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Banish Bad Odors for Good: Tips that Work

March 5, 2024

Banish Bad Odors for Good: Tips that Work

Identify the Source of the Odor

The first step to getting rid of a bad odor is identifying where it’s coming from. Here are some common sources of bad smells and tips for locating them:


Pets like dogs and cats can leave behind odors from accidents, gas, or their breath. Inspect areas where pets sleep or hang out to find the source. Changing a litter box regularly is also key to preventing smells.

Mold and Mildew

Excess moisture allows mold and mildew to grow, creating a musty smell. Check under sinks, basements, bathrooms and other damp areas. A dehumidifier can help control moisture.

Trash and Food Waste

Rotting food waste or overflowing trash cans create powerful odors. Be diligent about taking out the trash and wiping down trash cans to control these smells.


The lingering scent of cigarettes can permeate furniture, clothes and carpets. Identifying smoking areas is the first step to treating these odors.

Cooking Foods

Frying fish, onions or other pungent foods releases smells that get absorbed. Turn on vents or open windows while cooking to prevent lingering odors.

Remove the Source

Once you’ve identified the source of the smell, the next step is to remove it. Here are some tips:

Clean Pet Areas

Clean litter boxes twice weekly. Use an enzymatic cleaner instead of ammonia-based products to break down pet odors. Wash pet bedding and vacuum upholstery regularly.

Discard Food and Take Out Trash

Check for old food like produce or leftovers that may be rotting. Empty all trash cans and take the trash outside frequently.

Wash Fabrics

Launder smelly clothes, towels, sheets and other fabrics. Add borax or white vinegar to fight odors. Dry cleaning may be needed for smoke smells in fabrics.

Clear Out Moldy Items

Discard molded carpets, drywall, insulation and other porous items. Bleach can remove mild mold but won’t kill mold roots. Call a mold remediation company for large outbreaks.

Deep Clean the Area

After removing the odor source, do a deep clean. Scrub surfaces with baking soda or vinegar. Shampoo carpets and vacuum upholstery. This will remove residual odors trapped in the area.

Absorb Lingering Smells

Even after removing the source, some bad smells may linger. Here are absorptive treatments to try:

Baking Soda

Baking soda is highly absorbent. Keep containers around problem areas, changing them regularly. Sprinkle on carpets, furniture and linens then vacuum up after 30 minutes.

White Vinegar

White vinegar neutralizes odors. Put bowls of vinegar around the room. For fabrics, add 1⁄2 cup to the rinse cycle. It can also be used to wipe down surfaces.

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal binds to and absorbs smelly compounds. Use charcoal deodorizers near litter boxes, trash cans or anywhere else smells congregate. Put charcoal packs in gym bags and shoes to fight odors.

Essential Oils

Natural essential oils like lemon, eucalyptus and tea tree have deodorizing properties. Put a few drops on cotton balls and place around the room. For pet smells, use lavender, peppermint and lemongrass oils.

Prevent Odors from Returning

Practice good maintenance to stop smells before they start:

  • Take out trash regularly
  • Clean litter boxes frequently
  • Fix leaks and humidity issues
  • Clean drains to prevent buildup
  • Vacuum and dust regularly
  • Wash linens, curtains and upholstery

When to Call a Professional

For severe or persistent odor issues, contact a professional:

  • Water damage requires specialists to dry out and prevent mold growth.
  • Hoarding situations have high amounts of absorbent material holding smells.
  • Sewage smells indicate a hazardous leak requiring immediate repair.
  • Heavy smoke damage needs deep cleaning beyond DIY methods.

With some diligent detective work and elbow grease, you can successfully banish bad smells for good. But don’t hesitate to call in backup for major odor issues.

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