10 Simple Ways to Keep Your Home Smelling Nice

published Dec 20, 2022
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A good-smelling home, as important as it is for comfort and hospitality, can be hard to come by. Even the smallest habits can contribute to unwanted odors in your space, and with all the scented products out there, it can be hard to know what will help your home smell more appealing (without just covering up the bad stuff). 

Luckily, simple habits and routines can keep your space smelling good, too. To find out which ones have the biggest impact, we talked to people who pride themselves on their nice-smelling spaces. Here are their top 10 recommendations to try in your space.

1. Establish good trash practices

Taking out your trash regularly can prevent bad smells in your kitchen (and your entire home). Andre Kazimierski, CEO of Improovy Painters St. Louis, takes his routine to the next level by putting strong-smelling food and pet waste directly outside to the dumpster. That way, the trash never has a chance to affect how your space smells. 

2. Stay on top of cleaning routines

Cleaning your space regularly doesn’t just keep it looking nice — it can also help your space smell good. “I do daily cleanliness tasks like taking out the trash every day, wiping down my kitchen counters after I finish cooking, and running my garbage disposal after I do the dishes,” says Jon Stephens, director of operations at Snowshoe Vacation Rentals. On a weekly basis, Stephens vacuums, mops, and dusts. “The more on top of it you are with your cleaning, the more effective you will be at preventing smelly messes from accruing,” he says.

Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez Hart; Nails: Mamie Onishi

3. Burn candles (or use candle warmers)

Along with creating a cozy vibe, candles can pack a big punch when it comes to making your home smell amazing. But what if you don’t want to light them? Stefan Bucur, founder of the blog Rhythm of the Home, strategically places candle warmers around his common spaces. His secret? Choosing pleasant-but-subtle candles. “We want that sweet spot where you can subtly feel the scent but it’s not too overpowering,” he says. 

4. Clean with vinegar

One of the best tools for staving off bad smells already lives in your pantry. Grace Baena, interior designer of Kaiyo Used Sofas, swears by white vinegar — which not only kills germs but cuts through gross smells — as her primary cleaning product. “It effectively eliminates odors from virtually any surface,” she says. 

5. Boil herbs on the stove

Content creator Carlina Harris is a big fan of keeping her home smelling its best. Her favorite tip? Making a dual-purpose tea. She boils a large pot of water with six cloves, two cinnamon sticks, half an orange rind, and several slices of oranges. “This makes a delightful fall and winter tea to enjoy as well as the most delicious natural scent,” she says.

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6. Use a diffuser 

Have any good-smelling essential oils on hand? Simran Kaur, founder of Room You Love, likes to use essential oil diffusers to spread fragrance across an entire room (and home). “They don’t make the room smoky as some incense sticks do, and they don’t over-sweeten the room, either,” she says.

7. Splurge on a room spray 

Devin Shaffer, lead designer at Decorilla, is sensitive to strong aromas — but he still likes to keep his space smelling good. His solution? Being willing to spend a little more money on a high-end room spray. “Mid- to high-range home fragrances have a chemistry to them that subtly neutralizes and aromatizes rather than oversaturating the air to hide odors,” he says. “This means they last longer, up to seven hours, after a few quick sprays.” 

Credit: Minette Hand

8. Use your exhaust fan 

That fan above your stove can play a big role in keeping food smells from saturating your kitchen. Be sure to keep yours clean so it stays effective, especially if you cook a lot. Nick Valentino, VP of market operations at Bellhop Movers, says his house instantly started to smell better when he remodeled his kitchen with a proper exhaust duct for the fan. “It’s certainly much more expensive than taking out the trash every day or using scented candles, but it’s made more of a difference than I could have imagined,” he says.

9. Open the windows frequently 

The air in your home can quickly become stagnant, which can be bad for the overall scent (not to mention indoor air quality). That’s why interior designer Sarah Barnard recommends opening windows for cross ventilation at least once daily for fresh air to replace stale air and bad scents. “If the weather is too wet or cold for natural airflow, filtered vents and air purifiers can also help clear the air,” she says.

10. Keep your upholstery fresh 

One common source of bad smells in the home, Barnard says, is upholstered furniture. Large pieces, like couches and chairs, can accumulate dust and debris if not regularly maintained. To keep furnishings smelling fresh, she launders lighter coverings regularly and schedules specialists to deep clean fabric coverings or cushions that can’t be easily laundered. You can also vacuum sofas and armchairs regularly to minimize buildup in fabrics and within cushions. (But always follow manufacturer care instructions when you’re dealing with furniture.)

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 10 Things People with Nice-Smelling Homes Always Do