7 things that people with nice-smelling kitchens always do that might surprise you

We all become 'nose-blind' to the scent of our own kitchen, but these simple cleaning tricks will keep your space smelling fresh

A kitchen cabinet with different styles of handle
(Image credit: Nick Glimenakis. Design: The Brownstone Boys)

Before aesthetic design choices or high-end furniture, the first thing people will notice about your home is, without a doubt, the smell - and nowhere is that more applicable than within the kitchen. 

We all become 'nose-blind' to the various scents that amalgamate in our spaces, but according to professional cleaners, there are a few things we can do to ensure our kitchen is always sweet-smelling (even if you no longer notice it).

Forget freshly baked bread or those chemical air fresheners that simply mask odors, we're talking about the general upkeep of your kitchen that will ensure your space always smells fresh. Here are seven tips you need to know. 

1. Always keep surfaces clean

Pale blue kitchen with subway tiled ceiling

(Image credit: Kingston Lafferty.)

It goes without saying, but the easiest way to ensure your kitchen always smells fresh is by adopting a proper cleaning routine. 'The foundation of a fragrant kitchen lies in meticulous cleaning,' says Karina Toner of Spekless Cleaning. 'Regularly sanitizing surfaces not only maintains hygiene but also prevents the accumulation of odors.'

Don't leave kitchen countertops to fester after cooking. Be sure to use an anti-bacterial spray after every use. 'Opt for natural cleaning products infused with invigorating scents like lemon, which not only cleanse but leave behind a refreshing aroma that lingers in the air,' says Karina. You'll also need to deep clean at least once a week so that even the areas you use less frequently stay fresh. 

2. Clean your garbage disposal and sink traps

One of the worst offenders when it comes to lingering odors in the kitchen is your garbage disposal and sink traps. The former needs no explanation, and while the latter is regularly rinsed with water, grime and grease can quickly accumulate leading to a foul-smelling space.  

'To keep your disposal and sink traps smelling fresh, create lemon ice cubes,' suggests Will Cotter, CEO of Happy Cleans. 'Fill an ice cube tray with sliced lemon, rock salt, and water, then freeze. Once frozen, drop a couple of cubes into the disposal or sink and run it as usual. The rock salt helps clean while the lemon juice fights bacteria and leaves a pleasant scent.'

3. Refresh backsplashes with lemon juice

A kitchen sink with a red tiled backsplash

(Image credit: Madeline Harper)

By virtue of their being, kitchen backsplashes become a magnet for grease splatters. They might not be the first place you think of when it comes to dirty kitchen smells, but left unclean they soon harbor bacteria, leading to those bad smells. 

According to Will, lemon juice is also a great natural way to revive your backsplash, including the grout between the tiles. 'This versatile solution works wonders in banishing grease from your tile backsplash,' he says. 'What makes it even more appealing is its gentle nature – no worries about damaging paint or affecting any peel-and-stick finishes. Plus, the lingering fresh scent it leaves behind is an added bonus.' He suggests letting a spritz of lemon juice sit for about five minutes before wiping over with a damp microfiber cloth and gently drying with a kitchen towel. 

4. Allow wet cloths time to dry

Kitchens are full of cloths and towels that soon become damp, and as we all know, there's no scent more pungent than that of a damp towel. 'Ensuring wet items like sponges, dishcloths, and rugs are dried properly prevents mildew odors,' Will says. 'After you've used them - or had any spills - always give them a bit of time to dry. Hang them up, spread them out, and let them breathe – it's a little step that makes a big difference.' 

On a similar note, don't let dirty dish cloths build up. Stay on top of musky smells by laundering them regularly. 'Ensure they remain sweet-smelling by regularly washing with scented detergents,' suggests Karina. 'This simple step not only prevents lingering odors on fabric but also adds a hint of pleasant fragrance.' 

'In between washes, a natural linen spray can also work wonders for refreshing your space,' adds Ria Templer, co-founder of natural scent brand, Utama Spice. 'You can also spritz the linen spray after wiping out kitchen cabinets, too.' 

5. Incorporate natural odor eliminators 

A white modern kitchen with brass cabinet hardware

(Image credit: Buster + Punch)

Masking scents with sweet-smelling fragrances is one thing, but banishing odors altogether is another. Fortunately, there are plenty of natural ways to trap and remove odors from your kitchen, and you'll be pleased to hear that they're mostly simple and inexpensive solutions.

'It's a good idea to place bowls of baking soda or activated charcoal in discrete corners,' says Karina. 'These natural wonders silently capture and neutralize unwanted smells, maintaining a harmonious ambiance.' We love these charcoal odor absorber bags from Amazon which are perfect for the job. Simply hang them on your towel rail or on the side of your fridge and let them do the rest. 

6. Mop floors with scented products

No matter how strict your cleaning schedule, your kitchen flooring is one of the dirtiest parts of your home. To keep your space smelling sweet, mop floors regularly with fragranced detergents and you're bound to notice the difference. 

'For this, embrace environmentally friendly cleaning products that boast delightful fragrances,' says Ben Gold, real estate agent and founder of Recommended Home Buyers. 'These products not only combat germs effectively but also impart a gentle and welcoming scent.' Mix up the scent each time you buy a new bottle to avoid going nose-blind!

Ria of Utama Spice recommends their natural surface cleaner for the job. 'It has absolutely no chemicals and cuts through grease and oil,' she says. 

7. Ventilate the kitchen

Tile used as backsplash in the kitchen

(Image credit: Dimitri Tricolas. Design: Studio Barbara)

Last but not least, keep your kitchen well-ventilated to stay on top of smells, especially while cooking. 'Adequate ventilation plays a pivotal role in eliminating cooking odors,' says Ben. 'Keep windows open while cooking or explore
the option of introducing an air purifier designed for kitchens to ensure
clean and fresh air circulation.' Remember to turn on any built-in extraction fans, too. 

Another great, low-maintenance way to purify the air in your kitchen is with a humble houseplant. Not only do they naturally trap co2 and generate oxygen, but they also filter nasty toxins like Formaldehyde, Benzene, and other carcinogens from your space. Brush up on the best houseplants that clean the air and add one to your countertop or kitchen shelves for some beautiful greenery that also keeps your air fresh (we have a personal soft spot for the peace lily!). 

Our favorite buys for a sweet-smelling kitchen

Lilith Hudson
News Editor

Lilith Hudson is the News Editor at Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.