cleaning routine. Even if you don’t smell them, they’re likely still causing a stink. Your nose gets used to smells over time, and you might forget the odor until your pal walks in and makes an ick face.

Take out your trash regularly and wash your trash cans monthly, including diaper pails. Place some baking soda or kitty litter in the bottom of your garbage cans to absorb odors.

If you have a litter box, empty and clean it weekly. Wash pet toys according to the manufacturer’s instructions and your pet’s bedding every one to two weeks. Run a few lemon peels or lemons through your garbage disposal to clean it and add a fresh scent to your kitchen.

3. Clean The Refrigerator And Freezer

Don’t forget to clean your fridge and freezer when you’re tidying your kitchen. Get rid of expired food and clean up spills immediately. Food tends to get lost in the back of a fridge. So, make it a habit to check the contents every few weeks to eliminate food that's past its prime.

Wipe down shelves and the inside of the doors with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water and a drop of dish soap. Rinse everything with a damp cloth, and don’t forget to clean the rubber gasket. Put the cloth over your finger and gently rub it between the gasket to tackle any grime that accumulates between the pieces.

4. Eliminate Moisture

Water is an interesting thing when you think about it. We need it to live, it cleanses things and has many benefits. But too much of it brings floods, attracts dangerous and smelly mold and mildew, and causes costly water damage.

Allow things like towels and rugs to fully dry, and don’t leave wet clothing or linens in hampers. Ensure there is adequate ventilation in places like kitchens, bathrooms, and other wet rooms.

Don’t use carpet in spaces with lots of moisture. Replace sponges every one to two weeks and air out bath mats and bath cushions between uses. Hang them over the shower rod or towel rack so the bottoms dry.

5. Remember To Clean Soft Surfaces

Soft surfaces hold onto bad smells for a long time, with spills and stains attracting odor-causing bacteria. If you miss a spill, it leads to smelly mildew or mold. Over time, cushions, mattresses, and bedding absorb oils and other elements from the skin that lead to odors.

Wipe up spills as soon as they happen, clean stains, and allow soft surfaces to dry thoroughly after cleaning. Consider getting a professional steam clean annually for carpets, rugs, curtains, and soft furniture that isn’t machine-washable.

Use washable rugs whenever possible. Machine-wash curtains, pillows, and other items (if applicable) once a year.

6. Air Out The House

Here’s a tip that doesn’t need to cost you anything. Open the windows and let fresh air circulate through your house. You’ll instantly boost the overall mood in your home and your mood, too.

When you’re cooking, an open window helps pull strong smells outside. Likewise, if you’re tackling home improvement projects, open up the windows.

Try opening windows on opposite sides of the house to create a cross breeze. If you’re worried about bugs and critters, install window screens.

7. Go Green

Go to a local nursery to get a few plants that have air-purifying abilities and pleasant scents. Fresh herbs are another way to add a natural aroma to your home that gives your house a cozy scent.

Some popular flowers and herbs with a great smell are mint, rosemary, jasmine, lavender, peonies, roses, and basil. Simmer some pleasant-smelling herbs and other ingredients on the stove to send a delightful, welcoming smell throughout your home.

Some examples of items that work well in a simmer pot are vanilla beans, citrus rinds, cinnamon sticks, mint, cloves, or rosemary. Match the herbs to the time of year, for example, cloves and cinnamon in the fall and mint and fresh lavender in the spring.

8. Choose Subtle Scents

Eliminating the source of odors is the number one priority if you want your home to not smell. Then, layer in a fresh, pleasant scent of your choice. However, keep the added fragrance subtle.

Going too strong with scents can have just as much of a negative effect as unpleasant smells. Plus, some people have a strong reaction to intense fragrances, so keep things simple and light.

Apply fragrances subtly using a diffuser with essential oils. Commercial products like Febreze fabric spray or air fresheners are other options.

Or create a few sachets with baking soda and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Place them wherever your home needs a fresh boost. Adding about 20 drops of essential oil to your furnace or air filter when you replace it distributes the scent throughout the home.

9. A Shot Of Vodka

Pesky smells got you down? Try a shot of vodka -- on your soft surfaces. Use a spray bottle to spritz some vodka onto curtains, upholstery, carpets, and other soft surfaces to sanitize them and remove foul odors.

10. Consider An Air Purifier

If you have room in your budget, add an air purifier or two to your home. Purifiers help remove contaminants from the air and leave your home smelling clean and fresh.

Air purifiers come in many types, models, and sizes. There are small, freestanding ones for around $40 to $100 that work well in a small room. Larger purifiers for larger spaces are more expensive, ranging from $100 to over $300.

There are also air scrubbers a specialist can install into your HVAC system to help clean the air in your entire home. These units are usually between $200 and $700 but can go over $1,000.

Depending on the model, you’ll also need to regularly replace a filter or UV bulb, adding to the cost. For example, the UV bulb in some air scrubbers could cost roughly $300 to $400, but it should last you roughly one to one-and-a-half years.

Home, Sweet-Smelling Home

If you’re jealous of your friend’s amazing-smelling house, don’t start spraying down every inch of your home with air freshener. Before you add any more smells to your space, remove the bad odors by targeting their source. Keep soft surfaces and obvious odor creators (i.e., garbage cans, diaper pails, pet items) clean, and use things like baking soda or charcoal to absorb bad smells.

Once you eliminate the bad odors, you can sprinkle in some subtle fresh scents using herbs, essential oils, or plants. Use fragrances and smells that fit your style and give your home that all-around welcoming feeling you desire.

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Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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