Effective Natural Remedies For 7 Strange Home And Body Odors

These natural solutions will help clear the air of common stinky culprits.

December 20, 2017
woman smells something stinky

A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but sometimes things just stink, and no matter what you do, you can't seem to get rid of that smell.

If your home or housemates (or yourself!) are adding unwanted odors to your life, we've got easy, natural solutions to clear the air. (Plus, here are 4 simple stovetop scents that will make your home smell amazing.) Below, find remedies for seven common unpleasant smells you may be encountering. 


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trash smell

An empty trashcan

You’ve taken the garbage out, rinsed the can, and slid in a new trash bag, but for whatever reason, the thing still reeks, even when it’s empty. Gardening and natural remedy expert Jean Nick suggests scrubbing out the empty trashcan with hot, soapy water, rinsing, and then dumping a quarter inch of white distilled vinegar in the bottom. Let it set for awhile, and then dump and dry. Next, liberally sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom of the can before inserting a new trash bag. If you can, opt for bags made out of recycled plastic.


Related: What's The Better Disinfectant: Bleach Or Vinegar?

A stinky sink

Sink drains can be the most bacteria-laden areas of your home, particularly your kitchen sink, where you dump chicken juice and all sorts of other precooked germy gunk. There are often more than 500,000 bacteria in a kitchen sink—about 1,000 times more than the average toilet. Even if you have a garbage disposal (the metal parts can produce ions that help kill germs), it’s still a good idea to toss a lemon or lime peel down into the disposal every once in a while for some natural odor control. Churn up the fruit by turning on the water and flipping on the disposal’s switch. You can also deodorize once a week by dumping 2 cups of distilled vinegar down the drain. If that’s not kicking the smell, pour a cup of borax down it, followed by hot water.

Related: The Only 10 Things You Need To Buy To Make All Your Own Natural Cleaning Products

smelly feet


Freakishly unfragrant feet

Stinky feet, and even athlete’s foot, can be another job for the almighty vinegar—in this case, apple cider vinegar. If you’re sick of your significant other’s stinky peds, suggest a 10-minute vinegar soak daily. To deal with athlete’s foot, dab vinegar on the affected spot with a cotton ball several times a day. Before retiring for the day, soak your feet in vinegar for 30 minutes to wipe out the irritating fungus. And this should go without saying, but remember to wear cotton socks with your sneakers. If you’re still having trouble, it might be time for a trip to the doctor. In a worst-case scenario, you could have pitted keratolysis — a bacterial infection requiring a topical antibiotic.

Make this DIY mood-boosting room spray to clear the air:

All-over-body stench

 Some pretty putrid scents can waft from certain parts of our bodies, which, though perfectly natural, can be embarrassing and a social nuisance. Usually the solutions are simple. Read on for some specific tactics for specific body parts. However, if your sweat seems to you (or others) to be unusually pungent, you could have a rare metabolic disorder that makes it hard for your body to process certain food proteins. A doctor can help you assess this likelihood, and, if needed, tweak your diet to manage the smell.

Related: 7 Weird Signs You Have A Serious Health Problem

Unbelievably bad breath

While bad breath can suggest gum disease or some other medical ailment, more often than not, it’s caused by bacteria feasting on food particles lodged in between the tiny bumps on your tongue. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss once daily, and use a tongue scraper in the morning and at night before you go to bed. If the smell still lingers after a week of improved hygiene, see your doctor. If you have the opposite problem of bad breath—sweet breath—you may need to be tested for diabetes, which can often be controlled with healthier lifestyle changes.

Related: 8 Natural Mouthwashes That Work Even Better Than Listerine


Armpit pungency

Most of us cover pit stench with heavily perfumed deodorants, but if the ingredient label includes the words fragrance or "parfum," you may be exposing your bod to toxic chemicals. Consider a milder option like these great natural and organic deodorants, and if that doesn’t work, dab apple cider vinegar under your arms after you shower to help keep bacteria at bay. Clothing made of natural fabrics like cotton absorbs perspiration better than synthetic materials, and the sweat evaporates more freely from the fabric. Or take your cue from hunters, who often use glycerin or pine tar soap to mask their scent from animals. 

Related: 9 Best Natural Deodorants That Actually Keep You Stink Free

Vaginal odor

 First, it’s important to note that every woman has a normal vaginal smell that changes slightly with her cycle. But a very strong or foul odor could indicate a problem. Bacterial vaginosis is the most common cause of vaginal odor, which often puts off a fishy or moldy smell, and requires antibiotics. Trichomonas vaginalis could also cause these types of odors. A yeasty smell most likely indicates there’s too much yeast growing in your private area. A simple exam with your doctor can pinpoint and prescribe a fix for one of these infections. If the scent resembles something more like spoiled meat, you could be dealing blood breaking down from a recent surgery, or a forgotten tampon, according to the Smell Well website, run by world-renowned scent researchers. Call your doctor if you have pain or a fever; otherwise, remove the tampon or wait to heal.

Related: I Tried A So-Called Vaginal Steam—Here’s What Happened

To prevent unpleasant vaginal odors in the first place, eat yogurt that contains live culture, or take probiotics containing Lactobacillus, which helps keep unhealthy bacteria from running amok. Avoid wearing those bacteria-spreading thongs, and choose 100-percent-cotton underwear (you may find organic cotton feels much more comfortable). Sleep without undies at night to air yourself out. Some women swear by eating acid-rich foods like oranges, grapefruit, and cranberries.