We’ve all been there. We’ve all thought we could postpone some household chore, whether we waited until morning to take the trash out or put off yesterday’s dishes, and before long, there’s a distinct smell in the air—usually, not a good one. So, we’re left wondering how to get the smell out of the house. 

While the solution is to clean whatever requires your attention, you might need a quick fix if you’re having guests over, or you might have already cleaned, and the smell is still lingering in the air because of how strong it was before. Maybe you just need some extra reassurance that you won’t see wrinkled noses and winces on your visitors. 

Either way, don’t worry. There are many things that can absorb bad odors in a pinch, from natural solutions to effective products.  

What Absorbs Bad Smells: The Best Natural Solutions 

Sometimes, the best solutions are natural. There are lots of natural products that you can use—and even find around the home—that don’t have the primary purpose of removing smells but do a great job regardless. If you know what to do with these substances, they’re pros at absorbing strong odors, and you don’t have to worry about chemical damage to furniture, carpets, and other surfaces. 

Baking Soda 

This is one of the most common suggestions for bad smells, but does baking soda absorb odors? 

Yes! It’s not just a myth, like saying the best remedy for mold is bleach or that you can’t water plants under the hot sun. When it comes to what absorbs bad smells in a room, baking soda works great. 

Because most bad smells are acidic, baking soda acts as a pH neutralizer and absorbs the particles. Simply put, it cancels out the bad smell by being the exact opposite! 

It doesn’t happen instantly though, so if you need a quick fix, you might need to pick something else.  

If you’ve got a couple of days, put thin layers in bowls and spread them around the house. You should see—or rather, smell—a noticeable difference after a day or two. You can also use it in a mixture to scrub down surfaces that have a particularly offensive stink and it’ll work as a cleaner. 


You can do the same thing with vinegar, leaving it in bowls around the house to absorb bad smells. Unfortunately, if you also consider vinegar to be a bad odor, then this may not be the life hack for you. Your house is definitely going to smell like a salad dressing for a while.  

If you want the efficiency of vinegar without the sour smell, try boiling it in water. This will take minor bad smells out of the air without leaving that distinct aroma behind. It’s a win-win. 


Something else you can boil to get rid of bad smells is citrus. Try slicing up some lemons, limes, or oranges and putting them in a pot. It shouldn’t take too long after hitting the boiling point for the citrus to absorb other smells in the air and create a much more appealing one. Who doesn’t want their house to smell like a lemon-lime soda? 

You can also pour lemon juice and hot water down your garbage disposal to get rid of any built up food waste. If you want a good odor eliminator, a home remedy is sometimes the best option—and this one is so simple. 


More of a coffee aficionado than a cocktail lover? In that case, you can roast coffee beans in the oven or on the stove to create a delicious scent. Others in your house who don’t require a cup of coffee to get them going in the morning may not be as happy about this, so make sure everyone’s on board before you make the place smell like a Starbucks.  

A few minutes at a high temperature should be plenty, and it’s better to do too little than too much. 

Vanilla Extract 

You might have vanilla extract for your baking recipes, but you can use it to absorb bad smells too. You can either leave cotton balls soaked in it around the house or bake two tablespoons at around 400 degrees for 20 minutes. The first option will take longer but is easier for covering multiple rooms. 

If you have house plants, you can hide the cotton balls in their pots. But no matter what you do, be careful not to leave them on clothes or fabric that you don’t want to become stained and smell too strongly of sugar cookies. 

Essential Oils 

Essential oils are naturally occurring substances that are great for eliminating odors in the home. You just have to buy a diffuser to disperse your scent of choice into the air.  

Important: Make sure that none of your babies or fur babies consume the oil. While they aren’t toxic to inhale, they could do some damage if wandering hands or paws get curious. 


Oats are another natural substance that can absorb bad odors. You can leave them around the house, or you can sprinkle some to help clean a spill and prevent a bad smell from taking hold. You can also mix oats with baking soda and the other substances mentioned to create a cleaning solution or an even more powerful odor absorber. 

It’s not just natural substances that can act as a room deodorizer. There are also products you can buy that are specifically designed for that purpose—and some that aren’t but work regardless. 

The Best Synthetic Products for Eliminating Odors 

While natural substances are great, sometimes they just don’t cut it. When it comes to very specific smells (or very strong ones), synthetic products have been tested and proven to remedy the stench very quickly. This makes them a safe bet when natural substances take too long or just can’t do the job well enough.  


You might think it’s a waste of good vodka to use it as a cleaning solution, but don’t worry—you don’t need that much. Add a little bit to a spray bottle filled with water and you can spritz it on fabrics to take out any smell. Adding a couple of drops of essential oil into the mixture takes this solution up a notch and smells delightful.  

This tip is particularly great for carpets and rugs, which are notoriously hard to clean.  

Dryer Sheets 

It might seem counterintuitive to leave trash around in an attempt to eliminate odors in your home, but trust us on this one. Leaving dryer sheets out can actually deodorize rooms, making each room smell like fresh laundry, and who doesn’t love that? This is also an easy solution, as you may already have dryer sheets available. 

Air Fresheners 

Air fresheners are cheap and specifically geared to make your home smell better. They also come in a variety of shapes, colors, and scents, so you have a lot of choices.  

You can even use car air fresheners as a smelly house remedy by hanging them over your air conditioning vents. When the air conditioning kicks on and the air begins to move, it’ll carry the smell of the air freshener with it. If you’re wondering how to get rid of a musty smell in your house, this is a great option if the smell is coming from the vents themselves.  

Enzymatic Cleaners 

If you have a cat who misses the litter box on occasion or a puppy who potties on the floor—or even a young child—enzymatic cleaners will do wonders to break down the molecules and get rid of the smell. Pet owners (and perhaps parents) can attest to the fact that it’s a difficult stench to shake, but enzymatic cleaners are a quick solution. 

If you’re wondering how to get rid of a bad smell in the house and it’s related to animal accidents, there’s no better solution. 

Cat Litter 

If you don’t have pets, you probably never thought to use cat litter, but it can get rid of more than one type of bad smell.  

Litter is often scented and specifically geared towards absorbing strong odors like urine and feces, so it can do wonders for other (and often milder) scents. Put some in a box and leave it close to the source of the smell, and it will help soak up the stink from the air. 

Pet owners can use this tip too, but you’ll need to keep it out of reach of your cats. Otherwise, they might end up interfering with the end goal! 

8 Best Practices to Prevent Future Smells 

While the above tips can all work to absorb bad smells, you’ll have a much easier time if the smells don’t get too strong in the first place. There are a few things you can do to ensure this doesn’t happen: 

  1. Clean up after your pets, try to get to potty accidents as soon as they happen, and scoop litter boxes every day. 
  1. Clean up kid spills quickly, especially food. 
  1. Take out your trash as soon as there’s a noticeable smell instead of waiting until the bin is full. (Meat, fish, and eggs are terrible offenders, but even your fruit and vegetables can cause a bad whiff. Consider composting egg shells, banana peels, and other plant leftovers when possible). 
  1. Run your garbage disposal often, and use our lemon juice and hot water tip to ensure no food collects there. 
  1. Never leave wet fabrics around (and that includes moving your clothes to the dryer right away). 
  1. Clean up your fridge frequently, and throw out expired food. 
  1. Don’t leave dishes sitting in the sink or dishwasher for a long time. 
  1. Clean your floors and carpets regularly. 

If you do all of these things, you won’t have to work too hard to eliminate bad smells because they won’t get too pungent. We all fall behind sometimes, though, so don’t feel bad if you have to use the citrus or dryer sheet cheat.  

No Bad Smell Is Permanent 

You might feel as if there’s no getting rid of the bad smell that’s been in the air for days now, but don’t fret. While it’s better to keep the things that can cause odors to a minimum, there’s a way to get rid of every bad smell in your house. It may involve using up that vodka you were saving for the weekend, but it’ll work.