Making Your Apartment Smell Great

in Health & Safety on by

Trash Cans

Everybody knows what it feels like to walk into someone’s apartment for the first time and have their senses overwhelmed…their sense of smell, that is. Thoughts may run through your head like: “I guess they cooked salmon last night,” “So, where’s the cat?,” and “I really like Campbell’s soup too, but can somebody open a window?”

Every apartment smells different, and that often depends on the unique lifestyles of their tenants. Things like personal odors, pet dander, and the contents of your trash can make it rather difficult to control the way your apartment smells, especially if you live in a small/efficiency unit. That’s why it’s important not to focus on masking the odors, but to instead try eliminating them at the source. There are many products on the market that can help you get rid of odors, but there are even more “best practices” you can adopt to prevent them from ever taking over your apartment in the first place.

Pet Odors

Bathing the Dog

It should go without saying that the easiest way to keep your pets smelling great is to make sure they are regularly groomed and bathed. Of course, this can be a difficult and time-consuming task. Individuals with large dogs will tell you that it’s nearly impossible to properly bathe their furry friends in a small apartment-sized bathroom. And many more animals (especially cats) tend to be afraid of water, making it very difficult for their owners to keep them clean. A good way to get around this is to have your pet bathed by a local groomer. If using a groomer is outside of your budget, another option is to take your pet to a “do-it-yourself” bathhouse. Establishments like Dirty Dog in Austin, The Dog Wash & Supply Company in Chicago, and Do-it-Yourself Doggie Detailing in Boise give pet owners the opportunity to bathe their own dogs at a much lower cost than a traditional groomer would charge. Plus, it’ll help keep that wet dog smell out of your apartment for good!

Natural pet perfumes are another option, along with bad-breath busting doggie chews. And remember to brush your dog’s teeth regularly! Not only will this prevent tooth decay and oral cancer, it will also keep your pup’s breath minty fresh.

If you have a cat, there are many ways to keep its litter from “littering” your apartment with bad smells. The nation’s largest no-kill animal shelter, the Austin Animal Center, uses litter made from natural pine needles to keep the kennels fresh. Feline Pine brand litter by Arm & Hammer neutralizes odors on contact and contains natural oils that prevent dust from leaving the litter box. What’s best about pine-based cat litter is that it’s biodegradable, meaning it can be flushed down the toilet instead of stinking up your garbage can!

Smelly Garbage

Garbage odors are undoubtedly some of the most difficult smells to mask. That’s why it’s important to keep food particles out of the trash can when possible. Make use of the garbage disposal in your sink if you have one, but be sure to clean its blades regularly, as disposals are notorious for accruing food particles and making even the cleanest of kitchens smell downright gross. An easy and natural way to clean your garbage disposal is to grab a lemon and cut it into small wedges. Run the water, then turn on your disposal and drop the lemon wedges in one by one, waiting about one minute between each wedge. The natural acids in the lemons will help break down the food particles stuck to the blades, and because lemons are natural antiseptics, they’ll also kill any odor-inducing germs and bacteria. Do this at least twice per month, and your kitchen will smell amazing!

Make sure that you purchase a trash can with a lid to keep its odors contained. If it’s an option for you, you can also try putting it under your sink or outside on your patio or deck. If you recycle, you’ll want to be sure to rinse any recyclable containers that had food in them. Unrinsed mayonnaise jars are notoriously smelly, as are plastic bags that have come in contact with meat or cheese.

Bathroom Odors

Nothing is more embarrassing than bathroom odors — especially if you have company! And let’s face it: air fresheners like Glade and Febreze only have limited efficacy. This is because they only mask bad smells with good ones, creating a sort of “super smell” that’s still less than desirable. The best spray bottle air fresheners are made from essential oils rather than perfumes. This is because essential oils naturally eliminate odors from the air instead of covering them up with chemical perfumes. Using essential oil-based air fresheners is also better for your health. According to an article published by CBS News entitled “EWG’s Hall of Shame,” the Environmental Working Group has identified close to 90 hazardous chemicals in Febreze. As writer Sarah Jones explains in her article The Hazardous Effects of Febreze: “According to EWG, Febreze contains 89 air contaminants, including acetaldehyde, propylene glycol, limonene, and methyl pyrrolidone ethylacetate, which is toxic to the the brain and nervous system. These contaminants are linked to cancer, are toxic to the reproductive system, and cause allergies.” Chemical-based sprays are also hazardous to pets, houseplants, small children, and the elderly.

The best bathroom spritz on the market (by far) is Poo-pourri, which works by creating a barrier of natural oils on the toilet water to keep icky smells from escaping it. As the company explains on its website: “When spritzed into the toilet bowl before-you-go, Poo-Pourri’s pure blend of natural essential oils creates a film on the surface of the water… The protective barrier traps odor under the surface before it ever begins! All you’ll smell is a refreshing bouquet of NATURAL ESSENTIAL OILS. Flush yeah!” The company’s five-star rating and outstanding customer reviews speak for themselves.

Body Odors

The solution is as simple as one word: cornstarch. Cornstarch (or baby powder, which is made primarily of cornstarch) is an excellent natural way to get rid of odors. Cornstarch can be sprinkled on anything that collects body odors (like the insides of shoes and gym bags), and it will completely eliminate the bad smells from them. If you get sweaty feet, sprinkle a layer of cornstarch or baby powder into your shoes every morning, and they’lll never smell again. The cornstarch will absorb your sweat and prevent any bacteria from growing, which itself is the ultimate cause of most foul odors. If your carpet smells less than fresh, sprinkle cornstarch all over it and let it set for at least half an hour. Then vacuum it up, and you’ll instantly notice a difference.

Additional Tips

Fresh-Cut Flowers

Burn incense and natural soy or beeswax-based candles. If a black reside builds up around the rim of a candle, throw it out. This is a sign that there are toxins/chemicals in it, any of which could be harmful to your health. Natural candles burn clean, leaving little to no reside on their containers.

Essential oil diffusers are capable of killing air-born germs and viruses, and they can keep your apartment smelling like a garden in spring at the same time.

Change your air filters regularly.

Ensure proper ventilation by opening a window when the weather’s nice.

Brew a pot of coffee or bake some cookies before company arrives. The smell of warm cookies is inarguably one of the nicest smells on the planet. Plus, there’s the added benefit of getting to eat them!

Keep fresh-cut flowers in vases around your apartment.

39 Responses to “Making Your Apartment Smell Great”

  1. January 14, 2008 at 9:00 am, Guest said:

    Great idea for making the apartment smell good: I happen to enjoy the smell of poo. So, when I drop a hearty log in my bowl, I let it float in the toilet for a few hours. I leave the bathroom door open and let the fresh turd-smell fill the apartment. Other ideas for making your apartment poopy-fresh is if you step in a big pile of dog poop outside..instead of cleaning the bottom of your shoes off, walk around your apartment with them on and really grind those dog logs into the carpet. This will keep the room smelling great for weeks. If i’m in a hurry and I know company is going to be coming over, I will try to pinch off a quick loaf, and simply hide it in the corner. The hot steamer that you put on the floor will fill the air in no-time and get that apartment smelling poopy fresh right before anybody gets there. Oh how I love poop!


  2. January 14, 2008 at 11:41 am, Guest said:

    For a quick fix, I like to use incense sticks. The room will smell great while burning but it does tend to neutralize after it stops. At least the unpleasantness is gone.I recommend Nag Champa for a nice earthy scent.
    But sometimes incense sticks tend to smell artifical. Another thing I like to use is raw resin. (ex. frankincense, myrrh, etc.) Burn it on charcoal or on a skillet.


  3. January 18, 2008 at 3:17 pm, Guest said:

    I have a patient convalescing in my home. Many times the house can end up smelling like a convalescent hospital i.e. urine smells, etc. It used to distress me very much until I discovered the power of citrus. I use a spray made of orange peels and you would be surprised how effective it is in neutralizing smells. Taking this concept further, I began to leave bowls of discarded orange peels especially around the bathrooms and kitchen and it was just as efficient if not more so than the spray. Hope this helps!


    • September 14, 2016 at 9:18 am, Darcie Alcott said:

      > TY for the tip… what do you put the peels in, just water?


  4. January 19, 2008 at 11:03 am, Guest said:

    Yeah I tried that, it works.


  5. January 20, 2008 at 1:05 am, Guest said:

    I think you need help…Sick SICK


  6. January 20, 2008 at 11:12 pm, Guest said:

    OMG that was soo nasty i couldnt stop laughing though!just wasnt expecting that


  7. February 05, 2008 at 4:53 am, Guest said:

    I think you must be ——–, loving poop so much…


  8. March 21, 2008 at 9:58 am, Guest said:

    Pet Urine in carpet I have a friend who moved into a apartment and I notice three yellow stains in the carpet told the manager she said make a not of it. Later on that night I realized it is urine The smell will not go away we cleaned the carpet or self the owner will not do anything she says the carpet was clean before we moved in. we did our own walk through when we moved in the manager did not want to so we found everything wrong wrote it down then went to have it notarized to give ot the manager the next day. What can I do this smell is making me sick PLEASE HELP


    • November 16, 2016 at 5:43 pm, Susie Schmitt said:

      > Try washing with Tide(the scent with Febreeze)and some listerine.


  9. March 27, 2008 at 9:07 pm, Guest said:

    shampoo the carpets with borax and vinegar. 2cups vinegar 1 cup borax per gal.last for months plus no fleas and no soap scum.


  10. April 08, 2008 at 10:16 am, Anonymous said:

    I need info on renters rights about replacing carpet.It was my understanding that apartmentts for health reason and good air quality ,they are required to replace carpet every 5 years.Is this true and where can I find info as to how many years before I have a right to demand new carpet to help with mt allergys


  11. June 30, 2008 at 11:18 pm, Guest said:

    A great tip to cut the odor down within your kitchen trash can is to sprinkle a little baking soda in the bare bottom of the can, as well as a little sprinkle inside the trash bag (if you happen to line the inside of your can with a tall kitchen bag). You only have to sprinkle baking soda on the bare bottom of the can about once. However, whenever I insert a new tall kitchen bag inside the trash can, I always make sure to sprinkle the inside with a little bit of baking soda before I deposit one bit of trash inside. It works every time.


  12. July 15, 2008 at 11:08 pm, Guest said:

    Sounds Shitty!


  13. August 01, 2008 at 3:16 pm, Guest said:

    That is a wonderful, low cost tip…Thank You 🙂


  14. August 08, 2008 at 11:08 am, Guest said:

    Tell them you are going to seek legal action because you have proof that the floor was as is before you moved in. If they are not running to your apartment with a way to get the urine out or new carpet; take them to court. As long as you have proof you’re good to go.


  15. August 24, 2008 at 3:24 am, Guest said:

    I am pleased that the article suggests scented oils instead of spray air fresheners. Spray air fresheners are made of chemicals you probably do not want to be inhaling on a regular basis. Scented oils and incense is a very good solution.

    For getting rid of odors, I always use baking soda. Always seems to work wonderfully, and of course is very cheap and safe to use all the time. I’m a big advocate of using baking soda for everything heh


  16. October 24, 2008 at 2:00 pm, Guest said:

    whats up with the poop freak


  17. November 23, 2008 at 3:16 pm, Guest said:

    thank you, funny scatophilic freak


  18. January 16, 2009 at 11:50 pm, Guest said:

    I find using Mr. Clean with Febreeze makes the whole place smell really nice. Also whenever I clean my shower I wash the shower curtain the the washing machine with a little bleach and more of the Mr. Clean with Febreeze. The whole place smells fresher and I don’t have to replace my shower curtain every time it gets a little soap scum on it.


  19. January 18, 2009 at 11:11 pm, Guest said:

    I am a nurse in charge of the senior facility and deal with odor management all the time in my line of work. Room Shocker is an extraordinary new product on the market. It is by far, bar none the best odor remover I have ever used. It uses new technology that has only been available to big industries till now. You can find it on a website called biocidesystems. It works so well they offer a moneyback guarantee. Make sure you get it from them, or one of their distributors. My friend bought from another site that sold a knock off. The real product has the name biocide systems on it and is the only one that has a silver label. It not only removes the odor, but it completely sanitize the room from any bacteria mold mildew fungus etc. that’s how it gets rid of the odor. It’s easy to use, not labor-intensive and not expensive.
    Now that I’ve been using this. Anything else is a waste time and money. This product is much needed in in so many situations so I am spreading the word to him as many people know about it is possible
    On a scale of 1 to 10 I give it 12!!


  20. March 04, 2009 at 10:20 pm, Guest said:

    OMG.. I want to thank the poop person SOOO much!!! I was having the worst day ever and I have never laughed SOOOO hard! Thank you seriously that was the best relief of stress ever!!!!!


  21. March 04, 2009 at 10:28 pm, Guest said:

    A tradition from my country.. when ever we fry food we then boil water with cinnammon, and cloves, you can also add apples and it smells like your baking nad makes your whole home smell excellent and you can continuosly add water for a few days. But I do this every night and whenever I clean my home. ANOTHER ONE: My aunt loves the smell of clean laundry so she boils a bit of laundry detergent with a bit of water and her whole apartment smells like fresh clean laundry.


  22. June 26, 2009 at 1:59 pm, Anonymous said:

    The poop man was soooo funny, this was a great way to relieve some stress. Thank you for the good laughs!


  23. July 13, 2009 at 11:43 pm, anonymous said:

    Ive had dogs my entire life, and in college i had one very smelly roomate. So here is what helps me.

    -For pet and unrine smells:
    if the spill is fresh (still wet) place a lot of paper towels or an old towel over the area. Step on the towel, and walk around on it until its all soaked out of the carpet. Then mix 2 cups of water with 1cup white vinegar. Scrub that in the spot really well(really, get it soping wet) let that sit for 5 minutes… then repeat the towel step. If there is still a stain.. mix 1T laundry soap with water…mix WELL and scrub the spot..repeat towel step. let dry completely. Sprinkle at least 1 cup of baking soda on the spot and let sit overnight. vaccum it up in the morning.
    Also use Cartpet Arm and Hammer Pet Fresh. Sprinkle on each time before you vacuum..leaves a fresh scent behind.

    -Everything Cleaner: equal parts of white vinegar and water. mix in a spray bottle
    -Air and Furniture Freshener: 2 cups warm water, 2 Tablespoons baking soda, 1Tablespoon liquid fabric softner.. Shake before each use in a spray bottle. I leave out open boxes of baking soda in each room to suck up odors. If you can, open windows at night for an hour. Most houseplants are great air fresheners!
    -Homemade Potpourri: the peel from 1 large orange, handful of fallen pine needles, 1 tablespoon cloves, one drop cinnamon essential oil, 2-3 cinnamon stix. Shake in ziplock bag and let sit out in a bowl in any room. I love cinnamon inscence as well, but lots of people are allergic!


  24. September 03, 2009 at 7:24 pm, Karie said:

    Want a beautiful aroma in your apartment? Gold Canyon Candles. Any scent you want. I do not sell them, so I’m not trying to do that – I’m just a consumer who adores these candles. They’re awesome!


  25. September 24, 2009 at 12:01 pm, Rachel said:

    To make my apartment smell good I place a laundry sheet infront of my air filter to get the smell throughout all of the vents. It keeps the whole place smelling good for several days.


  26. December 04, 2009 at 9:40 pm, Angela said:

    Oh, I like the idea of putting dryer sheets with your furnace filter. That makes a lot of sense and I think would work well in conjunction with some of the other ideas.


  27. May 06, 2010 at 2:45 am, Kathy suggests: said:

    Poop man’s outrageously funny! Reminds me of my former lover. I’m a power person. I take what works. Vinegar and water in a spray bottle work are my solution for everything – washing windows, tile, grout, leather (YES!), add 1 cup to rinse water in laundry instead of softener (removes suds and wakes up darks and whitens whites), clears up athletes foot fungus.
    Want to make your place smell good? Go to the 99cents store and get boxes of Venezia Soapworks Lemon Verbena Moisturizing Soap, and YARDLEY LONDON Oatmeal & Almond with Natural Oats naturally moisturizing bar(s); leave them in the boxes and place the boxes at the headboards, in the closets, and in dresser drawers. You’ll have sweet dreams and your clothes will smell great. :]


  28. May 24, 2011 at 10:35 am, kent said:

    Man, this is so helpful.. What a good reminder of all the ways to keep a place smelling good! .. I havnt tried it in my house, but I’ve done it in my car and it works pretty well. Ill buy some coffee beans that I really like the smell of and just open up the bag and leave it. At perfume stores the uses coffee beans to smell in between each perfume-smell because it does something with the nose to remove all the stuff uve been smelling. I will also say that, it’s not as strong as you would think it to be unless its next to a source of heat..


  29. July 15, 2011 at 12:47 pm, Kay said:

    If you urine in your carpet, it’s in your pad! It will not come out! You have to replace the pad and clean the carpet, but it goes through to the concret floor! You cannot get out urine if it sits longer than a few minutes.


  30. December 08, 2011 at 10:29 pm, JJ Henry said:

    As a landlord with several rental properties, I have come across really bad smells. I do not know what my former tenants were doing in the apartment, but way too often the place just reeks. I was so happy to find Room Shocker. It’s an odor eliminator that works like fumigation bomb, but for odors. This stuff works great. It’s gotten out odors like, smoke, fish, and pets. The list goes on, but seriously try this stuff. You can find it at


  31. December 21, 2011 at 8:51 pm, RSO said:

    No. 1 is get rid of carpeting and any furniture. You can try to cover up smells, but getting rid of the offenders is the first step. Second, I know this is a lot of work, but washing the walls top to bottom works wonders. You don’t have to use strong chemicals, just soap and water, or a spray cleaner or white vinegar. You can even use a sponge mop and run it up and down the walls. This is the best way of getting rid of cooking smells. Then after you repaint the walls, you’re good to go – no smells! And don’t forget to wash the floors too.


  32. January 11, 2012 at 6:13 pm, Charlie Gerk said:

    Our make ready for smelly apartments is using Paint Scentsations.

    It cost us $5 to make our apartments smell like gold and lease out in no time!


  33. January 24, 2012 at 9:59 am, Anonymous said:

    Poop guy…you rock!!!
    Thanks for the tips everyone…will definitely give these a bash! 🙂


  34. April 18, 2012 at 4:56 am, Taryn said:

    When I moved into my apartment it was filthy and smelled like a dirty hamster cage. I washed the walls and it did not help, i think they may have been freshly painted before we moved in. The floors were sealed raw wood that had been sealed without being sanded and all of the dust and dirt settled in the floor along the grain in the wood. All of the smell in the house cleared up when I switched to using a steam mop to clean. I only use a vacuum and and the steam mop and now my apartment smells completely neutral. I light a scented candle to make it smell nice for company.


  35. December 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm, berent said:

    go aroma therapy- it’s natural and healthy. stay away from synthetic sprays,and even natural candle burning,as that gives off nasty sooty, unhealthy residue. burning anything,is problematic.
    fabreeze ??!! don’t get me started,that’s synthetic crap,that is neither healthy nor good smelling. it smells like artificially produced candy on steroids. it’s pungeant, and acrid, and disgusting. why people like it is beyond me.


  36. November 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm, Rachel said:

    spray a lightbulb with your favorite scent! the heat spreads the fragrance throughout the room


  37. May 24, 2014 at 9:59 pm, Maria said:

    Some good tips here, but beware of using dryer sheets- they are a known carcinogen and are also used as rat poison. Stick to natural remedies and avoid toxic chemicals!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *