How To Get Rid of Smells Naturally

get rid of smells naturally

Do you want to know how to get rid of smells naturally? How many times have you walked into a house (yours or someone else’s) or a room and noticed an odor or smell and felt embarrassed or anxious?

It happens to all of us, even when we think we’ve cleaned enough. There’s an odor coming out of the garbage disposal. Some forgotten damp laundry has developed its own unpleasant odor over the past few days. Your kids’ sports shoes smell like a dirty locker room, and the gym bag they were in…well, we won’t even try to describe that.

Perhaps the smell isn’t in your house but in your new car. Maybe you just bought a new yoga mat and you’re wondering about the rubbery smell.

Don’t despair! Nature has provided us with many safe, effective ways to deodorize the many things we have in our busy lives.

Garbage/trash cans

Indoor garbage cans are among the most logical places that can smell, yet it’s also easy to forget to clean them. Baking soda to the rescue! Sprinkle a small amount at the bottom of your trash can or even directly on the trash. If you want a pleasant smell, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.

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You also should clean all your trash cans—kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms—frequently with white vinegar and water to help eliminate bacteria. A quick swish, dump the water and vinegar down the drain, and allow to air dry.

Garbage disposal

It’s no surprise that garbage disposals harbor foul odors considering all the stuff we put down there. To freshen your garbage disposal, feed it leftover citrus rinds while it’s running and then finish it off with cold water. To keep the blades clean, grind stale ice cubes in the disposal several times a month, depending on how much you use the disposal.

Read about 12 household items that contain harmful chemicals (and how to avoid them)

Stale household air

Unless you open your windows and doors frequently to allow outside air in, you are probably living with recirculated air, which can mean recirculated foul odors. To get rid of smells naturally, first open the windows (weather permitting) and let some fresh air inside. Then add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to cotton balls and place them in small bowls around the house. You also can put about 10 drops of essential oil in a spray bottle with 6 ounces of water and spritz all of the rooms in your house. Repeat at least several times a month.


Carpets absorb odors, especially if you have pets or there are lots of people walking through your home bringing in soil and moisture from outdoors. To eliminate carpet odors, sprinkle baking soda onto the carpet and allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. If you have pets, do not allow them to interact with the treated carpet. After 30 minutes, vacuum up the baking soda.


A tough ring in the toilet can emit an odor. To eliminate the ring and the odor, pour 1 cup of baking soda, 1 cup of salt, and a few drops of essential oil. Allow the mixture to sit in the toilet for several hours, then scrub with a brush.

Musty basement

Musty basements can be remedied easily by running a dehumidifier. At the same time, combine a few drops of tea tree oil in 8 ounces of cheap vodka and add 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Mix well and put in a spritzer bottle. Spray anything that smells musty. The vodka will evaporate but the tea tree oil aroma will remain.

You also can place small bowls of used, dried coffee grounds or baking soda around the basement to help neutralize the musty odor.

Gym bag

Gym bags can acquire a whole life and odor of their own rather quickly. Here are a few ways to get rid of the funkiness.

  • Tea bags: Put a few unused tea bags in your gym bag and in your sneakers overnight and remove them in the morning.
  • Wash your gym bag and add 4 ounces of white vinegar to the rinse cycle.
  • Mist the gym bag with a few drops of essential oil added to water in a spritzer bottle.


Shoes are a harbor for the sweat that pours from the 250,000 sweat glands in your feet. Your shoes become smelly when the bacteria residing in them start to multiple in a damp environment. Here are a few tips on how to get rid of smells naturally in your shoes and inserts.

  • Fabric shoes can be washed in warm water with 1 cup of white vinegar added to the rinse. Do not use fabric softener because it can trap bacteria in the fabric.
  • Are your shoe inserts smelly? Allow them to soak in warm, soapy water for about 30 minutes, then rinse them off. Place them in 2 cups of water and 1 cups of white vinegar. Soak for 10 minutes, then rinse, press to remove as much water as possible, and allow to air dry. Do not dry in the sun!

Read about 4 tips to detox your home with a natural cleaning regimen

New car smell

That new car smell is not only annoying, it also contains harmful byproducts from the plastic and polish in the car. You can eliminate those odors and toxins by stepping up the heat.

Bake the toxins out of your car by raising the interior temperature. If the weather is hot, you can let the car sit in the sun for several hours, then open the windows and allow the toxic air to escape. Follow this by wiping down the interior with a microfiber cloth and a nontoxic deodorizer.  In colder weather, you might place a safe space heater in the car to heat it up. Be sure to monitor the heater during that time.

Yoga mat

Are you bothered by the rubber smell in your yoga mat? Are you finding it challenging to keep your yoga mat clean and smelling fresh after each use? Let’s begin with a new rubber mat.

  • To eliminate new rubber smell, air out your met in a well-ventilated area. Never air out a natural rubber mat in direct sunlight.
  • Keep your new mat unrolled to allow the smell to escape.
  • Spritz your mat with a 50/50 mix of water and apple cider vinegar with a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Allow the mat to air dry.

What about the yoga mat you know and love but it still needs to be deodorized?

  • Rinse off your yoga mat soon after each use.
  • Spray your mat with water and rub a 50/50 mixture of baking soda and gentile soap on both sides of the mat with a soft sponge. Rinse the mat well in the shower. Lay the mat on a thick large towel and roll it up within the towel. Once the towel has absorbed the water, hang the mat and air dry.
  • Mix one part tea tree oil with ten parts water in a spray bottle. Spritz both sides of your yoga mat and hang it out to air dry. You can do the same thing using apple cider vinegar: one part vinegar with five parts water.

Bottom line

Bring a breath of fresh air into your home, your car, and your life. You can safely and easily get rid of smells naturally using common household products or one of several all-natural odor removers available on the market. Look for products that are toxic chemical-free and contain essential oils, poly glucosides (naturally derived from corn starch and palm kernel oil), and plant-based fragrances.

[Editor’s Note: Our sponsor Nature Clean makes a great odor-neutralizing product called Stink Bombs (we absolutely love the name). It comes in a spray which is great for couches, carpets, and sports equipment bags and laundry pacs format.] 

Savvy Swap Fabreeze


Read this next: Tips for Spring Cleaning Naturally


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Deborah is a freelance health writer who is passionate about animals and the environment. She has authored, co-authored, and written more than 50 books and thousands of articles on a wide range of topics. Currently, she lives in Tucson, Arizona.