How to Make Your Home (and Everything in It) Smell Good

Quick and Dirty Tips
by Quick and Dirty Tips
Funky smells coming from your home? Here are Domestic CEO's 9 easy recipes for natural, homemade ways to deodorize your home and the smelly things that enter (or live in) it.
Jolante van Hemert / Flickr
Has this happened to you: You walk into your home after being gone at work or out shopping, and whoa…something smells funky! But where is it coming from? You sniff. You search. You’re stumped.

Your home can be filled with all sorts of things that can make it smell downright yucky. When that happens, you may be tempted to quickly spray a commercial air freshener or light a candle, but those are just temporary cover-ups. You’ve really got to get to the root of the problem to remove that horrible stench from your home for good.

Today, I’ve got 9 easy recipes for natural, homemade remedies to help deodorize and freshen your home:
Tip Homemade Room and Furniture Deodorizing Spray

This simple recipe is a snap to make and safe to use either by spritzing into the air or spraying directly on that smelly couch or recliner. This spray uses your favorite essential oil. If you haven’t used essential oils, I encourage you to check out my episode How to Use Essential Oils in Your Home to learn more about their natural, non-toxic benefits. Here’s the quick and easy recipe for deodorizing room spray:

1 Tablespoon baking soda

2-3 drops essential oil – I like lavender, lemon, orange, cinnamon, or peppermint. Use a scent you like or mix and match to create your own personal scent.

Distilled water

Mix the baking soda and essential oil thoroughly. Using a funnel to add this mixture to an 8-12 ounce spray bottle. Add distilled water to fill and shake well. Now, it’s ready to use!

Tip Simmer Pot Air Freshener

For a long-lasting wonderful aroma that permeates your entire home, try my simmer pot recipe. Use this around the winter holidays to create a warm, homey ambiance. It’s also great in summer to get rid of stinky, sweaty smells that seem to come from everywhere. Mix and match your ingredients for a unique scent. Here’s the basic recipe, but you should feel free to change it up:

1 orange, sliced

1 lemon, sliced

2 cinnamon sticks

4 whole cloves

1 bay leaf, fresh if possible

Add all these items to a medium pot or a small crock-pot. Add water to fill about halfway. Turn the burner on to low and let this simmer all day. If using a crock pot, set on low and let it freshen the air. Periodically check the water level and add water as needed.

Variations: Try adding pine needles and fresh cranberries at Christmas time. Use lemon and fresh mint for a light, summertime scent. Fresh lavender and oranges make a nice combination, too.
Tip Carpet Refresher

I’ve shared this tip with you before in my episode How to Clean With Baking Soda. If you don’t currently use baking soda as a natural cleaner in your home, I urge you to give it a try. It's easy, non-toxic, safe, cheap, and gets the job done fast:

1 cup baking soda

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

Mix these two ingredients well. Add to a shaker container – a clean parmesan cheese dispenser works well. Sprinkle liberally on your carpets and let stand for 30 – 60 minutes. Vacuum as usual. Your carpets will smell clean and fresh (and your family will think you just baked some delicious cinnamon concoction!)

Tip Home and Car Fresheners

Here’s another easy way to use baking soda to kill stinky smells. These little freshener jars are great for bathrooms, closets, any room in the house, really. These make great car fresheners as well.

½ cup baking soda

4-6 drops essential oil

Mix ingredients in a small glass jar. Either poke holes in the lid using a nail and hammer or if using a mason-type jar, stretch some fabric (I like to use burlap) across the mouth of the jar and secure with the ring lid only. Set these little deodorizers anywhere. Refresh every few weeks with 4-6 drops of new oil.

Tip Natural Room Diffuser

You know those oil room diffusers that have the bamboo sticks in them? Sometimes they smell good but…sometimes they smell, well, weird. What’s in there anyway? Here’s a super simple way to create your own room diffusers for just pennies:

Wooden bamboo skewers

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day All Purpose Cleaner (Lemon Verbena)

Small jar or glass

Simply add enough cleaner to the jar or glass to fill it halfway. Take 8-10 bamboo skewers and trim to the right height, if necessary. Trim off the pointy ends and make sure the skewers are no more than twice the height of the glass. Add skewers to the glass and set wherever you want a fresh, clean scent.
Tip Natural Air Freshener Gel

Here’s another option for an air freshener that you can set wherever you need the air sanitized. This gel freshener is a good option if you’ve got small children, rowdy teenagers, clumsy husbands, or crazy pets. Since this air freshener is in gel form, it can’t spill! Here’s what you need:

20 drops of your favorite essential oil(s)

2 Tablespoons salt

4 packets of plain, unflavored gelatin (I used Knox brand)


Empty glass food jars with screw-on lids

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, remove it from heat, and gently stir in the essential oils and the salt. Continue stirring while carefully sprinkling in the gelatin. Once dissolved, slowly stir in 1 cup of cold water. Do not stir this vigorously or it will foam up and create a cloudy gel.

Place the jars on a cookie sheet and carefully pour the gelatin mixture into each jar. Move to a location where they won’t be bumped or messed with and let sit for 2 to 3 days to set up. At this point the fresheners will smell very strong but don’t worry; the scent will mellow out once you’ve got the lids on.

Decide how many air fresheners you plan to use immediately. Poke 5-6 holes in those lids using a hammer and nail. Leave the remaining lids without holes to keep their fragrance intact during storage. For a more decorative touch, spray paint the lids before punching the holes in them.

This recipe will make 4 to 5 4-ounce room fresheners. If you like, you can add food coloring to the boiling water, oil, and salt mixture to create colorful gel fresheners. Use until the gel filling has become dry and shriveled.

Tip Smelly Shoe Deodorizing Spray

This is a stink that invades just about every household. Here’s a quick remedy to spritz on those smelly shoes:

2 teaspoons essential oil (thyme or tea tree oil work best)

2 cups water

Mix thoroughly and add to a spray bottle. Liberally spray shoes with this mixture and allow to completely dry before wearing.
Tip Stinky Pet Spray

Some dogs just have a very pungent body odor. Here is a useful pet deodorizer that helps keep Fido smelling sweet between baths or trips to the groomer.

3 Tablespoons rubbing alcohol (or vodka…but who wants to waste vodka on the dog!)

2 cups distilled water

12 drops essential oils

Bonus: I recommend the following essential oils because they're also great bug repellents.

Lavender oil repels fleas; cinnamon is good for mosquitoes; eucalyptus deters mosquitoes, ticks, and lice; and lemongrass wards off flies, fleas, and mosquitoes. Mix one or more to help ward off the pests in your neck of the woods.

Mix the ingredients thoroughly and add to a spray bottle. Spritz this liberally on your doggie whenever he or she is smelly! This will last in the container for 2-3 weeks.

Tip Deodorizing Discs

These powerful discs work well in garbage cans, diaper pails, gym bags, and closets. This recipe is enough for 24 discs:

2 cups baking soda

1-2 cups water

Several drops of essential oil

Silicone muffin pans, enough for 24

Heat the water to boiling and add the oil. Mix the liquid slowly into a bowl containing the baking soda. Add only enough liquid to make a spreadable paste. (The more water you mix in the longer the discs take to dry and harden.) Spoon the paste into silicone muffin pans. Let the discs dry completely. This may take several days. Once completely dried, remove the discs carefully from the muffin pans. Store in a jar or Ziploc bag until ready to use.

Put a disc in the bottom of your trash can or diaper pail to absorb odors. A disc added to a gym bag or gym locker keeps stinky smells at bay. Use wherever sneaky smells tend to get overwhelming.
And there you have it - 9 natural, easy to make deodorizers that will make your home smell fresh and clean without spending money on expensive air fresheners. Try some of these effective techniques and you’ll not only save money, but also breathe in fewer chemicals in the long run. Better for you, your family, your pets, and your wallet!

Until next time, I’m the Domestic CEO, helping you love your home!

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  1 question
  • Mel Mel on Jun 02, 2016
    What about a bad odor in the car vent ?

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