Home Ec

Home Ec: Cures for the Common Smell (All-Natural Odor Fixers)

by Grace Bonney

Design*Droits-Humains Odor Eliminators
For this week’s Home Ec lesson I want to talk about the less glamorous aspects of having a home or apartment to care for: odors. Yep, we’ve all dealt with them. From musty old closets and smelly disposals to pet accidents and tiny critters that have died under appliances or in the walls, our homes aren’t always pristine spaces that smell like roses. In fact, I don’t think my home has ever smelled like roses — even when there is a vase of roses in it.

So today I wanted to share some inexpensive and all-natural odor fixers inspired by our Home Ec partner, . These are the items that are helpful to keep on hand when you need to rid your house of a smell that just isn’t what you wanted to come home to. The goal here isn’t to make your home smell like chemicals or 10 bottles of perfume, but instead a clean, neutral space that welcomes the scent of whatever you’re cooking or bringing in from the garden or grocery store. xo, grace

*You can also download a version of this info here, too!

Cures for the Common Smell

Active charcoal: This material is fantastic for neutralizing pet odors, which is why you commonly find charcoal filters in the tops of cat litter boxes. Charcoal is also great at removing the scent of mold. Just wrap granules of active charcoal (not the kind from the BBQ bag) in cheesecloth and leave them near the offending scent.

Chalk: You can leave sticks of chalk in shoes to reduce odor or hang a few pieces in a net bag in the entryway closet to keep coats and jackets feeling fresh.

Coffee Grounds: I once famously “saw something and said something” on an airplane. I used the bathroom before takeoff and saw a loose bag of what looked like coffee grounds stuck into one of the ceiling tiles. I, of course, thought it couldn’t be coffee, so I ran and told a flight attendant. She informed me it WAS coffee and that’s how I learned that coffee is one of the greatest odor neutralizers! You can use a small bag of of open ground coffee (they work better than beans) to absorb almost any odor (we used that with a few drops of liquid vanilla extract in our fridge to get out a VERY bad rotten veggie smell).

Essential Oils, Eucalyptus Oil, Lemon Oil: Most essential oils are great at masking strong odors, as they are incredibly concentrated, too. You’ll want to limit your exposure to these if you’re pregnant or if you have small children near them, but if you can safely leave them out (or stick infusers), they do a great job of hiding strong scents at home.

Kitty Litter: Kitty litter is designed to absorb pet odors, clearly, but it can absorb and hide the odors of other natural spills and smells, too. I grew up with a grandfather who threw kitty litter on just about any outdoor stain and spill and then wiped it up afterward. It’s great at helping with oil, paint or other household liquid spills.

Baking Soda: We all know baking soda is a whiz at keeping the fridge smelling fresh, but you can use it in closets, under sinks and in the garage, too. Just keep a small open box (they now make boxes that have a cover you can remove with a netted bag inside) anywhere you need odors neutralized.

This post and the Home Ec section are brought to you by . Visit the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day  section featuring 20 DIYs, including seven from Design*Droits-Humains!

Suggested For You


Leave a Reply

Design*Droits-Humains reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.