Lingering odours can affect how much you enjoy your home. Whether your family caused the odour in your home or you inherited a smelly room from the previous owner, you can get rid of it using a few proven methods.
It can take time to eliminate lingering odours from smoke, cooking or mildew, but it is certainly worth the effort to deodorize your home and introduce pleasing scents throughout.
For a general freshness around the home, use either a shop-bought air freshener or one of these home-made solutions:
The active alcoholic solution. Make your own effective air freshener from, er, vodka. This evaporates quickly and is really good at absorbing general day-to-day household odours. Mix with water at a ratio of 3:1 and add about 20 drops of essential oil such as lavender or eucalyptus, then spray around the home. No need to use your best bottle of Stolichnaya either – as if you would! - just cheap vodka from your local discount shop is fine.
The passive non-alcoholic solution. If you’re more a coffee person than a vodka one, you can try leaving saucers of fresh coffee grounds in smelly rooms. Coffee grounds are great at absorbing odours and of course they’re going in the bin anyway so getting some extra use out of them is a nice bonus.
Don’t forget these methods only mask odours, or provide a pleasant background smell to rooms which are otherwise neutral. To actually get rid of odours takes a bit more work, and there are different recommended approaches to different smells:
Cigarette smoke - Heavy smoking will leave an almost-permanent smell in any room, but light smoke odours can be dispelled using the all-purpose magic of white vinegar. Pour vinegar on a large rag or old towel and wave excitedly around the smoky room; the rag will absorb the smells and can then be rinsed out and washed or thrown away along with the nasty niff.
Washing machine mould smells - The door on a washing machine seals so tight that air never circulates inside, allowing distinctly un-fragrant mould and mildew to grow. Wash away mould by running a hot wash cycle with no laundry, just two cups of bleach in the drum.
Fridge smells - If you keep strong-smelling things in your fridge the odours seep out every time you reach in for the milk. Keep an open container of baking powder or bicarbonate of soda in the fridge at all times, this will absorb odours and lock them away. Refresh the powder every 6 months or so.
Microwave smells - It’s really easy to overheat foods in the microwave and they then spatter and splatter into every crevice; even a good wipe-down won’t always remove the odours. To refresh it, place 4 or 5 cloves, half a lemon and 500ml of water in a large microwave-safe bowl, heat at the highest setting until it boils, then let it sit until the water cools. Remove the bowl and wipe the interior of the microwave with a paper towel, leaving the door open to air out.
Wooden surfaces and chopping boards - Scrub the wood with a mixture of lemon juice and baking soda or salt, then rinse down as normal.
Dishwasher - Simply run a dishwasher cycle on empty with just a dishwasher-safe cup of vinegar in the top rack. When finished the dishwasher will smell of vinegar for a while but soon after it’ll be beautifully odour-free and fresh.