This hidden fragrance hack subtly scents a living room – and is guaranteed to last

This subtle fragrance hack leaves a lingering fresh scent, and it barely costs a thing

A neutral living room with a puffy cream sofa, ottoman table, and two arm chairs
(Image credit: Nkuku)

We are all on the constant hunt for a way to scent our homes and make the fresh fragrance last longer than a quick spray of an air freshener or when we blow out a candle.

While there are plenty of ways to make your home smell nice and infuse the space with scent, such as simmer pot recipes, they are often laborious and require constant attention.

This hidden fragrance hack for living rooms, on the other hand, is a ‘setup and leave it’ process – and it barely costs a dime. 

Hidden fragrance hack for living rooms

This hidden trick people with nice-smelling homes use only requires two things – a set of fresh dryer sheets in a fragrance you love and your living room throw pillows.

The trick by home influencer @jessicamay_home infuses your pillows with that ‘just washed scent’ to help make your home smell like laundry without the need to be constantly running your washing machine.  


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It is not just us who love this hack. It's something people with nice-smelling living rooms always do – including Will Cotter, cleaning expert and founder of Happy Cleans:

‘Using dryer sheets to discreetly make your home smell good is definitely a good idea. In fact, I do this, too! They are coated with fragrances that stick to the fabric when you use them. When you put them inside your cushions and pillow covers, the fragrance molecules stick to the fabric's fibers and release slowly over time. So you get a nice, subtle fragrance that fills the room for a while.’

bedroom with white walls and white chaise longue and big plants

(Image credit: Wing Ho)

The hack works so well because the fabric of your pillowcases are porous, meaning the fragrance can easily escape and scent the room. Every time you sit down and squash the pillow fibers, it releases another injection of scent into the space.  


Spring Burst SuperFresh Dryer Sheets
View at Walmart
This set of super fresh dryer sheets also helps eliminate musty odors, meaning they scent and refresh your space simultaneously. 

There are a few caveats to this method, however, as Angela Rubin, professional cleaner and owner of Hellamaid points out. 

Firstly, the effectiveness of this fragrance layering method ultimately depends on the type of dryer sheet you use, its size, your cushions, and the airflow in the room.

‘While some dryer sheets may retain their scent for several days or even weeks, others may lose their fragrance more quickly,’ she warns. It is another instance where the higher the quality, the better. 

Moreover, dryer sheets are not the most sustainable (but then again, neither are many of the best candles or air fresheners). ‘For those who prefer natural or unscented alternatives, there are other methods for freshening cushions and pillows, such as using natural essential oils on cotton balls or sachets filled with dried aromatic herbs like lavender or rosemary.'

Angela Rubin
Angela Rubin

Hellamaid is an award-winning cleaning company in Canada that's been featured on multiple global media brands. 

Modern blue and gray living room

(Image credit: Kathy Kuo)

If you want the same results without spending on single-use sheets, you could also try dampening strips of cotton fabric with an essential oil blend of your choosing. These can then be washed out when doing laundry, switched out for a different oil blend to match the season, or refreshed with the same scent again. 

Pair this with some plants to infuse subtle scents into your home, and you have a winning, all-natural solution to making a home smell great.  

Essential Oils Set | View at Amazon

Essential Oils Set | View at Amazon
This essential oils set comes with six popular fragrances, such as lavender, eucalyptus, and peppermint, to help give your home a fresh, customizable scent. 


What absorbs bad smells in a room?  

If you want to get rid of bad smells in a room rather than just mask them with fragrance, white vinegar and baking soda are your best bet. These simple pantry staples absorb odors from the space around them.

In a large room, leave them in separate bowls around your space. For smaller areas such as bags, shoes, or storage, you can either use a sachet of baking soda or dampen a paper towel with white vinegar and allow that to sit. It will soak the odor right up.  

What is the best scent for a living room?  

While the best scent for a room will usually come down to personal preference, common choices are light floral scents that feel fresh and welcoming. You spend a lot of time in your living room, so a light scent that is not overpowering is a must to avoid getting a headache.  

Of course, you won't be able to make your living room smell nice if you don't also use some smart cleaning tips to remove lingering odors. Before putting dryer sheets or a fabric alternative in your pillowcases, clean upholstery and wash throw pillows and covers according to the label instructions to remove any overpowering smells or mustiness.  

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.