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21 Gross Smells You Can Neutralize Using Items in Your Pantry

Dealing with a smelly pet or can't stand the smell of fresh paint? Look no further than your kitchen to keep these annoying odors at bay.

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Fishy hands

If you’re about to cook fish but are worried about the scent lingering on your hands afterward, halve a lemon and rub your hands with the cut ends before handling fish. If the smell persists after you’ve finished cooking, scrub wet hands with baking soda and rinse with warm water.

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Garbage can

Keep your garbage can smelling fresh by sprinkling baking soda in the bottom each time you change out the bag. Baking soda is one of the most effective natural deodorizers out there and will prevent the area from smelling.

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Fried fish

To prevent the smell of fried fish from permeating your kitchen days after cooking, add a dollop of peanut butter to the oil before frying.

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Failing fridge

There are many different ways to keep your fridge smelling fresh: Place a wide, shallow bowl of coffee grounds in your fridge or freezer, leaving it overnight to absorb odors. Other great odor absorbers are tea bags; placing three to four around your fridge on a regular basis will prevent strange smells from occurring in the first place. If you don’t happen to have any tea bags handy, peel a raw potato and slice it in half, placing the two halves on different shelves in your fridge. Once the cut sides turn black, slice them away and pop them back in the fridge for continued use. If your smelly fridge needs a deep cleanse, empty it out and wipe the interior with undiluted tomato juice like this one, then rinse with warm water. This remedy will also work on an odorous cooler.

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Grease in the kitchen

Put a bowl of white vinegar out in your kitchen next time you fry something using grease. The vinegar will absorb the stench and prevent an unsavory smell from emanating through your kitchen. Alternatively, simmer the vinegar once you’re done cooking for an even stronger deodorizer. Try out these other 95 household vinegar uses you never knew about.

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New paint smell

Although it may be exciting to be adding a fresh coat of paint to your walls, the accompanying odor can detract from the fun. Mix a tablespoon of vanilla extract into a gallon of paint to make the sharp smell slightly sweeter.

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Recycled food container

If you’re reusing an old food container that was previously occupied by something that left an odd smell behind, squirt a bit of yellow mustard in the bottom and fill the container halfway with warm water. Swish the mixture around gently, let it sit for 15 minutes, and wash. These are food containers you’ve been using all wrong.

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Skunky-smelling car

Your pet may have managed to outrun that pesky skunk, but it still spent the evening lurking under your car. Dissolve a cup of dried mustard into three gallons of water and splash the solution over your vehicle’s tires and undercarriage.

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Musty dishwasher

To rid your dishwasher of that musty and dank smell, throw one cup of baking soda in the bottom of the washer and run it on the rinse cycle. Should the smell persist, sprinkle a few more tablespoons in the bottom to sit in between loads, but don’t feel the need to rinse the washer again before the next load. Prevent weird smells from accumulating in the first place by adding half a cup of lemon juice to the detergent receptacle each time you use the machine.

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Smelly sneakers

Stop smelly sneakers from stinking up your whole house by crumbling a couple of dried sage leaves like these inside each shoe just before you put them on. Sage carries a light fragrance while killing bacteria, and you can just shake the flakes out each night and replace them the next day.

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Kitchen smoke or cooking odors

Did last night’s dinner leave an unexpected reek in your kitchen? Wet a washcloth with vinegar and wave it around the room to neutralize any smell. Another method is to slice two lemons and place them on a baking sheet, then preheat your oven at 225°F and bake for 60 to 90 minutes. Once time is up, leave your oven door open and let this natural air freshener work wonders.

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Stinky feet

Keep your feet from stinking up your shoes in the first place by soaking feet in a tea bath for 20 minutes every night. After two weeks, you should notice a decrease in sweat and odor. Another helpful solution is to sprinkle a 50/50 mixture of baking soda (to neutralize stench) and cornstarch (to absorb sweat) on your feet and in your shoes each morning. Just watch out for these 14 body odors that could be a sign of something serious.

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Chemical smell in oven

Chemical oven cleaners can be necessary for thorough cleaning, but they leave your oven with a harsh smell that leaches into food when it is next used. Prevent this from happening by wiping the inside of your oven with a sponge soaked with white vinegar after it’s been cleaned. Let the vinegar dry completely before you turn the oven on again.

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Rank microwave

You’ve just cleaned your microwave and it’s spotless—except for the lingering stink. To rid the appliance of unwelcome fragrance, microwave a few tablespoons of vanilla extract on high for one minute. Let the vanilla cool and repeat as needed.

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Odorous pet accidents

New puppy’s not housebroken? Soak up as much of the accident as you can, then get rid of the urine smell by pouring a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water onto the smelly spot so that it soaks through. Let it sit for a half hour, then wash with cool water to get vinegar out. Pat dry, then place a half-inch-thick layer of dry rags or paper towels and weigh them down with a heavy object, which will speed moisture absorption. If odor persists, work an eighth- to a quarter-cup of baking soda into the carpet, leave for 15 minutes, and vacuum up. However, general pet odors can also be quelled by heating freshly ground coffee beans over low heat in a cast-iron skillet. Then, place the skillet in the smelly room and the odor should be gone by the time the coffee grounds cool.

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Burnt milk

While boiling milk, it’s easy to glance away for a minute and look back to see your pan overflowing. If you’ve burnt milk and need to mitigate the smell, wet the bottom of the pan and coat it with salt. Let the pan sit for about ten minutes and then wash normally.

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Smelly car

If you’ve cleaned your vehicle meticulously but can’t seem to get rid of an unpleasant smell—whether from a carsick child or a fast food drive-thru—offset the odor by leaving an undiluted bowl of white vinegar on the floor of your vehicle overnight. If you have vinyl seats, sprinkle baking soda over your seats and work it into the material using your hands or a soft-bristle brush. Shut all doors and windows overnight, and vacuum the neutralizer out of your seats the next day. One helpful tip to keep your car smelling fresh is to keep coffee beans or baking soda in your ashtrays to keep offensive odors at bay.

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Musty clothes

To freshen up a musty-smelling clothing article, pour a little unflavored vodka into a spray bottle and gently spritz the garment. The alcohol will kill odor-causing bacteria, and no new fragrances will be added.

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Skunk-sprayed pet

Everyone is familiar with the long-standing solution to a skunk-sprayed pet: the tomato bath. However, for a cheaper alternative with a lot less cleanup, bathe your pet in a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar.

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Dank-smelling drain or garbage disposal

Keep your drain and garbage disposal smelling fresh and clean with these suggestions: Pour a cup of salt down the drain, followed by a cup of baking soda, and a kettle’s worth of boiling water. You could also grind citrus peels, fresh mint, or ice cubes that are half water, half white vinegar. To keep your home smelling generally nice, use these 11 simple tricks for freshening your home’s scent.

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Smelly dog ears

Dogs with long or floppy ears are at greater risk for wax and bacteria build-up, which can cause their ears to smell pungent. Clean your pet’s ears on a weekly basis with a cotton ball dipped in a mixture made of equal parts water and vinegar, being careful not to put the cotton ball in the ear canal. After the first ear, discard your cotton ball and get a new one to prevent cross-contamination infection.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest