9 Essential Tips for Getting Rid of Sour Smells in Your House

Kate Fann
Written by Kate Fann
Updated April 19, 2022
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Keep your home smelling fresh

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No matter how clean or tidy your home may appear, a sour smell can make any room seem less inviting. Sometimes it can even be a chore in itself to locate where the musty smell is coming from. Keep your space cozy with these tips to get rid of and prevent sour smells in your home.

1. Invest in Regular Carpet Cleaning by a Professional

Carpets are notorious for harboring odors. Even with regular vacuuming, some stains are deep within the fibers that cause odors. If you’re a parent or pet owner, some messes may occur without your knowledge, allowing the stain to set.

Deep carpet cleaning helps eliminate build-up from dirt, dust, and other messes that can result in poor odor. Hire a carpet cleaner in your area to come to your home at least once or twice a year for a deep clean. 

You can choose to have this done more frequently if you have carpets that are heavily trafficked, own a pet that sheds, or have someone in the home who suffers from allergies.

2. Clean Your Refrigerator Regularly

Foods can spoil quickly and once a product reaches its expiration, it will start to smell. If you’re noticing a sour odor in your kitchen, it’s time to clean out the refrigerator. Check expiration dates, look for signs of mold, and toss any leftovers older than a few days.

Make refrigerator cleanout a weekly occurrence. A great habit would be to clean out the refrigerator before your weekly grocery shopping trip or delivery. 

3. Improve Indoor Air Quality

woman changing water in dehumidifier
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Stagnant air can cause a build-up of sour odors in your home. In most cases, the solution to preventing and getting rid of these odors lies in your air conditioning. There are many reasons your air conditioner is causing musty odors, including draining problems, a gas leak, or engine issues. If you think this could be the root cause of odors, hire a professional HVAC team to take a look.

Not all air quality issues in your home are caused by air conditioning. If you do use your air conditioner frequently, your home can harbor a stagnant smell. A few things you can do to prevent odor are to buy quality air filters and change them out frequently (typically on a monthly basis), use dehumidifiers to control humidity, or buy indoor plants to freshen the air.

4. De-Stink Your Trash Receptacles

Trash itself is a source of many foul smells in your home. Whether it’s your trash can, garbage disposal, or any other trash receptacle, your home could be harboring smells. Baking soda will be your best friend for preventing and getting rid of odors in your trash.

Baking soda absorbs odors and is great for scrubbing away any residue causing stinky smells. To prevent odors in your garbage cans, add 1 cup of baking soda to the bottom of the can after you have washed and dried it. This will absorb odors before they have a chance to release into your home.

If you need to get rid of trash odor, create a paste with equal parts of baking soda and warm water. Scrub the solution in the can to eliminate any sour smells. Remember, while the use of baking soda is great for cleaning, it can clump up, so be sure you’re continuously cleaning away the baking soda with each trash removal. 

For garbage disposal cleaning, you’ll use the same method for smelly odor prevention and elimination. Sprinkle a 1/2 cup of baking soda into the garbage disposal followed by 1 cup of white vinegar. Let the solution sit for about 10 minutes before turning on the garbage disposal and running hot water.

5. Avoid Laundry Pile-Up

Laundry has a way of piling up. If your hamper winds up filling with clothes, musty odors can leave an unpleasant smell. This is especially true for any laundry that has gotten wet (like your towels) or is especially dirty.

Make it a goal to do laundry more frequently or enlist help from a house cleaner in your area.

6. Clean Your Bed Linens Frequently

woman putting fresh sheets on bed
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Clothes and towels aren’t the only items that can cause sour smells. Your bedding could be harboring odors that keep your bedrooms smelling musty. Bedding can build up with sweat, dirt, and oil, leading to not-so-lovely smells.

Wash and change your sheets at least once a week to prevent odors. If you have pets or someone has allergies or asthma, increase the frequency to three to four times per week. 

7. Keep Your Pets Clean 

Depending on what kind of pet you have, cleaning and preventing carpet pet stains will be different. Even different breeds require various cleaning strategies. Either way, you’ll want to ensure you’re providing your pet or pets with proper hygiene care, as unclean pets can be a source of household odors.

From regular bathing and grooming to scooping the litter box frequently, keeping your pets clean (and cleaning up after them) is a crucial step at banishing house smells. 

8. Eliminate Breeding Grounds for Mold

Mold can cause damage to a home and gives off a musty smell. Prevention is key in this case, as cleaning mold can be a timely (and sometimes costly) task. Most commonly, mold grows in areas of high humidity. An air conditioner and/or a dehumidifier can help reduce your home’s humidity.

Standing water is another frequent reason homeowners experience mold growth. This can occur when a pipe bursts or after a storm hits. Periodically check areas in your home that could be susceptible to standing water like basements, attics, and the kitchen.

9. Perform Regular Maintenance on Your Sump Pump

A malfunctioning sewer system can create unpleasant odors in your home. Annual maintenance of your sump pump is the best way to prevent these pungent odors.

If you’re up for DIY sump pump maintenance, follow the below steps:

  1. Unplug the pump and remove it from the basin.

  2. Examine the pump for rust or corrosion.

  3. Clean the pump inlet screen.

  4. Check the sump basin for debris and remove it.

  5. Reinstall the pump and plug it back in.

  6. Verify that the float switch moves through its entire range of travel without binding and turns the pump on and off by pouring 4–5 gallons of water into the basin.

  7. Check the condition of the pump discharge pipe outside to ensure it’s not obstructed.

While this household task can be completed on your own, you can always hire a professional to take care of this if you prefer.

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