13 ways to make your home smell nice – innovative methods to banish odors and add fragrances

Beyond simply taking out the trash and using room spray, these creative tips offer a more enduring and effective approach to make your home smell nice

Three images of colorful home decor with flowers and natural materials
(Image credit: Dan Duchars / Future / Emma Lee / Twig Hutchinson)

The sense of smell is one of the most evocative senses; different scents are connected to different areas of the brain and influence physiological functioning. Harnessing the power of scent can profoundly alter the way you feel in your home and its ambiance. Therefore, the scent of your home should be given as much consideration as the rest of your interiors.

Learning how to make your home smell nice is essential in providing guests with a warm welcome and making your home a pleasant space to spend time in.

Of course, there are plenty of obvious ways to make your home smell nice, including lighting the best candles and adding reed diffusers. However, these only provide the finishing touches – you must combine ways to add fragrances with ways to target bad odors to make your home smell good all the time

Below we share our top tips for eradicating bad odors and perfuming your home.

Ways to make your home smell nice

'Sense of smell is part of the limbic system which processes emotion, supports memory formation, and is strongly linked to your emotional well-being,' explains Kristin Bartone, owner and principal designer at Bartone Interiors. There are three essential steps to making your home smell nice: 

1. Eliminate bad odors: There is no point in just covering up unwanted smells with artificial ones – you need to get to the source. It may seem obvious, but start by keeping your home clean. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove microparticles from your carpets and soft furnishings, and also ventilate your home by opening all windows at least once a week. 

Scented cleaners will also help to make your home smell clean and fresh. If bad scents are coming from drains, vents, electric outlets, or similar, get these investigated. 

2. Bring new, refreshing scents into your home: Fragrance layering and crafting your own signature scent is a great way to make your home smell nice and will also help you to be happier at home. If you are unsure how to find the best home fragrance, start by looking at your favorite perfume. Discover what notes you are drawn to – whether that's floral, citrus, or musk. Knowing this will help guide you toward a home fragrance you'll love.

3. Consider the desired impact of scents based on the function of each space: For instance, in a home office, consider infusing the space with the best scents for boosting productivity. In a bedroom, using the best scents for sleep can help you promote relaxation and restfulness.

1. Prioritize natural essential oils over artificial fragrances

Essential oils, candle and pots

(Image credit: Quadrille/Jen Chillingsworth)

When faced with a bad smell in the home, many people's first step is to light a candle. However, this can do more harm than good. 

'Despite their pleasant aromas, many scented candles contain toxins, particularly paraffin, which are damaging to our health, especially if you suffer from respiratory issues such as asthma,' says Sue Caldwell, from Clean Living International.

'Read product labels and look for naturally derived scents and cotton wicks in non-paraffin candles to keep your home toxins to a minimum,' adds Kristin Bartone. 

Opt for natural candles made from soy wax and essential oils, or make a DIY reed diffuser as a cost-effective way to make your home smell nice when you're sensitive to fragrance.

Essential Oils Set of 20 | $31.99 from Amazon

Essential Oils Set of 20 | $31.99 from Amazon
Choose a wide range of essential oils to experiment with fragrance layering and choose your favorites to use in different ways throughout your home. 

2. Make your own fabric and linen spray

pretty table setting for spring entertaining

(Image credit: Future Future / Emma Lee / Twig Hutchinson)

Filling your home with fresh linens is a great way to make your home smell nice. To retain that ‘just washed’ smell in your bedlinen, making DIY linen spray is a must. 

You can spray some linen water over garments while ironing or use DIY linen water to reinvigorate fresh sheets. You can also add a personalized scent to upholstery by combining a few drops of your favorite essential oils with water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Then, you can mist this mixture onto upholstery such as sofas, headboards, or fabric dining chairs. 

These sprays can be especially effective on natural textiles that are good at absorbing scents, such as wool, silk, and cotton. This way, no matter where you or your guest sit in your home, you will be greeted by a fragrance that resonates with you. Just be sure to test your DIY spray on an inconspicuous spot before spraying it across delicate fabrics. 

Hula Home Continuous Spray Bottle | Was $14.99, now $7.99 at Amazon

Hula Home Continuous Spray Bottle | Was $14.99, now $7.99 at Amazon 
Using a misting spray bottle is the perfect way to gently add scents to your linen or upholstery without concentrating the mixture too strongly on certain areas.

3. Fill your home with herbs and flowers

Large window above sink with white shutter, dark brown kitchen cabinets, kitchen sink, countertops decorated with kitchenware and food

(Image credit: California Shutters)

It can be hard to make a kitchen smell nice. You must battle cooking odors while also avoiding floral or perfumed scents that might interfere with the taste of your food. Fresh herbs offer the solution.

Chef and award-winning cookbook author Virginia Willis says, 'One of my favorite things to do is to fill vases with fresh herbs. A vase of rosemary, sage, or mint is both practical and beautiful. It’s especially easy if you have an indoor herb garden or container garden, but it can be easily and inexpensively accomplished with store-bought herbs, too. A simple brush with your hand will release the essential oils, leaving an herbaceous aroma.'

You can even try growing herbs indoors – not only will this give your kitchen a beautiful fragrance but the plant's oxygen-producing and air-purifying qualities will also help to mitigate bad odors. 

4. Create scented drawer liners

closet with drawers and hanging space

(Image credit: Sharps)

While you may not always consider the connection between your drawers, closets, and the overall scent of your home, using scented liners in drawers and on shelves is a hidden trick people with nice-smelling homes use due to its surprising power to subtly elevate the aroma of your space. 

Clothes and drawers often develop a musty smell, so infusing them with a fresh aroma can combat this. You can find pre-scented options in stores or make your own by misting paper with your favorite essential oils mixed with water. Let the paper dry before lining drawers or shelves with it, and rotate and replace liners periodically to maintain their potency. 

4. Deodorise your kitchen after cooking

red gloss kitchen with shaker cabinets and a black gloss island

(Image credit: Chused & Co / Photography Jeff Holt)

Despite your best efforts, certain smells, such as fish, garlic, and onion, will permeate a kitchen after cooking. Thankfully, there are some quick and easy hacks to target these specific odors and get your kitchen smelling as good as it looks:

  • For fish odors, set a bowl of white vinegar in your kitchen overnight – the acetic acid will deodorize the room. 
  • For garlic and onion smells, freshly brewed coffee is a great solution. 
  • Baking soda is also known for its deodorizing properties. Store an open tub of baking soda in the fridge to keep food smells to a minimum.

‘If your microwave is a bit smelly, you can keep it fresh between cleans by simply filling a glass bowl with water and squeezing half a lemon or orange inside. This microwave trick removes burnt-on food with ease. Pop it in for a minute or so for a scented steam that will leave it beautifully fragranced,’ advises Sue Caldwell, from Clean Living International.

6. Create scented sachets

Scented sachet

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Creating scented sachets from dried herbs, flower petals, fruit, and cotton balls soaked with your favorite essential oils can be a subtle way to infuse natural scents anywhere in your home. 

You can personalize the blends in these sachets to match your style. For example, you can combine dried lavender, rose petals, orange peels, or even cinnamon sticks. 

'Strategically placing small sachets of lavender in certain areas of the home can add a light scent without overpowering you or your guests,' says Luis Carmona. 'Placing them under pillows in each bedroom, on a dresser or nightstand, in a closet, or near air vents will distribute the scent throughout the space without it smelling too strong.' 

7. Decorate with flowers

spring table with hanging floral installation

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

'Don't underestimate the power of a simple bouquet of fresh florals. Some florals are harder to keep alive or to freshen up, but the scent that they provide for a space is unmatched,' says Luis Carmona, interior designer and owner of Verde Interior Design. 'Gardenias, roses, or even freesias, with their fruity scent, can bring life into a room and add a fresh scent to the space. Peonies and hoya plants are a bit more unconventional but will deliver the same soothing aroma that your home may need.'

Finding ways to decorate with flowers can ensure your home looks and smells fresh throughout the spring and summer months. 

8. Integrate smart scent diffusers

Essential oil diffuser

(Image credit: The White Company)

'Smart scent diffusers can be connected to your home's Wi-Fi and controlled remotely via smartphone apps or integrated with your home voice assistant systems,' explains Alex Webster, founder of Noobs Tech. 'These devices allow you to set customizable schedules and adjust scent intensity throughout the day.' 

Using this smart tech, you can easily change your home fragrance according to your mood and the specific occasion. For instance, you can fill your home with a subtle lavender scent for relaxation in the evenings or transition to a refreshing citrus scent in the morning to invigorate your senses at the start of the day.

We recommend this AromaPlan 2024 smart scent diffuser from Amazon.

9. Create a carpet deodorizer

Living room with green shutters and fireplace

(Image credit: Carpetright)

Deep cleaning a carpet is one of the most difficult cleaning tasks – however, QVC host and cleaning expert Jill Bauer has an excellent DIY cleaning tip to deodorize your carpet and make your home smell nice:

'Making the mixture is pretty simple – just add 1-2 cups of baking soda, some dried lavender, and anywhere from 10-20 drops of essential oils to a bowl and combine the ingredients thoroughly with a fork. 

Funnel your mixture into a shaker and sprinkle the DIY rug and carpet refresher sparingly on your carpet. Leave this to sit for 20 minutes, then vacuum as you normally would, and you'll have fresh-smelling carpet.'

You can also try this laundry pearl trick for rugs and carpets – it will leave any space looking and smelling as clean as fresh laundry.

10. Invest In a HEPA Air Purifier

Air purifier

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're looking for a quick and efficient way to make your home smell nice, then an air purifier might be the perfect solution. 

'A beautiful home is incomplete without clean air,' says Robert Johnson from Coast Appliances. 'You could invest in a HEPA-filter air purifier to eliminate unwanted odors indoors and breathe cleaner air inside your home.' This appliance traps and reduces the air particulates, like dust and pollen, that can harm health, especially the respiratory system.

Read our guide on what to look for in an air purifier for advice on choosing the right model for your home. This Dreo Macro Pro Air Purifier from Amazon is one of our favorites – and you can read H&G's full review here

11. Use soap to keep your shoe storage smelling fresh

Country bootroom with panelling and fitted seat

(Image credit: Dan Duchars)

Your boot room (or shoe cupboard) is likely to be one of the more pungent spaces of your home – and a diffuser or scented candle is unlikely to do much to help here. Instead, tackle the source of the odor. 

Experts at Nike recommend placing a bar of soap into each shoe and leaving it overnight. Soap kills bacteria and the smell they produce. Plus, soap is porous, so it’ll absorb the smell and replace it with a clean, soapy scent. If trying this method, ensure that the soap is dry before use. 

Alternatively, consider using activated charcoal bags or try this clever hack about storing broken bath bombs in your shoes to deodorize your space and revolutionize your shoe storage ideas.

12. Don't overlook bedroom fragrance

Rustic white bedroom

(Image credit: The White Company)

There are lots of obvious ways to make your bedroom smell nice – candles, reed diffusers and drawer liners all work well. However, deodorizing is a must. Open the windows each morning to let out the stale air and let in the fresh – even in winter, it needn’t be for long. 

The next thing people with nice-smelling bedrooms do is air their beds. Instead of making your bed as soon as you wake up, pull back the covers, remove blankets and hang them on the line or airer, and separate and plump your pillows. Leave them like this for half an hour or so before making the bed. You can even apply a few sprays of linen spray when making the bed to reinvigorate your sheets.

Reed diffusers are a fantastic way to make your bedroom smell nice. 'A lovely relaxing scent such as lavender will make the room feel instantly more restful as does the soft flicker of a scented candle,’ advises Chrissie Rucker, founder of The White Company. Try this Sea Salt Lavender ReedStick Diffuser from QVC.

13. Simmer a potpourri pot

Simmering potpourri

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want a powerful way to fill your home with aromas – say, before hosting or for an event like Christmas – simmering a pot of fruit and potpourri on your stovetop is a great way to infuse a long-lasting scent throughout your home.

Simply fill a pot with water, add your favorite aromatic ingredients, such as citrus peels, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and herbs, and let it simmer on low heat for a few hours. 

'You can also add a drop or two of essential oils to the water, such as sandalwood or citronella, to strengthen the scent,' recommends Luis Carmona. 'If using sliced apples or pears, add a touch of cinnamon or vanilla to create a custom scent with a few layers. Simmerpots also add moisture to the air, which is especially beneficial during dry winter months.' 

FAQs

What can I buy to make room smell nice?

If you want to buy one thing to make your room smell nice, then bicarbonate of soda is a must. Our favorite deodorizer, bicarbonate of soda can be used to remove bad smells in any room, can also be used on furniture and upholstery, and is a great way to make a mattress smell nice to remove unwanted odors.

Once you have a neutral base, you can add candles and diffusers with essential oils to make your home smell nice. 

How do realtors make house smell good?

Baking cookies is the most famous way realtors make a house smell good, filling rooms with a sweet, vanilla scent that instantly makes a house feel like a home. 

'Usually, I bake cookies or simmer spices in water on the stovetop because, as a real estate agent, I know the importance of calming aromas in assisting with home sales. You can accomplish the same thing at home using your preferred herbs and spices, and I guarantee it will work,' explains realtor Shaun Martin


The secret to successful home fragrancing lies not in overwhelming the space with strong, singular scents but in subtly layering carefully selected aromas for a sophisticated, fragrant space.

Lola Houlton
News writer

Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past six years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including practical household advice, recipe articles, and product reviews, working closely with experts in their fields to cover everything from heating to home organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.

With contributions from