How to Deodorize a Smelly House

A smelly house is not only annoying and embarrassing; it can also be unhealthy.
Mold and mildew cause offensive household odors.Mold and mildew cause offensive household odors.
Odors affect air quality and can be caused by pets, cooking, new furniture and carpeting, and even faulty plumbing. Although you might find that a store-bought air freshener is the solution to your odor problems, think again. While scented air fresheners quickly mask odors with floral and fruit scents, they do nothing to eliminate odors. There are, however, steps you can take to deodorize a smelly house using cost-effective household products and simple techniques.

Step 1

Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a plastic spray bottle to clean hard surfaces and neutralize odors. White vinegar also is effective for absorbing offensive odors from soft surfaces such as upholstered furniture. Lightly spritz your furniture with your solution to eliminate pet, smoke, cooking and other strong odors. The vinegar odor fades after a couple of hours.

Step 2

Sprinkle baking soda on your carpets to eliminate odors and restore freshness. Let the baking soda sit on the carpet for one hour, then vacuum thoroughly. Baking soda is safe to use around kids and pets, so repeat as needed. Empty the collected baking soda quickly from your vacuum, because allowing it to sit in the canister or bag will result in odor buildup.

Step 3

Fill shallow, small bowls with charcoal briquettes and place them around your house. Charcoal absorbs smelly odors and is inexpensive. Change out the briquettes every two days until odors are gone. Don't put charcoal directly on fabric because it causes discoloration.

Step 4

Use a commercial odor-neutralizing product to spray the air, upholstery, closets and shoes. Neutralizing sprays also deodorize pet beds, draperies and carpeting, and they can be purchased at grocery stores, big box retailers, hardware stores and drugstores.

Step 5

Wash your floors with a disinfectant floor cleaner and hot water, per labeling instructions. Using a clean sponge mop, dip your mop into your bucket of solution, squeeze out excess liquid and wash your floors. Floors can be the source of odors and can absorb odors from other sources. Quickly mopping up pet accidents from hard-surface floors eliminates a lingering smell. Do not saturate your floors with water, because this can damage laminates and other floor coverings.

Step 6

Open your windows for a couple of hours every day to promote ventilation and deodorize your house. Allowing outside air into your house freshens stale air and eliminates odors.

Things You Will Need

  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Plastic spray bottle
  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum
  • Charcoal briquettes
  • Bowls
  • Commercial odor-neutralizing spray
  • Bucket
  • Mop
  • Disinfectant floor cleaner


  • Place fabric softener sheets in your clothing drawers and closets to freshen fabric affected by household odors.


  • If you experience headaches, difficulty breathing or dizziness from household odors, immediately go outside, then call your health care provider.

About the Author

Meadow Milano has been a registered nurse for over 20 years, with extensive experience in emergency nursing, labor and delivery and general medicine. She has written numerous articles for nursing publications pertaining to health and medicine, and enjoys teaching in the clinical setting.