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How to Rid Your Home of Foul Odors

badsmellctrbNo one likes to visit a home that smells. Buyers, especially- and you don’t want anyone ever saying that your home stinks. Not friends, not family, not your Realtor, and certainly not any buyers.

Most often, homeowners with … shall we say… malodorous homes…. are not even aware of it. Having a home that has an odor does NOT mean that you are not clean. It is absolutely NOT to say that anyone is not a good person because their house doesn’t smell like you and I think it should. A home can maintain an odor for many different reasons, and the bottom line is to get to the source and then address it.  And, by the way, masking odors really doesn’t work.

By far, the biggest offenders are pets, smoking, dampness, mold, excess trash, or cooking. The basics are identifying and removing sources of odor, introducing new scents, and eliminating odors.

Pets:Make sure you clean out the litterbox frequently, clean out animals cages and change lining frequently, let your animals outside to “do their duty” so there is no need for them to find a place indoors. It is not always easy to locate where an animal has relieved itself. Vacuum frequently- pet hair and dander accumulate quickly and will have an odor.

Smoking: A taboo subject these days. Yes, it’s your home, but try to smoke outside if you must have a cigarette or smoke that pipe or cigar. The odor lingers a very long time and gets into fabric, drapes and even the paint.

Dampness:  start by looking in the bathroom and kitchen. Dirty dishes in the sink will produce a foul smell that be easily removed by keeping dishes washed and put away promptly after use. In the bathroom, keep damp towels off the floor and on racks where they have a chance to dry. It’s also a good idea not to put anything wet into the dirty clothes hamper since you’ll wind up with a musty smell very quickly with wet items in such a confined space.

Mold: This may end up being the most costly, because mold is generally  a result of dampness, and is a growing organism that must be dealt with. If a professional needs to come in, expect to spend a small fortune to get rid of it. Buyers now test for mold more often than you might think.
Trash: Empty garbage and trash cans often to eliminate this common source of odors.

Cooking:  Some foods just downright smell awful in the kitchen. Fish, hard boiled eggs, and a number of different spices. Believe it or not, some folks do not like the smell of garlic 😉 So go easy on these while your home is on the market, or even if your home is not for sale, anytime that you have company coming over.

There are numerous ways to control the scent of your home, most of which can be achieved very inexpensively and easily.

First, air it out:  Open up the doors and windows to circulate air throughout your home. Incorporating a fan may also help push unclean air out of the house.

Introduce new scents to the home – it’s quick and easy using a variety of methods. The easiest is the use of scented candles, howeer always exercise caution with candles. Be sure you keep the flame far from any flammable materials and never leave a burning candle unattended. If you have small children or pets, candles might not be a good option.

Scented potpourri is another option, or products that plug into electrical outlets and release scent, as well as essential oils and room sprays. Another option, if you have air vents in your home or apartment, is to use your favorite dryer sheets to scent your whole home. Simply put a dryer sheet or two into the air intake (where your heating or cooling unit pulls air in). You’ll find that the fresh, clean scent is circulated quickly throughout your entire home.

Additionally, look for room sprays that specifically say that they neutralize odors. Some sprays only mask the odors and do nothing to remove them. This might leave you with the smell of mold and roses, which isn’t a particularly appealing combination. Febreeze is a great odor neutralizer. There are many other products on the market that achieve similar results, so shop around for the lowest cost options.

I have read that you should cut up an onion and place all of the pieces in a bowl of water. If the odor is in a particular room, place the bowl in the center of the room and close the door. If the smell is widespread throughout the house, use several bowls of onions and water and close off all of the rooms. The onions will absorb the odors. (I am not too sure about this- the smell of onions isn’t that great either)

One of my favorites is to line a baking sheet with a piece of aluminum foil and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar all over it. Add a tablespoon of butter and set it in the over at 250 degrees. This will make your home smell you just baked something delicious.

You can try using scented carpet powder, Febreze or similar products.

You can also make homemade potpourri- Boil the peels of citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges or grapefruit in a large pot of water. Cloves and cinnamon sticks can be added for extra spice. Once the water starts to boil, turn down the heat to let the pot simmer.

Boil away odors. Heat up a half cup of vinegar with two cups of water to banish kitchen odors. Or freshen your entire home by boiling cinnamon and cloves in two cups of water.

Baking soda. This little box of wonder is great for absorbing odors in enclosed spaces like cabinets and refrigerators. It can also be used as an odor absorber on the floor. Sprinkle it all over your carpets and let it sit for a half hour or so, then vacuum it up.

Vinegar. It is the base for about a hundred DIY cleaning solutions. It’s cheap and effective at removing stains and odors. Use in tandem with ammonia, water, and washing soda to make a great cleaner for removing stubborn odors like cigarette smoke.

For hard to handle areas, consider purchasing an air purifier. This will also reduce the amount of pet dander in the air, helping those with allergies.  See this useful link on air purifiers

Another thought is activated charcoal, which is used to control all manner of odor issues from household air, to industrial sites.

Whatever option you choose you’ll have a fresher, cleaner smelling home and your nose (and your firends, loved ones, and buyers noses will thank you, too.

Have you seen our latest column on WestportNow?



Judy Szablak