The Expert’s Guide to Eliminating Kid Odors, For Good
Kids never age out of smelliness.
Toddlers run around in soggy clothes and make your house smell like a diaper bin.
Fourth graders don’t hesitate to bring little “friends” into the house and forget about them in a closet for three months.
Teenagers go to practice, dump their bags in the entryway, then sit on the couch in their sweaty clothes playing Fortnite.
Not all children give off the same smells, but they all give off bad smells.
It may seem like those smells are baked into their clothes and toys, but fortunately, there are eco-friendly, 100% non-toxic ways to combat offensive kid odors.
Keep reading for our top ten tips on how to keep your kids’ rooms (and the rest of your house) smelling fresh.
1) Wash Sheets Once a Week
Remember in college when you used to wash your sheets exactly never?
Remember when you got your first home and told your mom that you definitely wash your sheets at least once a week?
Remember when you had kids and couldn’t remember the last time you washed your sheets, let alone theirs?
Kids sweat, smell, cough, and sleep in sweaty sheets even more than we do, so their sheets should be washed just as often, if not more.
Bonus Tip: Instead of teaching your kids to make their beds as soon as they wake up, teach them to make their beds after they shower and eat breakfast.
That way, their sheets will have time to air out rather than having them make the bed with sweaty, wet sheets. It’ll also help keep bacteria buildup and stink at bay between washes.
2) Implement a Food & Drink-Free Room Policy
Let a kid bring a cup of Kool-Aid into their bedroom, and they’ll drink it for a week.
Let a kid bring a sandwich into their room, and they’ll leave it under the bed and forget about it until high school graduation.
Most children aren’t exactly spotless eaters, and if you allow them to eat in their room unsupervised, their bedroom will start to smell like a bag of groceries you forgot in the trunk.
Instate a no-food-and-drink-in-bedrooms policy to make sure your kid doesn’t attract pests, mold, or less-than-pleasant smells.
Then, when your nine year old catches you eating a pint of Hagen-Dazs in bed, tell them the legal age to eat ice cream in your bed is 21.
3) Use a Mattress Cover
Mattress covers were invented for two reasons:
- To keep sweat, bedwetting, drool, snot, and other foul liquids off mattresses, and,
- Because mattresses are extremely difficult to clean.
A mattress cover will prevent all of that gross kid stuff from seeping through their sheets and onto their mattresses.
And, by the way, if your child’s mattress is more than ten years old, toss it. Ten years of harmful germs are not a safe place for anyone to sleep, especially not your little ones.
4) Open the Windows
Most kid smells are caused by the buildup of bacteria and sweat.
To keep those smells from compounding on themselves, you need to air out your child’s bedroom regularly.
Opening their bedroom door will help, but it will also drag those bad smells into the rest of your home.
Opening their bedroom door and open their windows will create circulation, bringing in pleasant smells and sending the bad ones back out.
Even if it’s only for a few minutes (we know, we know - bugs aren’t fun), opening your child’s windows is one of the quickest ways to clear out toxic B.O.
5) Use Fans & Dehumidifiers
Eliminating moisture is the key to keeping your child’s room smelling fresh. Whether it’s moisture in your child’s clothing, toys, or gear, all of that dampness seals in odors.
Fans are a quick, efficient way to dry out a room, and also circulate air to keep it from becoming stale and noxious.
Window fans that pull clean air in from the outside and dirty air back out are particularly useful.
If you live a very humid client where a fan alone can’t dry out a room, invest in a dehumidifier.
Excessive moisture causes mold and mildew, and mold and mildew cause bad smells, allergy flare-ups, and illnesses.
6) Rip Out the Carpet
As members of #TeamHardwood, we’re a little biased on this one.
But no matter your views on home flooring materials, it’s no secret that swapping out the carpets in your child’s room for hardwood or tile will get rid of bad odors.
Despite closet-designated laundry baskets, no-food-in-the-bedroom policies, and sports-gear-in-the-basement rules, carpets soak up bad smells that even your rug doctor can’t get out.
Not only are hardwood floors easier to clean and better for your resale value, but they also don’t collect stench.
Still, want a soft surface for your little one’s feet? Get a machine washable rug that can be thrown in the washing machine whenever you need to clean it.
7) Invest in Some Heavy-Duty Sports Detergent
Does your child play sports?
Do they go outside?
Do they do anything other than sit in their room and stare at the wall?
Then you need sports detergent.
Jerseys, leotards, shin guards, and padding get used day after day, practice after practice, game after game, collecting sweat, dirt, and grime that standard detergent isn’t equipped to handle.
If you use fabric softener, the problem could be even worse. Fabric softener actually locks in odors to preserve your clothes, especially in the sweat-wicking fabrics that most sports gear is made from.
A sports grade detergent will remove the reek from your child’s after-school, weekend-activity wardrobe.
8) Clean Those Closets
Keeping our own closets clean is tough; keeping our kid’s closets clean is almost impossible.
Whenever kids hear, “Clean your room, please!” they interpret the request as, “Okay, I’m going to go throw everything on the floor into my closet and under the bed now!”
Chances are, you could find any number of smelly things in your child’s closet. The only way to get those smells out is to clean their closet.
Here’s how to do it:
- Remove everything from the closet. Donate or throw out anything that’s worn out.
- Everything that didn’t get thrown out should be washed. Run toys through the dishwasher. Put shoes in the washing machine. Wash clothes and sanitize boxes and bins.
- Next, fill a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and water, or lemon juice and water, and mist the inside of the closet.
- Leave the closet door open overnight and let the mist evaporate.
- The next day, put everything back in the closet.
Oh, and even though it might prove fruitless, but you should at least try to explain to your kid why they shouldn’t be throwing half-eaten pieces of pizza in their closet.
9) Use Essential Oils
Don’t have time for an epic cleaning session? Consider employing some essential oils.
Choose an essential oil that’s known for combating toxic odors and has a fresh, clean scent, like bergamot, lemon, verbena or lavender.
If your child has allergies, be sure to pick a fragrance that doesn’t conflict with them.
Mix eight to nine drops of essential oil(s) with two and a half cups of water in a spray bottle, shake, and spray in your children’s room. Shake the bottle before each use, as the water and oils won’t stay mixed.
Not ready to do your child’s laundry? Give their laundry basket a quick spray with your bottle of essential oils. Remember - a little goes a long way!
10) Buy an Air Purifier
Maybe you let the stink stick around too long.
Maybe your child is a particularly sweaty tot (don’t worry, they get that from your partner’s side of the family).
Whatever it is, there are some smells that won’t go easy.
If that sounds like your child’s room, it might be time to buy an air purifier.
An air purifier will attack the source of the smell and get rid of it, once and for all.
On Amazon, search for an air purifier that’s designed to combat stench, not just eliminate allergens.
Even if your child is no longer in diapers, it might be a good idea to get an air purifier that’s designed to fight dirty diaper smell. There aren’t many smells those purifiers can’t get out of a room.
Don’t have kids and can’t figure out where that smell is coming from? Check out our Expert’s Guide to Cleaning 12 Hard-to-Reach Areas in Your Home.
Chances are, the smell is coming from something you haven’t cleaned since you moved in...
Have a great tip for getting rid of kid smells? Tell us about it in the comments!