HOME & LIVING
09/28/2014 12:10 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How To Finally Make Your Home Smell 'Good'

A person's noseblindness to their home is real, folks.

And just because you can't smell your own home, doesn't mean that other people can't. So for their sake (and for the sake of making things less stinky), it might be time to tackle those odors once and for all. It will, however, probably take a bit more than a can of air freshener to do the trick -- so we turned to author and cleaning expert Jolie Kerr for some advice.

"There are two different things we talk about when we talk about dealing with odors: odors maskers and odor eliminators," she told HuffPost Home. And here's everything you need to know about each of them.

Odor Maskers

How they work: Just as the name implies, odor maskers take the natural smell of your home and layer it with a (hopefully) stronger smell. There is no chemical elimination of the "bad" smell, just a more pungent masking over the current odor.

What to use: While air fresheners may be the most common option, they tend to have a distinct aerosol-like odor. To avoid this, try lighting a few candles, using a recently-refilled diffuser or boiling citrus peels. If you opt for the latter, the steam will act as a natural diffuser and work faster than a purchased one.

When to use them: Kerr suggests these should be your go-to in a pinch -- if you have guests coming over in 30 minutes and you want things to be a bit fresher, this is the way to go.

scented candles

Odor Eliminators

How they work: According to Good Housekeeping, odor eliminators are acidic while odors themselves are alkaline or basic on the pH scale. In other words, when the two come together, they counteract and the smell is neutralized.

What to use: Kerr notes that white vinegar works amazingly well. "Put it in a small bowl and tuck it behind the curtain so you don't see it while it's doing its thing," she explains. Every home has a different smell, but you should notice a difference in a day or two. And if you want to do double duty run a cycle on your coffee pot using half white vinegar and half water, as the steam will express neutralize your home and your coffee pot will get clean at the same time. Another option? Activated charcoal. It's often the main ingredient that creates the smell-fighting quality in kitty litter, and you can buy tablets of it at pet stores or purchase a brick of it online, Kerr says. All you have to do is leave it out in a small bowl in your home.

When to use them: These are for people dedicated to having an odor-free home. You can use the charcoal with little to no effort daily, and if you go the vinegar route, just be sure to replace it every day or so. It will evaporate and refreshing your supply will increase effectiveness.

white vinegar

Additional Tips

What to do daily: "Fresh air is one of the best ways to keep your home smelling neutral," reveals Kerr, who personally keeps her windows open from when she wakes up in the morning until she goes to bed at night. While it's not always an option due to climate or safety reasons, it is an easy solution if you're not facing restrictions. The only drawback? It will make your home a bit dustier.

Smells you might be missing: Sure, everyone knows about the garbage (take it out) and the fridge (a fresh box of baking soda), but you might also want to check the drain if you don't have a garbage disposal. Food can get stuck in there so do a quick clean out with some baking soda and vinegar before rinsing with water.

And for pet owners: Good news! Your furry friends have not completely doomed you to a stinky home for life. Granted, you'll have to take on more work, but "the best thing pet owners can do regularly is laundry and de-odorizing the furniture," Kerr notes. Upholstery loves to hold in smells, so wash the bedding and blankets where your pets love to curl up and vacuum furniture and carpets after letting baking soda sit in those spots for 15 minutes.

corgi on couch

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