Multiple coffee cups that are dirty

Smelly Home? Here Are Some Simple Remedies

Photo by Izzie R

There is nothing worse than the smells that you have become nose-blind to; usually, our home smells. We get so used to our home environment’s scent, that we literally cannot smell it anymore. There are many chemically-laden options to mask the odors of your home, but they are not nearly as safe, or useful as some of these options.

What causes odors?

Many times the odors inside our home are apparent; cat urine (ammonia), cigarette smoke, or burnt food. Other times, these are odors that are pervasive and are difficult to track their sources. Most times, these odors are caused by bacterial growth, mold, or trash/toilet lingering scents. These smells can be managed and eventually eliminated.

Where should I start?

First, you should try to find the likely culprits of these malingerers. Try getting a few breaths of fresh air outside, and then going directly to places with a high chance of foul odors: trash cans, fridges, basements, bathrooms, crawlspaces, and pet places. Once you have identified the areas that need assistance, move on to the next step.

What do I do about this?

Different smells need different solutions so that they will be broken down by the type of scent below.

Musty (moldy) Smell – Use a dehumidifier to draw the moisture from the area, then use tea tree oil and either rubbing alcohol or a cheap vodka to make a spritz. Mist the worst smelling areas with two to three sprays of this mix, and enjoy the erasure of your musty, moldy scent. Tea tree oil is a natural mold killer, and the alcohol will bind with the oil just long enough for it to settle onto the seen and unseen mold particles, then evaporate off very quickly eliminating the scent of alcohol.

Potty Smell – Many different sprays claim to eliminate smells from a toilet, but these create a film on top of the water, preventing the scent from rising above the water level (think of it like putting a lid on a plastic ware container). Removing the smells from the source is much more effective. Ideally, the best way to eliminate these smells is to have a pristine potty. There are many ways to do this without harsh chemicals. The most effective way is to create an abrasive scrub. Drain the water from the bowl (and/or tank, if needed) and use a 1:1:1 ratio of baking soda, borax, and salt to remove any discoloration or hard water stains. Additionally, make sure that your bathroom exhaust fan (a.k.a. fart fan) is cleansed from any stains or mold (use the method explained in the musty/moldy smell section).

Spoiled and Molded Food Smell – These smells come from a few different places; your fridge, trashcan, indoor compost bin, or any fresh food storage areas. There is a SUPER simple fix for these! First, clean the area using a regular soapy water rinse, put a box of baking soda in the area, and finally, after the area is dry, spray it with hydrogen peroxide. These three simple steps will eliminate the smell and help to prevent it from returning.

General “Trash” Smell – While this smell (obviously) comes mainly from the trashcan, there can be other areas that have this smell. It is the smell of decay, rot, and biodegradation. You can make a simple homemade potpourri to lessen these smells by combining one tablespoon of coffee grounds, one tablespoon of baking soda, and a few cloves inside a coffee filter that has been closed with a twist tie. This combination will suck in the smells (baking soda), convert the smells (coffee grounds) into useful chemicals, and cover any “off” smells (cloves). Once this sachet stops working (usually about a month), you can put it out into your garden for an excellent fertilizer and bug deterrent.

Pet Smell – There is more than one kind of pet smell (wet dog, cat urine, etc.) but this a general pet odor remedy. It is labor intensive to try to remove pet smells, but that is because we love our pets so much that they are always hanging around us. First, clean up as much of the pets’ intended and unintended messes (from fur balls to toys to pet hair). Once you have your area cleaned of the visible stinkers, then you can start in on the invisible ones. Vacuum everything thoroughly, including corners of furniture and rooms, and create loads of laundry with everything that is removable from affected areas. Laundry should be cleaned with a combination of ¼ cup apple cider vinegar and a little bit less than your ordinary detergent. Floors that can be mopped should be. Floors that must be vacuumed, you should sprinkle with baking soda (and allow it to set in overnight) then sweep. Be aware, though, that most room deodorizers (sprays) are NOT pet safe, so try not to use these in areas where our family friends will be.

Awesome! I know what to do AFTER a smell is found, what about PREVENTING smells?

There are great options available for scent reduction in a home. Many people utilize an activated carbon filter for their furnace. This will eliminate both incoming scents and will help to reduce indoor smells by recirculating the air through the activated carbon; one of the most effective odor-removers nature ever made.

Another thing mentioned above was a dehumidifier. These require pad changes every year, so that the unit trying to help, doesn’t become another source of bad odors.

There are many ways to clean, and going as chemical-free as possible is the best for indoor air quality. As evidenced above, organic and non-harmful cleaners are the best viable option for cleansing any areas of your home.

Also, we will soon be offering room air cleaners, so if you have a specific room that always has a smell, or needs some daily help preventing off-odors, be sure to check back with us to find the right room air cleaner for your needs!

We here at care about making sure that your home is your happy place, not just for you, but for any guests who may be blindsided by our in-home smells.

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