Say Goodbye to Unwanted Odors: Effective Tips for Eliminating “Old House Smell” and More

There's nothing quite like the charm of an old house, but sometimes, along with its history, comes an unwelcome guest: the notorious "old house smell." Whether you're dealing with mustiness, cooking odors, or pet smells, these unpleasant odors can detract from the charm of your home. Fortunately, with the right strategies, you can bid farewell to unwanted odors and restore freshness to your living space. Here are some expert tips to help you achieve just that.


Identify the Source

The first step in eliminating odors is to identify their source. Is it coming from old furniture, carpets, the kitchen, or somewhere else? Pinpointing the source will help you tailor your approach to effectively combat the odor.


Deep Clean

Once you've identified the source, it's time to roll up your sleeves and give your home a thorough cleaning. Start by decluttering and removing any items that may be trapping odors. Then, focus on cleaning surfaces, floors, and upholstery using appropriate cleaners. Pay special attention to areas that tend to collect dust and grime, such as baseboards, behind furniture, and inside cabinets.


Air It Out

Proper ventilation is essential for keeping your home smelling fresh. Open windows and doors to let in fresh air and allow stale odors to dissipate. Consider using fans to help circulate air throughout your home and speed up the ventilation process. If weather permits, leaving windows open for extended periods can work wonders in refreshing your home's air quality.


Use Natural Deodorizers

Instead of masking odors with artificial air fresheners, opt for natural deodorizers that absorb smells and leave behind a clean scent. Must try the following types of natural deodorizers:

Vinegar - Fill a glass dish with 1⁄2 inch of white vinegar and set it on the counter, but simmering it on the stove for an hour will make it even more effective.

Simmering potpourri - Lemon and Rosemary Simmering Potpourri - In a small saucepan add lemon, rosemary, cinnamon sticks and vanilla extract. Fill with water so there is about 1-2 inches of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and continue to simmer on low and add water if necessary.

Essential Oils - Simply boil a pot of water, take it off the heat, and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. You can blend drops from one oil with another to find your favorite scents. The scent of the oils in the released water vapor will infuse the whole room. 

Lemons - Freeze the rinds and grind them up in the garbage disposal, simmer a few slices in water, or bake them in the oven. Any way you go about it, your kitchen will smell lemony-fresh when you're done.

Coffee grounds - Coffee has properties that activate once the smell is nearby, catching any odor particles while adding a rich aroma. Just fill a small bowl with the used coffee grounds and leave it inside cupboards and bathrooms. 

Vanilla extract - For example, if your refrigerator isn't as fresh as you want, dip a couple of cotton balls in vanilla extract and leave them inside the fridge and freezer. Also, you can throw a few cotton balls inside your trash can or leave them in any room you want to deodorize.

Pomander Balls - A great DIY project is making pomander balls, according to The Spruce. Just poke cloves in a fresh orange and let it dry out. You can hang these pomander balls around your home to add a fresh scent as well as in pantries and closets as a natural insect repellent.

Baking Soda - Is a natural cleaner and deodorizer that every pet owner likely has on hand. It's a good option if you wish to avoid cleaning products that contain potentially toxic chemicals or perfumes.

Harness the Power of Plants

Houseplants not only add beauty to your home but can also help purify the air and eliminate odors. Plants like spider plants, peace lilies, and snake plants are known for their air-purifying properties and can help keep your home smelling fresh and clean. Just be sure to choose plants that are suitable for indoor environments and easy to care for.

Must have it in your lovely home!

Snake Plant (Sansevieria) - Benefits: Filters indoor air by removing toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene. It's also known for its ability to produce oxygen at night.

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) - Benefits: Excellent air purifier, particularly effective at removing carbon monoxide and xylene.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) - Benefits: Known for its air-purifying qualities, it removes mold spores and other airborne microbes.

Aloe Vera - Benefits: Besides its air-purifying abilities, its gel has healing properties for burns and skin irritations.

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) - Benefits: Adds humidity to the air and is effective at removing formaldehyde.

Address Lingering Odors

If odors persist despite your best efforts, it may be necessary to use more targeted odor eliminators. Enzymatic cleaners are effective at breaking down organic matter, making them ideal for tackling pet odors and food spills. Additionally, consider using odor-neutralizing sprays or plug-in air purifiers to combat stubborn smells.


Prevent Future Odors

Once you've successfully eliminated odors from your home, take steps to prevent them from returning. Regular cleaning and maintenance, proper ventilation, and proactive odor control measures can help keep your home smelling fresh and inviting for years to come.

Dealing with unwanted odors in your home can be a challenge, but with the right strategies, you can effectively eliminate them and create a clean, inviting living environment. By identifying the source of odors, deep cleaning, using natural deodorizers, harnessing the power of plants, and taking preventative measures, you can say goodbye to “old house smell” and hello to a fresher, more pleasant home.



Contact me today with any questions: 

Kelly Thompson-Milner, REALTOR


[email protected]


Kelly’s Additional Credentials: 

Residential Construction Certified

New Build Specialist Designation


Work With Kelly

I have certifications and advanced training in residential construction of homes, new home builds, negotiations and understanding of title. I believe in taking care of my clients before, during, and after their home buying or selling experience.
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