The Clever Vanilla Extract Hack That Will Banish Unwanted Home Odors For An Entire Day

Your in-laws just called and said they'll be heading over for a visit in a couple of hours. Unfortunately, your house smells more like your seafood lunch than a welcoming, abode and you can tell a can of air freshener just isn't going to cut it in this instance. What to do? Quickly eliminate those odors with a DIY deodorizer made from the vanilla extract in your pantry.

For this hack, simply heat your oven to 300 degrees, add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract to an oven-safe bowl or cup, and pop it in the oven for an hour or so. The result? A home that smells like fresh-baked goods, with no trace of those previous odors.

If you don't have time to wait on the oven, the microwave can offer a more immediate alternative. To remedy those odors, add ½ cup water and 1 to 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract to a microwave-safe mug or bowl. Heat the mixture on high for up to one minute, and as with the oven method, you'll quickly notice your home smelling sweetly of vanilla. (Also, even if you don't have guests coming over, this hack is also a great way to rid your microwave of lingering smells after heating up leftovers.)

Other household hacks using vanilla extract

Is your fridge smelling less than fresh? If you love the scent of vanilla, and don't like the idea of using chemicals where you store food, you can use vanilla extract there as a deodorizer, too. For this hack, add a bit of vanilla extract to a damp rag when you're cleaning the inside of your refrigerator to leave a hint of fragrance behind. Alternatively, you could also mix a solution of water, white vinegar, and vinegar extract, and apply it to your fridge with a spray bottle. If you need something with a little more staying power, leave a cotton ball moistened with a bit of vanilla extract inside the fridge.

Can't get that stubborn label residue off a bottle or jar you want to reuse? No problem. Since vanilla extract is made primarily of alcohol, it can be hacked as an effective agent for removing bottle labels and other adhesives left behind from tape and all types of stickers. Why not just use rubbing alcohol in the first place? You certainly can, but it won't smell anywhere near as nice as borrowing a little from your trusty bottle of vanilla extract.

How to make your own vanilla extract

One of the drawbacks of using pure vanilla extract around the house rather than saving it for baking is the expense. Grocery stores typically retail it for $3 to $10 an ounce depending on the brand, and using a splash here and a dash there for home hacks will deplete your supply pretty quickly. You might decide it's more cost-effective to make it yourself by buying vanilla beans in bulk and using any vodka you already have on hand. If you have to buy vodka, you can opt for a small bottle of a less expensive brand for this purpose but note it needs to be 35% alcohol by volume.

Start with a sealable bottle or jar made to hold at least 8 fluid ounces. Take six to eight vanilla beans (about 1 ounce in total) and slice each one lengthwise. You may need to further chop them into halves or thirds to get them to fit into your container. Pour a cup of vodka over the beans using the entire 8 ounces of liquid to fully cover them. Seal the container and shake it a couple of times. You'll need to let it sit for eight weeks at the very least, but four to six months is even better (and a year even better than that). That won't work for instant deodorizing needs, of course, but with some planning, you can save a little money and be ready for tackling smelly jobs in the future.