Healthy Fixes for Unpleasant Household Odors

Photo: Top Drawer Sausage/flickrPhew! What’s that smell? We human beings are very sensitive to disagreeable household scents, which make a house feel somehow less clean and homey. Get rid of unlovely odors with these 12 easy, natural fixes that won’t harm your health.

1. Cleaning

The obvious first step is to find the source of the smell and clean it up. Residue in your trash can or garbage disposal, smoke and mold are some of the most common causes.

2. Ventilation

Open the windows if at all possible to air out a musty or smoky room. Stinky furniture can be hauled outside to freshen up. Ventilate your cooking area and bathroom with electric vents.

3. Water

Here’s a tip from Minneapolis plumbers: If a drain in your home has been unused for more than three weeks, you may start to notice a foul, sewage-like odor. This is due to a dried out sewer trap. Simply turn on the faucet and run water through the drain for a few minutes to solve the problem.

4. Vinegar

Set out an uncovered bowl or dampen a towel or slice of stale bread with vinegar as an all-purpose odor eater. Deodorize kitchen and laundry appliances, as well as your toilet, and remove mineral scale at the same time. Ice cubes made of vinegar work well to refresh the garbage disposal and sharpen the blades at the same time.

5. Baking Soda

Sodium bicarbonate, otherwise known as baking soda, is the classic fridge deodorizer. Change once a month for optimal results. It’s also great for de-souring thermoses; fill the flask with water, add a couple of teaspoons of soda and soak for 15 minutes. Then store your thermos with the lid off in future.

6. Charcoal

De-scent a closed space such as a dresser drawer with a few charcoal briquettes, in an open container so they don’t shed black powder on your clothes. You can still use them for grilling afterwards (be sure to select only the natural, sustainable type). CAUTION: Never use lighter fluid-saturated charcoal for this purpose.

7. Match or Candle

Light a match or a non-paraffin candle in the bathroom to lessen the impact of toilet-related smells.

8. Salt

Salt comes in very handy for deodorizing spatters that burn while you are cooking or baking. Sprinkle around the burner or the oven floor, continue with your dish and clean up after the food is done.

9. Onion

Store a cut onion in the cellar or other mildewy area for cleaner-smelling air.

10. Tea

Loose green tea will keep Kitty’s litter box daintier. Unused teabags will get rid of foot odor when left in your shoes overnight.

11. Newspaper

Another way to sweeten your sneakers is to stuff them with yesterday’s newspaper. Newspaper is also handy for removing food smells from plastic storage containers.

12. Lemon

Heat lemon chunks in water to alleviate microwave odor. Rub kitchen knives and the interior of your blender or food processor with citrus to erase old food odors. Lemon or orange zest can be dried and stored in drawers for a cheap, natural potpourri.

Laura Firszt writes for

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