6 Things in Your Kitchen That Get Rid of Bad Smells Naturally

by Meg Favreau on 24 October 2011 9 comments
Photo: B Rosen

Allow me to start with a rather simple statement — holy heck, there are a lot of things out there that can smell bad. I mean, there are all of the things out there that can smell bad on their own, and then there are all of the things that those terrible-smelling things can touch.

Even worse? A lot of those terrible smells are in your home. But there's some good news — some of the most powerful tools to battle bad smells are already in your house as well. Here are a few common kitchen items that eliminate nasty odors naturally. (See also: 6 Secret Homemade Stain Removers That Kick Butt)

1. Baking Soda

One of those inexpensive, natural wunderkinds, baking soda neutralizes pH levels, effectively cutting through bad smells. Keeping an open box of baking soda in your fridge is an old standard. But you can sprinkle baking soda anywhere you want to remove odors, including:

  • Trash cans
  • Shoes
  • Carpets
  • Litter boxes
  • Laundry hampers
  • Clothing

To clean and deodorize at the same time, scrub surfaces with baking soda mixed with a little bit of water. This is usually what I use to clean my tub.

2. Vinegar

White vinegar can be used to neutralize many of the same smells as baking soda. An open cup of vinegar in the fridge is an alternative to the box of baking soda, or an open cup or bowl of vinegar can be left in a room where you want to eliminate an odor. Vinegar is also an effective cleaner for everything from shower glass to kitchen counters.

Some people dislike removing smells with vinegar because it has a strong smell of its own, but it dissipates soon after use.

3. Oats

As Chris recently wrote in his post about unexpected uses for oats, the heart-healthy grain is also a decent odor-absorber. Leave a bowl of oats out anywhere you want to suck in smells.

4. Coffee Grounds

While it only works if you like the odor of java, unbrewed ground coffee can be used to eliminate smells, especially in things that used to belong to smokers, like cars or furniture.

5. Lemon Juice

You don't need to cover up smells with fake "lemon-fresh" scents to improve odors with lemon. The fruit is especially useful in the kitchen. It's great for neutralizing the smell of the same foods it's often served with, including garlic and fish. Try rubbing lemon juice on your hands after handling garlic, or rubbing half a lemon over the cutting board you just cut fish on.

Reader's Digest also recommends running a few teaspoons of lemon juice with the water though your humidifier to keep it smelling fresh, and tossing a few lemon peels in the garbage disposal will keep it on the up-and-up.

6. Spices

This does more to cover up a bad scent than neutralize it, but if there's a kitchen smell you'd like to cover, you can simmer water on the stovetop with "fall" spices like cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Similarly, if you bake something that smells delicious, like cookies, that'll help too.

Are there any other common kitchen items you use to neutralize odors? Share in the comments!

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Guest's picture

I'm just recently learning about the power of vinegar and all of its uses.

Guest's picture
Megan

I love lavendar essential oil. It's not common (exactly) and it's not a kitchen item, but lavendar is a great odor neutralizer, and a natural anti-microbial, so it's really good for getting rid of germs after you've been sick (since we're moving into flu season).

I mix a few (6-8) drops into a spray bottle with water and mist any room and any thing (the sofa, pillows, the bed) when I want it to smell better.

I've been told that the lavendar plant has the same properties, but I've never used it, so can't speak to how one might.

Guest's picture

An easy way to deodorize a garbage disposal is to run some citrus peels though it. The citrus oil does the trick. Another is to just grind ice cubes in the disposal. It cuts through any stuck on congealed fat. Any time you put egg shells through the disposal it helps too. The stickiness of the raw egg gathers any food bits hanging around and the sharp shells scour too. All free and easy! Be sure to run the water when you are using these.

Guest's picture

Also, heating some vanilla extract in the oven. Try a half cup in an oven safe mug, heat at 350 for an hour.

Guest's picture

I recently found out about coffee grounds as well. It works extremely well especially if you put it inside your refrigerator. My mom bought a special container for this too. I highly recommend coffee ground when it comes to removing odor.

Guest's picture

Sometimes I boil some water and cinnamon. Then I walk around my apartment letting the steam engulf the rooms.

Guest's picture
idleRAT

Fresh parsley will get strong garlic/onion smells off your hands, pull off a piece and rub it all over them, then wash with soap and water. Another way is to rub your hands over your taps(faucets for Americans) if they're stainless steel, works in the same way those steel "soaps" do.

It'll also kill garlicky breath if you chew it, but so will other things without leaving greenery in your teeth.

Guest's picture

Interesting, I never knew that oats would absorb odor like other ingredients. I've definitely used coffee grounds for things like this before. I LOVE the smell of coffee and its strong enough to overpower even the most pungent smells.

Guest's picture
Guest

Thanks for the article Meg. Nice tips!

I like how the article is trying to stay with natural solutions and keeping costs down. Believe it or not, there is an organic product that is actually affordable that works wonders. The stuff is amazing. Please take a look at it! Freshana Organic Solutions is the company name.