Things people with nice-smelling bedrooms do – 8 cleaner's secrets for a soothing sleep space

There is more to it than a nice candle, experts say. It is all about how and what you clean – and how often!

Pink bedroom with green velvet headboard and abstract art above bed
(Image credit: Irene Gunter)

Ever wondered why your bedroom smells, well, sour in the mornings? Or been into a friend's room and thought: how does their bedroom smell so good? 

Well, there are reasons why some people's bedrooms smell good, and why others don't. And, good news, they're all fixable. 

The answer, unsurprisingly, largely lies in ensuring you clean your bedroom more thoroughly and banish some items that might be harboring unpleasant odors. Then there's the fragrance layering...

We asked our editors, from our housekeeping editor to our scents expert, how they keep not just their bedrooms but their homes smelling nice. This is what they said.

How to make your bedroom smell nice

Believe it or not, the smell in your bedroom is largely caused by you. This is what our experts say to do for a nice-smelling bedroom. 

1. Ensure your bedroom is dust-free

A lasy using a cloth and spray to wipe down a make up desk

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Your bedroom can easily become cluttered and dirty without proper cleaning, which means it can become bad-smelling, which can, in turn, affect your sleep and well-being. But where to start?

'Odors don't just come from the obvious culprits (well-worn sneakers, we're looking at you). Dust, from skin flakes can create a bad-smelling bedroom,' says Millie Hurst, our Solved editor. 

'You may be surprised to know that dust actually smells, but preventing dust in your bedroom will help remove unpleasant odors.'

So, ask yourself: how often should you clean your bedroom, and are you cleaning it enough?

millie hurst news writer
Millie Hurst

Millie Hurst is Section Editor at Homes & Gardens, overseeing the Solved section, which provides readers with practical advice for their homes. Millie has written about and tried out countless cleaning and DIY hacks in the six years since she became a journalist, and has worked in both London and New York. 

2. Wash bed sheets weekly

How to clean a mattress

(Image credit: Future / Nato Welton)

This is definitely something people with nice-selling bedrooms do: washing bed sheets regularly is a must for making yours smell good. Unwashed bed sheets build up dust and sweat, creating an unpleasant musty smell. 

Wondering how often you should wash your bed sheets? Chi Ip, professional cleaner and founder of Tidy Here, Boston, recommended washing them weekly and airing out your comforter/duvet, throws, and pillows every month. 

'We sleep on our beds for hours and during those times, we excrete bodily fluids and shed dead skin. Our mattress as well as our bed sheets absorb all of these. If not dried or aired properly, they become breeding grounds for molds and bacteria which causes the bad smell and will eventually spread throughout the room,' he explains.

It is a good idea to use a good mattress protector, which can go in the wash with your linen, to help keep your mattress fresh.

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Adding a scent booster to your laundry cycle can really enhance that fresh sheet feeling, with the fragrance hanging around even after a few nights' sleep too.

3. Deep clean the mattress

Leesa memory foam mattress

(Image credit: Leesa)

People with nice-smelling bedrooms also tend to clean their mattresses regularly, a minimum of every six months. This means treating stains appropriately, though avoiding using harsh chemicals or making them too wet, which may damage them. 

'An easy way to clean a mattress is to vacuum it first, and if there are no stains, you can sprinkle a small amount of baking soda to get rid of any odors, before vacuuming it off again,' explains Carlos Garcia, cleaning expert at Total Clean

'You can spot clean any stains using a mild detergent or a cleaner designed for mattresses. The best tend to be enzyme based,' he recommends. 'I find sprinkling baking soda over the mattress and letting it sit for a few hours before vacuuming will help absorb odors, too.'

Alternatively, you can combine water with your favorite essential oils in a spray bottle and lightly spray the mattress. Lavender is said to aid sleep, and you can buy lavender oil on Amazon.

It is important to allow your mattress to completely air-dry before putting your sheets back on as any moisture left behind by cleaning may allow mold and mildew to develop, which, of course, smells musty.

4. Improve ventilation and air quality

An armchair by a window in a bedroom.

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

If you're wondering why your house smells musty, often the answer couldn't be simpler than that the air is stale: opening the windows will instantly improve ventilation, and how the bedroom smells.

'Black mold, caused by condensation, sometimes from your breath and poor ventilation, can be a health hazard and will contribute to that musty smell you might be picking up,' says Millie Hurst.

'The natural stagnant air in a room can be improved by opening your bedroom windows more often.'

'Using a dehumidifier is also a very effective way to prevent a damp atmosphere,' says our product reviews editor Millie Fender. 'It reduces the levels of moisture in the air which essentially prevents the growth of mold or mildew which thrive in moist conditions.

'Air purifiers are another option: air purifiers can improve air quality indoors and, to a degree, air purifiers can help get rid of dust and airborne chemicals and particles, which cause bad smells.'

Millie Fender
Millie Fender

I've been writing for Homes & Gardens since the beginning of 2021, covering all things product-related. A lover of al fresco dining, I'm always on the hunt for the best barbecues and pizza ovens for entertaining friends and family. I'm also a firm believer that everyone should have their own herb garden, and can often be found taming my over-zealous rosemary plant. 

5. Banish the laundry hamper and trash can

A large wicker laundry basket with a removeable lid in the doorway of a country bathroom

(Image credit: Anbôise)

A full trash can or laundry hamper can be one of the main sources of unpleasant smells in a bedroom. In order to maintain a nice-smelling room, you should regularly empty them, or better still, banish them from the room altogether and move them to the bathroom, dressing room, or laundry room instead.  

'Avoid placing damp clothes and linen into your laundry basket: dry dirty laundry is generally less smelly than wet. And, wherever in the house it sits, your laundry hamper should be cleaned regularly to prevent odors,' says Millie Hurst. 

'Plastic hampers can be deodorized with a mix of hot water and baking soda, then rinsed and left outdoors to air-dry. Fabric ones should go into the washer along with your clothes laundry. Wooden hampers can be vacuumed and wiped down with a mildly soapy dishcloth. If your hamper can't be washed, a disinfecting spray, such as Lysol, at Amazon, that reaches all the corners will prevent mold growth.'

6. Banish pets, too

fiddle leaf fig and dog in living room

(Image credit: Cavan Images/Getty Images)

Sorry, furry friends, but you do not create the right atmosphere for a nice-smelling bedroom. So, however attached you are to your pet, if you wonder why your bedroom smells bad, it could be that your pets are to blame, even if they are fastidious cleaners.

If you can't be separated, Angry Orange Pet Odor Eliminator, at Amazon is a pet-friendly spray that can get rid of smells. 

7. Clean your carpet regularly

Bedroom carpet ideas with textured grey carpet with rustic grey linens on the bed

(Image credit: Kersaint Cobb)

Deep cleaning a carpet is another thing that people with nice-smelling bedrooms do, says Carlos Garcia, a cleaning expert. Just as with mattresses, 'carpets tend to accumulate dirt, dust, and odors over time, making regular cleaning essential,' he explains. 

Vacuuming weekly is a must, he explains, but a deep clean is necessary to remove embedded dirt and unwanted smells. You can quickly freshen up the smell of your room by cleaning it with baking soda: simply sprinkle it over the carpet in the morning, then vacuum it up at night. It will take the bad odors into the vacuum with it. 

Another tip? Don't wear your shoes in the bedroom: they will transfer bacteria and smells onto your carpet. 

8. Mask the odors with scents

A small candle on a dark wood bedside table beside a glass vase of white flowers

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

The best home fragrances will, of course, mask unpleasant smells, though it's obviously much better to work out where those odors are coming from and treat them. 

When picking out a fragrance for your sleep space, it is important to select one that is not full of chemicals or harsh aromas that could disrupt your sleep, advises Karina Toner, cleaning expert at Spekless Cleaning

'We all want a bedroom that smells great without causing any sleep disturbances. Look for room sprays or fragrances that use natural or essential oils. They offer subtle scents like lavender, chamomile, or vanilla, creating a calming atmosphere that lulls you into dreamland. No overpowering fragrances here!'

We also recommend selecting a misting spray as opposed to aerosols, which can irritate our airways. You could also opt for the best reed diffusers and best candles to give off mood-altering scents, with the latter also lovely for mood lighting.

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Karina Toner
Karina Toner

Karina is the Operations Manager at Spekless Cleaning, a trusted maid service based in Washington D.C. The team has over five years of experience providing top-quality cleaning services for both residential and commercial clients. Karina oversees every aspect of the business, ensuring that every client gets the same top-notch service and spotless clean every time.

FAQs

Why does my bedroom smell in the morning?

There are a few reasons why your bedroom may smell stale or musty in the morning, but the most common is a lack of good ventilation. Not having airflow, caused by cling both windows and doors, leads to a build-up of moisture, dust, body odors, and even mold spores which lead to a nasty smell that can be hard to clear. Improving ventilation or using a dehumidifier can help with this.  

How do hotel bedrooms smell so good?

Five-star hotels will usually have a signature scent that they use throughout their rooms, layering the fragrance so that it sticks around in the room. They will then also use this scent every day when cleaning your room. To emulate this in your own home, find a scent you love and use it throughout your space regularly, as well as cleaning the bedroom deeply, to keep it smelling its best. 


Acing your bedroom's scent is a great way to nail your cozy bedroom ideas, or perfect your inviting guest bedrooms, as the pleasant aromas draw you in for a lovely night's sleep. These simple cleaning tips may seem basic, but you shouldn't doubt the impact they can have on the smells you experience in your homes. 

Additional words: Marla Wilment

Chiana Dickson
Writer

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, 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.