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How to Control Odors and Smells in Your Home

Written by A. Borrelli Mechanical on 11.15.21

Sprayed air freshener in hand close-up

From cooking and dirty laundry to poor ventilation, our homes can naturally retain unpleasant odors over time. This is especially true during the winter months when doors and windows are tightly shut and we spend most of our time indoors. And while air fresheners and candles can mask the smells, they will inevitably come back.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to not just mask unpleasant scents, but permanently get rid of them.

Identify Where the Smells Are Coming From

Here are common culprits of odors in homes:

  1. Dirty Air Filters and Ducts. Over time, air filters and ducts collect dust, dirt, pet dander, and more. This will cause your HVAC system to blow musty smells throughout your home. Duct-cleaning and replacing the air filter every 3 months should fix any strange smells coming from your HVAC system.
  2. Backed up and Clogged Sink Drains. Sink drains are another common culprit of unpleasant odors. Sewer gases, as well as food and other built-up in the drains, can lead to foul smells. Pour some drain cleaner down the drain to help unclog it. You can also use a combination of vinegar and baking soda to deodorize your drains. 
  3. Clean Your Trash Cans. Garbage bins grow smelly over time and contain spills that are not immediately visible. Scrub the bins with water and soap and let them dry before reuse. 
  4. Clean Your Dishwasher and Washing Machine. Leftover soap or standing water can cause your washing machine and dishwasher to smell over time. To combat this, run your washer and dishwasher on hot water with a cup of white vinegar. You may also mix a 1:1 solution of distilled white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, and use it to manually scrub the inside of the machine.

Ways to Deodorize a Home

  1. Use Vinegar to clean surfaces and appliances. Vinegar is a natural deodorizer that kills odor-causing bacteria. 
  2. Place charcoal air purifier bags around the house. Charcoal naturally absorbs odors and other particles in the air. Place the bags in closets, your fridge, bathrooms and anywhere else that smells. 
  3. Use an Air Purifier. Adding an air purifier, such as a portable one, can improve indoor air quality in specific rooms. You can also look into UV air purifiers that are installed in your HVAC ducts to "clean" air that moves through. They use short-wave ultraviolet light (UV-C light) to fully eradicate airborne pathogens and microorganisms like mold, bacteria, and viruses.
  4. Clean the CarpetsA recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health revealed that carpets may act as a repository for pollutants and odors that may get released into the air upon activity in the carpeted area. Professional carpet cleaning, such as that from our sister company Duraclean, helps to remove odors, dust, bacteria, and other allergens. 
  5. Add Flowers and Plants. Flowers can provide subtle natural scents. Certain low-maintenance, easy-to-care-for indoor plants, also help improve the air quality in your home. 

Topics: Winter, Home Health and Maintenance

Guide to A/C