14 Things People With Great-Smelling Homes Never Do

published Dec 17, 2021
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Usually, I don’t have a problem with how my house smells. But then I return from a long grocery store run, and it’s like I’m smelling my space for the first time. Shoot, I think to myself. Do my guests so easily notice the lingering scent of this morning’s bacon mixed with wet dog? Now that I realize how quickly foul scents can permeate my house, I’m on a mission to find ways to prevent them altogether. 

I’m generally good at finding ways to alleviate the problem at hand, like opening a few windows, doing the dishes, and, in the case of my pets, carving out time for a much-needed bath. But extra candles and simmer pots only go so far.

I wanted to learn what people with nice-smelling homes don’t do, so I can alter my habits — for my own nose and to be more hospitable to my guests. Here’s what I found out. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

1. They never forget to clean out the fridge. 

Cleaning and organizing pro Michelle Hansen, owner of Practical Perfection, says when it comes to maintaining her home’s amazing scent, there’s one chore she doesn’t skip: cleaning out the fridge on a routine basis. Whether you realize it or not, your fridge is probably home to some nasty smells. “Cleaning it out weekly or bi-monthly can really cut down on thoses smells,” she says. “And don’t forget to add in a container of baking soda to absorb other smells in the meantime.”

2. They never leave their bedsheets on too long. 

You wouldn’t wear the same clothes every single day, because chances are, you’d start to stink. The same is true, Hansen says, of your bed. “Over time, bedsheets can really get a build-up of body sweat and oil, and most of the time, the only people that notice the stench are your guests!” Make sure to change out your sheets regularly, and use a cup of vinegar, which will break down the body oils and soften sheets, in your load. (The vinegar smell completely disappears after you dry the sheets.)

Credit: Sarah Crowley

3. They don’t wash kitchen towels without bleach or bleach alternatives.

Kitchen towels and rags can accumulate food build-up, which results in bacteria and musty smells. “Ever smell your hand after wiping the counter at a family member’s house, only to be disgusted at how bad it smells?” Hansen says. “Yep, they don’t wash their kitchen rags with bleach.” To stay on top of the smells, she suggests changing out rags daily.

4. They don’t leave wet laundry in the washer for more than a day. 

Nikola Webster of Brit on the Move says her laundry habits keep her home smelling good. Not only will the laundry itself smell musty, says Webster, it’ll also take you a few cleaning washes to eliminate the smell inside the washing machine. Do yourself a favor and switch your wet stuff to the dryer (or hang it to dry) as soon as you can after the washer dings.

5. They never forget to unclog the drain.

Whether you have a standard drain or a garbage disposal, try to remember they’re both ideal environments for bacteria (which often translates to a stinky kitchen). Webster always prioritizes de-clogging her drain with a dedicated product. The trick, she says, is to address it before the sinister smell creeps up. In the case of a garbage disposal, make a habit of sending a spent lemon wedge down every few days.

6. They don’t let anyone smoke in the house. 

Smoking cigarettes, vape pens, or weed inside is a big no-no for anyone who wants to maintain a nice-smelling space. “Not only do they all smell, the smoke makes it into your ventilation system, which retains the smell,” Webster says. “It also limits the lifespan of your paint job.”

Read more: 5 Surprising (and Costly) Ways Smoking Can Ruin Your Home

Credit: Minette Hand

7. They won’t leave a cat litter box unattended.

If you’re lucky enough to have a cat around, pay as much attention to the litter box as you do the actual pet. Webster says she tries not to forget about scooping when her cats go, and if that’s not possible, she scoops daily.

8. They don’t throw food in the kitchen trash bin. 

Brooke Grasley, founder of Restore Decor and More, says a good-smelling home is at the top of her priority list. One habit she prioritizes is never throwing food straight in her garbage can — she always puts it in a plastic grocery bag and ties it up first. If you’re throwing away meat scraps or other strong-smelling food, take it straight out to the outside bin!

9. They don’t store leftovers in restaurant containers. 

Another way Grasley keeps her kitchen smelling amazing: She never puts restaurant leftovers in her fridge in their original to-go containers. “I always transfer them to a glass container, which helps to keep them from smelling up the fridge,” she says.

10. They don’t leave things wet. 

Tony Grenier, CEO of Grenier Media, says he never leaves any part of his house wet, because moisture contributes to bad-smelling mold and algae. For example, he never lets his wet, dirty dishes pile up in the sink, he always wipes the sink dry after washing them, and he makes sure bathroom surfaces (like the shower and floor) aren’t wet. 

11. They don’t let the trash overflow.

Alex Varela, general manager of Dallas Maids, says he never neglects to leave trash in his bin for more than four days. Plus, after he takes it out, he rinses the bin and adds baking soda or vinegar at the bottom to absorb future odors.

12. They don’t go too long without opening windows. 

To keep her space feeling fresh, artist Sarah Aileen never goes more than a day without opening a window or two. Morning and evening air, she says, are especially invigorating. (Bonus points for using a fan to improve air circulation!)

13. They don’t close their washer door — at least not right away.

Obviously, you need to keep it closed when you’re doing a load. But when you’re not, Ale Gazzo of Emily’s Maids recommends keeping the door open to avoid humidity, gross odors on your clothes, and, down the road, mold. 

14. They don’t leave their towels hanging after they shower. 

Another tip from Gazzo: Instead of leaving your wet towel hanging in the bathroom (read: stinking up the bathroom), hang it to air dry in your laundry room or outside in the sun. Not only will your bathroom smell fresher, your towel will, too!

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 14 Things People With Nice-Smelling Homes Never Do