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Best Ways to Deodorize a Closet Naturally

The best ways to deodorize a closet naturally always include actually removing the odor – rather than masking it. After all, purifying the air in your closet is much better than adding in more chemicals through artificial fragrances.

Smells in a Closet

Your closet stores dirty laundry, stinky shoes, smelly socks and musty smells from old clothing.

Or maybe you love second hand clothes shopping but can’t get rid of the smells in thrift store clothing, such as perfumes and fabric softener.

Yet the answer isn’t to add a heavily fragranced item to just be more powerful than the smelly odors. What you want is a closet odor eliminator.

You need something that will absorb odors, rather than mask them. Otherwise, you will need to keep buying air fresheners over and over. That’s a lot of money spent on just hiding the smells, rather than eliminating them.

In a hurry? These are my favorite natural closet odor eliminators. I own a variety of them and am happy!

If you are looking to make an entire room smell better, then here’s a great DIY for a natural odor eliminator spray. Or make these easy DIY gel air fresheners.

How Bamboo Removes Odors

Yes, that’s right! Those tall plants in the forest can help you get rid of the stinky smell of your gym socks and dirty laundry.

Now, yes, there are a few other ways to deodorize a closet naturally. They are:

  • Remove the offending odor (the actual shoes, gym bag, etc.). I’m pretty sure you’ve already thought of that……
  • Get fresh air in from a window. I don’t know many people with windows in their closet…..
  • Use baking soda. Yes, it works. If you want to store a box of baking soda in your closet. But it’s not decorative or renewable. And you have got to keep replacing it.

So bamboo air deodorizers help to fix the problems of so many other natural ways to deodorize a closet that don’t really seem to work.

How does bamboo work?

When bamboo is burned, it is made into activated charcoal. That charcoal is then kept and used in natural air purifiers.

Air passes through the charcoal purifier during normal air circulation over the day (the charcoal is enclosed in a bag or box). When the air passes through the bamboo activated charcoal, it is purified, which means the odors are removed.

After the natural process, what you have isn’t an artificially scented pine forest, but just clean air (which has NO smell, by the way!).

Bamboo Removes Moisture and Mildew Smell

Bamboo is my favorite method in removing mold and mildew in cars. It’s also my best way to get rid of odors in the refrigerator.

In fact, activated charcoal kills mold from many surfaces (it can even be ingested, too). Using the natural ingredient is ideal for closets, too.

While the following bamboo air purifiers are the best way to deodorize a closet naturally, they are all great at removing moisture and that funky mildew smell, too.

Bamboo can be reused over and over again. Every 1-3 months, put the bamboo air purifier in the sun, and the heat of the sun’s rays will bake out the nasty odor causing substances.

Then your bamboo bag is refreshed and ready to eliminate odors again. This method costs less money than buying fancy sprays or shoe inserts or artificial fragranced room “deodorizers.”

white and grey clothes hanging on copper hangers in closet against white wall

So, here are some of the most stylish, affordable, clever and simply the best ways to deodorize a closet naturally:

Closet Deodorizer Pouch

bamboo deodorizer hanging on hanger with purple shirt

You will be surprised at how inexpensive, yet effective, these small charcoal hanging closet deodorizers can be!

I’ve seen these odor eliminators for as cheap as $2 each. They are reusable for up to two years, too, which means you’re saving money in the long run.

These small decorative pouches with activated charcoal inside are perfect for hanging on a clothes rod or hanger. You can also put them in boots and larger shoes in your closet, too. If you like this specific color, you will want to get this set.

There are a variety of other activated charcoal closet deodorizers that don’t need to hang on a clothes hanger. These small pyramid shaped pouches are great for putting on a shelf. And they are stylish enough where you could actually display them if you wanted. These are some other great triangle-shaped odor eliminator bags if you want grey, instead of colors.

Bigger bamboo pouches can be put on the floor, a shoe rack, a shelf or even hung from your clothes rod.

Really large deodorizer bags, such as this MOSO Natural Stand Up Bag, are perfect for really large spaces, such as walk-in closets or rooms converted into closets. It covers 300 square feet. In fact, I have one in my RV to absorb odors and moisture.

Shoe Deodorizers

Wondering how to make a shoe closet smell good? It can be a challenge to get rid of the stinky shoe smell.

These natural deodorizers are made small for inserting into shoes, boots, purses or backpacks.

I own quite a few of this brand and have them tucked into our hiking boots, dresser drawers and gym bags. I also have them in drawers in our RV to absorb moisture and odors. They are the perfect size to put just about anywhere!

Natural Odor Eliminator Gel

I wouldn’t recommend most odor eliminating gels, simply because they are usually made of artificial fragrances. However, there is one brand that I highly recommend!

Fresh Wave has a variety of non-toxic odor eliminating products. For closets, these odor removing gel packs are brilliant.

All you need to do is take off the cover and place in your closet. Expect a jar to last about a month or two.

Fresh Wave states that the gels are non-hazardous to people and pets.

So how do they work? All natural ingredients such as cedarwood, lime, clove and pine anise are released into the air as water from the gel evaporates into your closet.

All of Fresh Wave’s products are Made in the USA in Indiana.

Refill packs are available to save money and packaging when refreshing the gel.

Fresh Wave IAQ Commercial Odor Eliminating Gel is more heavily concentrated than the gel above intended for use in homes. If you have a very big odor problem, or you don’t mind a more intense scent, then you could use their commercial products.

Another natural air purifying gel is Kanberra Gel. This one has tea tree oil and other essential oils to remove the odors. It is all natural, as well, and has refillable packs to save on packaging.

Cedar Blocks

Using cedar blocks, cedar rings and cedar planks has long been one of the most popular and natural ways to remove odors in closets. The camphor oil smell contained within Eastern Red Cedar trees is a powerful deodorizer, as well as a natural pest deterrent. Which is why using cedar balls is much better than using moth balls full of chemicals.

Cedar Sense makes a variety of products for use in closets to remove odors. The wood is grown and sourced in the USA. Their cedar rings fit over the top of a hanger and sit above the clothing. Cedar Sense has a variety of other cedar odor eliminators that work in a variety of ways, including cedar balls, cubes, hanging cedar planks and cedar sachets.

Bamboo bags will remove and neutralize odors. But if you want to add a scent to your clothing, make our no sew drawer sachets. They are easy to make with just essential oils and rice.


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Paula Winslowe

Wednesday 20th of May 2020

RE: Bamboo Charcoal deodorizer/refresh air bags - says to hang in sun every 1-3 months to re-activate/remove the collected nasty smells.....I live in northwest Washington state USA where we have little warm sun rays, if we do it is usually late May - mid September. Is there an alternate way to reactivate the bags between Sept-May/June? I also live in a heavily wooded (tall evergreens) area which makes area outside home fairly shady even in summer. There are a few hours mist days in summer which get SOME sun. Example - I can only grow shade or part sun/part shade plants here. DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS? Thanks very much. Paula Winslowe


Friday 10th of July 2020

I've heard you can also put them in the oven. I would check with the manufacturer first though.

Cynthia Steinmueller

Tuesday 5th of November 2019

Does it work for litter boxes too? No matter what litter I buy it smells terrible. An I use extra baking soda in it & keep the box right next to the litter box.

Kimberly Button

Sunday 10th of November 2019

Cynthia, It would definitely work. I wouldn't put a bag inside the litter box, simply because your cat might rip it open. Perhaps hang a bag over the litter box or on the cage near an air vent. You might need a larger size simply because of the odor, but should work.

Kurt Carter

Sunday 7th of April 2019

Yes, this article really is helpful and it opened my eyes to some good deodorizing possibilities--thank you for sharing this valuable info!

Marge Sweigart

Tuesday 20th of September 2016

Hi Kimberly! This sounds great! I love that you can revive the charcoal by putting it in the sun. So cool that you can use it over and over. And I like that it just removes the odors and doesn't add any kind of fragrance. Great find! Pinning this. Thanks!

Kimberly Button

Wednesday 21st of September 2016

Thank you so much, Marge!!!!! Yes, we have one in our closet - and it works great. I love the renewable aspect of it, too - and that it saves money!! I appreciate it! :)