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How to make your house smell nice

We came back off holidays recently, and the first thing I noticed, after saying how nice it was to be back home, was the fusty smell. We have 2 cats and a big Labrador (as well as 2 kids and a slightly slovenly husband) so, despite my own love for cleanliness and tidiness, let’s just say sometimes they win out. If I tried to keep things perfectly clean… well we all know where that road leads!

What I’m saying is my house is FAR, FAR from perfectly immaculate. But I do want it to smell clean! Is that too much to ask?!

Anyway, within the realms of staying sane, something had to be done. And so began project ‘Make the House Smell Nice’. Catchy, eh?

Here’s what I noticed and also what I am (part way through) addressing:

1. Increase deep cleaning

I keep the house tidy-ish. I am by no means a clean freak, as I say, it’s just not worth being that way as it’s a losing battle. But I do stay on top of things. Equally, not doing anything and letting the place get mucky and stinky would be as detrimental to my mental health! I’m 27 weeks pregnant, so I decided to get some help once a fortnight to help me stay on top of things. Knowing that my lovely friend Mel is coming once a fortnight to clean the floors etc is a huge weight off my mind. I know that seems lavish. But I choose to spend some of my money on this – as for me it’s a priority. If this isn’t possible, which I appreciate it isn’t for many, then think of ways to slot in extra deep cleaning – not just you either, ask someone else to do it. Maybe on a Saturday morning the kids could do it for spending money?

2. Locate the main issues, and address

There are clearly several rooms that smell fustier than others. It’s where the pets spend a lot of time, or where the furniture is old. So we are attacking these issues. The pets’ main room, the boot room, is about to undergo a makeover, where I will take everything out and deep clean, paint and add one or two things etc (look out for that blog post!). This will make a huge difference, but in the meantime I have cleaned all the pets’ beds. I’ve also removed all the winter coats and put them away in vacuum storage bags – so pleasing to suck that space up!

The other room where the dog sits (and sleeps!) on the sofa I have washed the throws and will wash the covers too – sadly (for him anyway!) we have now decided that Hugo the Lab can no longer sit or sleep on said sofa as he is ruining it. So we will be getting a new dog bed for the posh new made-over boot room too. In the meantime we are putting things on there to stop him sitting on it!

Pets aside, I detected that the sofas were a bit smelly. They are just quite old. The pets sit on them, the kids spill things on them. They just need replacing. I’ve spotted two IKEA sofas that we will replace with (no point in getting expensive ones with kids and animals) – but this is drastic. A stage before this – which we have done ourselves – is getting them professionally cleaned. This made a difference for a while but the time has come to get them changed. Our bedroom was also were smelling fusty so we are getting a new mattress too – again from IKEA. Ours is years old – pre Arthur – so it’s well time to replace.

Check things like bins, food caddies, ovens – when was the last time they got a good clean? Keep them regularly spruced and you’ll know that’s not the source of ponginess.

It’s these things: sofas, mattresses, pet beds, throws – that smell fusty and without addressing them you’ll never get to the root of the issue. So either deep clean them or replace!

3. Buy some inexpensive scented home products

Masking smells is the worst thing to do. But then again living with smelly pets it is necessary to some degree. Once you know you are taking on the actual reasons for smelliness, then it’s time to grab some nice scented products.I am not one for plug in air fresheners or spray ones either – they just seem unhealthy to me. I prefer oil diffusers, candles, that sort of thing.

Sainsbury’s had a sale on all their home scented products, so I chose one scent from the range, White Cotton and Ylang Ylang, and stocked up. Most rooms downstairs have something in them, and even when not lit then give off a nice scent. On reflection I think I’ll go and get more oil diffusers as candles have the added complication of having to be lit – and they can be forgotten about, so we generally only light them in the evening. I think it’s important to keep oil diffusers well away from little kids and pets too as I believe the oil can be harmful to their skin.

Recently I also bought some very inexpensive Provence soaps in Jasmine, Lavender and Mimosa – and they give off such a lovely strong smell in the main bathroom. Old fashioned soap not only looks nicer than pumped soap but it’s also better for the environment.

4. Treat yourself to fresh flowers

They don’t have to be expensive. Supermarkets nowadays offer really cheap flowers – Aldi in particular. I treat myself to two bouquets every time I shop nowadays. It pays for itself over and over again in scent and visual impact.

5. Open the windows

We have open windows a lot of the time, particularly upstairs. It really helps with that fusty night time smell. First thing, as long as you are at home of course, open the windows wide – and also peel back bed covers for at least an hour to air the mattress.

6. Buy gorgeously scented cleaning products

I really love the smell of Method Wild Rhubarb anti-bac spray which I use all the time, as a wipe down after dinner or on the counter tops. I love Waitrose Eco range too – their Grapefruit and Eucalyptus range smells like bath foam!

I even just bought some Shake and Vac for the rugs (assuming you’re old enough and know what I’m on about, you will now have that 1980s advert music in your head all day, sorry!). Now, I’m not one for these type of products (I kind of think they are for people who are OBSESSED with things smelling nice and I do wonder what is actually in them) but like I say we do have a fust problem at the mo, so I gave it a try – and yes it does freshen stuff up! This one has a lemon sherbet sweetie type smell. Totally fake of course but worth a shot if like me you have pets and are sick of everything smelling doggy. Do take care around pets and kids with these types of products – and read the instructions carefully.

If anyone has any tips for this I’d love to know, as I say we are mid way thought this housekeeping project so any feedback or product suggestions would be awesome!



  1. June 15, 2018 / 5:03 pm

    Thanks for the great tips, time to deep clean… And I always go straight to Ylang Ylang when buying scents, the White Cotton addition sounds like bliss!

  2. Helen Stokes
    April 30, 2020 / 9:06 pm

    Wow this is such a great post; such simple things but all of them so affective and like a kick up the backside.

    May i recommend my new version of a shake and vac and so much nicer in terms of smell; simple add your favorite essential oil such as lavender or lemongrass to bicarbonate of soda and mix well, spread on carpet, leave for a good hour to infuse then hoover, this also takes the doggy smell away from your hoover. I do this once a week and it’s really helped.

  3. Lucy Blannin
    October 10, 2020 / 8:30 am

    Thanks for your article, I’m in the same situation! My dog sleeps on the sofa and have two kids and a slightly slovenly husband! Fragrancing my house makes me feel good and investing in home scents helps with having to spend more time at home lately. I love the method products and use the almond squirt and mop, yum! I also have wooden balls and pot pourri in the lounge which I add home fragrance oil to when it starts smelling fusty. X

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