Cheap, Green Ways to Eliminate Household Odors

If you’re like me, you probably aim to be as environmentally-conscious as possible without breaking the bank. One popular earth-friendly change is eliminating air fresheners that contain harmful chemicals or CFCs, which damage the ozone layer. While I’m all for getting rid of harmful substances, what happens when something…stinks? Here are a few simple ways you can “go green” on the cheap with some natural air fresheners you may already have.

Let it Simmer: A good friend of mine kicks her household odors by simmering apple cider vinegar in a saucepan with a bunch of cloves or some cinnamon sticks. Though I was skeptical at first, the concoction actually worked quite well and lasted a good while. If the vinegar smell is too strong, just add more cloves to the mix.

Air it Out: Don’t underestimate the value of occasionally airing out your house. The key is getting good cross-ventilation, so the fresh air can flow through and get rid of unpleasant smells. While other measures may be needed to get rid of tough odors, airing things out is a good first line of defense that’s completely free and totally natural.

Go Gonzo: Another friend introduced me to Gonzo, which is truly amazing stuff, if a bit odd. It’s all-natural, odorless volcanic crystals with lots of crevices that absorb odor. The crystals come in a sealed bag that doesn’t open, which you set next to an odor source. I keep one bag next to my cat litter, and never have problems with litter box funk. I paid $6.99 for one bag, but it lasts forever; every few months, just leave the bag out in the sun to let it air out and recharge.

Oil it Up: If you have essential oils handy, you can dilute a few drops in a spray bottle full of water and use it to freshen up a room. An even cheaper option – and useful if you don’t have oils around your house – is to use citrus juice in the water instead. If you’re going the citrus route, be careful if you have a cat. The juice won’t hurt them, but some cats, including mine, hate the citrus smell and will avoid areas where it’s been sprayed, including their litter box!

Go Ahead and Litter: If you already have cat litter on hand, it can be an effective and inexpensive option for absorbing moisture and eliminating odors. When a friend’s daughter recently wet the bed, she used kitty litter to absorb the urine and kill the smell before she did a through cleaning. Setting some in a damp room can help reduce the amount of moisture in the air and tone down the musty smell too.

Get Activated: Activated charcoal is great for eliminating all kinds of odors, and it’s generally safe and chemical free. If you don’t already have it, it can sometimes be tricky to find, but most pet stores carry it for aquarium filters. Don’t make the mistake of using charcoal briquettes that are intended for grills, since they typically have added chemicals and are designed to catch fire, which poses a safety hazard.


“Ozone Depleting Substances” Environmental Protection Agency

“Gonzo Products: Odor”