Keep It Smelling Fresh

Teresa Hunsaker with the Utah State University Extension Office shares some ways to fix that problem rather than just cover it up.


• Generally, to keep laundry smelling fresh add a cup of baking soda or a cup of vinegar to the wash cycle. Borax will break down residue buildup and improve the smell of laundry too—add a half cup to each load, in place of the soda or vinegar.

• Hanging clothes to line dry helps keep the scent of the fabric softener or detergent

• Using fabric softener adds a fresh clean smell—but shouldn’t be used every load.

• Run an empty load with bleach in the water to clean out the washer drum and workings as well.

Bath towels with a sour smell: Wash separately in small loads, using the hottest water safe for the fabric and the usual amount of non-bleach detergent; add 1 cup ammonia during the rinse cycle. Place in the dryer ASAP.

Freshen Up the Closet

First, give the closet a good cleaning—vacuum, dust , air out, wash down the walls and shelves.

Go through all clothes—are there some that ought to be washed? Maybe you have worn only once but it was out to a club with friends and the smells are permeating the rest of the closet.

• Hang Lavender or Rosemary in bundles.

• Hang dryer sheets on small pegs—or tie to top of hangers—not touching the clothing.

• Use Febreeze

• Cedar chips in a muslin bag

• Citrus pomander—push whole cloves into fresh citrus fruit and place in a basket in the closet.

• Baking Soda

• Favorite bar of highly fragrance soap.

• Herb/spice sachet

How to Make a Sachet:

Small cotton drawstring bags

1 cup nutmeg

1 cup oak moss

2 cups dried lemon peel

2 cups dried orange peel

1/2 cup broken cinnamon sticks

1/2 cup whole cloves

1/8 cup bay leaves

5 drops musk oil

2 drops cinnamon oil

2 drops clove oil

Combine all the herbs and spices in a bowl. Add in the oils. Stir well and fill the drawstring bags. Place bags on hangers in the closet or place in drawers or linen closets.


• Add a couple of dryer sheets into the bottom of the can to help keep odors at bay. Coffee grounds make the garbage smell a little more bearable, so when it really stinks toss grounds in the trash instead of saving them for the garden. A few scoops of cat litter will work, too.

• Every now and then take the hose to the garbage can itself, and let it dry and air out in the sun.

Freshen Up Shoes

• Baking soda—sprinkle inside each shoe.

• Cat Litter—sprinkle inside each shoe after wearing—let sit overnight, and pour out next day, OR, make a shoe insert with cat litter inside.

• Rubbing alcohol—place in spray bottle and mist in—it dries quickly and serves as a deodorizer—great on sports shoes and casual shoes, but not good to do often on good leather shoes.

• Sunshine

• Crumpled up newspaper

• Salt

Recipe for a Shoe Insert:

Fill a white cotton tube sock with equal parts kitty litter, baking soda, and peppermint tea leaves—about ½ cup each. Tie the end of the sock closed and place into shoes.


• Mix together 2 tbsp. baking soda with a quart of warm water. Wipe down the inside surfaces of the refrigerator with this solution.

• Try a solution of 1 c. vinegar and 1 gallon of water.

• Mix 1/2 c. chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of water and apply to all surfaces, if the odor persists.

• Use a pouch of activated charcoal—available at pet stores or automotive stores.

Freshen Up the Sink/Garbage Disposal

• Slice a lemon or lime and pulse in the disposal side of the sink while running cool water.

• Place some baking soda in the sink, and follow with some vinegar—this not only freshen the sink but cleans out the pipes in a safe manner. Follow with some water.

• Use some type of disinfectant spray.

To make a homemade, but affective, disinfectant spray mix 1 part water, 1 part hydrogen peroxide, the juice of half a lemon, and 5-10 drops of lemon essential oil. You can make a cleaner using similar ingredients, just replace the hydrogen peroxide with distilled white vinegar. Both household cleaners will fill your home with the fresh smell of lemons.


Nothing can make a home more unwelcoming than lingering odors trapped in carpeting or drapery.

• Sprinkle a box of baking soda around on your carpet. Let sit a couple of hours and vacuum up—taking it nice and slow.

• Deep-clean carpet by using a water-extraction carpet-cleaning machine or a carpet-shampoo machine and cool water only–no chemicals or cleaners. (To rent or buy one of these machines, look under “Carpet and Rug Cleaners’ Equipment and Supplies” or a similar heading in the yellow pages.)

• Carpet odor may in fact not be a problem with the carpeting but with the pad underneath the carpet. When this is the case, efforts to get the smell out of carpet will provide nothing more than temporary relief. The only solution for dealing with odor from the padding is to remove the existing carpeting and replace the underlying pad.

• Draperies and curtains often are the dirtiest textile in the house and over a short period of time, can become quite dusty and stale smelling. This is because draperies act as a sort of air filter, catching particles of dust and dirt stirred up in the air by air vents and ceiling fans and movement in the home.

• The easiest way to care for draperies is to vacuum them on a regular basis. Some manufacturers recommend a thorough vacuuming once every season, or four times a year.

• To vacuum drapes, use the dusting attachment that came with your vacuum cleaner. This is typically a round brush with short bristles. Start at the top of the draperies, and work your way down. Be sure to vacuum the back as well as the front, and vacuum inside any pleats as well. The pleats tend to trap quite a bit of dust along with cobwebs and spiders, especially towards the top where they are tightly gathered.

• Remove the drapes from the rod, and drape them over the clothesline in filtered sunlight. Several hours outside is usually enough to remove most of the odors trapped in the drapery fabric. For those really stubborn odors, a light sprinkling of baking soda while draped outside, followed by a vacuuming, also does an excellent job of freshening up draperies

(At some point it may be smart to have drapes/curtains dry cleaned or laundered.)
One of the very best ways to get that fresh smell in your home—open a window and let the real fresh air in!

For more information, you can contact your nearest Extension Office.

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