Log in


Knoll: 5 ways to get rid of funky smells in the home


No matter how clean you keep your home, bad smells will always turn up. This doesn’t mean you have to live with them. Animal, old food and musty smells can settle into the home and not leave easily. Many people choose to mask these pesky odors with air fresheners or candles that do nothing to remove the smells. Rather than plugging in oil diffusers or deodorizers use a few common household items to remove that lingering stench.

Trash cans

Food waste is a primary source of bad odors in the home. This is especially true when it comes to bad smells coming from your trash can. To clean your trash can, first take out the bag and scrub the inside of the can with warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly.

To prevent future odors coming from the trash can place a small amount of cat litter in the bottom of the can before replacing the bag. You can use citrus peels or baking soda if you like instead of cat litter. These materials will help absorb any funky odors that build up because of the trash. If you have a metal trash can stay away from baking soda because it can corrode the metal.

Garbage disposal

Your garbage disposal gets a lot of use throughout the week. Even if you don’t intentionally place food down the drain, small pieces still make their way into the drain. Garbage disposals will eventually begin to stink. An easy way to get rid of this smell is to cut up a lemon with a few tablespoons of salt and some ice cubes. Place these items in the disposal and run it until the lemon and ice are clear. The lemon will deodorize the disposal and the ice and salt will remove any build up on the blades.

Dresser drawers

Dressers can put off a funky smell if they are left closed for too long. You may have a set of drawers you keep old clothes in or store out-of-season clothing. When you go to get those clothes, they will often smell musty. Before filling your drawers try balling up some newspaper and sprinkling it with white distilled vinegar. Stuff the balls of newspaper in each drawer. The vinegar will absorb any musty odors in the drawers. Once that old smell is gone place scented dryer sheets in the bottom of the drawers. These will help keep your clothes smelling fresh and your room clear of those old musty smells.


People often don’t think about cleaning the dishwasher. It’s supposed to clean dishes not be cleaned. Wrong. Even after a few wash cycles food debris and scum will build up in the bottom of the machine creating bad smells. To get rid of these odors remove the debris tray and filter and wash in the sink. Replace these pieces, then place two cups of distilled white vinegar into the dishwasher, not the detergent slot. Run the dishwasher on a hot-water cycle for about half an hour. Pause the cycle halfway through so the vinegar and water can soak into the trays, sides and bottom of the machine. Then finish the cycle. Doing this will break down any detergent buildup, mildew and bacteria in the machine.


The easiest way to clean your refrigerator is to remove all the items and scrub all the shelves and drawers. Use a mixture of baking soda and warm water, then wipe down with a mixture of water and white vinegar. To prevent odors, keep an open box of baking soda in the back of your refrigerator. This will absorb any funky smells. Replace the box monthly or the baking soda itself will begin to smell.

Make sure you clean these areas of the home on a regular basis, at least once every week, to keep odors from lingering in your home. Remember to stay away from aerosol air fresheners and candles because these scents will only mix in with the lingering odors and often make an even worse smell throughout the home. Staying on top of these areas will help you to come home to a fresh and clean smelling space every time.

Ryan Knoll owns Tidy Casa in Phoenix and Tucson. Tidy Casa has been serving greater Phoenix and Tucson homeowners for nearly a decade, having helped more than 12,000 clients, cleaning more than 600 homes a month.

opinion, letters