Sparkle & Smile

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Green Cleaning Tips and Tricks

How to Deal with Foul Odors the Chemical-Free Way

little girl sneezing

Odors….we all have them! Some of them we like, but some can linger on for days. And sometimes, certain products designed to help cover up odors wind up making the air worse than it was before!

A few days ago, the weather here in New York was beautiful, so I decided to finish raking up the last bit of leaves from my lawn. I ran out of lawn bags, so I went to the store to buy some. To my surprise, there were only about three boxes left! The bags I usually buy were out of stock, so I bought a different kind — scented bags meant to keep foul odors from contents from leaking into the surrounding air.

As I was putting the leaves in the bags, I started smelling a weird smell. About a half hour later, I had a massive headache and had to stop raking the leaves. I finally realized that the smell of the lawn bags I purchased was so strong that it gave me a headache!  The bags I bought were the “odor control” kind, so basically, a fragrance was added to the bags to cover up the garbage smell. I will never buy these bags again.

There are countless products on the shelves these days designed to cover up or even “eliminate” foul odors, but at what cost?

The chemicals in these products that make them so scented are actually quite harmful at times, including causing headaches like those I experienced. But you can actually get rid of lingering odors in your home using natural, non-toxic ingredients. Here are some more health-friendly tips:


  • Lemon juice gets rid of strong odors like fish, onion, garlic and spaghetti sauce from your pans, utensils, and even your hands! You can even add lemon juice to a damp microfiber cloth to clean odors on your counter tops and cutting blocks.
  • For those of us who have garbage disposals that give off a stale odor every once in a while, grinding up a citrus peel while running hot water into your garbage disposal will help remove the smell. Adding citrus peels to the bottom of a kitchen garbage pail helps keep odors at bay, too.
  • For refrigerator and freezer odors, placing a box of baking soda in each will absorb odors, leaving them smelling clean and fresh. You can also place a box of baking soda in your bathrooms behind the toilet to remove any odors that might arise there.
  • If you ever get a strong foul odor from your washing machine, pour a cup of vinegar in the washer while doing a load of laundry to remove any odors from clothing and from the washing machine itself. I have a front load washer that gives out a “mildew-smelling” odor every couple of weeks because of liquid detergent buildup. I just add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle and voila! The smell is gone!
  • Since odors also lurk in my car now and then, I just place a cotton ball soaked in pure vanilla extract in a small plastic cup and place it under the car seats. This really helps eliminate odors and freshen the air, giving it a sweetened scent. During cold and flu season, I use tea tree oil instead of vanilla oil.
  • A majority of odors can be removed from your home by boiling cinnamon and cloves in two cups of water. If you don’t like the smell of cinnamon and cloves, you can add vinegar to the water instead. Either method will help freshen the air in your home.

We all have unwanted odors in our lives!  How do you get rid of yours?  Share your tips with us!

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