Smells are everywhere in our home and, sometimes, they aren't all too fresh. What do you do with a kitchen that reeks of fish and garlic? Or a bathroom that doesn't smell like a bouquet of roses? Before you reach for the store-bought cleaner, consider using a do-it-yourself, green alternative. You've probably used baking soda to freshen up your fridge, but there are plenty of other natural products you can use to deodorize your home and give it a delicious scent. While keeping your indoor air clean is important, it would be a mistake to underestimate how the smell makes you feel: The smell of eucalyptus can wake you up and the smell of flowers can help you relax.
Of course, if your home smells bad, you don't want to just be covering it up—it could point to a serious issue like mold, poor ventilation, or a gas leak. But if the smell is just a short-term thing, you might just need to simmer some vinegar for an hour or so. So, whether you're trying to get rid of the food smells that linger or just looking to purify the air in general, try one of our homemade solutions.
If you've been growing plants indoors, you're already doing a lot to keep the air inside your home clean: The leaves, roots, and even the dirt of all work to remove pollutants from the air. Plants with large leaves like the rubber plant, golden pothos, and Boston ferns are especially good at removing pollutants. If you like flowers, peace lilies are notably good at purifying the air and have beautiful blooms that smell wonderful.
If you're trying to keep your home clean with natural products, having vinegar on hand is essential. A small dish of vinegar can neutralize the scent of smoke, cooking odors, and musty smells. Fill a glass dish with 1⁄2 inch of white vinegar and set it on the counter, but simmering it on the stove for an hour will make it even more effective.
Lemons add brightness to your meals, but you probably didn’t realize that you could use the leftovers to get rid of any smells your food leaves behind. There are a few ways to go about it: freeze the rinds and grind them up in the garbage disposal, simmer a few slices in water, or bake them in the oven. Any way you go about it, your kitchen will smell lemony fresh when you’re done.
Lavender is beautiful both fresh and dry so you really can't go wrong either way. A few studies have looked into the potential use of a chemical in lavender's scent as a way to reduce anxiety. We're probably way off from seeing it used as a treatment option any time soon but it goes to show that taking a whiff of it might help you relax and sleep a bit better. Tuck dried lavender sachets into your drawers and pillows, or leave a vase of fresh lavender on your nightstand.
Reach for the vodka bottle next time you're trying to get rid of a bad smell in the house. When spritzed, poured, or sprayed with natural add, it disinfects surfaces and neutralizes odors without damaging fabric or harming your skin. Spray it onto clothes, linens, upholstery, curtains, or rugs that are smelling musty.
Activated charcoal is effective at absorbing most odors and air pollutants. It's odorless and nontoxic, and you don't have to do anything besides stick it in the places that need deodorizing: scatter loose granules at the bottom of the trash can, mix it into cat litter, or pour it into sachets to hang in stale-smelling closets.
The ancient Greeks and Romans sported leafy wreaths as symbols of power and victory. Our favorite use for them will make you feel like a champ too: Hang one in the bathroom, where the shower's steam will release their invigorating scent. We made ours from a single branch of seeded eucalyptus, secured with wire, but you could do the same with bunches of rosemary or bay laurel—the emperors' favorite. Fresh sprigs should last about three to four weeks before they dry out.