How to Snuff Out Bad Smells in Your House

Updated: Mar. 18, 2024

Every now and then you'll walk into a room in your home and think to yourself, "What stinks?" Maybe it's the kitchen trash, a clogged drain or even a moldy-smelling washing machine. Whatever it is, here's some tips to tracking down bad odors in your home and eliminating them.

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Anatoliy Karlyuk/Shutterstock

Track Down the Source

First things first—you must find the source of the odor since just using fragrant candles and air fresheners isn’t going to fix the problem. Consider all the options, such as mold and mildew, an animal carcass in the chimney or dryer vent or something rotting in the trash. If the source is something you can remove, do so right away.

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AlexGor photo/Shutterstock

Try Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is porous which means it is great for absorbing odors and one awesome way of how to get rid of odor in a house. You can purchase activated charcoal in several forms. Try using them near your cat’s litter box to get rid of cat smell or in your kitchen compost container. These 25 crazy cleaning tips actually work!

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Fix a Smelly Dishwasher

Over time, food scraps and mold can build up in your dishwasher and create for a stinky situation. First, you’ll need to clean out the food debris, including the sprayer arm ports and in the crevices of the door. Once it is cleaned out, try filling a dishwasher-safe cup with white vinegar and place it on the top rack and run a cycle with no other dishes. You can also use a specialized dishwasher cleaning solution to know how to get rid of a smell in your house. Follow these tips to fix a stinky dishwasher.

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Musty Washing Machines

It’s easy for mold and mildew to grow in washing machines, especially if you have a front-load machine. One way on how to get rid of the odor in your house is try washing away the smell by using 2 cups of bleach in a cycle with hot water. You can also purchase Affresh tablets to use in a cycle to kill odors. Also, be sure to leave the machine door open between uses. Fix a smelly washing machine.

Buy magical Affresh tablets on Amazon now.

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Sewer Smells

Sewer smells in the basement aren’t out-of-the-ordinary. First, you’ll have to determine the source of the smell, as it could be trapped water under a floor drain, a clogged drain or even a cracked sewer line. Follow this checklist to figure out the cause of your stinky basement. Then, pick up one of these best basement odor eliminators to make your basement smell as fresh as a daisy.

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Refrigerator Odors

The tried-and-true solution to refrigerator odor is an open box of baking soda. Sodium bicarbonate attracts and eliminates odors. Just make sure to change it once a year. Clean a stinky fridge with these tips.

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lemon garbage disposal
Photo: Rachel Brougham

Garbage-Smelling Garbage Disposals

If your garbage disposal smells like, well, garbage, cut a lemon into chunks and run it through the disposal. Citrus is a great odor eliminator and the fruit’s high level of acid creates an unfriendly environment for bacteria. Try these 10 unexpected ways to use lemon around the house.

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Food Smells

Over time, cooking smells can become trapped in your kitchen, especially if you do a lot of curry dishes, spicy sauces or fried meals. To wash your cabinets and walls, use warm water with a mild soap. To eliminate odor after meal, just boil a cup of vinegar on the stove. Win the battle against stinkiness with these tips.

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: New Africa/Shutterstock

Carpet and Rug Odors

If you have kids and pets, you likely know carpet and rugs are a magnet for odors. To eliminate urine smells, try mixing one-part vinegar with three parts water. Rub the mixture on the carpet or rug with a white cloth and let it air dry. Try these carpet cleaning tips for pet owners.

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Smoke Stink

You just moved into your new home and it smells like an ashtray. An air freshener isn’t going to eliminate that odor! To get rid of smoke smells, you’ll need to wash and paint the walls. Depending on how deep the odor runs, you may even need to clean out the home’s duct system.

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Next: If you want to get rid of the bathroom smells, learn how bathroom exhaust fans can help.