How your home smells is usually a top concern when guests come to stay, so having a nice-smelling guest bedroom is paramount to making a good impression.
But scenting a guest bedroom requires striking a delicate balance between a freshly scented space and an overpowering room that sends guests packing.
Here, cleaners explain exactly what it is people with nice-smelling guest bedrooms do to make a house smell nice for their arrival.
Things people with nice-smelling guest bedrooms always do
1. Wash bedding and clean the mattress
It should go without saying that you will want to wash bed sheets before guests come to stay – even if the bedding hasn't been used but has been sitting on the bed for any longer than a month.
You shouldn't stop at your bed sheets, however, Elizabeth Shields, operations manager and cleaning expert at Super Cleaning Service Louisville, adds. Cleaning the mattress is also key to banishing bad smells:
‘Vacuuming your mattress and pillows using an upholstery attachment is a task often overlooked but highly effective in eliminating dust and odors,’ she explains.
‘For superior comfort, invest in high-quality, breathable bed linens. These linens not only provide a luxurious feel but also promote air circulation helping to prevent bad odors and keep your guests in comfort.’
2. Air out a room that hasn't been used recently
‘Opening your windows is a free and easy way to freshen a room and remove odors. If you can’t open the windows for weather reasons, run a dehumidifier,’ she recommends.
‘It’s worth checking if you have a humidity issue within the guest room too,’ Beth adds. ‘Humidity levels should be kept below 55 percent by ensuring good ventilation. If the humidity levels are too high, this can lead to mold, bacteria, and bad smells.’
3. Use naturally scented cleaning products
The scent of your cleaning products can have a big impact on the final scent of your room, Elizabeth Shields, a cleaning expert, points out, so it is important to use naturally scented products for a light scent that doesn't overpower or set off allergies.
‘When it comes to cleaning products, opt for the organic and natural ones as they clean without any of those chemical smells. Brands like Method and Seventh Generation, both available at Amazon, have some great options.’
You can also make your own cleaning spray using water, white vinegar, and a few drops of essential oils for an all-natural cleaner that doesn’t cost the earth.
4. Swap air fresheners for essential oils
In a similar vein, it helps to remove any artificially scented air fresheners such as plug-ins and aerosols in favor of essential oils to help add a fresh scent to the space, Muffetta Krueger, cleaning expert and founder of Muffetta's Domestic Assistants, continues.
‘These can trigger allergies or simply be too intense for some guests,’ she explains. ‘Opt for subtle, natural scents like lavender sachets or dried eucalyptus branches. These can add a pleasant aroma without overwhelming guests with strong fragrances.
‘Essential oil diffusers with mild scents like citrus, lavender, or peppermint can also create a soothing atmosphere. Make sure to ask guests if they have any specific allergies to essential oils before using them.’
Muffetta Krueger is a cleaning expert and founder of Muffetta’s Domestic Assistants with over 16 years of operational management experience in the service industry. Muffetta’s Domestic Assistants provides housekeepers, house cleaners and maids, and is based in New York.
5. Focus on flooring
Although you don't need to deep clean a carpet every time a guest comes to stay (once or twice a year is fine), paying close attention to vacuuming can help to pick up dust that causes stale smells, says Beth McCallum, cleaning expert.
When vacuuming, work forward quickly and drag your vacuum cleaner backward slowly, this allows the machine the best chance to pull up even the most embedded of dirt – especially when paired with a beater brush.
Mop wood floors if needed, too, so guests can walk around barefoot comfortably if needed.
6. Eradicate dust to remove musty odors
Although it is incredibly difficult to get rid of dust completely from your home, using a combination of dusters, vacuums, and air purifiers to remove as much dust as possible is a good way to make a guest room feel cozy and inviting, says Elizabeth Shields, cleaning expert:
‘Be sure to dust all the surfaces, including those ceiling fans and light fixtures. Investing in an air purifier to filter out impurities and allergens can also be beneficial, and there are some great stylish options that guests can continue to use throughout their stay if needed.’
7. Don’t forget about hidden spots to add scent
Making a guest bedroom smell nice is not just down to cleaning, Millie Hurst, Solved section editor for Homes & Gardens reminds us:
‘There are some hidden tricks people with nice-smelling homes use to consider too, such as adding scented drawer liners to dressers to keep guests' clothes fresh, adding fresh plants to help purify the air and scent the space with natural flowers, or even infusing upholstery with essential oil.
‘Try to pick scents that layer on top of one another nicely so they do not clash and become overwhelming,’ she adds.
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.
Why does my guest bedroom smell musty?
Your guest bedroom may smell musty because you do not frequently use the space. When not in use, a room can accumulate dust which causes a faint smell, or even develop mold or dampness if not aired out often.
It helps to add your guest bedroom to your cleaning routine even when you don't have anyone coming to stay to maintain levels of cleanliness.
Why does a bedroom smell bad after sleeping?
If a bedroom smells bad first thing in the morning, it may be that you do not have good ventilation. Overnight, we release a lot of moisture into the air, this moisture then gets trapped and causes condensation and even mold if not treated correctly.
Adding in a dehumidifier, opening a window, or even sleeping with the bedroom door open can all help to reduce the moisture in the air and prevent the musty odor.
If you are concerned about getting the right scent for your guests, you can always ask them about their preferences in advance, reminds Muffetta Krueger, cleaning expert. ‘Consider reaching out to your guests in advance to ask about their scent preferences and any allergies they may have. This way, you can tailor the room's fragrance to their liking.’
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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.
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