Over time, bacteria attack the little bits of food that collect in your dishwasher's filter, causing it to smell. Picture: Pixabay

Washington - Nobody likes to talk about household odours, but it's really important to deal with them. 

Animal, food and musty smells can settle into your rooms and, like an unwanted house guest, refuse to leave. To make matters worse, many people choose to tackle unwanted scents with air fresheners that only mask odours and do nothing to eradicate them. 

Here are natural remedies for six of the smelliest problems in your home.

Your dirt bin smells bad

Food spills and waste can make both your outdoor and kitchen trash cans stink. To freshen them, first wash them - inside and out - with warm soapy water, rinse clean, and dry thoroughly. 

To prevent future odours, try one of these solutions: Dust the bottom of the garbage can with scented cat litter or throw a few citrus - lemon or orange - peels in the bottom of the can before you insert your garbage bag. You can also dust the bottom of your garbage can with baking soda or unused coffee grounds - either will neutralize future odours. 

Just be careful with metal trash cans; you don't want the baking soda to corrode the can's bottom, so instead of sprinkling the baking soda over the bottom of the can, make a sachet by placing about a half-cup of baking soda in a paper coffee filter, close it up with a rubber band or twist tie, then place in the bottom of the can. Just remember to replace it every month.

Your drawers or closets smell musty

That musty furniture smell that is particular to old furniture and cabinetry can make anything you put inside smell too. So before you fill your drawers or closets, crinkle up some newspaper, sprinkle it with distilled white vinegar, and stuff it inside each musty drawer or place it on the closet shelf for a couple of days to absorb the bad odour (this is also a good way to freshen smelly shoes). 

Once the smell is gone, keep drawers smelling fresh by placing scented dryer sheets in the drawers or on the shelves (use dryer sheets in your car glove compartment, car trunk and luggage to keep them smelling fresh too). I also place the silica gel packs that you get when you buy new shoes, electronics or some food products in my drawers - they keep out moisture, which is the real culprit.

Your dishwasher smells rotten

Over time, bacteria attack the little bits of food that collect in your dishwasher's filter, causing it to smell. To get rid of the odour, first remove all food particles or scum from the bottom of the machine, making sure to remove and rinse the filter. 

Then pour two cups of distilled white vinegar into the machine (not into the detergent holder, but rather directly into the drum). Run the machine through a hot water cycle. Pause the cycle for about 20 minutes midway so that the water and vinegar mixture has a chance to break down detergent residue. Restart and finish the cycle.

Your refrigerator smells fishy

Start by cleaning out the shelves and drawers. Scrub all shelves with a mixture of warm water and baking soda, then wipe with a mixture of white vinegar and warm water. 

To prevent future odours, keep a box of baking soda open on a shelf in the back of your refrigerator and freezer, and replace it monthly. Alternatively, soak a couple of cotton balls in vanilla extract and place on a small dish in the back of your refrigerator. Remove once the cotton balls have dried out and replace.

The Washington Post