Candles, potpourri, and spray fragrances may disguise an unpleasant household odor, but covering up an odor does only that: cover it. Pretty fragrances will not eliminate the odor at its source for a lasting solution. For that, you need to do one of two things.
Absorb the Odor
Baking soda is the most recommended product for absorbing odors. It’s simple, cheap, and effective. Many of us know to place an opened box of baking soda in a refrigerator or freezer compartment to remove odor. The same technique works in any small, enclosed area of the home, including closets and storage chests. Baking soda can also absorb carpet and furniture odors: Sprinkle it onto the offensive area, then allow the baking soda to sit for several hours before vacuuming it up.
To make an odor-busting spray, mix two cups of water and two teaspoons of baking soda in a spray bottle. Mist the mixture onto soiled surfaces.
Looking for more odor absorbers? Try kitty litter, charcoal, or chalk. Kitty litter and chalk can be left in open containers. Contain the mess of charcoal by placing it in a box or container with holes in it. These are especially effective at removing musty odors in damp areas, as the substances will absorb humidity in the air as well.
Neutralize the Odor
Neutralizing an odor that is trapped in a fabric or porous surface is the only way to permanently eliminate it. Look to your kitchen cabinet for a common item that serves as an odor neutralizer: vinegar.
Vinegar is useful for a variety of cleaning purposes and odor removal. Many veterinarians recommend it to eliminate odors caused by pet accidents.
Mix vinegar and water in a one-to-one solution and douse the offensive area. Blot with a towel to remove excess liquid and let dry. Pouring vinegar into coffee pots, garbage disposals, and sink drains is highly effective at cleaning and deodorizing, as is microwaving a bowl of vinegar and water to remove odors in the microwave.
Other items to try are club soda (which is a good fabric spot-and-stain cleaner too), lemon juice (not recommended for fabric), and citrus fruit wedges. Fruit wedges from lemons and oranges deodorize trash cans and garbage disposals; simply slice them and place in the trash or run through the disposal.
Eliminating household odors does not have to be expensive. Always begin with removing the item that is causing the unpleasant odor in the first place; a thorough soap-and-water washing may be all that is needed. For hard-to-reach odor origins, try using one of the methods mentioned here.