How to Freshen Up a Stinky Garage
The garage is home to your cars, workbench, sporting equipment, gardening supplies – and a number of unpleasant smells. If the stink makes it unbearable to spend more than a few minutes at a time in the garage, you may find it impossible to pursue hobbies like carpentry, gardening and car restoration. Freshen up your stinky garage so you don’t have to plug your nose every time you step out there.
What Makes a Garage Stink?
Before you attempt to deodorize the garage, you must identify which malodorous offenders are to blame. Here are some of the most common culprits:
- Garbage cans and recycling bins
- Cardboard and paper products
- Fumes from cleaning products, motor oil, garden chemicals and paint cans
- Oil spills
- Chronic mold and mildew
- Sink and floor drains
- Pet bedding, litter boxes and kennels
Clean and Deodorize the Garage
Once you recognize what’s causing your stinky garage, it’s time to combat it. Here are some cleaning and deodorizing tips to try:
Clean your garbage cans and recycling bins: Start by hosing them down. Then, mix up a gallon of hot water and a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. Dip a sponge into the soapy solution and scrub the cans inside and out. Rinse them with water from a garden hose and let them dry completely.
To help your garbage cans stay fresher longer, line the bottom of each one with several sheets of newspaper and a sprinkle of baking soda to absorb odors. Replace the newspaper and baking soda every week on trash day.
Rethink storage: If you keep items in cardboard boxes on the garage floor, take a moment to examine them closely. You’re likely to find soggy, moldy spots that contribute to your stinky garage. Clearly, it’s time to throw them out.
To prevent soaking up moisture and encouraging mold growth in the future, replace cardboard boxes with durable plastic containers. Label these carefully and stack them on shelves or overhead storage to free up space in your garage.
Discard old products: Empty all shelves and garage cabinets of cans, containers, spray bottles and other items. Assess the age and condition of each one and throw out any that are past their prime. Be sure to dispose of old motor oil, paint, chemicals and other products at a designated hazardous waste disposal facility.
Clean up oil spills: Old motor oil on the floor contributes to the stink in your garage. Instead of toiling over spills, try covering them with kitty litter. This product has the ability to soak up liquids and eliminate odors, allowing you to clean the floor with hardly any effort. After one to two days, sweep up the kitty litter to reveal the oil-free floor beneath.
Clean the garage with bleach: If you detect a musty odor in your garage, chronic mold and mildew could be to blame. Combine one cup of chlorine bleach with a gallon of water in a large bucket. Use this solution to mop the floors and walls of the garage.
For your safety, leave the garage door open while cleaning with bleach to ensure adequate ventilation. Rinse the floors and walls with clean water and allows it to air dry for at least 24 hours before closing the garage door.
Address smelly floor drains: If the drain on your garage floor has a trap, the water inside may have dried up after months of non-use. This can become a source of sewer smells in the garage. Because floor drains are likely to remain unused for a long time, you can keep foul odors at bay by pouring 3/4 cup of mineral oil down the drain and into the trap. This evaporates slower than water and prevents sewer stench from seeping into the garage for longer.
If the smell remains despite your efforts, this could mean the drain doesn’t have a trap. To block odors rising from the sewer without sealing the drain completely, lay down a piece of heavy plastic over the drain, and tape down three of the four sides. This way, you block most of the odor, but standing water can still enter the drain.
Clean pet supplies regularly: Perhaps you put Fido’s kennel or Fluffy’s litter box in the garage to prevent them from stinking up your home. The only problem is now they’re stinking up the garage! The simple fix is to give these pet supplies the same care you would if they were within the living space. Clean litter boxes daily, launder pet bedding weekly and hose out kennels twice a month.
Keep Future Smells at Bay
Now that your garage smells relatively fresh and clean, you want to keep it that way. Here are some ideas for maintaining a fresh-smelling garage:
- Soak up future odors by setting out containers of undiluted white vinegar, baking soda, clean kitty litter or activated charcoal. These odor absorbers help manage smells in the garage. Replace them once a month to ensure they remain effective.
- Secure garbage can lids. If possible, leave your trash by the side of the house instead of inside the garage.
- Install a ceiling- or wall-mounted exhaust fan or ventilation system. This helps regulate temperature and moisture levels to discourage mold and mildew. It also draws stale, fumy air outside to keep your garage smelling fresh.
- Move hazardous chemicals and half-empty paint cans to an unattached shed, if possible. These products smell because they release volatile organic compounds into the air, which can be harmful to your health.
- Check items on shelves and in cabinets regularly for problems that could cause bad odors, such as leaking bottles or spoiled food.
Enjoy Your Fresh-Smelling Garage!
Now that the offending odors are long gone, you may have new thoughts about how to make the most of your garage. Whether you want to start working on your car again, or you have alternative uses in mind for your garage, you need a quality garage door to secure the space.
An insulated garage door helps with moisture and temperature regulation if you plan to heat or cool the area. Lightweight aluminum, sturdy steel, low-maintenance vinyl, and timeless wood are all possible garage door materials. Different styles – such as modern flat panel, traditional raised panel or timeless carriage doors – help you match your home’s aesthetic design.
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