I’m sharing a ton of ideas on how to keep your home smelling fresh and clean without using harmful chemicals and fragrances.
I am a fragrance girl! I’ve always loved perfumes and luscious scents. Smells evoke emotion and memory, and can make me feel happy and clean.
That said, once I learned that most commercial fragrances contain potentially harmful ingredients, I’ve been much more mindful about the scents I put on my body and use in our home.
I wrote all about fragrance (and why I avoid it) in this blog post if you’d like more information. Despite knowing that most fragrances may contain hormone-disrupting ingredients, I still yearn for yummy smells – whether it be in my shower, on my clothes, or around our home.
(Every now and then I use a mainstream strong-smelling laundry detergent while traveling, and a tiny violin plays for me.)
But just like how the nonalcoholic drinks market is getting better and better, there are lots of great new home products that are choosing to be transparent about their ingredient lists, reflecting consumer demand. Both Dropps and Grow are B Corporations, and I’m a huge fan!
A lot of factors can affect the scent of your home. Whether it’s smelly soccer cleats (guilty! mine are awful), a pre-teen boy (learning to use deo!), a muddy dog (all day, every day), or spills from a little one, I, too, have to put in the effort to keep a house that smells fresh – just as I do to keep it neat and organized.
So whether you’re in spring cleaning mode or you’re referencing this post in the slump of winter, I hope these practical, affordable, and effective tips are helpful in keeping your home smelling fresh and clean.
How To Keep Your Home Smelling Fresh And Clean
Keeping your home neat and tidy will support your home smelling fresh and clean, so many of these tips do overlap.
1. Vacuum & Mop Floors
The amount of dirt, dander, dog hair, and crumbs on our floors would be quite embarrassing if I didn’t vacuum daily! Our cordless Dyson vacuum is a lifesaver to clean up the regular dirt that’s tracked inside – I often use it multiple times per day!
But the newest game-changer is our Shark Robot Vacuum. I am OBSESSED because not only does it vacuum the whole house every morning (and pick up so much dog hair it’s insane), but it mops too!! Full review post coming soon : )
Keeping all of that dog fur off the floors definitely helps keep our house from smelling too doggy. (Although I’m sure there’s still a touch in the air!)
2. Clean Curtains And Rugs
It is recommended to wash your curtains (if they are machine washable) at least once a year. I’ve typically done this in the springtime, though our newly renovated home won’t have any curtains. You can spray them with Dropps revitalizing mist or Grow Fragrance spray in meantime so as the air flows, your room smells nice.
With our dog we’ve resorted to having the rug cleaned every now and then. (Locals, we use Charlottesville Earthly Cleaning.)
Ruggable rugs are super popular because you can toss them in your home washer! I’m looking into them for our new mudroom and kitchen. I love this style for a living room and this one for a neutral look. And I’d say Birch needs this one in his room someday!
3. Wash Out Your Garbage Bins
Give your garbage and recycling bins a good scrub with dish soap and water. And of course, taking out your trash often is one of the best ways to keep the garlic, onion, and fish smells from wafting out of there! (Whenever I make sardines we have to take the tin right out to the recycling bin!)
4. Freshen Up the Garbage Disposal
Put a few (VERY THIN) slices of lemon down your garbage disposal – it’ll freshen it right up! If you don’t have a disposal, you can squeeze lemon juice in the drain to get a similar effect.
5. Change Bed Linens
We wash our bed linens weekly with Dropps laundry soap. I typically do this on Mondays and then give our bedding a light dusting of room spray – there is nothing better than crawling into clean sheets at night, ahhh! Our duvet covers get a turnover when our house cleaners come each month.
By the way, you can use code KATH25 for 25% off Dropps. My top picks are the stain & odor lavender eucalyptus laundry detergent and special edition ocean scent fabric softeners.
6. Clean Vents
When is the last time you cleaned your vents? Use a spray bottle with water and lemon essential oil to wipe down your vents – talk about “air freshening”! Thomas the contractor also recommends professionally cleaning your ducts every 3-5 years. And don’t forget to change your air filters on a regular schedule! Set a calendar reminder so you don’t forget.
7. Run an Air Purifier
We have a Levoit air purifier that lives in our bedroom. It doubles as white noise overnight. I’ve also heard good things about Air Doctor purifiers, and Shark makes a smart one that measures all kinds of air settings. I hope Thomas is building in some of these into our air system while the walls are open!
8. Open the Windows
This is one of my favorite and most-used tips of all. Open your windows and let fresh air inside – this is the best natural air freshener there is! I absolutely love doing this is in the spring and fall to air out my entire home. Obviously you need perfect temperature days to do it, but hopefully those are coming soon for many of us!
9. Wash Your Shoes
Washable shoes are on the up and up. Shoes like Rothy’s and Allbirds are machine washable, which really helps if you start to get that sock-less smell. Giving them a wash plus a few days in the sunshine has cured my shoes of smells.
You can also stick a (natural) dryer sheet in a pair of stinky sneakers. It absorbs the stench and can keep unnecessary odors from small spaces like laundry rooms and gym bags.
10. Use Baking Soda to Absorb Odors
Baking soda is one of my favorite and most inexpensive household multi-purpose cleaners. It can be used for so many things, like cleaning pots and pans and removing odors. Put an open box of baking soda in your fridge to keep it smelling fresh or sprinkle some soda right into shoes for a few hours before putting them in the washer.
Bonus: Bake cookies!
Baking homemade cookies with vanilla extract instantly makes the house smell cozy, and inviting.
Best Home Air Fresheners
While plug-in air fresheners and Febreeze may be “odor eliminating”, they are full of synthetic chemicals and simply cover up bad smells with intoxicating scents. Many people are also very sensitive to these (e.g., experience headaches, sinus irritation, etc.).
Here are a few safer suggestions to make your home smell fresh.
Simmer cinnamon sticks on the stove.
This is easy to do and one our favorite “air fresheners” in the fall and winter. I’ll sometimes do this before we have guests over. Making granola is another great way to get that cinnamon spice infusion in the air!
Use a non-toxic room/linen spray.
We use the Dropps revitalizing mist or the Grow Fragrance sprays. I love Blondewood!
Read: 20+ Ways To Use 100% Plant-Based Grow Sprays In Your Home
Light a clean-burning candle.
Two of my recent clean candle brand finds are Grow Fragrance and Kent & Co. Handmade.
Grow is a B corp and makes candles and sprays that are plant-based and ingredient transparent. They also focus on sustainability and their candles have bases that are reusable and recyclable aluminum candle inserts to replace when your candle runs dry.
Kent and Co. candles are handmade in the Pacific Northwest and use pure soy wax (not a soy-paraffin blend!) with oils that are free from carcinogens.
These two brands are much safer than anything you’d find at Bath & Body Works or even Target.
Add fresh eucalyptus to your shower.
A steamy shower + fresh eucalyptus (find it at Trader Joe’s for cheap!) = spa freshness! We keep a bottle in our shower and sprinkle some onto the floor while we’re in there.
Decorate with fresh flowers and herbs.
‘Tis the season to decorate with a big vase of cheery tulips. If weekly bouquets aren’t practical, adding small pots of fresh herbs like mint and rosemary can add earthy scents to your kitchen.
Use Essential oil diffusers in your guest room.
Essential oil diffusers are especially useful if you have young kids around and are wary of lighting candles. Citrus scents, like lemon and orange, lavender, and eucalyptus are some of my favorites to diffuse. I like to keep our diffuser in our guest room and turn it on before guests stay over.
Do you have a favorite type of air freshener? What do you do to keep your home smelling fresh and clean?
Hi Kath! Thanks for the great post! Have you done one on your house cleaning service? Tips on selecting a professional, and how to prepare for a cleaning would be really helpful! I’ve thought about setting something up, but have anxiety about cleaning my house before they get here! 🙂
Kath Younger says
I think word of mouth is the only way to go! Ask all your friends for a referral. And I don’t clean before they clean, but I do collect dirty towels and start loads, have the boys get their Legos up off the floor, etc. : )
I recently learned to spray clothes (or any fabric) with vodka from the Laundry Evangelist. It dries and the smell is gone! This has been great for coats through the winter, smelly shoes and also for dresses or other clothes that I don’t want to wash/dry clean as often! I got two wears out of a lacy dress in the summer. I now have a huge cheap bottle of vodka in my laundry room.
Kath Younger says
Interesting!! I was going to ask does it need to be good vodka but you answered:)