In a not-too-distant past, our homes were a place to rest our weary heads and partake in the occasional Netflix-and-chill night. But these are different times, and for many of us, we’ve had to adapt to turning these spaces into suitable offices, schools, nurseries, and gyms. With all of that overuse of space, our homes may have gotten a little rank and disorderly.

As a budget-conscious mom of three happy pets, and someone who’s been working from home long before coronavirus, these tried-and-true tips have always worked for me. Here’s how to affordably and effectively neutralize weird smells in your home. 

Essential Oil Diffuser

The popular InnoGear essential oil diffuser sells at under $16 and is Amazon’s best-selling aromatherapy diffuser. At only 5.5 inches in length, it’s also among its most travel-friendly. Despite its compact size, the diffuser mists for up to eight hours, and when the tank’s empty, the safety auto-shut-off function kicks in. 

Put a few drops of your prefered essential oil into the tank and the diffuser will keep a room smelling great long after the machine’s shut off.

Pro tip: Some essential oils are toxic to pets, both through topical application and when dispersed into the air such as via an essential oil diffuser.

Air Freshener

This all-natural air freshener has the power to neutralize funky odors without the harmful chemicals found in traditional room fresheners. Because it’s made with fresh essential oils, Grow Fragrance Room Freshener neutralizes odors in the air and fabrics. I’ve successfully used this to clear too-lived-in smells from upholstery, carpeting, and even to refresh my clothes. Grow comes in various essential oils and different sizes. 

Pro tip: When shopping for air fresheners, it’s best to avoid aerosols, parabens, phthalates, and other toxic chemicals commonly found in traditional air fresheners. 


Surrounding oneself with foliage has the power to freshen up the energy of a space, setting the mood for wellness and vitality. Plants also scrub the air’s odors, and if selecting fragrant houseplants, adding floral scents to the room’s atmosphere. Before investing, learn the houseplants that will do well with the amount of light you can realistically provide, either naturally through windows or by supplementing artificially, such as with these lightbulbs. 

Pro tip: I do this with two lightbulbs and find the tradeoff of a slightly increased electricity bill is well worthwhile as I relax in my serene living room surrounded by fragrant florals and underneath tropical trees.

Clean Up

Rid your home of reek by putting away stinky shoes, the dog’s slimy toys, and other misplaced items. Vacuum with a rug deodorizer or baking soda, wash dishes, sweep and mop with a scented floor cleaner, and wipe down surfaces with a fragrant multi-purpose cleaner. 

Pro tip: I spritz the sofa and cushions with diluted white vinegar, which always does the trick by neutralizing the smells, yet doesn’t leave a lingering smell of vinegar behind.


Ever catch a putrid whiff of who knows what inside an overused space? A lot of times that offensive smell comes from you! Assuming you’re not overlooking basic hygiene, you’re not sick, and the smells aren’t diet-related, a commonly overlooked and easily remedied issue is dehydration, which can lead to bad breath. As many do when they leave their home, carrying a water bottle as you navigate throughout your home will make it easier to keep you hydrated. Or, quench the thirst (and that funk!) by keeping a water-filled bottle or two throughout your home. 

Pro tip: I strategically place lidded mason jars filled with water throughout my home: one at the home desk, one bedside, one on the kitchen counter, and a fourth one in the second floor hallway. I have zero excuses to be dehydrated--or stinky! 

Scented Hand Soap

While we’re all well aware of the health benefits of hand-washing--and hopefully doing it more frequently--selecting the best hand-washing soap isn’t always so easy. Look for an all-natural, non-drying, liquid hand soap that is healthy for you and also for the environment. 

If your hands are clean, not only will you and those around you be healthier, but the surfaces throughout your home will maintain their freshness (and a clean smell) for even longer. And, of course, a pleasant-smelling hand soap will leave your bathroom smelling good. 

Pro tip: At the risk of being accused of being a germaphobe, insist that others wash their hands upon entering your home. Your houseguests’ visit may be lovely but leaving behind a gazillion germs on doorknobs and handrails isn’t. It’s simple: your home, your rules.

Burn Incense

It may not be able to handle egregious offending odors, but if you burn incense with frequency, the ethereal scent becomes one with your space. The Nag Champa brand is Amazon’s top seller for incense sticks.

Pro tip: To get real mileage out of your incense stick or cone, walk around your entire home with the lit incense and park it in the most-lived-in spot. The fresh scent and nice vibes will be more-efficiently distributed throughout, as opposed to if you’d kept the incense only in one place. 

Final pro tip: No matter the method you select to refresh your space, make sure that the products or plants are safe to use for your specific living conditions. That means that if you have young children or pets, everything should be non-toxic if ingested or used. 

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