A home that smells bad can be very frustrating and embarrassing. Bad smells in the home can also indicate problems that could be causing allergies or other respiratory symptoms. Chemical-based, air freshener sprays and synthetic potpourris can actually make allergies worse. Here are some ideas for ridding your home of nasty odors using natural means.

1. Baking soda
Yes, it is part of every natural cleaning suggestion list! There is a reason for that. Baking soda is very effective at absorbing odors. Sprinkle it on your carpet, wait about 10 minutes, and then vacuum. Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of your kitchen garbage can, underneath the garbage bag. Leave a pan of baking soda out to absorb airborne odors. For sink odors, pour baking soda into your sink drain, followed by white vinegar. Leave overnight, then flush with hot water the next morning.

2. Find the source
It will help any smell-eliminating effort to find the source and clean it up. Maybe one of your pets has started using the bathroom in a hidden corner, or perhaps someone dropped some food behind the couch. It could even be your garbage.

3. Check the vacuum
Because they suck up all manner of household debris, vacuum cleaners can get very smelly. Emptying the canister or changing bags often is helpful, as is changing the filters if your vacuum has them. If the smell is stubborn despite these efforts, vacuum up some baking soda. Or, put a few drops of an essential oil you like onto a cotton ball, then vacuum the ball.

4. Enzymes
Enzymatic cleaners are available to clean many odor-causing messes. There are enzymes specifically for pet odors (you pour the liquid right on the area where the pet has soiled – after cleaning it up, of course), and enzymes for combating mildew. These are natural, non-toxic choices for getting rid of odors.

5. Fresh air
Perhaps it’s old-fashioned, but an open window or two can sweep out odors in a matter of minutes. Make a cross-breeze effect by opening windows that are across from each other, and put a fan in the window to pull fresh air in and help circulate it. If the weather will not permit this, just circulating the air with fans can help.

6. Houseplants
If you can’t let fresh air in due to weather (or worse odors outdoors from, say, car exhaust), grow houseplants. Indoor plants can improve air quality significantly; NASA scientists actually studied the effects of houseplants on indoor air and concluded that they do, in fact, pull chemicals from the air. Some plants to consider are English ivy, spider plant, peace lily, bamboo palm or reed palm, rubber plant and other figs (Ficus), and snake plant.

7. Charcoal
Charcoal is used in filters to remove odors and impurities from water, and it can also serve to remove odors from air. Because it can be messy, put the charcoal in a container with holes in the top of it so air can flow through. Place these throughout your home.

8. Dehumidifier
Sometimes, damp air can worsen odors. A dehumidifier can get rid of the water in the air, making it smell much better.

9. Spritzers
It’s easy to make a natural air freshening spray by mixing 1 part rubbing alcohol with 2 parts water in a spritzer, and adding a few drops of essential oil. Some good choices for essential oils are citrus, lavender, bergamot, and peppermint.

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