Pro Cleaner Vanesa Amaro Swears by This DIY Upholstery Deodorizer — I Tried It and It Smells Amazing

published May 13, 2022
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Credit: Karis Danish

When my young kids (or our dog) make a mess on the upholstery, I have a couple of go-to tricks. I’m forever grateful for my Bissell SpotClean Pro, which we use for deep-cleaning furniture and rugs, and I’m also indebted to this Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover Kit for smaller spots on my couch and chairs. These options work great for stains, but until recently, I haven’t had a good solution for odors.

I know a lot of people who use dedicated sprays to stave off smells on upholstery, but I’ve never kept any on hand — those bottles can be pricey, I never know if I’ll like a smell, and honestly, I don’t like to buy single-use plastic unless it’s absolutely necessary (hence, the Folex carpet spray). So when I learned about a simple, inexpensive, game-changing hack from cleaning TikTok influencer Vanesa Amaro, I absolutely had to try it. Her video already has almost half-a-million likes!

To make your very own odor-eliminating or fabric-freshening spray, you only need four everyday ingredients: water, isopropyl alcohol, liquid fabric softener, and a reusable spray bottle (Amaro’s pick is actually billed as a hair mister!)

Credit: Ashley Abramson

The DIY spray is super easy to make. Just add your desired amount of fabric softener — I used the same soothing Downy Lavender & Vanilla Bean scent Amaro recommended. More softener means a stronger smell, so it’s a good idea to start small and increase as needed. Then, add half a cup of water and a quarter cup of rubbing alcohol (I used 70 percent) to the bottle. The measurements were actually a little much for my bottle, so I ended up using less fabric softener and water and kept the alcohol the same. 

Amaro says she uses the spray to refresh her sofa (she has two dogs). I used a few spritzes on my cushioned dining room chairs, and I couldn’t believe how good it smelled. Right away, my whole space just felt fresher, without the overwhelming odor of typical room spray or strongly scented candles.

Credit: Ashley Abramson

It also felt good knowing I wasn’t just masking gross smells. Of course, the fabric softener adds a nice, soft flowery scent, but the isopropyl, or rubbing, alcohol helps kill germs that can contribute to yucky smells. (According to Amaro, the alcohol also helps the other ingredients evaporate faster so they won’t stain your upholstery.) Just be sure not to overdo it. Too much fabric softener buildup over time has been known to decrease a material’s flame resistance.

In the comments, Amaro suggests that you can also use a few drops of your favorite essential oil instead of fabric softener — so to cut down on plastic use, I’ll probably use frankincense or citrus oil next time. Either way, I give Amaro’s cost-effective hack my official sniff of approval!

How do you take care of your upholstery in your kitchen or dining room? Tell us your tips in the comments below.