No matter how many times you mop, scrub, and clean, the stenches of everyday life are inevitable. As long as you cook, play, and well, live, they’ll be there. But with the right products — both DIY remedies and top-tested picks from the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab — you can banish questionable smells for good.
Follow this guide to get rid of kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living room odors once and for all.
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1. Clean your trash can.
Sometimes it’s not the actual trash that smells – it’s the trash can itself! Clean it by sprinkling in baking soda or using a deodorizing pack or pod, like Fresh Wave, under the can’s liner or adhered inside the lid. Then spray it all over with a disinfecting spray, like Lysol, to kill bacteria.
2. Use baking soda to absorb refrigerator odors.
Nothing beats the aroma of a freshly cooked dinner…unless it’s mixed with the smell of leftovers from the night before. Remember to always double-wrap pungent foods (think: stinky cheese!) and store leftovers in containers with secure lids — and absorb odors by storing an open box of baking soda in the fridge and freezer.
3. Deep clean your dishwasher regularly.
How often do you clean your dishwasher? Yeah, we thought so. One a month, use a dishwasher cleaning tablet, like the ones from Cascade and run a cleaning cycle. Unless you’re one of those families that runs their dishwasher daily, always rinse dirty dishes before placing in the dishwasher to prevent food from sticking and smelling.
4. Boil lemon slices and water in your microwave.
You cook basically everything in your microwave — soups, leftovers, you name it — which means there are a million smells circulating in a very confined space. Get rid of lingering smells by boiling one quart of water with lemon slices for several minutes. Be sure to wipe out any stuck-on bits of food and leave the door open so that your clean microwave can air out.
5. Put your plastic cutting boards in the dishwasher.
Obviously, sanitizing cutting boards is a no-brainer but even that doesn’t always keep strong onion and garlic smells at bay. To freshen up, stick plastic cutting boards in the dishwasher. For wood cutting boards, scrub them with a lemon half dipped in salt.
6. Clean your toilets before they start to look dirty.
Here’s our rule of thumb for toilets: Clean them with toilet bowl cleaner before they start to look dirty. To combat smells and stains for up to one week, use Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Cleaning Gel. After cleaning, pour 1/2 cup bleach into the water. If smells are your main concern (hey, it happens!), spritz Good Housekeeping Seal Star Poo-Pourri before you go to the bathroom to mask odor.
7. Sprinkle baking soda on a musty mattress.
After a few years (or even a few months), your new mattress may start to smell musty. Give your bed a refresh by sprinkling baking soda on the mattress, letting it sit, and then vacuuming it up. For a quick fix, spray soft surfaces with Good Housekeeping Seal Star Febreze Fabric Refresher.
8. Avoid closing your closet door.
Whatever you do, don’t close your closet door. Closing the door traps all the moisture—and smells—in the small space. Closet dehumidifiers, like airBoss or DampRid, absorb
9. Sprinkle baking soda on a smelly carpet.
Unlike hardwood floors, plush carpets absorb smells like no other. Sprinkle baking soda all over the carpet to remove odors. Let sit (while you lounge on the couch and watch a movie) and then vacuum.
10. Sprinkle baking soda on smelly pet beds, too.
The same goes for pets: Sprinkle pet bedding with baking soda, let sit, and vacuum. Or if that’s not doing the trick, use Resolve Carpet Cleaner Moist Powder.
Try these odor removers
Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner
Fresh Wave Odor Removing Packs
Resolve Pet Carpet Cleaner Powder
airBOSS Closet Dehumidifier
Poo-Pourri Before-You-Go Toilet Spray
Amanda Garrity is a lifestyle writer and editor with over seven years of experience, including five years on staff at Good Housekeeping, where she covered all things home and holiday, including the latest interior design trends, inspiring DIY ideas and gift guides for any (and every) occasion. She also has a soft spot for feel-good TV, so you can catch her writing about popular shows like Virgin River, Sweet Magnolias, Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart and more.
Home Care & Cleaning Lab Executive Director
Carolyn Forté brings more than 40 years of experience as a consumer products expert to her role as executive director of the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Home Care and Cleaning Lab. Using deep analytical testing and writing expertise in appliances, cleaning, textiles and organizational products, she produces cleaning and home care advice for GH, has authored numerous books and bookazines for the brand and partners with the American Cleaning Institute to co-produce the Discover Cleaning Summits. She holds a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences from Queens College, City University of New York.