An unpleasant odor in your home makes being indoors an uncomfortable experience, no matter how neat and tidy the house seems otherwise. Render your living space livable once again with homemade scent-bearing solutions that inspire the senses -- no harsh chemicals required. A regular, thorough cleaning also helps prevent unpleasant odors from recurring.
Straight to the Source
The first step to making a home smell good is to remove the source of the unpleasant odors, otherwise, added fragrance only masks the foul odors instead of eliminating them. If pets share your living space, empty the litter box frequently to keep kitty odors to a minimum. Sprinkle baking soda over upholstered furniture and carpeting, allowing it to set for an hour or so before vacuuming to remove pet hair, dander and odor. Take piles of dirty clothing to the laundry room and wash it, and immediately wash dishes with caked-on food. Wash the floors with your favorite floor cleaner, and then wipe down countertops with a mix of equal parts vinegar and water to help eliminate lingering odors. Don't use vinegar on unfinished stone or cultured stone, as it may damage the surface; use plain water instead.
Create your own tea-kettle potpourri for a scented room refresher. Use an old tea kettle to keep your good one clean. Fill the kettle with a cup or so of water, adding two or three cinnamon sticks, a teaspoon of cloves and the peels of two oranges. Heat the kettle to create a warm, inviting fragrance in the kitchen and beyond. Turn the kettle to low after it begins to steam, and turn it off after a few minutes to ensure the water doesn't evaporate completely. This mixture may also be made in an old saucepan; keep an eye on the water level for safety as it begins to evaporate. Use an old kettle or saucepan, because the potpourri ingredients may stain the cookware.
Banishing Bad Odors
If the room reeks of burnt foods, cooking odors or any other short-term odors, open the windows and turn on ceiling fans. Remove strong smells such as varnish or other chemical odors by placing a box fan in one window to draw fresh air in, with another in a window on the opposite side of the room drawing air out. Once you've aired the space out for a while, set bowls of vinegar around the room overnight to help absorb remaining smells.
A homemade, spray-based room and linen fragrance makes your home smell good in no time. A fine-mist bottle helps your spray linger in the room as a fragrance, rather than squirting out at a direct target. Fill a bottle with 1 or 2 ounces of distilled water or equal parts water and plain vodka; the alcohol helps the fragrance last a little longer. Add 10 to 20 drops of your favorite-smelling essential oil, such as lavender for a relaxing fragrance or a citrus oil for a pick-me-up. Replace the lid and shake the bottle, and then spritz it around the room. Use only true essential oils instead of fragrance oils that contain additives.