Have you ever had to play what's that smell in your house? Not sure what the stink is or where it's coming from, but you need to find it and get rid of it. Let's figure out the best way to get rid of those common household smells for good!

By Becky Rapinchuk
February 23, 2016

Every house has the occasional smelly spot, and fortunately it's easy to eliminate common smelly spots with regular household ingredients. Typically household smells originate from bacteria or mold that's growing in a warm, damp place. A good rule of thumb is to make sure anything that's wet can dry out quickly, and any dirt is cleaned up promptly. Here are a few of the most common household stink culprits and a few suggestions for how to keep them stink-free, preventing future odors.


Kitchen sponges can be the most bacteria laden item in your kitchen. Yuck! It's important to disinfect your kitchen sponge daily to prevent bacteria from spreading on surfaces and dishes. My favorite method for sponge disinfection is to put it in the dishwasher in the evening, and let it get disinfected with the daily dishes. Here's how:

  1. Give your sponge a good rinse-and-squeeze, and put it in the top rack of your dishwasher.
  2. Wash using the heated dry option if you are able to. This will disinfect the sponge.
  3. The next morning, or when the cycle is complete and has cooled, squeeze any water from your sponge. It's ready to go!

Washing Machines

Keeping your washing machine from smelling is pretty simple if you just follow these two steps:

  1. Clean your washing machine monthly.
  2. Keep your washing machine door open in between uses so it dries out completely.

Kitchen Rags

Kitchen rags are great for cleaning up spills, washing dishes, and wiping down the kitchen counters and table. Use a rag for one day, and allow it to dry to keep kitchen bacteria at a minimum. Follow these steps to eliminate the kitchen rag stink:

  1. Use a hook under the kitchen sink to allow rags to dry thoroughly, and then put in a basket with other rags and kitchen towels.
  2. Wash using just hot water and detergent. Eliminate the fabric softener as it leaves behind a residue that causes towels to get dingier, be less absorbent, and have a shorter life span.
  3. Dry on hot or high with no dryer sheets.

Bath Towels

Much like kitchen rags, the majority of bath towel smell comes from not drying quickly enough. Make sure that your bath towels are hung up with plenty of room to fully dry between uses. Use your bath towels twice, and then get a fresh one. These simple habits will keep those towels smelling like they should -- like fresh laundry! Here's the best way to wash your towels to remove and keep the mildew smell away.

  1. Don't overload your washing machine - make sure the detergent and water have plenty of room to work.
  2. Wash towels on hot with your favorite detergent, but just like the kitchen rags, leave out the fabric softener.

Gym Bags

Smelly gym bags can be a thing of the past. Add a couple simple steps in your gym routine, and you'll have a non-sweaty smelling gym bag too!

  1. Use a plastic bag (most gyms provide these to transport any used gym cloths back home).
  2. Remove and launder any clothing when you get home. Keep the bag open until the next time you go to the gym in case there's any dampness in the bag.
  3. Place a fabric softener sheet in the bottom your gym bag to absorb odors and keep it smelling fresh.
  4. If you gym bag is already smelly, completely empty it, machine wash if it's washable and let it air out outside. If it isn't washable, use a baby wipe or cleaning cloth, and wipe it down, and let it air out outside.


Stinky drains are the worst! Keep them odor free with a little maintenance. Run the disposal after you put any food down the drain. You can even pour a little dish soap, and run the disposal with cold water to get rid of any food smells. The key to keeping your drains from stinking is making sure that there isn't anything hiding out in the drain or disposal.

It's easy to eliminate these common household stinks with home-sourced cleaning methods and ingredients -- which ones are you going to try today?


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