A woman relaxing on a couch.

Nobody likes a smelly home, but daily life sometimes stinks! If you have pets, the occasional wet dog odor or litter box aroma is sure to be noticeable. Got teenage boys? They’re notorious for leaving a trail of funk wherever they go. And let’s not forget the kitchen garbage the day after slicing fresh produce for a salad or vegetable soup.

However, scented candles or room sprays aren’t always effective or eco-friendly. They’re also decidedly expensive.

So, here’s how to make your home smell good without spending money on pricey plug-ins.

How to make your home smell good

First, the best way to reduce odors is to tidy up. (You can even make your own DIY cleaning spray!) Set up a cleaning schedule. This might translate to scooping out the litter box daily, vacuuming weekly, asking the kids to clean their rooms more often and taking the kitchen garbage out every day after dinner.

Once you have the majority of bad smells out of the house, you can add in light, fresh fragrances.

1. Add aromatic cut flowers

Look around your yard for fresh blooms you could enjoy in a vase. The vibrant spring scent of lilacs or roses will not only introduce familiar calming fragrances but also add pops of color to your space. Try small bouquets of fresh-cut stems in the bathroom, living room and bedrooms.

2. Put dryer sheets in air vents

Snag a few dryer sheets from the laundry room and carefully tuck them behind the air register vents of your HVAC system. Whether you have warm heat or cool air conditioning blowing into the home, the scent of the sheets will filter into the rooms and help mask any lingering odors.

3. Soak cotton balls with essential oils

Ready to freshen up your kid’s bedroom? Grab a handful of cotton balls and sprinkle them with an invigorating essential oil, such as peppermint or a citrus blend. Then, tuck the cotton balls everywhere: the sock drawer, behind the trash can, in the closet, under the bed, you name it. The fragrance will linger for several days.

4. Use air humidifiers

Do you have a whole-house humidifier or smaller humidifiers in select rooms of the home? Check the warning labels or manual to see if you can add oils or extracts. When you add water to these units, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil scent. Lavender and vanilla are soothing.

Don’t have essential oils? Use vanilla, peppermint or almond extract from the kitchen pantry for a light scent.

5. Open the windows more often

Let Mother Nature refresh the air in your home. Opening a few windows on nice days allows the breeze in and odors to float out. You can also open a screen door, if you have one, to get more airflow.

6. Vacuum with baking soda

Who knows what’s been tracked in on your carpets and rugs? Take a moment to sprinkle odor neutralizing baking soda (likely tucked away in the back of a kitchen cupboard) over the floors before you vacuum. A light dusting can help lift odors in addition to dust and dirt.

7. Simmer cozy fruit scents

Finally, after you’ve cleaned up the kitchen after dinner, put on a classic pot of homemade potpourri. Slice that old orange or apple everyone keeps passing over in the fruit bowl. Toss it into a pot of water on the stove top with a few cinnamon sticks and cloves from the pantry. Set the pot to simmer and enjoy the cozy scent while you wind down for the evening.

Smell the savings

Learning how to make your house smell good without candles or sprays doesn’t have to be expensive. With a little elbow grease and creativity, you can keep your home feeling and smelling fresh even when you’re on a budget.