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Get Rid of Bad Smells the Safe Way

Try these expert green-cleaning tips for healthier ways to get rid of common odors.

The air inside your home can be two to 100 times more polluted than what's outside, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And chemical air fresheners only add to the haze.

Eliminating Household Odors

For healthier ways to get rid of common odors, try these tips from green-cleaning expert Leslie Reichert. She explains how to get rid of bad smells in your house without using harsh cleaners.

Lingering Fishy Aroma

Illustration by Jordon Cheung @

If your kitchen smells like the grilled salmon you cooked hours before, try this fix: Boil 2 of cups water, add 2 or 3 tablespoons of baking soda, and toss in a lemon peel. As a preventative measure while cooking, burn an all-natural soy candle, like Fresh Wave (about $16;—even chefs swear by it.

Stinky Garbage Can

Illustration by Jordon Cheung @

Rotting food can cause a foul smell that lingers on a plastic can. Remove the offending trash, then place 1 tablespoon of coffee, a few cloves, and 1 tablespoon of baking soda in the center of a coffee filter. Close with a twist tie to make a sachet, and put it at the bottom of the can to get rid of odors in the house.

Funky Fridge Fumes

Illustration by Jordon Cheung @

An open box of baking soda should do the trick for routine smell maintenance. But if you've got a truly stinky fridge, chances are you've got food that's gone bad or spoiled-milk or meat-juice spills on a shelf. Put a spray attachment into a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, spray down your shelves, then wipe.

Bad Potty Bouquet

Illustration by Jordon Cheung @

For that nasty ring around the toilet, make an abrasive scrub that's 1 cup of baking soda, 1 cup of borax, and 1 cup of salt. If you want a scented scrub, add a few drops of essential oil. For really bad bowl stains, turn off the water supply and drain the toilet, then add the scrub so that it can sit on the stain undiluted.

Musty Basement

Illustration by Jordon Cheung @

If your cellar smells like mildew, it's probably damp, so run a dehumidifier. Mix a few drops of tea-tree oil—a natural killer of mold spores—with either rubbing alcohol or inexpensive vodka and spray on anything that smells musty. The alcohol evaporates quickly, leaving the tea-tree oil to neutralize the odor.