13 Clever Deodorizing Hacks For A Fresh-Smelling Living Room

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Living rooms, being one of the most heavily used rooms in the house, often retain bad smells. Luckily, there are tons of clever deodorizing hacks that can keep your living room smelling fresh, even if you've gone nose blind to the issue at hand. Whether it's pet dander building up in the carpets, piles of shoes by the door, dinners spilled by toddlers, or sweaty teenage boys lounging on couches, these hacks work wonders.

Keeping things smelling nice, or even just neutral in some situations, can often feel like a never-ending uphill battle. That's why it's best to find methods that require little to no effort or planning on your part. If you're someone who just wants to flip a switch and have bad smells vanish, there are a few options here for you. However, if you prefer a more hands-on, DIY approach, there are also some interesting recipes you can employ. These are our top tips for a fresh-smelling living room.

1. Use an essential oil diffuser

An essential oil diffuser is one of those great "set and forget" kind of living room deodorizing hacks. Most models come with a timer, so once you fill the receptacle with water and a drop or two of oil, you can set the scented mist to spray anywhere from one to six hours, or even more in some cases. The diffusers come in all different shapes and sizes, so it's easy enough to match the machine to the existing decor of the room. However, if you want to hide your essential oil diffuser, using a chic basket is a great place to start.

The best essential oil scents depend on your personal preferences, but popular options include lavender, eucalyptus, or even lemon. The diffuser is a great choice for those looking to be a little more natural, as the only two things spreading across the living room are water vapor and oil. These diffusers are known for their subtle scent, which makes them a great long-lasting option since they won't be too pungent. 

2. Invest in an air purifier

Air purifiers work wonders for adding extra ventilation to a room, significantly reducing odors and creating a more pleasant living space. If you have lots of pets or any health conditions that make you sensitive to dust and dander, this should be one of the first hacks you try. Make sure to invest in an air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove these airborne particles and odors. Knowing how to use an air purifier is easy, even if you've never owned one before.

Just set it up in a location that gets plenty of airflow; this means not placing it backed up against a wall or too close to the ground. The fan will suck in the bad air, run it through its filter, which catches dust, pet hair, and the like, and then spit out fresher air. However, if the filter gets too dirty, then it can stop purifying the air. The best way to clean it depends on the model you have, but most require the filter to either be vacuumed, brushed off, or even washed. Do this at least once a month for the best results. 

3. Baking soda gets rid of smells in many forms

Baking soda is a catch-all solution when it comes to keeping your living room smelling better. You can sprinkle it on the couch or carpet before vacuuming to remove any lingering odors. Just make sure to leave it for a minimum of 15 minutes so the powder can have enough to deodorize, but leaving it overnight creates the best results. For extra tough smells, try Arm & Hammer Carpet & Room Extra Strength Odor Eliminator, which is a special scented formula that utilizes OxiClean to better lift away dirt and smells.

The hack works because of its great scientific backing. "Many unwanted smells are the result of acidic compounds," cleaning expert Audrey Pariés told Martha Stewart. "Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is an alkaline substance, and when it comes into contact with acidic odors, it reacts to neutralize them. This chemical reaction between the baking soda and the acid neutralizes or produces a less odorous compound. The change in pH helps eliminate the smell." It's also a great option for those who want to use less intense chemicals while cleaning their home, as baking soda isn't harsh. This is especially a great option for households with kids and pets.

4. Wash your upholstery at least twice a year

Our couches and lounge chairs see a lot of action. This includes close contact with muddy paws, spills from dinner, and sweaty clothes when you're relaxing after a run. Because of that, you should be routinely laundering your cushions. About every six months, you should be stripping all the upholstery that you can. Check your couch cushions for zippers to see what you can wash. This not only includes the throw pillows, but also the covers for the seat and backing pillows, too. The best water temperature and cleaning solution will depend on their specific fabric, but they will smell a heck of a lot better when they come out. If you are worried about them losing shape in the dryer, air dry them instead.

While in the wash, take the opportunity to launder your throw blankets and living room curtains, too. As for the cushions that couldn't be put in the wash, invest in an upholstery cleaner like Bissell's Little Green Cleaner, which retails for $124 on Amazon. This uses water and upholstery-safe detergent to wash the cushions right on the couch or chair. One button dispenses the soapy water, and the other suctions it from the fabric, leaving it dry. You will be surprised by the difference this makes to the overall smell of the space.

5. Try carpet freshener for stuck smells

If you are trying to freshen up your living room without using harsh chemicals, a more eco-friendly way to pull smells from the carpet is by using baby powder. While most home goods stores sell pre-mixed chemical powder for the same purpose, the baby powder works just as well. It's an easy enough hack to put into practice. Before you vacuum, sprinkle a generous portion of the powder all over your floor. Be sure that it's not too clumpy. Instead, it should be sprinkled in a fine mist, coating most of the carpet.

The most important part is leaving the powder alone for a while. If you vacuum it up right away, it won't have time to work. Leave it overnight, if not two nights if you can. This way, the powder can wick all the moisture and stink right out of the carpet. A few notes of caution: While baby powder will help lift smells from your rugs, it might not work as effectively as baking soda. That's because it's not an odor neutralizer; instead, talc, its main ingredient, absorbs moisture like sweat, which is what eliminates the odor. But if the smell is coming from something non-moisture related, this will only mask it for a little while rather than eliminating it fully. Also, you want to use this hack sparingly as it's very difficult to remove all the powder particles. Talc isn't water-soluble, and if enough stays behind in the rug after years of use, it will create permanent white stains when accidentally put into contact with water.

6. Purchase a robot vacuum

Maybe vacuuming in general feels like too much work, let alone sprinkling all your rugs with deodorizer. However, cleaning your floors regularly is a huge part of keeping your living room smelling fresh. Dirt and other grime, if left to linger on the floor and get ground into the carpet, can really stink. If you have multiple pets, you may even need to vacuum daily to keep up with all the hair and dander. Yet if you feel like the chore is too much, make your life easier by buying a machine that does it all for you: a robot vacuum.

When thinking of a robot vacuum, you might think of a Roomba. However, there are plenty of other brands available that do a great job, too. However, keep in mind that the best robot vacuum for your floor type can differ, as certain brands do better when changing from carpet to tile, for example, than others. You also want to ensure the vacuum has an adequate sensor so the machine doesn't bump into furniture or fall down stairs. If the vacuum is on the cheaper side and has an unreliable sensor, it can eventually scuff furniture or knock down decor.

7. Try citrus pomanders around the holidays

If you are feeling a little bit crafty, a fun way to make your living room smell better is to hang citrus pomanders off of the mantel. You can make them by studding oranges with cloves. Medium sized oranges work best. You simply poke the cloves through the orange's skin, typically in a fun pattern. As the cloves and oranges dry out, they put off a fantastic scent. You can display them in a bowl or push a metal ornament topper in at the base and lace a ribbon through it.

While pomanders are often associated with Christmas, they are a delightful scent no matter the season. However, if you're looking for a year-round alternative, potpourri is the way to go. It's the old-school way to keep your home smelling fresh. You can make the mix of dried flowers, spices, and your favorite herbs at home, or buy a pre-mixed bag at the store. It's a long lasting option, as potpourri still tends to smell good for about two years after its creation. You can make it last longer by dropping essential oil onto it every once in a while.

8. Try scented candles from your favorite stars

There is nothing like a classic candle to make a living room smell better. If you don't have time to get rid of a smell before company comes over, or you just want to add an extra sparkle to it after a long day of cleaning, reach for a candle. While national brands like Yankee Candle are a reliable choice, you might also consider shopping the collection of some of your favorite HGTV stars. Erin and Ben Napier's Laurel Mercantile collections offer delightful holiday scents, while Joanna and Chip Gaines also sell scents at their famed Magnolia Market.

Whatever you choose, remember to avoid common candle errors like not allowing your candle to burn all the way to the edges. This is especially important the first time you light it to prevent tunneling. You should also be wary of having too many candles near each other in your living room. The flames in close proximity can cause a flare, which can cause them to flicker and grow, potentially catching nearby things on fire. Of course, always blow out the candles when leaving the room for an extended period.

9. Clean air vents to prevent build up

One of the reasons your living room might stink is because the air vent is blocked. Dust, pet dander, and even human hair and dead skin can accumulate on the vent and inside the air filter over time. If you have an air purifier you might remember to clean the filter inside of it, but if you have an HVAC system of any kind (window or ducted!) it needs to be cleaned, too. For best practice, vacuum or dust the outside of your vents in your living room biannually to get rid of any dust, dander, and stink. The better the airflow is, the better the smell.

Every three months or so, you will also need to buy a new filter to go inside the vent. This is for the main vent in your home — the individual ducts will not have filters in them. However, for many homes this main vent might be located in the living room, making keeping the vent clean and the filter up to date essential for a good smelling space.

10. Use a dehumidifier to remove musty, damp smells

If you find that your living room always has the kind of dank, musty smell that comes from it always being a little bit wet, a dehumidifier is your best solution. The machine works to suck moisture from the air, so that it doesn't condense and make everything prone to mold or "damp" odors. It also makes the room feel more pleasant overall, as humidity can make it feel a lot hotter than it actually is. Rooms should never be above 60% humidity to be comfortable and mold-free, so a dehumidifier can help you achieve both of these — with better smells all around.

If you find that a machine is a bit out of the budget, or looks too out of place in your living room, you can also purchase dehumidifying beads, such as the Hi-Capacity Moisture Absorber Bucket from DampRid for $14. These small, gel-like pellets absorb moisture and allow you to pour the accumulated water out of the cup to clean them. You can set them behind plants or on a bookshelf so they do their job without ruining your decor.

11. Use dryer sheets for a subtle scent

If you feel like your couch or armchair always smells a little bit funny, no matter how many times you vacuum it or run the pillow covers through the wash, reach for a dryer sheet. You can purchase pre-scented options from the store, or get the natural ones and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to create a signature scent. You can then place the dryer sheets under the cushions of your couch or between the cushion and seat in your armchair. 

The hope is that although these sheets are out of sight, they give off a subtle, steady scent that can help make the room smell more like fresh laundry or lavender and less like sweat and cat hair. An added bonus of using dryer sheets is that the static-free qualities that make them so great in the laundry room can also apply to your furniture. Just rub the sheet across the cushions to nix any static cling.

12. Use a vodka spray for a quick fix

Although introduced in a tongue-in-cheek Dry January campaign, Martha Stewart's partnership with Tito's Vodka is actually a great way to get rid of smells in your living room. The idea is that you can spritz the liquor on things that you can't put through the washing machine or don't have the time to launder. The reason vodka is effective is because of its high alcohol content, which acts as a powerful disinfectant against the germs and bacteria that cause stink. However, don't use the liquid straight from the bottle. Instead, put it in a spray bottle, as it works best when misted, not poured. Just be sure that it's not flavored vodka, as any sugars or syrups will make it sticky.

It's a great hack to have on hand for your carpet, upholstered furniture, and even any clothing or pet toys in your living room. That's because it's a pretty powerful deodorizer. "You can spray your gym bag with vodka; if you go to your favorite restaurant and you leave [smelling like food], you can spray that with vodka; If you stand next to a smoker, you can spray that with vodka," laundry expert Patric Richardson told Apartment Therapy.

13. Go for neutral, not overly scented

The best hack to keep your living room smelling good is to have a clean, dirt-free space. At the end of the day, no amount of wax melts, flowers, or even open windows are going to get rid of the smell of dried sweat or old pet pee. Instead of masking the odorous issues, seek out the source of them and handle them that way. If you just try to cover them up, you might go nose blind to them eventually. However, anyone else who steps into your living room is going to be hit face first with a noseful of something too saccharine and musty, all at the same time.

Even if your carpet is clean, your curtains freshly laundered, and your couch cat-hair free, be careful about going too overboard with scents. The key to deodorizing is subtlety. Remember: Go for neutral, not overly scented. And if you go with one particular scent — like citrus — try not to mix it with others so as not to make the space overwhelming.