The Baking Soda and Vacuum Trick
Baking soda is a natural adsorbent, which means it has the ability to absorb odors when used correctly. If you have fabric-covered furniture, then put some baking soda in a salt shaker or similar dispenser and sprinkle it liberally on the furniture you want to freshen up.
Baking soda doesn’t do its work all at once, so give it time to neutralize as many odor-causing particles as possible. An hour or so is ideal, and for bad situations you may just want to leave the baking soda on overnight (as long as it won’t get tracked everywhere by pets). When the time has elapsed, get out the vacuum cleaner and thoroughly vacuum up all the baking soda. This should freshen up most fabrics.
Note: Baking soda may have varying effects based on what is causing the odor or general “staleness” of your furniture. It neutralizes acidic compounds very easily, but may not be effective for all problems.
Advanced Baking Soda Spray
Photo: Phil McDonald/Shutterstock
If you don’t have time to apply baking soda to your furniture’s upholstery and clean it up, you may want to try a spray solution instead. Grab a small spray bottle and mix in:
- 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda
- A couple drops of scented oil, like lavender
- Warm water
Shake it up thoroughly and then spray the mix on your fabrics for a quick, safe freshener. The addition of the scented oil helps mask odors while the light film of baking soda gets to work. The trick is to mix the right amount in so that the oil isn’t overpowering and the baking soda doesn’t leave any noticeable residue, so you may need to experiment.
Vinegar Spray for a Deeper Clean
If your furniture is starting to smell because of serious stain or dirt problems, a little baking soda won’t be enough. You will need to deep-clean the fabric and get rid of the source. Mix together:
- ½ tablespoon of liquid soap (dish soap is fine)
- ¼ cup of white vinegar
- ¾ cup of water
Here’s how to clean furniture fabric with this mix: Spray the solution on your fabric and rub it in thoroughly with a scrubbing brush. Switch to a pail of clean water and scrub until the soap suds are gone. Leave the area to dry or move that section of the furniture outside for faster drying.
Note that vinegar is acidic and can damage delicate fabrics. Use this method on durable fabrics and always test a small, inconspicuous spot to make sure the fabric will hold up.
Citrus Enzyme Cleaners
Enzymes are protein compounds that are used to break down other molecules – which makes them a useful tool in all-natural cleaning and freshening. Enzymes can help clean furniture and destroy odor-causing particles, and are especially popular when dealing with problems like urine stains that have soaked into wood. However, you will need living enzymes to make it work.
Activated charcoal is an even better adsorbent and odor-killer than baking soda, and can deal with a wider variety of particles. However, this highly purified charcoal dust isn’t the best thing to put on your furniture, where it can stain. Instead, consider getting freshener bags of activated charcoal, like these, and hide them in the corners of your furniture to help reduce odors.
Purchasing Chemical-Free Alternatives
There are many fresheners available online that don’t contain dangerous chemicals, although their efficacy may vary. A multi-faceted approach may work best for bad odors, so combining cleaning, baking soda and a commercial spray can be highly effective.
Here’s how to clean furniture with the best ingredients available!