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Ask Martha

Natural ways to get rid of odors

Lemons and oranges can help rid your home of strong odors.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Lemons and oranges can help rid your home of strong odors.

Q. What are some natural ways to deodorize my home?

A. Before attacking an offensive odor, try simply opening a window. Fresh air alone can eradicate many unpleasant smells. For persistent problems, find the source of the odor and address it. Household odors can be separated into two groups, based on their pH level: acid and alkaline odors. Acid odors, such as smoke, can be mitigated with an open box of baking soda; while alkaline odors, such as fish, are neutralized by vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice. Other options include orange oil, cloves, and eucalyptus. Here is a guide for how to use these natural elements:

Lemons

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Use to: eliminate strong odors from cooking fish or vegetables that give off a sulfuric smell.

Try: simmering half a dozen lemon slices and a handful of cloves in water for 10 minutes.

Eucalyptus

Use to: invigorate a room that has a stale or musty odor.

Try: displaying a few branches to scent a room for up to two weeks, or simmering the leaves in water for 10 minutes to cleanse the air.

Vinegar

Use to: neutralize cooking odors, musty smells in drawers, and even cigarette smoke.

Try: filling a deep glass dish with a half-inch of white vinegar and setting it in the offending room or drawer until the odor dissipates.

Pomanders

Use to: spice up closets and drawers that need a little freshening.

Try: studding oranges with whole cloves, spaced evenly and close together. Keep them in a drawer or closet for up to a year.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living.
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