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10 Stinky Smells: How to Remove Odors

Bad smells can be harder to get rid of than your office lurker. Luckily, you probably already have some of the tools to fight these odors and you don't even know it. Follow this guide to how to remove odors from your home.

Gym Shoe Funk

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If you have non-leather shoes, you can wash them in the washing machine. If that doesn’t work, heat or freeze the funk out. Try leaving the shoes in the sun or putting them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer overnight. Then sprinkle the insoles with baking soda or store-bought Odor Eaters. And next time, wear socks.

The Dog Smell in Your Car

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The first order of business is to get rid of any blankets, pillows, toys, or bones in the car. Vacuum seats and floorboards to remove pet hair. Sprinkle upholstery and floor mats with baking soda and let sit over night; vacuum in the morning. If the car still smells like a kennel, spritz with a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. Let dry completely, with windows down.

Mold and Mildew

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Serious mold requires professional help, as it can cause health problems. But if it’s just a musty smell that’s bothering you, run a dehumidifier to pull some of the odor-causing moisture out of the air. Activated charcoal (available at most pet supply or garden stores) will neutralize mold and mildew smells in damp basements and crawl spaces. White vinegar, tee tree oil, and grapefruit seed extract (which can be found at health food stores) are natural fungicides that can be mixed with water and sprayed on mildew. Ground coffee in a (clean) sock, hung in a closet, can also remove odors.

Refrigerator Stink

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First, get rid of the source. Clean out food that’s moldy, rotten, old, and smelly, and anything that has changed color or physical state. If it looks like it could walk out of the fridge on its own, into the trash it should go. Wipe down the walls, shelves, and bins with a solution of warm water and white vinegar, and stash an opened box of baking soda in the back to absorb odors—replacing it every few months. 

Cat Urine

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Cats mark their territory with a super odiferous, ammonia-scented urine that is one of the stinkier substances known to man. Traditional cleaners leave behind (and even reactivate) the protein crystals that are responsible for the smell. Luckily there are a number of special enzymatic cleaners on the market for just the purpose. Try Urine Off, Anti-Icky-Poo, or Nature’s Miracle Just for Cats.

Garlic on Your Hands

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Scrub your palms with a cut lemon or lime. Alternatively, rub your hands over a stainless steel spoon under cold, running water for 30 seconds.

Skunk Spray

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When Fido gets up close and personal with Pepé Le Pew, your best friend becomes your nose’s worst enemy. The most effective recipe for getting the stench out: scrub with hydrogen peroxide (3 percent), baking soda, and mild dish liquid.

Fish Smell in the Kitchen

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Set a bowl of white vinegar by the stove or oven when you cook fish to help neutralize odors. Bag and tie any leftover bones, scales, or bits before they go in the trash can, and follow any remnants that go down your sink’s garbage disposal with half lemon or lime.

Smoky Clothes

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To remove cigarette or wood smoke from clothes, hang them outside for a few hours, where sunlight and air can get to them, or use an electric fan. If they still smell like an ashtray, you’ll probably need to wash or dry clean the items. If all else fails, Febreze them. Furniture or clothes with extensive smoke damage (say, from a fire), will likely need to be professionally cleaned by a fire restoration company.

Diaper Stench

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Your little angel’s diapers stink like the devil, and the Diaper Genie only does so much to contain the reek. It’s no surprise that what’s in the diapers is creating the smell, so try emptying the diapers into the toilet before depositing them into the diaper pail. Sprinkle regularly with baking soda or a product like Smelleze or Diaper Buddies, and take out the trash at least once a day.

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