How to Get Bad Smells Out of Your Home for Good

How to Get Bad Smells Out of Your Home for Good

Your home is your biggest investment and the place where you spend the majority of your life. You’d better enjoy your time there, and that’s not easy if you don’t like the way your home smells.

Unpleasant odors can build up in a home for many reasons. Maybe you have pets, and you haven’t always done the greatest job of controlling the smells they inevitably leave behind. You might smoke in your home, which is obviously never going to be conducive to having a fresh-smelling environment. It’s also possible that you have an older house and live in an area where humidity is a persistent issue.

Regardless of the reason for the unwanted odors in your home, the ultimate conclusion is the same: You want to get those smells out. What you need is an actionable step-by-step method for eliminating unwanted smells at their source and cleaning the places where those smells tend to linger. From that point, it’s just a matter of maintenance – and this guide is going to cover everything. Let’s jump in.

Find and Remove the Unwanted Smells

Before you can even begin to worry about ridding your house of a bad odor, you have to identify and remove the smell at its source. If you don’t, it’ll just come back again later. The correct strategy here depends on what’s causing the smell. Here are some ways to remove common household odors.

  • If you smoke in your home, stop immediately. Smoking in your home doesn’t just make it an unpleasant environment for you – it also drastically reduces your home’s value. If you must continue smoking, do it outside. Alternatively, grab a Flum Pebble and use that instead.
  • If you have pets, clean or replace their toys and furniture.
  • Clean your drains to get rid of food particles and old oil. Don’t forget to clean under the flap of your garbage disposal. Chemical drain cleaners release noxious fumes and can be hard on pipes. Try a foaming enzyme-based cleaner instead.
  • Check your plumbing and fix any leaks you discover.
  • Seal old windows to prevent frost forming on the inside during winter.
  • Have your roof inspected and fix any leaks found.

Clean the Places Where Bad Smells Linger

Once you’ve removed any sources of bad smells in your home, the next step is to give it a good cleaning and take care of the places where those odors might still linger. Here’s a general gameplan that can help you get this done as efficiently as possible.

  • Take down any drapes, curtains and other linens and wash them in a laundromat with large machines. If you’ve ever smoked in your home, try adding some white vinegar to the detergent to break up and neutralize the stale smoke molecules. Don’t hang the curtains back up until you’ve finished cleaning the rest of the room.
  • Wash the ceilings and walls using warm water and mild detergent. Add vinegar if you’re trying to remove a smoke smell. You’ll also want to clean the insides of your windows if you’ve smoked in your home. Remember; smoke sticks to just about everything.
  • Clean your floors thoroughly. If you have hard floors, use an enzyme-based detergent to break up organic odor-causing molecules. Once again, add vinegar to help neutralize the smell if you’ve smoked in your home. If you have carpets, rent a steam cleaner at your local supermarket.
  • Clean your furniture. For this job, you can use a steam cleaner with an upholstery attachment. You can reduce or eliminate some persistent odors by leaving your furniture in direct sunlight and allowing the sun’s ultraviolet radiation to oxidize the odor-causing molecules. Be warned, though, that sunlight can discolor some fabrics.
  • Clean your air-conditioning system. Replace the filter and clean the coils and ductwork. If you’re not comfortable cleaning the coils and ducts, hire professional help.
  • If you’re dealing with an extremely persistent odor, consider renting an ozone generator and running is in your house for a while. Ozone can neutralize almost any organic odor. Be warned, though, that concentrated ozone is dangerous for all living things. You’ll need to run the generator when no one is in the home. You’ll need to remove your pets and might want to consider moving plants outside as well.
  • Odor-encapsulating paint is available at your local home improvement store, and it works well for sealing any odor-causing molecules – from smoking, for instance – that are stuck to your walls and ceiling.

Maintain Your Home to Keep It Smelling Fresh

Once you’ve removed offending odors at their sources and given your home a top-to-bottom cleaning to take care of any places where odors might linger, all that’s left to do is maintain your home. That way, you won’t have to undertake such a large project again – at least not for a long time. Here’s how to do it.

  • Open your windows whenever possible to maximize the air exchange between the inside and outside of your home.
  • If humidity is a constant problem for you, consider buying a dehumidifier and setting it up in your attic or basement. Don’t forget that a dehumidifier shuts off when the water collection bucket is full, so you might want to consider attaching a hose for continuous draining.
  • Buy bags of desiccant and put them in places where moist air tends to linger. You can find hanging desiccant bags for your closets, and you can also find jars to place under your sinks. After several days or weeks, the bottom halves of the containers will fill with water. At that point, you’ll pour the water out and replace the desiccant flakes.
  • Consider buying an air purifier with a HEPA filter and an activated charcoal filter. The charcoal filter will remove odor-causing molecules from the air, and the HEPA filter will trap most common allergens.
  • Place bags of activated charcoal in areas where bad smells tend to crop up, such as under sinks. To maintain maximum efficiency, you need to place activated charcoal in direct sunlight a few times a year. After a couple of years, you’ll need to replace the bags.

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