These deodorising hacks use common household ingredients, are inexpensive, environmentally friendly and are safe to use around children and pets. The absence of harsh chemicals is also beneficial for people with sensitivities or allergies.
What are odours caused by? Odours are caused by one or more chemical compounds that become volatile and are released in the air, usually in low concentrations. They either have an acidic or basic chemical structure, which changes the type of smell.
Our noses detect these chemicals as odours with our sense of smell.
Types of odours We can detect a number of odours including, but not limited to:
Sweet e.g. chocolate
Citrus e.g. lemons, oranges etc.
Fruity e.g. strawberries (fruit other than citrus)
Fragrant e.g. perfumes or floral
Chemical e.g. ammonia
Pepperminty e.g. mint
Burnt e.g. burnt toast or popcorn
Pungent e.g. blue cheese
Decaying e.g. rotten meat
As the temperature rises during spring and summer, household odours increase and the fight to keep the house odour free and smelling good can become challenging.
The key natural deodorising hack ingredients
Bicarbonate (bicarb) soda This cooking product is natural, non-toxic and safe to use around young children and pets. It neutralises odours, rather than just covering them with perfumes. It works by neutralising the acidic (e.g. sour milk) or basic (e.g. off fish) chemical states of odours to a neutral, chemically stable, odour-free state, thereby neutralising the odour.
Onion This versatile vegetable is safe to use around young children, however is toxic to dogs so must be disposed of sensibly. It has an amazing ability to absorb the odour of fridges and rooms, working in a similar way to bicarb soda.
Ground coffee If you are a coffee drinker, save your used grounds! They absorb odours effectively, are child and pet friendly, and can be used in the garden as compost once you have finished.
Eucalyptus oil This oil is naturally derived from parts of eucalyptus trees and is a versatile cleaning product and deodoriser. It doubles as a fantastic bug deterrent, just put some a few drops on some cotton wool and run over window sills.
Lemons I use left over lemons as a deodoriser for fridges and microwaves. This is great for those people sensitive to eucalyptus or if you feel like a citrus smelling deodoriser. It is versatile and safe for children and pets.
The natural cleaning ingredient hacks
Methods to deodorise your home
Frypans and plastic containers Cooking fragrant food such as fish, garlic and chillies can leave residual odours. In addition, red or orange coloured food like tomato based sauces or curries can discolour plastic containers.
To remove the smell, discolouration and extend the life of your frypans and plastic containers:
Mix 2 tablespoons of bicarb soda for every 1 cup of water.
Stir to dissolve and place in frypan or plastic container overnight to soak.
Rinse, wash and dry.
Sprinkle bicarb soda before adding water
Sponges and cloths
Rinse out sponges and cloths in water.
Stir 4 - 5 tablespoons of bicarb soda and 4 cups of water in a bowl until dissolved.
Add the sponges and soak overnight.
Squeeze the water out and allow to dry.
Fridge There is nothing worse than opening a fridge and smelling rotten food!
To deodorise your fridge, dispose of any rotten food, clean with a soapy cloth and use:
Bicarb soda - Place 1 cup of bicarb soda on a plate in the middle of the fridge for 24 hours. Discard or pour down your drain and follow the 3 ingredient natural drain cleaner method to deodorise and clean your drains.
Onion - Dice 1/2 - 1 onion or used left over cut onion, place in a bowl, cover with water and leave in the fridge for 24 hours. Discard.
If stubborn smells remain after trying bicarb soda and onion use:
Ground coffee - Spread 1 cup of ground coffee on a plate and place in the middle of the fridge for 24 hours. Add to soil or potting mix and use in the garden; vegetable gardens and flowers love ground coffee.
Cupboards For fresh smelling cupboards place an open box of bicarb soda in the cupboard. Pour down the drain after 6 months to clean the drains and replace with a new box.
I washed the fridge, used bicarb soda and finally coffee to remove the stench in this freezer section
Microwave This hack is a particular favourite if you are not a meat eater and your family is, and you don't like the smell of the microwave after cooking meat. After reheating meat:
Wipe down the inside of the microwave with a soapy cloth.
Juice a lemon and place the empty halves in the microwave and heat for 10 - 20 seconds until fragrant. The amount of time depends on the size of the lemon. A partly zested lemon will also work.
Leave the lemons in for 10 minutes for a fresh smelling microwave. Dispose or place in the fridge overnight for a citrus smelling fridge.
Lemons make any microwave smell great
Carpet / rugs To deodorise carpet/rugs:
Sprinkle bicarb soda evenly over carpet or rugs, leave for a minimum of 15 minutes or longer if you have time.
Vacuum the bicarb soda.
This is step is particularly good to do before washing carpets and rugs if they have a musty or damp smell.
I sprinkled bicarb soda and then vacuumed this picnic rug to deodorise the musty smell before washing
Fresh paint smell You could leave the window open for days to remove the fresh paint smell. Or you can cut an onion in half, place it in the room and leave it for 24 hours. The onion will absorb the paint smell but may leave an onion aroma.
To remove the onion smell place 1 cup of coffee grounds on a uncovered plate or a few drops of your favourite essential oil on a cotton wool ball for 24 hours. This should neutralise the odour.
Methods to deodorise your camping gear We love camping but there is nothing worse than opening a mouldy, stale smelling tent!
Tents, chairs and camping matresses Take bicarb soda with you on your next trip and sprinkle on the tent, camping chairs and mattresses before you fold and pack away. You will be surprised at the result. We were!
Pots, pans, sponges and cloths Soak your pots, pans, sponges and cloths in a bucket with a bicarb soda and water mix (2 tablespoons for every 1 cup of water), rinse and dry completely before packing away when you pack up to deodorise.
Dogs If you take your dogs camping they are bound to find something disgusting to roll in. Sprinkle bicarb soda and brush through their coat to help remove the stink.