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Getting Rid of Odors: Your Nose Knows You Need These Tips

New best-ever homeowner tips throughout the month, plus add your own

Illustration by Edwin Fotheringham

1. Fragrant Paint:

Hate the smell of fresh latex paint? You can cut down on the odor by mixing a tablespoon of vanilla extract or a drop of lemon extract into every gallon.

2. Disposing of Odor: A stinky garbage disposer probably has build-up of grease and ground food on the underside of the rubber splash baffle that covers the drain opening. Clean with a scrubby sponge and dish detergent. Then run a lemon through it for a fresh scent.

3. The Smell of Gas: A closed-up kitchen with gas flowing from an open unlit burner can create a combustible atmosphere in as little as 10 seconds. So if you smell gas—we mean really smell gas—do not turn on the lights or use a telephone, cell phone, flashlight, or computer, all of which could create a spark, blowing the place sky high. Instead, haul everybody out of there and call the gas utility or the fire department immediately.

4. Pet Odors: Clean up the affected areas with vinegar or a urine neutralizer, available at pet stores or from veterinarians. If the smell lingers, in drywall, plaster, woodwork, etc., cover the area with a fast-drying sealer (available at home improvement stores), which should encapsulate the smell and keep odors from spreading.

5. Smoke Stink: It can help to change carpet and drapes, which hold the smell of smoke, along with any porous surface. Repainting, recarpeting and reupholstering go a long way toward eliminating the odor.

6. Cooking odors: A good ventilation system can do wonders for odors in the kitchen, not to mention steam, smoke and grease. Choose from a variety of kinds, from ceiling-and wall-mounted versions, to downdraft units, which are generally incorporated into the range.

Have your own tips? Share them below.