Deodorizing Essential Oils and 13 Ways to Get Stinky Smells Out of Your Home

I’ll be honest.¬† I love my home, but I don’t always love how my home smells.

The kitchen trash gets stinky after throwing away food scraps.  The carpet gets a funky smell from the dogs lounging on it 18 hours a day.  The washing machine gets a little mildewy over time.  Closets get musty.  Bathrooms stink.  Teenager shoes reek.



My battle against stinky smells over the years wasn’t helped by store-bought deodorizers or other masking agents like scented trash bags.¬† They either didn’t work or just made the house smell like chemicals.


Thankfully, years ago I started using essential oils for sleep, and soon after I discovered how wonderful essential oils are also for cleaning and getting rid of smelly odors from pets, smoke, food, mildew – you name it!

Below you’ll find 13 easy DIY recipes for how I use essential oils to get rid of those stinky smells and keep my home smelling clean and fresh.



deodorizing essential oils + 13 ways to get funky smells out of your home by -- trash can stink, musty closets, bathroom odors, smelly food, smoke, pet odors, basements, & more! -- 3 essential oil bottles, diffuser, and clean kitchen



What Causes Household Odors?

Most household odors are caused by bacteria, mold, and mildew.  Bacteria from food, dirt, and debris gets in garbage disposals, trash cans, furniture, flooring, or even shoes, and creates stinky household odors.  Most mold and mildew growth occurs where excess moisture builds up- like washing machines, showers, windows, and basements.  Fibers in carpets, rugs, and upholstery can attract and trap odors.  Those fibers can absorb the smells from food, spills, pets, smoking, anything that can get in the air.  And finally, lack of fresh air and circulation causes stale smells in corners and enclosed spaces like closets, basements, storage areas.


Masking Odors Vs Neutralizing Odors

Some odor-fighting products mask odors, while others neutralize odors.  What is the difference?

Masking odors covers up odors with a different fragrance, while neutralizing odors is the actual removal of the odor-causing molecules with a chemical reaction.  When the masking wears off you are left with the same smelly problem, but when you neutralize an odor you have removed the odor-causing bacteria, fungus, mold, mildew, smoke, and the odor does not return.



12 of the best deodorizing essential oils by -- cinnamon, citronella, eucalyptus, fir, lavender, lemon, lemongrasss, lime, rosemary, tangerine, tea tree, and thyme



Best Deodorizing Essential Oils

Essential oils to the odor removal rescue!  Many essential oils are antimicrobial to kill those tiny stinkers and prevent them from growing, antibacterial to get rid of odor-causing bacteria, antifungal to remove mold or mildew, all working to get your home clean and leave a fresh, clean, pleasing scent.


  • cinnamon essential oil

A potent antibacterial and antimicrobial, clinically proven to inhibit grown of odor-causing bacteria.  And has that cinnamon scent we love.


  • citronella essential oil

Antibacterial and antifungal, inhibiting odor-causing bacteria and great for fighting mold and mildew growth.  Its fresh, clean scent is similar to lemongrass.


  • eucalyptus essential oil

The antiseptic and deodorant nature of eucalyptus oil makes in a perfect room freshener.  Antifungal, antibacterial, and antimicrobial, it will help to keep your home clean and sterilized, and with an invigorating and refreshing scent.


  • fir essential oil

Fir essential oil is a powerful germicide that removes odors quickly.  Its alpha-pinene and beta-pinene are known for their cleaning and freshening abilities.  Contains limonene, which is also found in lemon and lime essential oils, also favorites for deodorizing.


  • lavender essential oil

Lavender is known for its relaxing scent.  But did you know lavender essential oil is also antifungal, antibacterial, and antimicrobial?  It helps remove a wide range of unwanted odors.  Also blends well with citrus, herb, or woodsy essential oils to create powerful combinations to get rid of funky smells.


  • lemon essential oil

Lemon oil’s high limonene content helps it pull odors from the air and neutralize them, leaving your home smelling fresh and clean.¬† A great natural deodorizer with a clean scent.

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  • lemongrass essential oil

Antifungal and antibacterial, lemongrass essential oil is great for treating mold and mildew, as well as deodorizing bacteria-based stinks like rotten food.¬† Lemongrass’s citrusy scent leaves a clean, fresh smell after knocking out the odors.


  • lime essential oil

Lime essential oil eliminates odors from all kinds of strong household smells like stinky shoes, lingering cigarette smoke, and trash cans that have been left for way too long.¬† Also use lime to neutralize stale, musty odors that make that “old house” smell.¬† Lots of commercially produced odor eliminating products use lime essential oil, like Fresh Wave Odor Removing Gel.¬† It makes your home smell fabulous!


  • rosemary essential oil

Rosemary essential oil contains antifungal, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties which make it an effective natural odor neutralizer.  Just a few drops combat unpleasant household odors coming from stinky shoes, and since its antifungal, use it on mold and mildew.


  • tangerine essential oil

    Like other citrus essential oils, tangerine has a fresh, clean scent.  Its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties get rid of stinky smells in your kitchen and all over your home.


  • tea tree essential oil

Tea tree’s antifungal and antibacterial properties are great for eliminating musty, stale odors.¬† It’s a wonder at knocking out super smelly stenches like decaying food, stinky shoes, dirty trash cans.¬† ¬†Tea tree oil is another common ingredient in store-bought odor removers.¬† Some brands promote tea tree as “nature’s solution to odor.”


  • thyme essential oil



What Are Some Other Natural Odor Eliminators?

There are several inexpensive household items you probably have on hand that make great odor neutralizers: baking soda, vinegar, diatomaceous earth, charcoal, and coffee grounds.

Use these in combination with essential oils to create powerful all-natural deodorizers that get rid of funky smells.  Combine vinegar with essential oils to get musty smell out of clothes, or pair baking soda with essential oils to get the stink out of carpets, or use them any of the many DIY ideas below.



13 ways to use essential oils to get stinky smells out of your home by -- musty smells out of clothes & towels, get rid of trash can smells for good, odor eleiminator spray, stinky shoe remedy, cure for smelly washing machine, deodorizing diffuser blends, toilet stink, funky fridge smells, carpet freshener, garbage disposal odors, lingering dishwasher smells, freshe clothes without washing



Now that we have identified where those unpleasant smells are coming from, let’s get to some solutions.

It’s really very easy.¬† We’ll combine essential oils with natural ingredients to get rid of funky smells wherever they may pop up.

Here are 13 ways to use essential oils to neutralize odors in your home.



1. How to Make Odor Eliminating Spray with Essential Oils

There’s no need for air fresheners with harsh chemicals.¬† It’s easy to use a few natural ingredients and essential oils to make your own odor eliminator spray.¬† This doesn’t just mask odors like some store-bought air fresheners, it neutralizes odors and eliminates even the stinkiest of smells.

Use it to freshen bathrooms and kitchens, get rid of stale, musty odors, eliminate pet odors, and more.

click here for how to make an odor eliminator spray with essential oils


2. How to Get Musty Smell Out of Clothes and Towels

In our busy lives, sometimes we accidentally leave laundry in the washer long enough for the clothes or towels to smell of mold & mildew.  This easy DIY gets rid of the musty, stinky smells naturally, powered by tea tree essential oil.

Here’s what I do:

  • Set washing machine to hottest water setting
  • Put 1 cup vinegar and 20 drops tea tree essential oil in detergent dispenser tray
  • Run washing machine
  • Stop washing machine before the rinse cycle and let the vinegar-tea-tree solution sit in the tub with the clothes for 30 minutes
  • After 30 minutes of soaking, let the washing cycle finish
  • Run another cycle in the washer — This time put 1 cup baking soda in the washer drum along with clothes and add regular amount of laundry detergent to detergent compartment


3. Get Rid of Trash Can Smells for Good

The welcoming smell of a clean kitchen can be undone by a stinky trash can.¬† The good news is it’s easy to use essential oils to make your own homemade trash can deodorizer, in either a spray for knock out odors, or DIY deodorizing tabs to prevent odors from building up.

Make a trash can deodorizing spray by pouring a couple of natural ingredients into a spray bottle along with essential oils, give it a shake, spray, and odors are gone in seconds!  Or, make one or two of these trash can deodorizer tabs to absorb the stinky, smelly odors from trash cans.  (These deodorizing tabs also work in other odor-collecting spots around the house, like refrigerators, laundry hampers, and more!)


4.  Stinky Shoe Remedy

Foul-smelling gym shoes, pungent boots, malodorous flats… stinky shoes happen to everyone.¬† Fortunately, there are a couple of DIY essential oils solutions to this persistent problem.¬† This stinky shoe spray is so simple to make, yet is better than any store-bought shoe deodorizer I’ve ever tried!¬† Or if you don’t want to go the spray route, this deodorizing shoe powder is a simple all-natural shoe deodorant that removes bad smells and prevents them from coming back.


5. Deodorizing Diffuser Blends

Want to release some odor-eliminating essential oils into the air for a fresh, clean scent in your home?  Try one of these diffuser blends and let the deodorizing begin.


Fresh Air Diffuser Blend

3 drops lemon essential oil
3 drops lavender essential oil
2 drops eucalyptus essential oil

Lemony Fresh Diffuser Blend

3 drops lemon essential oil
2 drops lemongrass essential oil
2 drops citronella essential oil

Spotless Kitchen Diffuser Blend

3 drops lemon essential oil
2 drops rosemary essential oil
2 drops lavender essential oil
1 drop thyme essential oil

Odor Destroyer Diffuser Blend

2 drops lemon essential oil
2 drops lime essential oil
2 drops tea tree essential oil
1 drop fir essential oil

Clean Linen Diffuser Blend

3 drops eucalyptus essential oil
2 drops lavender essential oil
2 drops tea tree essential oil
1 drop peppermint essential oil

Stop the Stink Diffuser Blend

2 drops citronella essential oil
2 drops rosemary essential oil
2 drops lemongrass essential oil
1 drop tea tree essential oil
1 drop lavender essential oil



dedorizing diffuser blends by -- stop the stink: 2 drops citronella, 2 drops rosemary, 2 drops lemongrass, 1 drop tea tree, and 1 drop lavender. spotless kitchen: 3 drops lemon, 2 drops rosemary, 2 drops lavender, 1 drop thyme. fresh air: 3 drops lemonm 3 drops lavender, 2 drops eucalytpus. clean linen: 3 drops eucalyptus, 2 drops lavender, 2 drops tea tree, 1 drop peppermint. odor destroyer: 2 drops lemon, 2 drops lime, 2 drops tea ree, 1 drop fir. lemony fresh: 3 drops lemon, 2 drops lemongrass, 2 drops citronella



6. Cure for Smelly Washing Machine

Over time, front-loading washing machines will buildup dirt, mildew, soap scum, and won’t get your clothes as clean as they should.¬† Get rid of that mildewy smell and other buildup with this all-natural system for cleaning your washing machine with essential oils.


7. No More Stinky Bathrooms {homemade Poo-Pourri}

Give the toilet bowl a few quick sprays with my homemade Poo-Pourri toilet spray before you go no. 2, and the odors will be trapped discreetly inside the toilet bowl and flushed away.  No one will ever know.

My favorite essential oil combos for no. 2 spray

20 drops lemongrass + 10 drops peppermint

15 drops grapefruit + 10 drops lavender + 5 drops peppermint

15 drops lemon + 15 drops lavender

15 drops eucalyptus + 15 drops spearmint

15 drops lavender + 10 drops lime + 5 drops spearmint

10 drops tangerine + 10 drops grapefruit + 10 drops bergamot

20 drops orange + 10 drops cinnamon

15 drops fir + 10 drops orange + 3 drops cinnamon + 2 drops clove



8. How to get Rid of Funky Refrigerator Smells & Keep Fridge Smelling Clean

Your refrigerator can be one of the worst culprits for stinky smells in the home.  Regular use of an essential oils powered DIY Refrigerator Deodorizer will keep your fridge smelling clean and prevent stinky smells from spreading.


9.  Carpet Freshener

Who doesn’t want their house to smell fresh & clean every time you vacuum?!!¬† Essential oils can be used in a simple DIY carpet freshening powder to get the room smelling clean and fresh.

Carpets not only trap dirt, food, and other debris, but carpets also trap odors.  This simple 2-ingredient powder has great odor-busting powers.  Just sprinkle it over carpets, leave it alone to do its thing, and then vacuum up.  Your room will smell fresh and clean in no time.

  • Put 1/2 cup baking soda and 30 drops essential oil in mason jar with shaker lid and mix well
  • here are a few EO combos that I love for this carpet deodorizer:
    • option 1:¬† 10 drops lemon + 10 drops tea tree + 10 drops lavender
    • option 2:¬† 12 drops eucalyptus + 10 drops spearmint + 8 drops rosemary
    • option 3:¬† 15 drops orange + 5 drops lemon + 5 drops lime + 5 drops grapefruit

To use

  • Sprinkle over carpet
  • Leave on carpet for at least 1 hour
  • Vacuum


10.  How to Clean Garbage Disposal to Get Rid of Stinky Odors

Sometimes your garbage disposal smells like the dumpster behind a restaurant, and needs a little help to get it clean and deodorized.  Use this simple process to get your garbage disposal smelling great again:

  • Pour 1/2 cup rock salt and about 12 ice cubes down the kitchen sink drain, then run garbage disposal for 1-2 minutes. This will help breakup any food and debris that‚Äôs stuck to the blade.
  • Turn off the disposal and unplug it
  • Pour 1/2 cup baking soda, 5 drops lemon essential oil, 5 drops tea tree essential oil, and 1 cup vinegar down drain. The baking soda and vinegar will react and start to fizz.
  • Let it fizz for 15 minutes to work its magic. The acidity of the solution combined with essential oils kills bacteria, deodorizes, and will get your kitchen smelling fresh & clean again.
  • While the mixture is working inside the drain, make a thick paste of 2 tablespoons baking soda and about 1 tablespoon vinegar. Use an old toothbrush to scrub this paste onto the rubber flaps that connect the disposal to the sink where bacteria can get trapped.
  • Run hot water down the drain to clear out baking soda and vinegar mixture
  • Plug garbage disposal back in and run the disposal with hot running water for 1 minute

tip: Only use this method sparingly (about once a month or so) because vinegar is acidic, and it can damage the rubber elements inside the garbage disposal.


11.  How to Clean Your Dishwasher

As convenient as dishwashers are, over time some rotting food bits hurts its performance.  The dishwasher tub is also a breeding ground for mold and mildew.   Regular cleaning of your dishwasher goes a long way keeping your dishwasher working well and smelling good.  click here for step-by-step instructions on how to clean your dishwashers with essential oils.


12. How to Freshen Clothes without Washing

Clothes that have been in the closet for months can get stale or musty.  This DIY linen spray spruces up clothes without having to throw them into the wash.  Also works for bedding, towels, pillows, and other linens that have been sitting unused.


13. Anywhere you need it

If your home has enclosed spaces, or pets, or teenagers, or a husband, there’s probably a need for these DIY essential oil deodorizing pads that get rid of stinky smells and odors, and add fresh scents all over your home. Use to freshen trash cans, closets, drawers, shoes, and more.

      • Add 3-5 drops essential oil to felt Scotch brand adhesive felt pads (these come in assorted sizes and are often used under furniture to make it easier to move furniture and prevent furniture from scratching wood floors)
      • Remove the paper and stick the felt pads anywhere that needs deodorizing and freshening. Here are just some of the places you might want to try: trash cans, pantry, kitchen drawers, clothes drawers, shoe bins, closets, recycling bins, cupboards, totes with seasonal holiday decorations, and laundry hamper
      • The essential oil scent should last at least a few days or longer.¬† When you need to renew the scent, simply add a few more drops of essential oil to the felt pad.¬† If the felt pad is on a vertical surface, place a Kleenex below the felt pad to catch any essential oil drips.¬† If you do have any drips on the tissue, you can put the tissue in a drawer or bin to scent and deodorize the space.¬† “Waste not, want not” as my grandma used to say.



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Sarah Lewis

A little thing about me: I ūüíô essential oils. I also love using my background in research to help people learn more about essential oils and all the wonderful ways they can be used. I share DIY recipes for natural cleaners that really work, non-toxic beauty solutions, and holistic wellness. My essential oil recipes, info, and tips have been viewed more than 20 million times. I've been featured on MindBodyGreen, Health & Natural Living, All Natural Ideas, This Natural Home, Natural Living Ideas, and Passion for Savings.
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