The 8 worst smells in your home — and how to fix them



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This is awkward but … most things will turn stinky if you leave them to their own devices, including things in your home. (Bad smells happen to good people and all that.)

OK, now that we’re on the same page, let’s deal with it. Smells are like taxes — they aren’t going to just go away if you ignore them.

To prevent the problem from getting worse, follow these tricks to deal with the grossest smells in your home:


1. Mildew towels

Nasty smelling towels can stink up the whole bathroom, or worse, your body. To remove the smell, throw the towels in their own wash cycle. (Otherwise, they’ll just stink up other clothes.) Instead of detergent or fabric softener, add one cup of white vinegar to the load and then run the washer on the hottest possible setting. The vinegar will kill any lingering bacteria. Then, immediately run a “normal” load with a standard amount of detergent (keep it towels only).


2. Your sock drawer

Drawers are dark and poorly ventilated, which makes them a perfect place for mildew to thrive. That's why your sock drawer can sometimes smell like death.

To remove the stench, remove all the items from your drawer and remove it from the dresser. Then, vacuum any debris or crumbs that may have accumulated in the drawer.

Once the sock crumbs are gone, thoroughly wipe down the inside of the drawer with a solution of ½ warm water and ½ vinegar. Don’t worry, the vinegar smell will dissipate quickly. Dry the drawer with a towel and then let it air out overnight.

Tip: Don’t return the drawer to a dresser until you’re sure it’s completely dry. To keep the problem from happening again, place an opened box of baking soda in the back of the drawer.


3. Garbage can

If your trash can’s funky smell is say, a 2 out of 10, sprinkle the inside of the can with baking soda next time you change the bag. The alkali nature of the baking soda will absorb light-but-unpleasant odors.

If the stink is a 5 or above, bring in the big guns: vinegar. Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spritz it liberally on the inside of the trash can. Use an old rag to rub in the vinegar, and then rinse it away with a garden hose. Make sure the can is completely dry before placing another bag into it, or you could have mold and mildew on your hands.


4. Inside the washing machine

The door on front-load washing machines seals so tight that air never circulates inside, allowing mold and mildew to grow and turn your washing machine into a stink bomb. Remove the smell by running a hot or warm water cycle with two cups of bleach (no clothes or towels). To prevent the problem from happening again, leave your door open between washings.


5. Laundry hamper

Body odor is gross, which is why your laundry hamper can smell funky fast. And if you fill your hamper with workout gear, you’ll experience that “gym locker room” smell right quick. Fix the problem with baking soda. Every time you toss an item of clothing in your hamper, sprinkle it with baking soda. This will cover up the smells and buy you some time in between loads.


6. Dishwasher

If you’re scared to open your dishwasher because of the smell, it’s time to clean it out. First, remove any lingering food and other gook from your filter basket, which should be located at the bottom of your dishwasher. You'll be amazed at how much stuff is in there. If you’ve never cleaned it out before, check your owner's manual for instructions.

Then, to fight the smell, pour one cup of distilled white vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher and run a complete cycle on the hottest temperature setting (no dishes). This will get remove mineral deposits that dishwasher detergent can't remove, plus kill any lingering bacteria.


7. Urine-soaked carpet

Any pet owner knows that accidents happen. That’s fine. But if they aren’t dealt with in the right way, your carpet can start to smell like the inside of a litter box. To prevent this from happening, make sure you sop up any liquid as soon as it happens.

Then, mix a vinegar cleaning solution consisting of one part white vinegar to one part water and slowly pour the solution onto the problem spot. Allow the solution to sit for about 10 minutes, and then sop it up with a paper towel. Finally, vacuum the area until you’re sure the stain and smell are gone and the spot is dry.


8. Toilet stink

Toilets stink for obvious reasons, but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant. This may be awkward to read, but here’s the dirty truth: if you’ve had a moment in the bathroom that makes the toilet smell rank, fix it quickly by lighting a match. Instantly, the stink will be gone. It’s not magic — it’s science. Lighting a match produces sulfur dioxide, which masks the odor of compounds in your Number Twos that make them smell bad. The smell is still present, but you just can't smell them over sulfur dioxide.

If you’re looking for some more proactive bathroom stink solutions, check out these four tips, too!


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