Don't hide nasty odors with expensive scents

13 Ways to Remove Odors Naturally

by Joanne Guidoccio

How to Conquer Debt eBook

Living in a condo has many advantages, but one drawback is the lingering after-effects of unpleasant odors. That's a problem easily solved during the spring and autumn months when doors and windows can be flung open, but more challenging during bouts of extreme cold and hot temperatures.

I could invest in any one of the air fresheners that grace the shelves of local grocery, hardware, and department stores. And I would be in good company. According to a study released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), nearly 75 percent of American households use spray, plug-in, or stand-alone liquid and gel air fresheners with such tantalizing names as Summer Breeze, Lilac Dream, and Green Apple.

Unfortunately, many consumers equate these quick fixes with a clean, sanitized, and germ-free environment, ignoring the additional chemical imprint on homes and the environment.

Clean, fresh and breathable air is possible all year round and achievable on a budget. Consider the following tips.

  1. Change or clean all filters on air conditioners, air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and furnaces. Replace the bag and change the filter on your vacuum.
  2. Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of garbage bags. This will help control odors as you add trash.
  3. Related: Two Dozen Uses for Baking Soda

  4. Clean up pet accidents and follow up by sprinkling baking soda over the wet area. Allow the area to dry thoroughly and then vacuum. Mix baking soda into cat litter to control odors.
  5. Stir one tablespoon of baking soda into a cup of water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle with a fine mist setting for a quick and inexpensive air freshener.
  6. If a food has gone bad in a plastic storage container, you can "rescue" the container. After sprinkling it with baking soda, close the lid tightly and let it sit overnight. The following morning, wash as usual.
  7. Leave an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator and freezer to remove odors. Change each month.
  8. To neutralize odors after cooking fish or burning something on the stove, wipe down the countertops with full-strength vinegar.
  9. Fill a small bowl with vinegar and place it on the counter next to the stove. This will help remove the strong odors associated with cooking cabbage, broccoli, and other vegetables.
  10. Related: 50 Uses for Vinegar

  11. Use a rag dipped in degreasing dish detergents to take care of frying oil splatters on the stove, counter tops, and floor.
  12. Related: How to Clean Greasy Kitchen Cabinets

  13. Sprinkle salt as soon as casserole dishes bubble over in the oven. This helps remove the smoky odor. Wait until the oven cools before cleaning up.
  14. Eliminate food splatters in the microwave by combining two tablespoons of baking soda and one cup of water in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high until the liquid boils. Afterward, use paper towels to wipe off the walls and the turntable.
  15. Get rid of the "burned popcorn smell" by filling a large microwave-safe bowl with four or five cloves, half of a chopped lemon, and two cups of water. Microwave on high until the liquid boils. Cool and then use paper towels to wipe the walls.
  16. Bake or brew coffee. The delicious aroma of brewed coffee, apple pie, or banana bread can dissipate almost any unpleasant odor.

Reviewed April 2018

Take the Next Step:

  • Get more tips for removing odors naturally by visiting the Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • Never overspend for store-bought cleaners again. Use The Dollar Stretcher's Guide to Homemade Cleaners to find frugal, effective recipes for keeping your entire house and laundry clean and fresh.
  • Do you keep your finances as clean as your home? If debt is cluttering your budget, the TDS ebook How to Conquer Your Debt No Matter How Much You Have can provide you with the tools you need to sweep debt away and finally clean up your finances.
  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

For 31 years, Joanne Guidoccio taught mathematics, computer science, business and career education courses in secondary schools throughout Ontario. Her articles, book reviews, and short stories have been published in newspapers, magazines, and online. She has bachelor's degrees in mathematics and eduation and a Career Development Practitioner diploma. Visit her website at

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