Distilled vinegar is so good at cleaning so many types of surfaces that we sometimes forget it also cleans the air. If you’ve run out of Febreze but your living room is starting to smell a little funky, you can clear that stink right up with a bowl of vinegar.
Most deodorizing products don’t actually get rid of smells; they just cover them up with fragrance. Vinegar is different. According to a Popular Science blog on the science of odor removal, the acetic acid molecules in vinegar bond with stinky, volatile compounds in the air, neutralizing them and killing the reek. As the vinegar evaporates, it takes those neutralized molecules with it, leaving behind no scent at all.
You don’t have to spray vinegar around to reap its deodorizing benefits. Just fill a small, shallow dish, stick it in the corner, and wait. After a few hours, that odor will be long gone.
This article was originally published on June 21, 2011. It was updated on April 26, 2021 to reflect Lifehacker’s current style guidelines, as well as provide a new photo, updated links, and current information.