How To Make Your Apartment Smell Great

The first thing people notice when stepping into your apartment isn’t how it looks; it’s how it smells.  The impression this can leave on guests is a big one. Nobody likes walking into someplace that smells funky, or like smoke, or like their pets run the apartment, not the owner.  

We all know what we are talking about here. 

Over time, your nose becomes desensitized to the way your apartment smells.  This is why, when you leave for vacation for a week, your apartment may smell strange to you when you get back home.  Your nose has simply gotten used to whatever your place smells like, but the crazy thing is that smell when you come back from vacation is what your guests are smelling every time they come over. 

Whether you know your apartment has a bad smell to it, you have guests or relatives coming over you want to make a good impression on, or simply want to make your apartment smell amazing, we have some great solutions for any situation! 

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How Can I Make My Apartment Smell Better?

There are more ways than just to buy an air freshener at the store and plug it in, although that too is a good option, especially if you want something you can just pop in and forget.  You can use make simply common household products to remove any odors or pesky smells your apartment may have and use them to make your apartment smell amazing.   

The most common household products you are going to need are Baking Soda and Vinegar.  You will be amazed at how much a bit of these two cheap products and about 15 minutes of your time will make your apartment start smelling fresh again.  

Outside of those two cleaning agents, you can use everything from essential oils to dried flowers, to candles, to merely opening your windows and letting your apartment air out for a few hours.  Let’s go through the ways you can make your apartment smell great!

Ways To Make Your Apartment Smell Amazing:

Stop Odors At Their Source

The very first thing you are going to want to do is to remove the source of any foul odors you have in your apartment.  Common culprits for odors are the kitchen sink and garbage disposal, the trash under the sink, your refrigerator, shoes, closets, and furniture and carpet (especially if you have pets). 

Pets, while cute and cuddly, can also be the source of a ton of odors.  They are animals after all and have an animal smell to them.  Yes, they are part of our family, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t smell.  Carpets and furniture can collect your “wet dog” smell or “musty cat” smell and have it lingering around in your apartment for ages.  

Remember, your nose is going to become used to whatever smells and scents you are in all the time, but to someone who just walks into your apartment for the first time, they are absolutely going to know just how clean you keep your apartment. 

The same goes for any organic material.  Make sure there isn’t something in your refrigerator that is getting ripe.  Clean out your sink and garbage disposal and get rid of those shoes that you just can’t get the smell out of.  

Removing the source of any odor is going to be essential to keeping your apartment smelling good.  If you don’t remove the source, anything you do is simply going to be mixing smells and covering it up for a short time.  If you have all sources of odors removed, your apartment will not only stay cleaner, it will smell cleaner too. 

Air Your Apartment Out

This is one of the easiest ways to make your apartment smell good.  While clotheslines are virtually a thing of the past, there is a reason why companies try and make detergents and drier sheets smell like the outdoors.  For people in most areas, the outside smells fresh and clean. The air is always being bombarded with UV light, which helps eliminate stinky odors. And because the air is always circulating, it is naturally staying fresh. 

Open the windows on both sides of your apartment.  If you have a door on your balcony or porch, open them too so the air can circulate through your apartment.  This is good to do whether you are in the middle of winter or in the midst of summer. Even 5-10 minutes of freshly circulating air can do wonders for the inside of your apartment, but if you have the time and the weather is cooperative, try leaving your windows or doors open for an hour or more to completely replace the air inside your apartment several times.   This will clear out any scents you have and replace it with the fresh air from outside. 

This is especially important to do if you have been sick for a number of days.  The human body can also put a tremendous amount of odor into the air, and if you have been sick, the air can turn anywhere from stale to radioactive.  Opening the windows helps circulate the air, keeping it clean and fresh.  

To help with the circulation, try putting a fan blowing into the apartment from one end or the other.  This will help create higher pressure, moving the air through the apartment quicker. 

Baking Soda

While the outside of the package says that baking soda is good for heartburn, it is an absolute wonder as a cleaning tool!   

Many times, our refrigerators can be the thing that is subtly stinking up our apartment.  Something stays in there for a few days, or weeks, too long and it begins to grow legs. A box of baking soda costs about $0.60, buy a couple to keep in your cupboards, but open one and put it in the back of your refrigerator.  You will be amazed at how much better it makes it smell! 

But your fridge isn’t the only thing baking soda can help. 

It is great on your carpet and furniture as well.  To bring your carpet back to life, or maybe kill a bit of the life that is now living in it, sprinkle your carpet with baking soda.  Then let it sit there for about 15-20 minutes. After the time is up, just vacuum like you would normally vacuum and your carpet will be free of that odor that sticks in it.  

This is a great technique to use for pets if you don’t own a carpet shampooer.  It is a very simple remedy and can be used as many times as you want, just make sure you vacuum your carpet thoroughly.   The same can be done for your furniture to remove any smells that may have gotten in it as well. 


There is nothing like walking into an apartment after someone has had a candle burning for a while.  A candle can be a great solution for making your house smell, well, pretty much however you want it to smell.  And candles are good in the fact that you can light them up and then go off and do something and blow them out whenever you reach peak scent.   

Because we are talking about making your apartment smell clean and fresh, we want to pass on the candle that we think does a great job with this!  You don’t have to spend big money on designer candles to have them work like you want them too. 

These candles from Chesapeake Bay Candle Company are infused with Lemongrass and Eucalyptus essential oils and will make your apartment smell absolutely wonderful!!   They also have a burn time of over 50 hours, so you can literally use these candles for days without them burning out. We hope you will give them a try!

Kitchen Sink

Baking Soda is also the first great remedy in cleaning your kitchen sink.  A ton of organics go through any kitchen sink and sometimes, not all of it gets washed away.  A sink and garbage disposal can stink tremendously if this happens.  

The good news is you can get some water extremely hot, mix baking soda with it, and wash down your kitchen sink.  This is also good to run quantities of it through your garbage disposal as well, without fear of harming it or yourself with any harmful chemicals. 


Furniture is one of those things we use all the time, but never ever clean enough.  Not only can your couches get to smelling like human sweat, they can also take on the characteristics of your pets as well, especially if they accidentally do their business on or around your couch.  

The easiest way to remove odor from your furniture is the same way you treated your carpet: with Baking Soda.  Simply sprinkle baking soda on the couch just like you would your carpet, let it sit for 15 minutes or so and then vacuum it up, and presto!  Odor removed!  

This simple option can save you money while you make your apartment smell great!

Make A Simmer On The Stove

Making a simmer is a great solution for all the cold months out of the year!  They are easy to make and will fill up your apartment with a ton of amazing fresh smells.  

There are literally thousands of recipes online for simmers and you can absolutely browse through the ones that sound good to you, but you don’t have to make your simmer complicated at all.  

Simply get some citrus fruits, oranges or lemons or both and cut them into wedges.  Then add some mint leaves or lavender leaves, a few cups of water and bring it to a simmer.  Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes or until your apartment smells absolutely wonderful!!  

If you want a quick and easy guide on how to make a simmer that will make your apartment smell like fall, check out this quick and easy 1-minute video from Curbly!

Use Essential Oils

Essential Oils are a great way to make your apartment smell good without using a ton of harsh chemicals.  Some people like to go the root of the Glade Plug-Ins, but other people want a more natural remedy. Neither way is right or wrong, it is just a matter of preference. 

Essential oils can make your apartment smell a variety of fresh, clean smells such as lemongrass and lavender without using a bunch of chemicals.  

Simply get a diffuser like THIS one, plug it in, add your water and essential oils, and wait for your apartment to smell the best it’s ever smelled!  The great thing is that you can use the diffuser over and over again.  Not only that, it is sharp and looks stylish and AMAZING!  

This is an eco-friendly and health-friendly way to make your apartment smell just the way you want it to smell while avoiding any of those pesky chemicals. 

Strategically Place Bars of Soap And Drier Sheets

This fun little secret can have parts of your apartment smelling better, and staying fresh, in no time at all!  And the best thing about it is that it is super inexpensive! 

For places like closets that have dirty and wet shoes and clothes in them all the time, simply take a few drier sheets and put them on the back of a shelf in the closet.  The same goes for a bar of soap. Unpackage the soap and place it in whatever place you want to smell nice, fresh, and clean.   

This is a great solution for those hard to reach places or in places like your garbage can where bad odors are constantly there.  Just place a few drier sheets in the bottom of your trash can, replacing every month or so, and you will be amazed at how much better it smells.  

The nice thing about hiding a bar of soap or drier sheets is that you can do just that, hide them!  Nobody has to know what your secret is keeping your rooms, closets, and trash cans smelling good all the time.  Simple put the bar of soap or drier sheet out of sight and there you go! Clean smelling areas! 

Bake Some Cookies

The reason grandmas smells so nice!!  

Baking cookies, or any baked goods for that matter, can be a quick and easy way to put the smell of fresh-baked goodies throughout your whole apartment.   There is a good reason why real estate agents like to bake cookies for open houses.  It’s not just for the free cookies, it’s the SMELL. The smell of baked goods makes you feel at home and cozy wherever you are, and it’s a great way to make your apartment smell amazing in under 20 minutes.  

Next time you have some people coming over, throw some cookies in the oven and let the magic begin!!

Buy Air Fresheners 

We use these at our own apartments after we are done cleaning them to keep them smelling nice before new people move in.  They work so well and are so easy, I even use them in my own house! 

Simply get a pack of them, plug them in around your house, turn the setting to however much or little scent you want to come out of it and you are good to go!  

I personally like these from Air Wick because they use essential oils instead of just chemicals and are super eco-friendly and easy on the body.  They last about a month-and-a-half per refill, which is nice that you can keep your apartment smelling that good for that long with a single cartridge.  

Regardless of which option you choose to make your apartment smell great, there is a solution for you!

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John Boettcher

Co-Founder of Apartment School and a previous renter turned owner of many multi-family properties across the United States, with many years of experience in all aspects of the apartment, real estate, and investing world.

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