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Cheap and natural ways to get rid of bad smells in the home

Originally written by Kate McIntyre and posted by The Courier Mail | 6 September 2023

When it comes to getting rid of bad smells, there are two must-have items that every homemaker needs to know about.

Nothing quite says home like the familiar aroma of dinner cooking or the smell of freshly washed linen. Unfortunately, home doesn’t always smell good – especially during a rental crisis.

Research from comparison site Finder shows tenants across the country are overlooking a range of property flaws including mould and unpleasant odours in their hunt to secure a rental property as supply tightens and FOMO sets in.

While about 10 per cent of those surveyed accepted a mould issue, 6 per cent overlooked an odour problem in order to get a roof over their head.

Fortunately there are a range of cheap and easy products available as well as some simple measures to put in place for those stuck with a bad-smelling home.

Renters are putting up with bad smells in order to put a roof over their heads.


Research commissioned by Selleys shows smell is an important marker of happiness when it comes to having a clean home.

In the survey conducted by Vibrant Insights, 15 per cent of respondents said a “fresh” smell was important when describing the effect of a clean home on their state of mind.

When asked what jobs are done when there is only 15 minutes to clean the home before guests come over, one of the most common answers was making sure the house smelt good.

Brand ambassador and professional home organiser Anita Birges from Mise En Place said a good smelling home “brings a sense of pride and brings out those good endorphins.”

Things don’t always smell so rosy.


On the other side of the coin, poor smelling homes can affect more than just your state of mind – especially if related to hidden mould, said hipages member and owner of Dads’ Army Cleaning Services Barry Taylor.

“Some people will get burning eyes, coughing, wheezing, headaches, nausea,” he said. “This can lead to higher stress levels and anxiety.”


Pet smells and musty or mouldy smells are the most common problem odours at home, said Mr Taylor.

While widespread mould should be remediated by an expert, long periods of rainy or humid weather can often bring a musty odour to the home – especially to soft furnishings.

Carpet Court’s UltraPet range pictured in Basenji. Picture: Carpet Court

When it comes to pet smells, dogs are often to blame – especially in the case of “little accidents” on the carpet or lounge.

Petstock ambassador and pet behaviour specialist Lara Shannon said it’s never too early to start toilet training a dog.

“Pretty much as soon as your pet walks in the door you should start,” she said. “Whether they are puppies or older, even rescues, set good routines to avoid accidents.”


When those accidents occur, it is important to act quickly – and with the right products, said Ms Shannon.

Many cleaning products contain ammonia, which emits the same odour as urine to dogs, encouraging them to pee in the same area again.

It’s never too early to start puppy training.

On the other hand, the acidity of white vinegar helps to neutralise the odour of urine while killing germs.

White vinegar can also be used around the home to wipe down surfaces, kill mould and other germs and in the washing to neutralise smelly clothes.

Regular pet grooming is also important, Ms Shannon said.

“There are actions you can take at home, like brushing and combing, and bathing them regularly. All natural deodorising and conditioning sprays PH balanced for pets are great to use in between washes,” she said.

White vinegar is a cheap cleaning product. Picture: Marc McCormack

Bi-Carb Soda is good for absorbing smells.

Bi-carb soda is another cheap and safe way to remove odours, Mr Taylor said.

Simply sprinkle over carpets and upholstery and let it sit for a while before vacuuming it up. A box of Bi-carb soda left open in the fridge can also be used to keep it smelling fresh.

And for quick fixes, when time is of the essence, a quick wipe down of hard surfaces can make your home smell better in minutes, said Ms Birges.

“Give everything a wipe with a lemon scented multipurpose wipe to make it look and smell good,” she said.

Professional home organiser and Selleys ambassador, Anita Birges from Mise En Place.


When it comes to preventing musty odours, good ventilation is essential, said Mr Taylor. If you have an ongoing mould problem it might be worth calling in the experts to assess any structural issues that could be fixed with sub-floor ventilation or other measures.

Renters may not have the luxury of choosing new carpets but it is worth noting that landlords and homeowners now have the ability to future smell-proof their properties with stain resistant carpets and odour-resistant underlay.

Carpet Court ambassador Darren Palmer said there is a range of pet-friendly options available.

“In the past, the question of ‘which flooring is most suitable for pets’ would have had a limited answer,” Mr Palmer said.

“Now, there are innovative solutions such as stain resistant carpets, water and odour resistant underlay.”