9 Most Effective Ways to Get Rid of Old House Smell

10 Most Effective Ways to Get Rid of Old House Smell

A fresh-smelling home is not just about creating an inviting atmosphere for guests; it’s a vital aspect of your well-being and comfort. The presence of old house smells can be more than just an unpleasant greeting when you walk through the door; it can permeate every aspect of your home life, affecting mood, stress levels, and even your health. Whether you’re relaxing after a long day or entertaining friends and family, ensuring your home is free of these odors is essential.

Unwanted odors in an older home aren’t just bothersome; they’re a signal that something within your living environment may need attention. Beyond the immediate impact on your senses, these smells can embed themselves into fabrics, walls, and furniture, becoming persistent unwelcome guests that compromise the sanctuary of your personal space. Removing old house smells isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s about reclaiming the freshness and ensuring the air you breathe is as clean and healthy as possible.

Let’s explore how to identify and tackle these stubborn odors to restore the natural comfort of your home.

What are the causes of old house odors?

Before you can tackle any unpleasant odors in your home, it’s vital to identify the source of the smell. This step is crucial because different sources of odors require distinct methods for effective removal. Identifying the origin can help you choose the right strategy and increase your chances of successfully eliminating the smell.

There are several common sources of old house smells:

  1. Mold and Mildew: Often, a musty smell indicates the presence of mold or mildew somewhere in your home. This could be due to a water leak, high humidity levels, or poor ventilation. The scent is usually stronger in areas like basements, bathrooms, or anywhere dampness collects.
  2. Pet Odors: If you have pets at home, they might be contributing to the unwanted smells. Pet odors can come from various sources such as urine stains on carpets, dirty pet bedding, or even just the natural smell of your furry friends.
  3. Cigarette Smoke: Homes previously occupied by smokers often have a lingering smoke odor. This strong odor tends to cling to walls, ceilings, carpets, and furniture.
  4. Cooking Odors: Certain foods and spices produce strong smells that can permeate your entire house if not properly ventilated during cooking. Over time, these can contribute to what you perceive as an old house smell.
How to Get Rid of Persistent 'Old House Smell'

Keeping in mind these potential odor sources will help guide your strategy for freshening up your home. It’s all about getting to the root cause before attempting any clean-up operations.

We’ve compiled a list of top 10 effective ways of getting rid of that old house smell. We’d love to hear your feedback if you agree with our list. If you’ve found effective tips and tricks, definitely be sure to leave your feedback in the comments below!

1. Improve Air Circulation

Proper ventilation is key in eliminating lingering odors from your home. It not only removes stale air but also brings in a steady stream of fresh air, which helps reduce and eliminate unpleasant smells. Here are some practical ways you can improve air circulation in your home:

  • Open Windows and Doors: Create a cross breeze by opening windows or doors on opposite sides of your home, allowing fresh air to push out stale indoor air.
  • Use Fans Strategically: Place fans near windows or in central areas like hallways to help move air throughout your home. Ceiling fans set to rotate counterclockwise can also help lift odors up and out.
  • Invest in Air Purifiers: A good-quality air purifier with HEPA filters can trap tiny particles that contribute to bad odors, and some models even have activated carbon filters specifically designed to neutralize smells.
  • Consider Exhaust Fans: In spaces such as kitchens and bathrooms, exhaust fans can remove odors directly outside, preventing them from spreading to other areas of the house.

By applying these methods, you actively join the battle against unwelcome scents, ensuring that every breath you take at home is as refreshing as the previous one. With improved ventilation in place, you’re on your way to achieving a fresher, more inviting living environment.

2. Perform Deep Cleaning

A home isn’t truly fresh until it is deep-cleaned. This process targets the residual odors that cling to various surfaces and materials in your home.

Carpets, upholstery, and curtains are notorious for trapping unpleasant smells. These items should be your first priority when embarking on a deep cleaning mission. Regular vacuuming and dusting may not be enough to eliminate the trapped odors. Consider investing in a good carpet cleaner or hire professional cleaners who specialize in deep-cleaning carpets and upholstery.

Here are some steps you can follow:

Vacuum carpets and upholstery thoroughly

Use a high-quality vacuum cleaner with strong suction power to pull out dirt and odor-causing particles.

Steam clean

Steam penetrates deeper into fabrics and can effectively lift out trapped smells.

Wash curtains

If your curtains are machine washable, give them a thorough cleaning. For delicate fabrics, consider dry-cleaning.

Natural cleaning solutions can also be effective in tackling stubborn odors. Vinegar, for instance, is a versatile cleaner that can break down odor-causing substances on many surfaces.

For hard surfaces:

  • Mix equal parts of vinegar and water.
  • Wipe down the surface with this solution using a soft cloth.

For fabrics:

  • Test the fabric’s colorfastness by applying a small amount of vinegar solution in an inconspicuous area.
  • If there’s no discoloration, spray a light mist of the solution onto the fabric.
  • Let it air dry.

Baking soda is another natural deodorizer that absorbs unpleasant smells.

  • Sprinkle baking soda onto carpets or upholstered furniture.
  • Allow it to sit for several hours or overnight if possible.
  • Vacuum thoroughly to remove the baking soda along with trapped odors.

Deep cleaning not only helps eliminate old house smells but also enhances the overall cleanliness of your home, making it a more pleasant and healthier place to live.

3. Eliminate Mold and Mildew

Does your house smell musty? Mold and mildew could be the culprits. These tiny organisms thrive in damp conditions, producing a distinctive, unpleasant odor – a key sign of their presence in your home. Not only does this smell make your living environment uncomfortable, but it also poses potential health risks including allergic reactions and respiratory issues.

How to Eliminate Mold and Mildew

Eliminating mold and mildew is a task that requires thoroughness. Here are some steps to guide you:

  1. Detect and Assess: Use your nose to track down the source of the musty smell. Check areas prone to humidity like bathrooms, basements or areas with water leaks.
  2. Clean Effectively: Once identified, clean the affected areas with bleach or specialized cleaners designed to kill mold and mildew.
  3. Dry Completely: After cleaning, ensure the area is thoroughly dried as moisture can trigger regrowth.

Tips to Prevent Mold Growth

To prevent mold growth, consider these tips:

  • Moisture Control: Keep humidity levels in your house below 50% using dehumidifiers or air conditioners.
  • Proper Ventilation: Ensure rooms prone to dampness, such as kitchens or bathrooms, are well-ventilated.
  • Routine Inspection: Regularly check for water leaks and fix them promptly.

Remember, early detection and immediate action are crucial when dealing with mold and mildew. Ignoring them won’t make them disappear – instead, it allows them to spread and intensify the problem.

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4. Remove Lingering Pet Odors

Pet lovers know that along with the joy our furry friends bring into our homes, they can also introduce some less-than-pleasant odors. Tackling these persistent scents requires a targeted approach. Here’s how to effectively eliminate pet smells:

Identify and Clean Problem Areas

Regularly wash pet bedding, toys, and any removable covers to nip odors in the bud. For items that can’t be thrown into the wash, a thorough hand cleaning with pet-safe detergents will do the trick.

Deep Clean Floors and Furniture

If pets frequent certain furniture or areas of your home, deep cleaning these spots is crucial. Carpets and upholstery may require steam cleaning or shampooing to remove embedded odors.

Litter Box Maintenance

For cat owners, maintaining a clean litter box is essential. Scoop daily, change litter regularly, and consider adding a layer of baking soda at the bottom for extra odor absorption.

Harness the Power of Enzymatic Cleaners

These cleaners are specifically designed to break down pet odor molecules. Apply them to any affected areas following the instructions on the label for best results.

Through consistent cleaning habits and using the right products like enzymatic cleaners, you can maintain a fresh environment for both you and your pets without compromising on comfort or cleanliness.

5. Eliminate Cigarette Smoke Smells

Cigarette smoke can be tough to remove from indoor spaces, leaving behind an unpleasant odor and affecting air quality. Here are some effective ways to get rid of cigarette smoke smells:

Clean Surfaces Thoroughly

Start by thoroughly cleaning surfaces that may have tobacco residue:

  • For walls and ceilings: Use a cleaning solution with vinegar or ammonia (remember to wear gloves and ventilate the area).
  • For furniture: Steam clean upholstery if possible; otherwise, use an appropriate cleaner for the material.

Use Air Purifiers or Activated Charcoal

Consider using these methods to help remove tobacco odors:

  • Air purifiers: Look for models with HEPA filters, which are great at trapping tiny odor particles.
  • Activated charcoal: Place bowls of activated charcoal around your home, especially in areas with strong smells.

While these methods can reduce cigarette smoke smells, it’s important to take a comprehensive approach by regularly cleaning and maintaining good ventilation in your home.

6. Utilize Odor Absorbing Materials

The presence of unpleasant odors in a house can be a nagging issue. Fortunately, you can turn to an array of odor absorbing materials to help eliminate these unwanted smells.

Activated Charcoal

Known for its porous structure, activated charcoal excels at trapping odor-causing particles. Place bowls of activated charcoal around your home, particularly in areas where the smells are the strongest.

Baking Soda

A common item found in most kitchens, baking soda is an excellent odor neutralizer. Sprinkle it on carpets and upholstery, let it sit for several hours or overnight if possible, then vacuum it up. Your nose will notice the difference!


While vinegar itself has a fairly strong smell, it’s incredibly effective at removing other odors. A bowl of white vinegar left in a room can absorb smells over time and leave your space smelling fresh.

Coffee Grounds

Surprisingly enough, used coffee grounds can act as a natural deodorizer. Dry out your old coffee grounds and place them in bowls around your home – not only will they absorb odors, but they’ll give off a pleasant coffee aroma too.

Remember, while these materials are effective at absorbing odors, they should be replaced regularly to ensure they continue to work optimally.

Next on our list, we look at how you can freshen up your home with natural air fresheners, adding another layer to your odor-fighting arsenal.

7. Freshen Up with Natural Air Fresheners

Choosing to freshen up your house with natural air fresheners not only eliminates unpleasant odors but also contributes positively to your well-being. Unlike synthetic air fresheners, natural ones are free from harmful chemicals and artificial fragrances. They offer a gentle and soothing scent that does not overpower the senses but subtly enhances the ambiance of your space.

DIY Natural Air Freshener Recipe

You can create your own custom-scented air fresheners at home using essential oils and natural ingredients. Here is a quick DIY recipe:

  1. Mix 1 cup of distilled water with 10 drops of your favorite essential oil. Lavender, eucalyptus, and lemon are great choices for a refreshing and pleasant aroma.
  2. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle for easy application.
  3. Shake well before each use and lightly mist around your house, particularly in areas where odors tend to linger.

8. Consider Professional Odor Removal Services

When the smell in your home is particularly stubborn or linked to serious issues like mold infestation, it may be time to call in the experts. Professional odor removal services possess specialized knowledge and tools that can effectively eliminate persistent odors.

Professionals are trained to deal with a variety of unpleasant smells, from pet odors and cigarette smoke to mold and mildew. They employ industrial-grade equipment and advanced techniques that ensure thorough odor extraction.

For instance, ozone treatments can significantly neutralize stubborn smells by changing the molecular structure of the odor-causing elements. Professionals also use thermal fogging devices that produce a dense fog penetrating deep into surfaces, destroying the root of odors.

However, not all odor removal services are created equal. When deciding to hire experts to remove smells, doing your due diligence is essential.

Here are a few tips for selecting an odor removal company:

  1. Check their reputation: Look for companies with positive customer reviews and ratings. An A+ BBB rating indicates high standards of business practices.
  2. Verify Licenses and Certifications: Ensure the company is licensed to operate in your state and technicians are certified.
  3. Ask About Their Process: A reliable company will have no issue explaining their process, including the tools and techniques they use.
  4. Compare Pricing and Packages: Prices can vary widely depending on the severity of the problem and the methods used. Always ask for detailed quotes upfront.

By calling in professionals when necessary, you can restore your home’s refreshing ambiance more efficiently while saving yourself time and effort.

9. Bring in Air-Purifying Plants

Another natural way to improve the air quality and freshness of your home is by bringing in houseplants known for their air-purifying properties. Many houseplants have been scientifically proven to absorb harmful toxins and produce oxygen, making them perfect for cleaning the air in your old house.

Here are a few plants renowned for their air-cleaning properties:

  1. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum): This plant is not only easy to care for but also excels at removing pollutants like formaldehyde and xylene from the air.
  2. Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata): Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, this plant is one of the best for filtering out formaldehyde, commonly found in cleaning products.
  3. English Ivy (Hedera helix): English Ivy can clean airborne particles of fecal-matter as well as filter out formaldehyde.
  4. Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii): This plant filters out benzene and trichloroethylene while also acting as a natural humidifier.
  5. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum): Besides removing toxins, this beautiful blooming plant can also increase room humidity and decrease the presence of mold spores.
  6. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata): This plant acts as a natural humidifier and can remove toxins such as formaldehyde and xylene.

Remember: While these plants are fantastic air purifiers, they should be kept out of reach if you have pets or small children, as some may be toxic if ingested.

Preventing Future Old House Smells

When it comes to household odors, prevention is always the best approach. Here are some effective strategies to prevent future smells and avoid old house odors.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance Routines

Maintaining a routine of regular cleaning is crucial for keeping your home fresh and odor-free. Prioritize areas that are most susceptible to odor accumulation such as:

  • Kitchen: Regularly clean appliances and surfaces where food particles might accumulate.
  • Bathroom: Keep surfaces dry, clean, and well-ventilated.
  • Carpets & Upholstery: Vacuum regularly and schedule professional cleaning periodically.

Moisture Management

Excessive moisture in your home can lead to mold growth and subsequent musty odors. Implement these tactics:

  • Use dehumidifiers in damp areas like basements or bathrooms.
  • Fix any leaks promptly.
  • Ensure bathroom and kitchen fans are functioning properly.

Ongoing Ventilation Efforts

Ventilation can significantly improve the indoor air quality of your home by eliminating stale air and introducing fresh air. Don’t underestimate the power of simply opening windows regularly or using ceiling fans to circulate air.

Remember, these preventive measures require consistency to be effective. Making these practices a part of your regular home care routine will go a long way in keeping your house smelling fresh consistently.

Maintaining a Fresh-Smelling and Healthy Home

To remove old house smells and sustain a fresh-smelling home, it’s essential to apply the methods you’ve discovered with regularity. Consistency is key in keeping those unpleasant odors at bay and ensuring your living space remains inviting.

Creating a personalized action plan is a proactive step towards addressing the unique challenges your home may present. Consider the following strategies:

1. Schedule Regular Cleanings

Mark your calendar for routine deep cleaning sessions, targeting areas prone to trapping odors.

2. Monitor Humidity Levels

Use dehumidifiers and maintain your HVAC system to manage moisture effectively.

3. Stay Ventilated

Keep air flowing through your home by opening windows when weather permits and using air purifiers.

Remember, each home is different, which means your approach should be tailored to fit the specific sources of odor in your environment. Whether it’s dealing with pet scents or lingering cooking smells, select the techniques that work best for you.

By incorporating these practices into your daily routine, you’ll not only remove existing odors but also lay the foundation for a consistently healthy and enjoyable living space. Take charge of your home’s aroma today, crafting an atmosphere that reflects both cleanliness and comfort.

Closing thoughts

In conclusion, achieving a fresh-smelling home is not an insurmountable task. With the right strategies, from identifying odor sources to deep-cleaning, mold elimination, and harnessing natural air fresheners, you can successfully remove old house smells and enjoy a healthier, more comfortable living space. However, if you’re considering selling your house and wish to bypass these processes altogether, selling your home for cash offers an attractive alternative.

You can avoid the hassle of addressing odor concerns while speeding up the sale process. This option allows you to focus on your next chapter without being bogged down by the intricacies of home odor management. Consider both paths carefully to decide which best suits your needs and lifestyle.

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