Reduce the STANK in your house: solving common stinky problems

May 10 2011 |
Christmas yard art: Car Freshner's
Photo by djfrantic. Used under Creative Commons license.
Not all my apartments were shitty, but they all had their own stank issues, as small spaces are wont to do. But every cloud has a silver lining: since two of our three apartments were less than 650 square feet — and the third was half-underground and always moist — I had to learn how to keep common stinky problems from overwhelming us. I know — solving smell issues seems so easy but I know I, a very-uneducated-in-the-domestic-sciences person, took a long time to learn this stuff. So I'm happy to share my smell-management success secrets with you.

PROBLEM: Our trash is STANK, and I'm taking out half-full trash bags four times a week.


  1. Never, ever, never use scented trash bags. Adding scent to stank just compounds it.
  2. Clean out your can. If it hasn't been washed in a while, there might be a big glob of ketchup stuck up in there. Even when you can't see anything, using soap and water or an unscented disinfectant can eliminate smells.
  3. Get a counter-top compost bin. In our house, produce was a big cause of trash can stank. Onion bits and old broccoli stalks can bring a pervasive smell pretty quickly. This pretty much stopped when we got a counter-top compost bin and its accompanying charcoal filters. Even if you can't compost, it wouldn't be a bad buy if you have smelly produce problems — the bin pretty much kills the smell of scraps, so you don't have to change your trash bag every time you slice onions.

PROBLEM: My neighbors' stank invades our space.


  1. Get a draft guard for your door.
  2. Get an air purifier. Combine it with cracked windows, and you could see a marked reduction in uninvited smells.
  3. See if your landlord can replace a filter. Many times, even shared ventilation systems have filters throughout the ducts. If yours is clogged with dust and hair, it's probably not absorbing smells.

PROBLEM: The cat's litter box is STANK, and we don't have enough space to stow it remotely.


  1. Try moving the litter box. Air moves around spaces weirdly — AND you might not mind smelling a whiff of cat pee when you're loading the dryer, though it sucks to be the first thing you smell as you step through the front door. There might be a better place for your cat to poop in your house.
  2. Try a different litter. Even "natural" or "unscented" litters often have scents. After years of testing, my favorite is unscented Cat's Pride. It's cheap, scoopable, and though some people don't like clay litter — it's been the best at trapping odors. Every time we've had a truly stinky box that wasn't in need of a change was when I'd had to buy a slightly-scented "unscented" brand.
  3. Add baking soda. Non toxic, neutralizes ammonia, cheap.
  4. Buy your cat better food. Cat poop shouldn't be that smelly, barring another health problem (I've known plenty of stinky cats who have stomach issues). If your cat's poops are unbearably stank, look into a higher quality food — one without corn. After a few days you should notice a huge difference. I like Castor & Pollux, but I'm also a crazy cat lady, blinded to the price of cat food.
  5. Every fourth litter cleaning, get rid of ALL the old litter, rinse or wash the box and let it dry — in the sun, if possible. Many people suggest adding diluted bleach to the wash, but I haven't found it to be necessary. it's not a fantastic idea to add bleach to ammonia-based cat pee. Plus, rinsing only does the trick just as well.

I hope these starter solutions are helpful. These simple changes made my home mostly smell-free.

And if you have a stank issue, post it in the comments — we can group workshop it.

  1. We just use a small trash can and take out the trash daily. I'd rather have it rotting in the dumpster than in the apartment!

    4 agree
    • Agreed.

      Especially if there's not many people in your house. My family of 5 had no trouble filling a full size bin before anything rotted (even with a lot of recycling) but now it's just me and my boyfriend we use a far smaller bin to avoid having rubbish sat in the house too long.

      1 agrees
  2. For trash stank, try a smaller trash can. We are down to a 10 L trash can but even that needs to be emptied half full sometimes. For meat eaters out there, take meat scraps to the trash chute or outside bin immediately. Never leave it in the house overnight or the stank will become unbearable.

    I love our trash can. It uses grocery bags for trash bags so we never have to buy any and I don't feel so guilty when I forget my reusable bags at home.

    1 agrees
    • Stainless steel trash cans contain the funk very well! Also I put a sprinkle of baking soda on the bottom for good measure.
      I keep a little cup with unused coffee grounds or baking soda in my fridge to absorb the smells.
      And for a whole house smell, I boil water with cloves, orange peels and cinnamon sticks (or whatever I have around) The best part about this is using the water after hours of simmering citrus peels as a cleaning solution. The degreasing is exceptional! Hello sparking, delicious smelling stove in minutes!
      Making a paste with Dr Bronner's peppermint soap and baking soda get the smells(and stains I thought I'd never get out) out of toilet bowls and bathtubs.

      4 agree
  3. Any time I'm up against the impossible STANK, I turn to my old friends vinegar and baking soda. Serious example:

    We rent, and had stupid stick linoleum tiles that were poorly laid in the bathroom hiding awesome hexagonal tile. One evening I got the gumption for some guerilla remodeling and pulled up them nasty stick tiles. Walla! Original Hexagonal tiled floor in the bathroom! BUT then urine smell emanated upward from the old grout of the floor. I soaked the floor with a mixture of water and vinegar after scrubbing with baking soda. Smelled like vinegar and urine, let dry over night, and PRESTO, no more urine or vinegar smell.

    Thank goodness for vinegar and baking soda! They have also removed STANK from my favorite shoes.

    9 agree
  4. If it makes you feel any less like a crazy cat lady, my hubby and I feed our cats this:

    Orijen 6 Fresh Fish with Sea Vegetables dry cat food

    Though as we have discovered, it's amazing how much of a difference feeding our cats good food has made. I have a mild cat allergy (itchy eyes, sneezing kind) and feeding them the good stuff has killed my allergy to them. (Friends' cats who still eat meow mix and the like are another story…) It's certainly better in the litter box too. Course we've also noticed that they eat less of the good stuff (perhaps because they're getting more of what they need, and not stuff they don't), so they go through it less fast…

    And, I have one more tidbit on keeping the kitchen unstank; be careful of what goes down your garbage disposal and clean it regularly! We've had a couple times where we thought our garbage was nasty, but it turned out it was the disposal =|

    7 agree
    • Interesting about the allergies… I've noticed how itchy I get around the cats of some friends, when my own, well-fed guy doesn't affect me at all, even when he's way overdue for a brushing.

      3 agree
  5. For trash stank, pour some baking soda into the bottom of your trashcan, works WONDERS! And, it's uber cheap.

    And I'm with Rachel, baking soda and vinegar are miracle deoderizers/cleansers. I'm not big on flowery fresheners, incense, or other strong smelling odor maskers, baking soda is the way to go.

    4 agree
  6. We keep the cat box in the bathtub (can't use scoopable liter in the tub!) so we use crystal liter, and I swear by box liners. I know I am using more plastic that I should but no one knows I have a cat when they walk in my apartment. Keeping the box in the tub helps contain any accidents he has and the area is occupied daily so we tend to clean the box every day …

    1 agrees
    • Is this a shower you use every day? I only have one teensy bathroom. I think this would skeeve me out, though I'm also skeeved by having it in the kitchen, where it is now. And do you have a trick for the liners because my cat scratches the bejeezus out of them and then it's more of a mess than just pouring it in. Oy. Litter is an endless problem for a cat lady like moi.

      4 agree
    • We have two bathrooms, and keep the box in the spare bathroom. We also avoid inviting people for extended stays in our house – we do have the guest bed, but the room is MY room, for my crafts, where I can keep them dander free, for etsy projects.

      1 agrees
  7. For a dusty musty smell try a box fan with a filter on the side that isnt blowing the air. You might be amazed at what that filter looks like after a day or two. (poor mans air purifier!)

    7 agree
  8. I don't have a cat, but my house stinks of dog. She's not going to the bathroom in the house, rather, the house smells like Cruella DeVille's musty dogskin coat. She's a bulldog mix who sheds like crazy. We feed her IAMS (took us awhile to find a food that worked with her allergies). As much as I love the smell of lemon pinesol, I can't mop every day. Any suggestions?

    1 agrees
    • I have the exact same problem! The dogs are bathed frequently, fed high quality food (avo-something or other), exercised and picked up after, but its like the residual dog smell just won't leave.

      I've even vacuumed the older dog – more as a joke than anything else. Hey, he enjoyed it.

      But short of pumicing the dog with a paste made from baking soda and vinegar or using borax as a dry shampoo, what's a girl to do?

      4 agree
    • i often find that just washing the blankets/places my dog sleeps takes care of a lot of the smells. i dont even have to do it often, but maybe once every two weeks (or more) we wash my german shepherds pet blankets and the small throw rug (more like a woven door mat) he likes to sleep on and it helps a ton!

      7 agree
    • Counterintuitively, you might actually want to bathe them less frequently. Frequent baths can cause skin irritation, which could stimulate the stink!

      3 agree
    • Oooh, this is a constant battle in our house–we have a pug-bulldog mix that stinks, even though we do the same things you do. I try to wash her bedding at the same time we wash her (every 2-3 weeks). I also tried making a vinegar/herbal refresher spray for her between baths…that wasn't my most successful project. She got more sad-looking than usual and tried to run away. Oops.

      1 agrees
    • Ever try that Arm & Hammer carpet freshener for pet owners? I have a chihuahua, three cats, two cockatiels and a husband that smokes cigars inside. I use it once a week and my house does smell even according to my persnickety brother-in-law. I also use Frebreze Noticeables.
      Unfortunately pugs and bulldogs both tend to stink because of the way they breath they tend to be gaseous. Maybe try a different food as well. My pets are in love with Nature's Variety Instinct Rabbit Meat. It's worked wonders on my senior cat. Name brand pet foods like Iams, Science Diet etc are REALLY REALLY bad for your pet's systems. Most dogs are allergic to corn and the low quality meat will mess with their bowels making their poop and farts stinkier.

      3 agree
      • Not sure where you are getting that Science Diet is bad for their systems- it's pretty top notch stuff and that's what the vet will put them on if they need a special diet. Also, the major food brands keep a pet nutritionist on staff, there's no real guarantee that what you're getting is any good with some of the other stuff.

        • Science Diet is a better option then say, Meow Mix, but it's not really "top notch". They do make a lot of specialty foods for animals that need specific diets (T/D for teeth, and a special kidney one I've used before), but it's not something I would feed my cat unless she needed a special formula. Also, pet nutritionists at major brands aren't really making the most nutritious food, they're making food that's "good enough" for the price point. So it's "balanced" in that it's got a certain percent of protein, vitamins, etc, but many times it's cheap protein that can upset the tummies of many animals. Hence the rank end product. All that being said, I know someone who feeds her ancient 23 year old cat Meow Mix because that's all she'll eat, and hey, she's 23 so she gets what she wants. However, if your animal is smelling the place up with their poop, it's worth considering a better brand of food; better being less or no carbs and higher quality protein sources. Science Diet still relies heavily on carbs as filler, even in their "grain free" formula (they use potato instead of wheat/rice). It's a balance between cost, ease of feeding (wet food takes more effort to clean up after), and whether your cat will eat it. But there are better options out there for the same price as SD.

          5 agree
    • Okay, not to get on my soapbox, but you shouldn't feed IAMS. Besides being really low quality, they basically torture the animals they use in their nutrition studies.

      I would recommend finding a grain-free food. Nutro has a grain-free kibble out and is relatively cheap (I feed Orijen which is $2.50/lb but I'm a crazy pet lady). Dogs aren't biologically built to eat grains and corn, soy, and wheat are common allergens for them, not to mention it's just empty calories with little nutrition, so they tend to get fat trying to get enough nutrients, and end up having to poop a lot more often as well.

      9 agree
  9. I like using vinegar and baking soda to clean kitchen drains that are either smelly or draining slowly. Just pour in baking soda, add vinegar, let it do its cool bubbly thing for a while, and flush with hot water. Works every time!

    5 agree
  10. Unintentional inspiration of the day?
    This year's Christmas decor may or may not feature a large wood cut-out pine air freshener.

    12 agree
  11. I don't know if diluted bleach does the same thing, but do NOT use undiluted bleach to clean a litter box. You know how cat pee smells like ammonia? it's because it contains ammonia. I didn't know this. I poured straight bleach into a litter-box caked with clay litter and cat pee. I mustard gassed my apartment. So… dont do that.

    7 agree
    • Uh, good call. Like I said — I've never found it necessary, but I'll edit to point out HEY POISON.

      5 agree
  12. Oooooooo! We have the BEST solution in our house!

    Go to a pet store (or online) and buy the biggest box of "Activated Filter Carbon" you can find. It's used in fish tanks and it is AMAZING at removing odors. Just sprinkle some into a little dish and leave it near your garbage can or in the bathroom and the smell magically disappears.

    5 agree
  13. I have successfully used tea bags to absorb odors and moisture in closets and dresser drawers. Tea bags are incredibly absorbent and I've even heard of people using them to suck up paint fumes! I usually buy a bulk amount of some cheapy tea (like Lipton)and when I am through with them into the composter they go!

    Other than that am on the vinegar and baking soda boat. Vinegar is amazing! I also using it to kill weeds, organic style!

    3 agree
    • Oh my god, this is brilliant! I have a big box of Lipton left over from a sailing trip and a very soggy closet…

      Where do you put them? Do you hang them between the clothes or anything like that?

      3 agree
  14. I cannot even describe the amazingness of this litter box !!!!! im talking NO STANK. as long as you clean take out the liner once its full and scoop the poo, It really is amazing. as for the air in general, we did spend about $400 on a hospital grade HEPA air filter and WOW. it is a really good investment for overall health as well as STANK! small trash can fits under the sink and voila! STANK is under control ๐Ÿ˜€

    • i think we have a what is called a "booda dome?" at any rate, it has a big cover dome like an igloo with a filter and it is fan-freaking-tastic. on one point though, it really only is great with clay litter since all oher types i have tried to use STINK up my house ๐Ÿ™ i might have to try to change up my kitty-kins food, though she be terribly picky…

      • I mentioned it before but I have found Nature's Variety Instinct Rabbit cat food to be great especially for picky eaters. It's worked wonders on my senior cat.

    • After much gnashing of teeth and several lists of pros and cons to figure out if it's actually worth the spending, we bought Litter Robot II. We now use ONE litter box for two cats, and they are QUITE comfortable with that. The clumping litter we use is a corn-based litter, which clumps beautifully, is environmentally sound, and is cat-friendly. (I once found a site that says why clay litter is bad, and am determined to never buy clay again.)

      LRII is insanely expensive, more than human toilets. It's slightly temperamental – I found it doesn't work on carpet. It is ultimately awesome though, especially during finals week when you're writing a million papers and studying for two million tests and barely remember to clean yourself, let alone your the poo in the box. It also eliminates smelly poo faster than I can sense it, which is fantastic – scooping my one cat's poo at 4am was never my favorite thing to do. Dreaming of it because my body refuses to wake up is even worse. (He has digestive tract issues and I've yet to find a food that works for his poo smells and my other cat's sensitive tummy. It's either smelly poo or vomit all over my carpet… the things we do for love!)

      • Word of warning about automated kitty litter boxes: Do not use if you have a skiddish cat. The noise scared the hell out of my neighbors cat and it then refused to use a litter box of any sort :/

        1 agrees
      • I just wanted to tell you about Royal Canin. We got a couple of Ragdoll kittens last Dec and one in particular came with tummy troubles–meaning diarrhea. Soon his friend, the other kitten also had a problem. When we took them to the vet she gave them a couple kinds of meds and she also had us put them on Gastro-Intestinal High Energy Royal Canin. Almost immediately they were pooping normal kitten turds. ๐Ÿ™‚ But much more impressive to us was our male, ginger, neutered tom cat, Marmalade. Since we'd rescued him from outside he's always had THE worst, foulest, watery/bloody stools imaginable. And being that he is between 12-14 lbs–he's a big boy who made big, horrendous puddles. We found out that he is kitty AIDS positive, so that's probably why the horrible stools. But after we had such remarkable outcome w/the kittens we talked to our vet about the prescription Royal Canin for our Marmalade. She said it was certainly worth a try and that maybe the combo of pre and probiotics would help w/his intestinal problems. Low and behold–it was almost an instantaneous change. Now his stool is almost always within the realm of normal to near normal. We don't have to run to the litter box and light matches while holding our breath! I mention this because the difference was truly night and day and was such a relief–for us as I would imagine it was for the kitties as well. Good luck!

        1 agrees
  15. Okay, every time someone posts about an automated litter box, I have a vague memory of a hilarious video and review posted on the net YEARS ago. Alas, I don't remember enough to find it now. Anyone else remember it?

  16. The only real issue with have with odours is shoes, and alas other than cleansing with fire I've found no solution to that issue ๐Ÿ™

    1 agrees
  17. We keep an empty plastic container in our freezer door, and any meat scraps go into that. Whenever the garbage is full, we also empty the meat scraps. That way you don't have meat scraps rotting and stinking things up!

    2 agree
    • In the same line, whenever I foresee trash stank (cat poop, onion chops and stuff like that), I put the dangerous item in a small plastic bag safely closed and then in the trash. This keeps the rotting smell within the smaller bag for a couple of days, meaning I don't have to empty the trash can every day.
      In my area we get tons of free shopping plastic bags. I refuse them 9 times out of 10, and keep the 10th for my cat poop!

      2 agree
    • I do this! All my food-based, perishable waste (that we're required to throw away separately in this city anyway) goes in the freezer. Zero garbage smell in this house!

  18. We are currently waging a full-on stank war in our house, on two fronts:

    First, we have 3 cats. 2 litterboxes (one on each floor), which both get scooped every morning AND every night. Litter is completely changed out every weekend. We found Maxx Cat Mulit-Cat to be the best at keeping the odours down, but it is SO dusty (literally, we can draw in the dust on our furniture the day after we clean it). So we keep going back and forth on which is worse. Bad smell, or inhaling clay dust?

    Secondly, we currently have a bad kitchen smell. We have a small garbage can under the sink, we compost everything we can, and we're vegetarians, so there's no old rotting meat juice. We've cleaned out the fridge, we're keeping the sink and counters clean, and we still can't find the source of what smells rotten. Tonight I scrub the cabinet under the sink (and the garbage can). Thanks to an earlier comment, I think I'll vinegar-&-baking soda the drain too, just to be thorough. If that doesn't fix it, I may lose my mind.

    Oh, and one final (victorious) note, we just solved a third stank issue – mildew-smelling-towels. We wash our towels a lot, but it had gotten to the point where ALL our towels reaked of mildew, even straight outta the laundry. The worst part is, the smell was transfering to our bodies when drying ourselves. Nothing like 'eau de mildew' on your sweetie's skin. We consulted the interwebs, and the answer that we liked best was to wash them in HOT water with a cup of vinegar, then immediately wash again as normal (with your regular laundry detergent). We enjoyed our first fresh-smelling towels in months this morning.

    One down, two to go!!!

    2 agree
    • The towel thing! That's what I do. Everytime time I wash towels, dishcloths, etc, I throw a cup of vinegar in with the detergent and wash with hot water. They come out not smelling like old food or towel left on the floor stank, and that is awesome.

      1 agrees
      • My husband does this too. He learned it from his mother, who is like a walking Google for household tidbits. I had never heard of this in my life, but it's fantastic!

        1 agrees
    • not to be gross, but if you have a persistent bad smell in a room, maybe there's a dead animal in there. my parents once had a smell in their laundry room and it turned out there was a dead mouse behind the drywall.

      4 agree
      • Thats exactly what I thought too – a friend of mine could not work out why his kitchen was so smelly. Then he found a dead rat between the grill and oven parts of his old-timey stove. Yuck!

    • Our towels get stinky, and sometimes other items, too. I figured out that it was our washing machine (it's probably 10 years old) getting a little stinky inside. I try not to leave wet loads in there, and leave the door open between loads to let it dry out. Seems to help. I need to Google ways to clean out the inside, but just haven't gotten there yet.

      By the way, this post is probably the best ever. Glad to know I'm not the only one with a sometimes-stinky house, and VERY glad for a host of new solutions! Time to tackle the Toilet of Doom with a fresh (ha!) perspective! (No matter what I do, it stinks.)

      3 agree
      • My solution to washing machine stink is
        a). wash once a month/every two months a load at 90 degrees Celsius (194 Fahrenheit). I usually out in kitchen towels / cleaning cloths who can use a good hot clean anyway and it isn't bad when they shrink
        b). once every 6 months, do a load with sodium carbonate at a high temperature (without clothes!). Prevents all sorts of dirt to build up in the pipes and gives the machine a good clean.
        (The things you already mention are also my standard procedure ;-))

        1 agrees
      • I had this problem in my last rental! The solution– run the empty washer on "hot" with one full box of baking soda about once a month. It also helps if you have weird-smelling well water (which we did). It worked on the smell, but nothing ever worked to get my clothes really "clean looking". I figured it was ok if we weren't smelly. It wasn't the best of wells…

        Also, for general stinkiness–vacuum a lot. Like, more than you think you should. And in all the werid little places like the couch cushions and curtains. I'm always amazed at what gets picked up by our vacuum.

        You can also make a febreeze-like refresher-and-odor-eliminating spray by mixing equal parts vodka and water (and a few drops of essential oil, if you're so inclined). It smells a little like vodka at first, but completely disappears after it evaporates–just like vinegar.

        2 agree
    • we had this problem, turned out to be the carpet leaving a horrid smell, hired a carpet cleaner and the smell was gone. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1 agrees
    • I have three cats as well and have tried many different brands. A few weeks ago I got a new kitten and I needed a dust-free litter. I discovered Cat Country Organic Wheatgrass Litter. No smell whatsoever. None! I'm totally shocked! Plus you can flush it down the toity.

    • check the drain pan under your fridge! we had the most foul smell in our kitchen and finally narrowed it down to the pan under the fridge. it was skank! we had to clean it out a couple of times with bleach. i believe there is a heat element that is supposed to evaporate the water from the condenser. after a week or two it was totally cleared up and we never had another problem.

  19. Does anyone have any suggestions for an old, damp house that smells of mildew all winter? Aside from cleaning the gutters (I need to keep chasing the landlord about that -_-) or buying an expensive dehumidifier…

    • Keeping the bathroom door shut is a good start. And bedroom doors. Specific areas of mould can be cleaned with bleach or vinegar (but you knew that!).
      You need as much as possible to limit the amount warm, wet air can interact with cold outside windows and walls.
      If it's rising damp I have no experience, but mildew I know very well!

      • Alas, the master bathroom has no door. -_- Plus the damp in there is INSANE.

        The master bedroom is actually the worst spot in the house. I think there's something wrong with the guttering there.

        • Is there a window in the bathroom? It could be that all the damp is coming from there (if there's no door). Conversely, if the damp is in the master bedroom, it might be a good idea to leave that door open so your warm wet breath can go elsewhere. If you own this place I'd really really recommend an extractor fan in the bathroom (and a door, haha), if not, bleach or vinegar I guess!

    • I had a similar problem with a mildewy wall behind a bed (not nice). Dehumidifier seemed to do nothing at all.

      The best we could do – (1) don't put any soft things (sofas, beds) up against the wall if you possibly can, leave space for air to circulate.

      (2) There's some kind of special sealant paint you can get, like normal white primer but it acts as a barrier to stop moisture from the walls getting into the paint/wallpaper.

      (3) Get both blinds and curtains if possible. Or some very thick curtains. I have lots of big windows, which is nice, but rubbish insulation-wise, and means that there's a lot of condensation where the cold outside air meets the warm inside air on the glass. Trying to add some insulation to the windows seemed to help, and kept the heat in generally, saving some heating money.

      1 agrees
      • It's called Kilz, and it's amazing! I swear by this stuff. Both Groom and I come from warmer, more humid climes than where we live now, so when the winter hits here, we run the humidifier and the furnace like crazy. Kilz primer and strategically arranging the furniture around interior and not exterior walls has completely saved us. Keep a clean towel next to the wall that gets the most condensation on it, and wipe it down often. And Kilz also makes an odor-proof oil primer, too. If you can't get it under control with the bleach and the like, you can scrap the whole thing, TSP the wall and paint the mildew in with the odor-locking primer. Good Luck!

        1 agrees
    • We had this problem because moisture was coming up through our floors from our crawlspace…The "easiest" solution is to put down thick plastic sheeting and pea stone in the crawlspace (in addition to solving gutter issues that aren't doing their job of keeping water away from the house and out of the crawlspace.) Not a fun problem to have and most of our carpet needs removing and replacing since it has a mildew smell from that (though I've wanted to get rid of it since we moved in…so maybe a shampooing would help.)

  20. I swear by World's Best Cat Litter. It's scoopable & made out of corn. I use the multi cat version even now that I only have one cat. It is expensive but it always has a pleasant cornflake smell, no stanky or dusty smell. When we had 5 cats, we had two boxes and we scooped twice a day, no stink. It's also way, way less dusty than the clay litters. I'm very sensitive to all kinds of odors and never use perfumed anything, World's Best rocks.

  21. Dead animal comment: YES. When my sister bought a house, they completely gutted the basement and still couldn't figure out why it smelled so bad. Then one of them went up into the ceiling and it was covered– covered– in mouse excrement, and one complete mouse skeleton. MMmmmmm..

    Also: I use vinegar as a deodorizer. We house a baby, a sweaty husband, and a not so effective housekeeper (myself…), and so whenever I have the time for a great cleaning, I boil vinegar in a saucepan for awhile. Then I add some scents…. like orange peels and cinnamon. Leaves the house smelling great.

  22. Anyone have any ideas for a stinky sofa? My boyfriend sits on this little loveseat we have when he plays videogames and even though HE doesn't smell, the couch somehow smells like BO! It totally grosses me out and I have no idea how to combat it. I hate Febreeze and can't really deal with artificial fragrances at all. Steam cleaners work really well, but are kinda pricy to rent all the time. I'd be grateful for any natural ways to de-stank my man's gaming throne. He'll thank you too, since I'll be chucking the thing if I can't get it to smell better.

    • I'm guessing no removable slip covers? Would it be worth buying a cheap steam cleaner yourself? If you could get it out in some sunshine it might help a bit (bright sunshine will kill any bacteria) or you could try giving it a dusting of baking soda all over it and then vacuuming it off.

      2 agree
    • You can use the baking soda and vinegar trick on carpet and upholstry as well, but it helps if you have a carpet cleaner. For the last 4 years I have lived in a house with 2 small dogs, and a varying amount of men. When the humidity of summer hit the stank just beat you about the face. I bought a carpet cleaner from Target for $75, doused the carpet with a vinegar/water mixture until it was just about saturated, and let it sit for about 2 hours. Then I used the carpet cleaner to soak up all the water/vinegar, and when I was done I poured baking soda all over the place. Since the carpet was still a touch damp the baking soda absorbed the moisture and smell. I let this stay on over night and the next morning vacuumed it up. I did this aobut 2 years ago and ever since haven't had an oder issue once the humidity hits. As a bonus too if one of my little fur babies has an accident I can use the carpet cleaner immediately and there isn't an issue.

      To use this method on the couch I would suggest misting it with the vinegar mixture, and then rubbing it in with a clean towel. Once it air dries a bit sprinkle on the baking soda, let it sit, and then vacuum it up. You should be able to notice a big difference!

      2 agree
    • You can spray it with vodka and that should disinfect and de-odorize. I use Scentsy Fresh spray on my couch. It works wonders since it's my dog's favorite place to sleep and it was a second hand couch coming from a cat lady home. SF was awesome and I always keep a bottle of it now for surfaces that I can't vacuum. They have an odorless version for those who don't like smells, but you'd have to find someone who sells scentsy products.

  23. We have carpet stank. Between two adults, one little kid, two hairy dogs and a fairly liberal policy about eating and drinking on the carpeted areas, the carpet is pretty funk-tastic.

    I've tried sprinkling baking soda down and letting it sit before vacuuming, and that only helps a teeny bit. I'd love to tear it all out and replace it with a heated concrete floor, but unless we get a huge inheritance from a long-lost relative, replacement options are unlikely.

    I could steam-clean it more often, but am kind of leery of the chemicals used in the carpet cleaners.

    Any suggestions?

    • You can steam-clean with just water, I believe. It's not quite as powerful as with the cleaners, but the steam is a big part of what does the cleaning!

    • I have a friend who has serious chemical allergies, so when she steam cleans, she uses grain alcohol – the cheapest stuff she can get at the liquor store! (I think she might dilute it some, maybe half water.) THe alcohol removes stain so well. A great side benefit is it evaporates completely, which water doesn't always do if you're in a humid environment (we're in Memphis, TN).

      1 agrees
      • Thanks for the tip! I am obsessed with Resolve but I'm trying to move away from chemical cleaners. That was one thing I couldn't figure out how to clean.

  24. Another really great alternative is an enzyme cleaner. I use this one:

    It was recommended by a friend who worked for years at a vet clinic, and they used it all the time. It's a natural cleaner with active enzymes that will destroy any natural scent. Diluted 10 parts to one, it will still kill ANY smell, and is non-toxic and totally safe.

    I've used it on dog pee, kitty litter boxes, laundry, poured a little down the sink, sprayed in toilets, in garbage, on clothes, soft furniture, it ALWAYS kills the smell. It's like febreeze, if febreeze actually worked. I even sent a bottle to a friend in Afghanistan when he had a huge bin of food that cracked open and spoiled, then sat sealed in 55 degree (celcius) heat. A little 350ml bottle of this, diluted, completely got rid of the mess and the smell. It's like Frank's Red hot – I put that shit on everything!

    2 agree
  25. I read today that cutting an onion in half and leaving it in a basement over night will remove musty basement smell. You apparently have to wait for the salad bar smell to go away but then the air is supposed to be nice. Someone should try this and report back.

    • Ive used this method to kill refridgerator stank, and it works a treat. The onion and stank smells disappear at the same time for some reason, its great.

  26. I've found that a 50/50 mixture of strong black tea (cheap lipton is fine), and vinegar with a splash of lemon juice is great and safe for cleaning out the litter box, I also use it for cleaning my rats' cage, windows, mirrors and my glass coffee table. It leaves everything smelling lemony fresh!

  27. I got some decorative, shallow containters at the thrift store- fill one with baking soda and one with white vinegar and place them on opposite sides of the room (high up if like me you have a cat who likes to knock stuff on the floor)

    the first day the room will smell like vinegar, but eventually they will neutralize each other and they seriously soak up some nasty smells

    my living room smelled like wet animal whenever it rained (no… i have no clue why) and no amount of wall plug-ins or anything similar would help, but baking soda and vinegar did the trick!

    (as an added bonus, my cat no longer climbs to the top of the bookshelf to knock all my gizmos on the floor, because thats when the container with vinegar is, and cats hate the smell)

    2 agree
  28. For the cats, I too am immune to the price of cat food, and feed raw – also a great alternative to prevent kitty STANK.

    I use Rad Cat (

    1 agrees
    • Huhhhhhhh…Browsing that link, I came across raw frozen rabbit. Somehow I had not thought of that as a food, and am now considering if I might be able to buy rabbit from a friend for my cat. My cat. Clearly the queen of the household.

    • And now I want to feed my cat raw. Honestly for me it's not the money it's the clean-up time. I can't even do my own dishes, and I imagine you can't just leave raw lamb sitting out like leftover kibbles. My poor cat has an unfit mother.

    • Yes! I feed my (4) cats raw as well! (Sometimes Rad Cat, but often I make my own, which is more cost efficient for me: When I've switched back to a high quality canned (Weruva, Wellness, etc.) I notice there is a HUGE difference.

      The warning I will give is that while your cats are adjusting to the raw, there will be a short period of time when they have the meat farts and are super smelly.

      I mostly use storage containers for litter boxes (I have a 21 gallon concrete mixing tub, two 14 gallon storage bins, and an actual made-to-be-a-litter-box XL corner litter box). I use the Blue Buffalo multi-cat walnut litter, and even though my condo is only 1000 sq. ft., I rarely have a problem with kitty STANK. (Usually it's only AS they're going) Guests have been surprised at the lack of smell, so I know it's not just my nose getting used to it.

      Also, for cleaning, I really recommend Anti-Icky Poo:

  29. So I live above a million pack a day smokers and the previous occupants also smoked. I can smell it all day everyday and have tried everything I can think of including wiping down all the walls and wooden cabinets and shelves with vinegar and water, candles, air freshners. Any other suggestions that won't kill me with chemicals?

    • I'm late to these comments, but since nobody mentioned this tip up-thread: if you have carpets, you can buy a large can of cheap ground coffee (like Safeway store brand), sprinkle it on the carpets, leave on for several hours or overnight, and vacuum. Coffee absorbs odors–I think this would work for smoke, helps with pet odors and mildew, etc. The coffee smell will linger for a long time (and you might not get all the coffee out of cracks, etc.) but I like the smell.

      If you don't have carpet, strategically placed little dishes of coffee might help absorb some odor, and again, mask stank with a pleasant coffee smell.

      2 agree
  30. I recently found Kanberra Gel. It is 100% MAGIC IN A POT!

    I got it at my local natural pet shop. It is a little pricy which put me off trying it, but now that I know how well it works I would pay double. My litter box lives in our tiny laundry room which was turned toxic by our kitties radioactive poops. After a day of the gel being open in the room, I could breath deeply in there and not smell a thing. Honestly, best shit evar!

  31. After being in my apartment for 2 years, I've got an arsenal of tricks.

    For our bathroom: I clean with baking soda and vinegar. Our bathroom wall connects to our neighbor's bathroom and they smoke in it (I assume so they can use the bathroom fan to pull the smoke out) and you can smell it in my bathroom and it was gag worthy. I now keep a two jars of absorbent beads (can get them at dollar stores), one in a decorative jar on my toilet (also helps with poop smells) and one under our sink (where the smell comes through and is the worst). I can also use charcoal or coffee beans under the sink, but I like that I can get scented gel beads and have a clean smell in the bathroom in between cleaning sessions. A dab of essential oil on the inside of the toilet paper roll keeps a fresh smell in there too. I do use scented trash bags in the bathroom, but only in the bathroom where the trash doesn't smell. I try to match all the smells up if I'm using more than one at a time, a mixture of conflicting smells can be unappealing even if they smell good alone.

    Bedroom: GET THAT DIRTY LAUNDRY OUT. For the longest time I couldn't figure out why our bedroom smelt like B.O. and finally realized it was the dirty laundry basket. Now we keep up with laundry better and give the hamper a good cleaning now and then too. I spray my mattress with vodka to freshen it up when I'm washing my sheets. I cover my dog's kennel (yes it's in my bedroom) with a sheet and keep a small tea bag on top of it and I don't smell dog all night. Tea bags in your shoes also help get rid of shoe funk. You can also freeze anything from shoes to clothes that are causing a stink.

    Kitchen: I use a stainless steel trash can with a lid and it keeps the smells in. Throw a few old news papers on the bottom and they will soak up any leaks or smells from the bag and when you change the bag, change the paper and your can will stay cleaner longer. I give it a good clean every now and then as well. If it's really bad, throw some cheap tea bags in the bag when you first put it in. Clean your garbage disposal with frozen cubes of vinegar or use egg shells or citrus peels to clean the blades. Keep the counters wiped down, if grease or food splatters accumulate, they will smell even if they are small. Rinse your dishes before leaving them in the sink. and clean your dishwasher every now and then with vinegar. Keep up with your fridge inventory, don't let things spoil, their smell can linger even after you throw it out. I keep a box of baking soda in there just in case I forget something.

    Living room: I vacuum at least once a week, making sure my filter is clean, and I sprinkle carpet powder. But my FAVORITE product is Scentsy Fresh Spray. Unlike room sprays, you can spray it directly on furniture, carpet or curtains and it will deodorize like a dream. They have awesome scents but also a scent free one for sensitive noses. The only downside is you have to find someone who sells the stuff who can order it for you. But I keep bottles of this stuff around all the time now. I love it.

    As for my dog: Don't bathe them too often! My dog gets a bath MAYBE once a month, but never more. I keep her brushed out and I have an unscented deodorizer I got from the pet store I can spritz her with before combing and it works if she's got a funk. Doggy wipes are also pretty good for postponing baths. I feed her rachel ray brand food because meat is the main ingredient and she's doing so much better than she was on other foods in terms of itching, gas and shedding. I also use a deshedding shampoo on her when I do bathe her, but be careful anything you use doesn't irritate their skin or they will excrete more oils and tend to be more stinky.

    For an immediate problem, when we first moved in, we clipped car air freshener clips to our air vents to make it smell good before we figured out all my nifty tricks. I still do this if I've got an issue that is going to take a couple of days to air out (like when you use vinegar, I hate the smell of vinegar). Covers it up nicely! Dryer sheets behind fans will also spread a nice scent, but again, these are immediate cover ups not de-funking tips.

    2 agree

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