I’ve always been a bit freaked out by commercial air fresheners and fabric deodorizers… even before I became obsessed with reading labels and searching for non-toxic products. It’s because I can’t even walk down the cleaning aisle or into a public bathroom with being overwhelmed by those awful, fake smelling scents.
The irony is that these chemicals are meant to get rid of bad odors and yet they make everything smell worse. Plus, the chemical particulates that make up these so-called deodorizers are intended to permeate the air so that we inhale them. Sure, let’s send those toxins directly into our lungs! (Who thought that was a good idea?)
Needless to say, if a deodorizer has any chemicals at all — even if those chemicals are labeled as “safe” — the product stays on the shelf. And, frankly, who needs the chemicals anyway, when natural ingredients do a better job?
Vinegar and baking soda as natural deodorizers
While most chemical deodorizers only cover odors, baking soda and vinegar get rid of them for good. Vinegar accomplishes this goal by killing the odor-causing bacteria, while the baking soda absorbs the odor molecules.
Not only are baking soda and vinegar completely non-toxic and safe to use around children and pets, they also cost a fraction of what you’d pay for the chemical stuff.
Here are a few tips for common deodorizing needs. They’re all so simple, it’s almost silly to list them separately… but here they are.
Jump to the section on deodorizing…
- Rugs, carpets, upholstery, mattresses and pet beds
- Garbage pails and compost bins
- Sneakers and gym bags
- Musty laundry
- Sink drains and garbage disposals
- The dishwasher
- Cutting boards
- The kitty litter box
Deodorize rugs, carpets, upholstery, mattresses and pet beds
Sprinkle baking soda over the surface and let it sit for 15 minutes. Vacuum thoroughly. You can also fill a small spray bottle with grain alcohol and your favorite essential oils. Give it a little shake and lightly spray your rugs, linens, mattresses, and more. (Don’t spray essential oils in pet beds, as some scents can be harmful to pets.)
Deodorize garbage pails & compost bins
Sprinkle a little baking soda over foods when throwing them away to keep strong odors from accumulating. Periodically wash the bins with white vinegar and sprinkle some baking soda into the bottom of the fresh bin liner. When things get especially stinky, drizzle a few drops of tea tree or peppermint essential oil onto a cotton ball and just toss it into the bin.
Eliminate odors from sneakers & gym bags
For a reusable odor eater, fill an old pair of socks with two tablespoons baking soda. Tie the top of each sock into a knot and let them sit inside your sneakers or gym bag overnight. Replace the baking soda monthly.
Freshen musty laundry
Sprinkle 1/2 cup baking soda into the washing machine to neutralize the smell of musty towels and bathing suits that have been sitting in the hamper or that smell like chlorine. When wet laundry has been sitting in the machine too long, rerun the wash with a cup of vinegar or baking soda to refresh them.
Deodorize sink drains and garbage disposals
The baking soda that keeps your fridge smelling fresh needs to be replaced monthly. Instead of throwing away the old box, pour half a cup down the kitchen and bathroom sink drains.
- Drizzle just a little bit of warm tap water very lightly over the baking soda to soak. Let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse with warm tap water.
- To deodorize the garbage disposal or an extra-stinky drain, lightly drizzle 2 cups of white vinegar over the baking soda instead of water.
You can also flush old baking soda down the toilet to help keep the pipes clean.
Deodorize the dishwasher
Sprinkle half a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and let it sit until a full load is ready for washing. For extra clean dishes, run the dishwasher with the baking soda still sitting on the bottom.
Soak sponges overnight in a quart of warm water plus 4 tablespoons of baking soda. Alternatively, soak them in vinegar to kill bacteria.
Get the garlic or fish stink out of cutting boards
To remove garlic, fish or other strong odors, dampen the cutting board with water. Sprinkle with baking soda and let it sit for 15 minutes before washing.
Deodorize the litter box
Spray the empty litter box with white vinegar. Let it sit for a few minutes and wipe clean. Add a generous sprinkle of baking soda to the fresh litter to help neutralize odors between cleanings.
Good to know
- Baking soda and vinegar are safe to use on anything that touches food or drink, such as cutting boards, sponges and baby bottles.
- Be careful deodorizing leather or suede shoes with baking soda too often, as they can dry out with repeated treatments.
- Regularly deodorizing drains with baking soda helps to maintain a proper pH level in septic tanks.
- While baking soda is highly effective at neutralizing odors, it does not kill germs, mold or mildew. Instead, use vinegar as a safe and effective disinfectant.
EnviroKlenz Mineral Technology (when baking soda and vinegar aren't enough)
Natural Living Guide
Find practical tips & natural alternatives to the everyday chemicals that invade our lives.