Skip to main content

Break these 9 terrible habits that are making your home smell awful

If your house smells terrible, the culprit might be something you’d never expect. Bacteria grows in many areas you may not think about often, and even the cleanest house might be full of unwanted odors if you’ve picked up some bad cleaning habits.

Or, maybe you’re new to keeping a space odor-free and want to make sure your place doesn’t get stinky at all. As a new homeowner or if you’re living alone for the first time, you might not consider different areas where odors can build. Read on for tips on forming new cleaning habits and keeping your home free of bad smells.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Clean the fridge

The refrigerator is often overlooked when you’re looking for the cause of an odor, but it shouldn’t be. Freezers and fridges are both prone to bad smells. Even though the cold kills most bacteria, it doesn’t stop them from growing completely. Instead, the slow growth of the bacteria can build up until you’re used to it.

It doesn’t have to be something major — like rotting produce in the crisper — to generate odor. An old jar of something in the back of the fridge could be the source of the smell. So could the drips and drops from different jugs and containers.

Make sure you clean out the fridge (and freezer). Dump those old cheese and sauces. And wipe out the crisper, side doors, and shelving. Do this every other month or so, and you’ll have a stink-free fridge.

Change the sheets

Hopefully, you change your sheets once a month (at the very least). Depending on your age and stage of life, you might need to do so weekly. Your pillowcases should be washed every one to two weeks as heads are oilier and generate more bacteria.

If you share a bed with a partner, it would be wise to invest in multiple sets of sheets so you can rotate them out (without having to wash one set every week or two). Washing your sheets every week may also be the best way to minimize odors based on certain times of the year, body temperatures, and more. As soon as you make changing sheets a priority, you’ll notice your bedroom is less musty.

Close Up Of Textile In Laundry Machine
I-ing / Shutterstock

No wet laundry

Wet places and objects breed germs, bacteria, and mold if left wet for too long. Whenever you wash your laundry, you might forget a load in the washing machine or you might forget to turn on the dryer. It’s okay if this is a once in a while thing, but if you leave your laundry for too long, it’s going to stink. If you leave your wet clothes for more than a day, you should rewash them to remove any odor-generating things.

You should also make sure you let your washing machine dry after use. For example, if you close the lid after your last load and don’t let it air out, the water and humidity may allow for mold or mildew to grow.

Unclog the drain

An easily forgettable place that makes house smells terrible: drains. Your sinks and tubs collect tons of waste, which means many opportunities for mold, mildew, and bacteria to grow.

If you don’t use certain sinks or tubs in your home often, it’s important to run water down the drain to clear it out. For drains you do use frequently, you should still clean them. Use any available drain cleaner and de-clogger to unplug any built-up waste and debris. You’ll find your bathroom and kitchen smell fresher right away.

No smoking indoors

No smoking indoors is as much a health tip as it is an odor reducer. Whatever you’re smoking for whatever reason, don’t do it indoors. Furniture, paintings, wall hangings, carpeting, and wood absorb a variety of smoke. The best way to keep your house odor-free from any recreational or medicinal smoking is to do it outdoors.

Mind your trash

Trash is a pretty obvious odor source. Taking out the trash whenever it’s smelly is an easy solution, but you can also buy better can liners to block odors and leakage too.

If the trash smells bad after a fish fry, consider baking soda as an odor absorber. If it’s not trash day, this can keep the smell tolerable until pickup. Plus, you can always sprinkle this in your cans in case any bags rip and leak.

Air it out

When was the last time you opened your windows? Fresh air is called fresh for a reason. Even if you’re sensitive to certain allergens, opening up the windows can do wonders.

You don’t have to do this long or often, but try different times of the year. Try the cooler months when allergens are less present. Don’t open up windows on windy days to avoid excessive dust and allergen spread.

Change those filters

Did you know air filters are one of the most significant sources of odor production in a home (next to trash and dirty drains)? If you want fresher air in your home, you need to change your air filter every three to six months. This depends on pet dander and air quality in your area, too.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Pet clean up

If you’re a pet owner, make sure you clean up after them, too. Pet dander and fur produce musty odors and cling to every fabric surface in a home. If you own cats, make sure you clean their litter box weekly. You can even purchase odor-absorbing litter if you live in a small place.

If you employ these nine cleaning habits, you’ll be on your way to a fresher-smelling home in no time.

Editors' Recommendations

Amanda Hoyer
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Degreed in Psychology and English, Amanda fell into copywriting and blogging when she discovered an innate gift for narrative…
6 incredible reasons you should add plants to your home right now
Check out these science-backed reasons why you should start shopping for houseplants today
Woman sitting at home surrounded by plants

Indoor plants are having a major moment in interior design. Some of the most prominent trends and aesthetics revolve around biophilic design, which involves incorporating greenery and natural materials into your home. But being on-trend isn’t everything; there are tons of reasons why plants are important to have in the home.

From purifying the air and creating a more comfortable environment to boosting relaxation and productivity, greenery can have a massive positive impact on your living space. So why are native plants important in design? Keep reading to discover some science-backed reasons why plant you should start shopping for houseplants today!

Read more
Should you be using vinegar in your washing machine?
We weigh in on if vinegar is a good fabric softener or if it's a myth
Woman putting dirty clothes in washing machine

There are so many practical uses for white vinegar that go way beyond an ingredient for salad dressing or brining. Vinegar has long been used as a natural cleaning option, beauty product, and overall household miracle worker. You may have heard your grandparents offering advice to use vinegar for nearly any household obstacle. And to this day, many people tout its numerous benefits, uses, and applications. If you want an idea of some of the incredible ways white vinegar can benefit you and your household, we'll list a few below.

Just a few of the many out-of-box uses for white vinegar:

Read more
10 amazing ways to hide a clunky printer in your home office
The best DIY solutions for hiding a large printer in your home office
Modern home office layout

Printers are a functional and sometimes essential part of any home office. But one thing’s for sure — they don’t exactly blend into the background. A clunky printer may ruin your vision of a simple Scandinavian home office or coastal-themed reading room. If you're unsure where to hide a printer in your home office so it's not an eyesore, try these tips. You don't necessarily need a hidden printer cabinet (though that works, too) — just a little ingenuity.
Invest in an armoire or secretary desk
Traditional desks are practical, but they’re not exactly discreet. An armoire desk keeps your desk supplies and miscellaneous gadgets out of view while saving you much-needed space. This white and natural oak-colored armoire has an overall measurement of 67.3 inches in height, 31.5 inches in width, and 20.3 inches in depth. More importantly, the interior cabinet measures 33.1 inches in height, 30.2 inches in width, and 19.7 inches in depth.

If you want a smaller desk, consider a secretary desk like this manufactured wood desk that you can place in any part of the home. It measures 30 inches in height, 31.49 inches in width, and 20.07 inches in depth, while the cabinet interior is 19.55 inches in height, 26.54 inches in width, and 18.98 inches in depth. Note that accurate printer measurements will help determine if it fits inside a specific desk cabinet you’re considering. 
Hide it in a rolling file cabinet
For even greater portability, a rolling file cabinet is an ideal choice. Think about it: You can move the cart with the printer in tow anywhere around the house. If you ever need to make extra space for parties or want to rearrange your workspace on a whim, you’ll find that a wheeled cabinet is a worthy investment. This modern rolling file cabinet comes with a cubby box measuring 15.5 inches long, 12.25 inches wide, and 9.9 inches high. The whole box measures 16.4 inches long, 14.25 inches wide, and 13.8 inches high.

Read more