Save on Pinterest

How to Get Rid of a Bad Smell in the House

Win the battle against stinkiness. If you've got a bad smell in the house, these tips will help you stamp out the stink.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

1 / 11
Eliminate Drain OdorFamily Handyman

Eliminate Drain Odor

The traps in floor drains — or for that matter, any drains that aren't used often — will eventually dry out. This may sound harmless enough, but a dry trap can cause a room to fill with potentially harmful sewer gas from the septic tank or the city sewer system. Eliminate this problem by adding about a quart of fresh water topped with a couple of tablespoons of cooking oil. The oil floats on top of the water and seals it against evaporation. Your drain will hold water in the trap much longer.
2 / 11
Eliminate Basement Odor and Sewer Smells

Eliminate Basement Odor and Sewer Smells

This article shows five reasons why your basement could smell like a sewer. If you have a smelly basement and can’t locate the source, we’ll show you the most likely culprits of the bad smell.

Here’s how to eliminate basement odor and sewer smells. Oh and, don’t forget to check out the best basement odor eliminators for the job.

3 / 11
Chlorinate a Stinky DrainFamily Handyman

Chlorinate a Stinky Drain

If your kitchen sink develops a foul smell, pour a cup of bleach down the drain. The bleach will take care of the stink. Plus: 10 Tips For Removing Mold and Mildew
4 / 11
Clean Car Air DuctsFamily Handyman

Clean Car Air Ducts

Neutralize smoke and other smells in your car with an aerosol can of automotive duct cleaner. Most products require you to spray the cleaner into the vents and the blower motor intake. One way to find your blower motor intake opening is to turn the system on defrost and hold a tissue under the dash. You can buy a can of duct cleaner at auto parts stores. One brand is Clean Air. Plus: 13 Best Car Cleaning Tips and Tricks
5 / 11
Fix a Smelly Washing Machine

Fix a Smelly Washing Machine

Stop bad odors in your clothes washer by running a cycle with a special mold-killing tablet and by leaving the door open to promote drying.

Learn the secrets to fixing a smelly washing machine.

6 / 11
Professional Stench StopperFamily Handyman

Professional Stench Stopper

Hockey equipment gets really stinky. Rick Bronwell, the assistant equipment manager for the Minnesota Wild hockey team, offers this advice: "The most important thing is to air everything out. In addition to that, try a product called SportSense. It eliminates bacteria that cause odors, but just as important, it eliminates bacteria that can cause a skin infection." SportSense is available in several sizes at sporting goods stores or online at You can use it on all kinds of sports gear. Plus: 13 Cleaning Tips for Reducing Household Dust
7 / 11
Freshen Up Work BootsFamily Handyman

Freshen Up Work Boots

At the end of a long workday, fill up your boots with cedar chips. (Better yet, slide in an old sock that's filled with cedar chips.) The cedar chips absorb moisture and eliminate odors. You can buy a bag of chips, sold as animal bedding, at a pet store. Change out the chips every month or so.

8 / 11
Stop Bad Dishwasher Odors

Stop Bad Dishwasher Odors

Stop bad dishwasher odors by cleaning food scraps from the tub and running a dishwasher cleaner through a cycle. It’s an easy way to eliminate a strange smell in the house.

Read more on how to fix a smelly dishwasher.

9 / 11
Skunk Spray AntidoteFamily Handyman

Skunk Spray Antidote

Humans rarely get sprayed by skunks, but for dogs it's fairly common. If (or when) your dog gets sprayed, if possible, leave him outside for a while—the smell will subside dramatically in 24 hours and you won't stink up your whole house. It takes a lot longer than that for the smell to disappear completely, however, so you will have to wash the stink out. Before you spend a bunch of money on expensive shampoos, take a tip from the Humane Society on how to get rid of a bad smell in the house: "Mix 1 quart of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide with 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap. Bathe the dog in it and rinse." Wear gloves to avoid smelling like a skunk yourself. Plus: 14 Cleaning Tips Every Dog or Cat Owner Should Know
10 / 11
Baking Soda Makes Odors Go AwayFamily Handyman

Baking Soda Makes Odors Go Away

The best thing available to make bad smells go away is baking soda. People think about it for their freezer or refrigerator, but it's good for much more than that. You can sprinkle it on carpet, work it in a bit and vacuum it up. For other items, like mattresses, cushions and clothing, dampen the fabric and gently rub with baking soda, then wipe off/rinse with cold water. Then you can stop asking why does my house smell. Plus: These Are the Best Household Cleaning Supplies & Products.
11 / 11
Freshen the FridgeFamily Handyman

Freshen the Fridge

If you've ever dealt with a fully stocked refrigerator that has lost power for several days, you understand the definition of "putrid." Even after a thorough cleaning/disinfecting, the spoiled-food stench can linger for a log time. Try stuffing your stinky fridge with crumpled newspapers and charcoal to get rid of a strange smell in the house. The odor will be gone within several days. Plus: Kitchen Cleaning Checklist: 11 Tips for a Clean Kitchen