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How To Make Your House Smell Good

Does your home have a ‘signature scent?’ Mine sure doesn’t, and that was proven true when I walked into my friends house the other day and was like “WHAT IS THAT INSANE (in a good way) SMELL?” It was like Christmasy cinnamon, cozy, apple cider deliciousness. And every person that walked in after me said the same. exact. thing. Wanna know the best part? It wasn’t just a candle, it was the smell of apple cider in the stove and a DIY room spray she MADE (plus there was a candle or two that probably helped) but still. I was blown away. Returning to my home later that night was somewhat of a dissapointment. It smelled a lil musty and just, well, like the scent of ‘nothing.’ So, I decided to come up with ways to make my house smell INSANELY DELICIOUS beyond just lighting a candle –– and just in time for the holidays 🙂

Put Spiced Apple Slices In The Oven

My mom is a real estate agent and this is her open house/showing hack she’s used for YEARS. She said it’s an old realtor trick that lots of people have used, but it’s time it goes beyond the real estate agents and you can count me in. Basically what you do is slice up some apples, sprinkle cinnamon and even a little vanilla if you want and put it in the oven at 250 degrees for up to an hour. You can also make mulled wine or apple cider on the stove or in a crockpot (which is great for holiday parties anyway). Melissa (that’s my mom) specifically said she’s done apple cider on the stove with cloves poked into oranges & a cinnamon stick 🙂

Make Your Own Chicken Broth

Emily SWEARS by this. She specifically said this makes her house smell insanely good for 24 to 36 hours and it’s part of the reason she makes her own broth so often. Here’s what she had to say: “I’m not sure anything smells better or more homey than roasted chicken, but that’s not where it ends. I started ‘Brothing’ in the original Souptember, 2018 mostly to save money. I was making 4-5 soups a week, using 1-2 boxes of organic broth which was costing me around 100 a week in JUST broth. $400 a month!!! So I started roasting a happy (pasture raised + local) chicken every sunday for dinner and then brothing overnight to can up enough broth for the week (and often more that I would freeze). I bought this soup book (which I can’t recommend enough) and it has a lot of different broth recipes in it – but its so easy, I PROMISE. One of the added benefits is that it makes your house smell so good for a full day and now my kids associate the smell of chicken soup to home. It’s my hope that even when they are grown and gone they’ll smell chicken soup or broth somewhere and think of their mama and her crazy love of soups.”

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from “how soup changed my body and my mind”

Okay enough with the ‘making stuff’ on the stove, here are some other even easier, more instant hacks…

Drop a Lemon in the Garbage Disposal

Grab a lemon, cut it in half or quarters, then throw it in your garbage disposal and crank that baby ON. I love to do this with lemons that are almost dead, so they don’t go completely to waste. If you have more than 1 lemon that is about to go bad, you can also put them in a pot of water and just simmer them on the stove for hours – it will make your space smell amazing too!

Put Coffee Grounds in The Fridge or Freezer To Absorb Bad Smells

Step one should be to clean out your fridge, then once you get the gross moldy foods out, put a little bowl of coffee grounds in your fridge and it will absorb the grody smells. I tried this for the first time the other day and was so surprised with how well it worked!!

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from “it’s finally here, reveal of the mountain house kitchen”

Put Baking Soda In Your Trashcan

I just tried this for the first time too and was shocked at how smart it was. Part of making your house smell GOOD is eliminating the BAD, so while you might not notice an instant difference, eliminating the gross trash can smell can make all of the other good smells shine.

Add Essential Oils To Your Air Conditioner Filter

This is genius. If you add a few drops then your AC will just pump delicious smells through your house…SO SMART. Hot tip: make sure you test out the essential oil first to ensure you really like it…I had an oil diffuser once and realized I hated the smell of the essential oils I bought. It would be a disaster if you put it through your house and THEN realized the smell gives you a headache. Test before you try on this one, guys.

Hang Eucalyptus On The Showerhead

design by emily edith bowser | photography by sara ligorria-tramp | From “emily bowser’s 32-sq-ft bathroom reveal”

I THOUGHT IT WAS JUST FOR LOOKS, FRIENDS BUT IT’S NOT. Apparently if you hand eucalyptus on your shower head then when you turn on the shower the steam will make the smells waft perfectly through the air. Might get annoying to have on your shower head if it’s TOO big, but it’s definitely something to try (or just get a small bunch). Comment if you’ve tried this!

Make a DIY Room Spray

This would make such a cool and affordable gift!! Use a water-base with essential oils, citrus, herbs or anything else your heart fancies. The Spruce has a whole list of really good ideas for DIY room sprays that you can check out.

Oil Diffusers and Incense

If you want the ‘candle’ feeling but don’t want a flame for peace of mind (or to avoid an incident from small kids/dogs) then these are awesome stress free options.

1. Scarpa Incense | 2. Essential Oil Diffuser | 3. Lavender + Eucalyptus Diffuser | 4. Casaluna Diffuser | 5. Japanese Incense Pack | 6. Incense Sticks

A Deliciously Smelling Candle, Obviously

Nothing sets a vibe like candle light, so we’ll never not love a good candle (and a good lighter), especially for the holidays. Some of our favorites are this one that Jess loves, this apple cider target one that’s VERY affordable and cute, and lastly this one that Caitlin is obsessed with.

design by jess bunge | photo by veronica crawford | from how to have great holiday cocktail party in a tiny apartment

1. Scented Candle | 2. Replica Candle | 3. Citrus & Cedar Candle | 4. Capri Blue Volcano Matte Black Jar Candle | 5. Black Leaves Candle | 6. Escapist Votive Candle Set

So, hopefully this is helpful and has inspired you to get your home smelling it’s best during the holidays and beyond (I know I’m inspired). If you have any more hacks on how to make your house smell good let me know in the comments below! This is fun!

Opening Image Credit: Design by Emily Edith Bowser | Photography by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From Emily Bowser’s 32-Sq-Ft Bathroom Reveal

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21 days ago

Williams-Sonoma mulling spices simmering on the stove is a favorite at our house this time of year. And I’m new to the Pura plug-in diffuser and scents (including Thymes Frasier Fir and Capri Blue), while I was skeptical, I’m quickly becoming a believer. LOVE that I can control the intensity of the scent from my phone.

21 days ago

Charcoal bags!
As a pet owner with a carpeted family room, sometimes our house can smell like man’s best friend. I purchased a variety pack of charcoal bags and tuck them under the furniture near the dog’s sleeping spots. They help absorb a lot!

Stove top: water, rotting orange slices from the r crate of clementines your family gave up on and cinnamon sticks.

21 days ago

I make coffee and tea at home now (ie. no more coffee shops for me) to support my Diptyque Ambre habit. I live with a husband, two boys, and two dogs in slightly less than 900sq. feet (city-dwellers) and this admittedly expensive candle has been a game-changer for us. I light my candle, crack a window, and I almost am able to imagine I’m not the manager of the world’s smallest zoo. 😉

18 days ago
Reply to  MS-R

GIRL! City dweller here, too. Diptyque Tuberose minis give me life! One sits by my side of the bed, and I don’t even have to light it to go to sleep with good dreams. Another sits by my at home work table so I can honor my senses. When I need an extra boost I light it for a half hour and my mood shifts. Here’s to finding the moments that make flow; that feel initially expensive but are worth every penny.

21 days ago

The eucalyptus bouquet in the shower works, it’s very nice and spa like. But…after a while, the leaves will fall down and go into the drain. A spray of eucalyptus essential oil just before the shower is easier. But less pretty.

21 days ago
Reply to  V

I’ve left mine for months and the leaves don’t fall off. There are a few different varieties of eucalyptus so it might depend which you get.

21 days ago

Open the windows in every bedroom once a day (while quickly making the bed is a good time).

21 days ago
Reply to  Kj

I like pulling back the sheets and airing them out for a bit before making the bed too – feels like it keeps them fresher so much longer. Unfortunately I have chain smokers living below me so I can’t open the window anymore, but I can vouch for this method! For people living in wildfire territory I recommend a box fan with an AC filter taped on the intake side, to be sure you aren’t blowing gross ashy dust around your bed.

Nancy S
21 days ago

Made Pho for the first time on Sunday – it’s now Tuesday morning and I can still smell the wonderful aroma! Also my first try making any kind of soup. I will be doing this again & again & again………………

21 days ago

I put a few drops of lavendar essential oil on my vacuum cleaner filter, so as it’s running, its blowing lavendar into each room as I go. I also put leavendar oil on my wool dryer balls for every load of laundry, and extra drops when I do bedding. Amazingly the yard outside the dryer vent smells like lavendar too instead of the artificial scents put out by laundry detergent/softener/dryer sheets (we use unscented laundry products).

21 days ago
Reply to  Susan

I do this with lemon, or balsam during the holidays. It smells great and keeps my vacuum smelling fresh as well!

Cris S.
21 days ago
Reply to  Susan

Susan – is there a way to add the oil to the wool dryer balls to make sure the oil isn’t leaking onto/staining the clothes?

20 days ago
Reply to  Cris S.

Careful with the essential oils in the dryer…its a fire hazard.

15 days ago
Reply to  Susan

Please no essential oils in the dryer! It’s a fire hazard. I see so much risky behavior happening in my building’s laundry room (essential oils, not emptying the lint trap, etc) that it seems like a lot of people are missing very basic education when it comes to this stuff.

21 days ago

I recently purchased an Aera Home diffuser and it really works! My house is 1800 square feet and it permeates almost the entire house.

21 days ago

I’ve done something similar to the cider tip, but it was a pot of water with lemon slices, rosemary sprigs, and some vanilla extract left to simmer all day. It smelled FABULOUS

20 days ago
Reply to  martini

I tried this today and it’s lovely. Thank you for sharing!

21 days ago

such great ideas! Has anyone else become SUPER sensitive to smells since having kids?? It was real bad when I was pregnant, but my kiddo is 8 now and there’s still only a select few smells I can stomach! Like, I’d rather smell BO or actual garbage than fake roses. It’s not fun y’all. hahaha

21 days ago
Reply to  kiki

same thing happened to me after having my second kid! I can no longer handle artificial scents at all. that fake cedar used by so many higher end brands (diptyque, byredo, bumble&bumble) gives me an instant headache. I’m so thankful to have found some good natural perfumes, but hair products are such a struggle. why so much fake smell in everything? if it weren’t for tj’s tea tree line I’d probably never wash my hair lol.

Julie S
21 days ago
Reply to  kiki

Yup for sure. Before kids I actually had a perfume hobby and collected dozens of tiny tester vials I enjoyed sniffing and experiencing. Nearly everything fake gives me an hours long headache now, and I quit buying scented candles because of it.

18 days ago
Reply to  kiki

It’s probably not having kids, but rather age. There are several times in life when we are most likely to develop new allergies, lose old ones, or experience a change in allergic reaction intensity. 1. When we are toddlers, the one everyone knows; 2. in adolescence towards the end of puberty, lots of people know this one as well; 3. early mid-life when a lot of us are having kids these days, not too many know that our 30s (and into the early 40s for some) are a time of change for allergies ; 4. old age, if you live long enough you may find that your last few years are annoying bc your allergies are changing during your 70s or 80s. I’ve heard this from 2 doctors now : my family GP who is really great at staying up on the latest findings & my daughters’ allergist who is on the young side for a specialist and is up on the latest findings bc she just finished her last fellowship 5 years ago. Most likely you had symptoms in pregnancy for a different reason (pregnancy hormones making a ruckus) and then a change in allergies afterwards – which felt… Read more »

21 days ago

I’ve become a huge fan of diffusers (the misting kind) over the last few years. I love candles, but they aren’t the safest with kids/pets and if you burn them all day they don’t last long. Whereas with diffusers, you can fill the tank with water every morning and it will continue diffusing all day depending upon the size of your machine and frequency of misting (intermittent or steady). They automatically turn off when empty and you can leave it on all day, whether you are home or not. I’ve bought many machines over the years, and I would suggest buying a cheap one. I’ve had top of the line (Vitruvi) and cheap ones off Amazon and noticed no difference in their performance. They are just like mini humidifiers after all. Also, even if you properly maintain them, their lifespan may not be incredibly long. The oils however may be worth spending more. My favorite brand is from a Canadian company ‘Saje’ that has stores in CA and one in WA. Their scents are amazing but they are pricier. I smell oils whenever I see them at stores, and I have found some good ones at Target and Walmart, but… Read more »

20 days ago
Reply to  Andrea

I am a big diffuser fan and have more than one in my house. I have tried out numerous oils and found that
the NOW brand are reasonably priced and have good scents. For the season right now I am using tangerine
and sometimes with a hint of cinnamon.
You only use a few drops and instantly when you walk
in your house it makes you happy that it doesn’t smell
like two dogs live there with you. My favorite NOW oil
is Cheer Up Buttercup which is an uplifting blend.

15 days ago
Reply to  Andrea

Diffusers can also be seriously dangerous with pets if you use the wrong oils. A lot of the very popular ones (like citrus scents or eucalyptus) are toxic to dogs. They can also be unsafe around children and you’re not meant to diffuse anything around anyone under the age of six months. Above that age it suggests up to one hour with supervision. See more info here:

21 days ago

my absolute favorite home scent is sunshine on line-dried anything. my family used to line dry sheets and there really is a specific smell from drying outside! I don’t have a line but will throw a tshirt to dry over a patio chair sometimes and it still comes back with that same heavenly smell. it’s so fresh but doesn’t smell like air exactly, and somehow it’s the same smell no matter where in the world I’ve dried the thing outside.

can anyone else smell that? I’ve never had this conversation with anyone in real life, ha.

21 days ago

Essential oils on the vacuum cleaner filter or bag!
Just please don’t use those Glade diffusers that smell like a chemical factory. Those things give me migraines. So does Febreeze. Room sprays are easy to make at home.

Also, take your trash out every day. Solves a lot of problems.

20 days ago

I LOVE this post!!! Was almost afraid you’d go into the territory of what can make your house smell…not so fresh. Like children’s wet (stinky) shoes! We put wet shoes on a shoe dryer (saw them recently at Costco…worth their weight in gold), and it keeps shoe odors at bay! Good investment for wet winter climates.

20 days ago

Ok – so can someone please tell me how to do the Brothing Emily talks about — Roast a whole chicken, I assume eat some of it, but then what to make enough broth for a week??

20 days ago
Reply to  kim

Never mind – I think I found it — Emily’s post from 1-26-2019 has a good description of making bone broth using the carcass from Sunday’s roast chicken.

20 days ago
Reply to  kim

haha i came to say the same. i’ve been wanting to make some for years and it just seems intimidating/i dont have the right pot.
eucalyptus in the shower – love the idea but also love my dried bouquet moooore lol. dont think i could keep it dry in my small shower. can it be away from the shower head or not really?
the best way to keep odors out of the house – compost 🙂 i dont have smelly trash and it’s just one of the many benefits. we keep the remains in our freezer and it never gets stinky either.

Susan T Blake
20 days ago

Pure beeswax candles actually burn impurities floating around in the air and they give off a heavenly honey-like scent. I prefer them to scented candles – there are only a few that don’t make me wrinkle my nose when I sniff them.

20 days ago

Winter Home Potpourri: Simmer in 1 1/2 quarts water fresh pine sprigs, cinnamon sticks and whole cloves

Caribbean Potpourri (great after cooking fish too long, or anytime):
1/2 sliced lemon
1/2 sliced orange.
1/2 sliced lime
2 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon cloves
Toss together gently and simmer on stove in 1 1/2 quarts water.

18 days ago
Reply to  Deb

This inspired me to do the same yesterday. Of course, I only had clementines and cinnamon sticks. It didn’t matter – it immediately made my home smell amazing. I added a little vanilla bean paste (and repeatedly refreshed the water over a few hours). 12 hours later, my home still smells like the holidays.

19 days ago

Put drops of essential oil on a paper towel, cotton ball, or small piece of a rag and put it in your vacuum cleaner bag.

19 days ago

I’m a huge fan of oil diffisers and different smelling candles! I have dozens of them at home! When I come to the shop and see another candle, I say to myself ‘stop, you’ve already bought two new candels’, but I just can’t fight this temptation and buy more and more smelling things! Maybe I just like to smell everything haha Thank you for inspiring article!

16 days ago

That is some inspirational stuff and ideas.
Thank you for sharing.

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