Home Ownership

Spring Cleaning: How to Get Rid of Musty Smells

You’re not sure exactly where that musty, funky odor is coming from in your house – but you do know it’s a problem you want to address during your spring cleaning.

Odors from pets, kids, meals and even moisture trapped in the nooks and crannies of your home can all turn what should be a comfortable space into something off-putting for you and your guests alike – but never fear: We know how to tackle this problem. Here are some tried-and-true solutions that will banish pesky smells and keep them out.

Open Windows and Ventilate

There’s no substitute for the natural freshness that comes with a well-ventilated home. You may have a lot of odors trapped in your home simply because you’ve had everything closed up so tightly for the winter. 

As soon as weather conditions permit, get those windows open! Create a cross-ventilation effect by opening windows on opposite sides of your home. That will enhance the circulation of fresh air so that you can drive out unpleasant scents more easily.

Rely on Some Baking Soda Magic

There’s a reason that everybody’s granny swore by baking soda when they wanted to get rid of household odors. It’s a safe, non-toxic cleaning wonder that won’t harm your children or pets – and it’s budget-friendly. 

Baking soda’s natural properties make it highly effective in absorbing and neutralizing odors, making it a must-have in your odor-fighting arsenal. Beyond placing an open box in the refrigerator, consider sprinkling it on carpets and pet beds – or even dusting it over upholstered furniture – before you vacuum. 

You can also tuck an open box on a shelf in each of your closets to get rid of any unwanted smells that have accumulated in the pores of the wood over the years from damp clothing and shoes. Meanwhile, a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar can be used to flush your drains and eliminate bacterial buildup that can get pretty stinky.

Add in a Little Activated Charcoal

Much like baking soda, activated charcoal is a formidable ally in the ongoing battle against bad smells. Its porous structure allows it to absorb and neutralize a variety of odors and airborne irritants, making it an excellent choice for odor-prone areas like closets, bathrooms, attics and basements.

Invest in little cotton bags of activated charcoal and strategically place them in areas where unwanted odors persist. When they start to lose their effectiveness, you can simply swap the used-up charcoal for new (without any guilt, since they’re naturally biodegradable).

Create Your Own Stovetop Potpourri

A lot of people do this around the holidays, but there’s no reason to restrict yourself – pull out that crockpot or your favorite pot for simmering, and put together a natural potpourri that will fill your home with pleasant scents (and drive away the bad ones). 

Combine water with citrus slices, fragrant herbs like rosemary or mint, a few sticks of cinnamon and a sprinkle of cloves (or whatever recipe you care to follow). Let this delightful concoction simmer on low heat to permeate your home with a refreshing and inviting scent. This customizable approach ensures a unique and pleasing aroma that suits your taste.

Steam Clean the Carpets and Upholstery 

Carpets and upholstery are notorious for harboring odors, especially when spills or pet accidents occur. If you’ve already tried baking soda on everything but smells still remain, it may be time to either rent a high-quality steam cleaner or call in a professional.

Tackling the drapes, the carpets and the couch cushions with some professional products will not only remove visible stains but also eliminate embedded odors, leaving your home with a newly revitalized energy and atmosphere. (If you’re really struggling with old, musty smells, you may want to consider this first, then use baking soda or charcoal and the other tips to maintain that freshness.)

Invest in an Air Purifier

Once you get your home smelling fresh and clean, you have to keep it that way. To do so with a minimum of effort, consider investing in a quality air purifier. These devices are designed to filter out airborne particles, allergens and odors, contributing to a healthier and more pleasant living environment.

Look for air purifiers with activated carbon filters, specifically designed to target and neutralize odors. Place the purifier in a central area of your home to maximize its impact on overall air quality.

Make Use of Essential Oils and Diffusers

Essential oils are nature’s aromatic wonders, offering a myriad of scents that can transform your home into a personalized (and pleasantly scented) sanctuary. 

From calming bedtime scents to invigorating daytime aromas, essential oils provide a versatile and enjoyable way to maintain a consistently pleasant atmosphere. Lemon, orange and tea tree are all popular year-round oils to use because they convey an overall sense of cleanliness or freshness.

Add Some Plants as Natural Air Purifiers

Houseplants not only add aesthetic appeal but also act as natural air purifiers. Houseplants can absorb pollutants and release oxygen, contributing to a cleaner, fresher indoor environment – and having a few plants can boost your mood and make you feel more connected to the natural world.

An aloe plant can thrive in a bathroom, an herb garden can brighten up the whole kitchen (and add zest to your mealtimes), and the living room can benefit from a few pothos or spider plants, all of which have air-purifying prowess.

Get Into a Regular Cleaning Routine

Maintaining a consistent cleaning routine is the bedrock of a fresh-smelling home – so try to establish a routine that doesn’t feel overwhelming, even if that’s just focusing on one area to clean each weekend.

Beyond the usual vacuuming and dusting, don’t forget the often-neglected areas in a home, like baseboards, ceiling corners and under the furniture where the dust bunnies tend to gather. It may surprise you just how much of a difference a quarterly “deep clean” can make.

Achieving a fresh-smelling home involves a combination of regular cleaning, strategic odor control, and a commitment to identifying and eliminating the sources of bad smells. A little effort really can go a long way in banishing bad smells and creating the atmosphere you want in your home.