There’s nothing more frustrating than spending days or even weeks getting the house perfectly clean, freshening up the decor and having everything in order, only to begin smelling an obnoxious odor! This has happened to me several times, and it always seems it is right before company arrives! I have always felt that a home must smell pleasant in order to be truly clean and inviting, so nothing annoys me more than foul odors. Even the slightly stale smell that comes from a home being closed up for a few days can make a home seem dirty.
Scent is an important and often overlooked aspect of home decor because it is an important finishing touch when creating a beautiful and welcoming home environment. Fresh and natural smelling candles and essential oils can completely change the whole mood of a room. Before lighting the candles and diffusing the essential oils however, it is important to discover the source of foul odors and address them first. In this post we will take a look at some ways to keep your home smelling fresh using all natural products.
First of all: Mend, don’t mask!
The temptation is always to reach for a can of scented spray or an odor neutralizer but while these might allow you a brief reprieve from foul smells, they’re never a sustainable long term solution. Furthermore these sprays are likely to contain chemicals that are hazardous to your health. Bad odors are inevitably a symptom of a problem, and the problem needs to be rectified as soon as possible. Left to its own devices the smell will likely become worse and could even lead to lasting damage or a total home disaster depending on the cause, especially in the case of damp smells of mold or mildew. Here are some of the usual suspects of bad odors and some easy ways to address them.
We tend to assume that when something is flushed away, washed away or consumed by the garbage disposal all trace of it is immediately transported to a parallel universe where it can trouble us no more. Unfortunately, this is not the case and that mentality can cause us trouble in the long term. Blockages in kitchen and bathroom sinks as well as baths and shower can lead to sluggish drainage, unpleasant odors and even sewer gases escaping into the home. See here for more information. Your drains can become blocked by cooking fat and grease, hair and toiletries. Usually a plunger or a drain cleaning solution is enough to solve these issues.
The best natural solution I have found is a combination of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and white vinegar which can be every bit as effective as drain cleaning products without the environmental damage or the hefty price tag. I simply pour half a box of baking soda down the drain followed by a half a gallon of vinegar and let it bubble and do it’s work. If all else fails, a plumber should be able to attend to blockages quickly and efficiently.
You take the garbage out two or three times a week and might even use scented trash bags. Yet nasty odors still persist around the garbage can. This is because over time, all the tiny spillages of food matter and liquids pool at the bottom of your garbage can and putrefy creating that foul smell we all know and fear. Rinse out your garbage can regularly with white vinegar before leaving it to air dry for 20-30 minutes.
Your garbage disposal is often also a source of unpleasant smells. This often happens when food waste is caught in the mechanism. You can eliminate this by tossing in a few handfuls of ice cubes followed by a few segments of lemon or lime and a cup of lemon juice.
We all love our furry friends, but that doesn’t mean that they should be allowed to undermine the perfect balance of scents in our home. Although I no longer have pets due to allergies, I have had both cats and dogs and I know the odor struggle is real!
Every cat owner knows the constant uphill battle of keeping the litter box from permeating a whole room. Aside from ensuring that the litter tray is placed in an unobtrusive place where your furry friends can access it easily without the smells impinging on your day to day life, there are other steps you can take to keep down the odors . Of course the litter tray should be emptied and cleaned out regularly, and antibacterial or odor neutralizing cat litter can also be helpful. Activated charcoal can also be extremely useful. The porous surface of the charcoal is great for trapping odors from the litter box.
If your puppy training then you likely know how problematic the little puddles they leave in the carpet can be. Again, white vinegar is a great solution! Treat messes with a mixture of one part white vinegar to three parts water. The acid in the vinegar will eliminate the bacteria that causes odors.
Your dishwasher and washing machine are hard working friends which work tirelessly to keep your clothes and dishes sparkling clean, but after years of dirty jobs, it’s little wonder that they can start to lose their luster. Over time, food waste can begin to accumulate in your dishwasher and clog the filter. You can prevent this by ensuring that your dishes are free of solid food waste before placing them in the dishwasher. Moreover, freshening up the appliance itself is quick, easy and inexpensive. Fill a dishwasher cup with white vinegar and place it alone on the top shelf of your dishwasher or in the rinse aid section. You can also simply pour two cups of vinegar into the bottom of the appliance before running it through an empty cycle.The vinegary smell will persist for about an hour but after that, all odors will be neutralized.
Likewise your washing machine can be prone to moldy smells as fungi such as mold and mildew can thrive inside the washing machine, especially a front load washing machine. You can prevent this by keeping the door open between cycles while treating the smell by pouring a combination of hot water and baking soda into the detergent drawer while pouring two cups of white vinegar into the drum and running the machine on a medium heat cycle.
You can naturally clean toilets and keep them odor free using 1/4 Cup 20 Mule Team Borax and 1 cup vinegar. Wait 20 minutes, then scrub clean.
Microwaves and Refrigerators
Baking soda, vinegar and essential oils are all wonderful for cleaning a refrigerator or microwave. I also love using Young Living Thieves Oil Cleaner for these jobs. It smells so good!
Be sure to check out the post below to see how I quickly and effectively clean a microwave and sink in five minutes using these products. I also use the same spray mixture and baking soda scrub to clean out the shelves in my refrigerator and keep it smelling fresh.
After you have cleaned all the dirty jobs, you can create a wonderful ambiance in your home by using essential oils. Not only do they smell wonderful, but there are also health benefits associated with essential oil use.
I still enjoy the beauty and ambiance of flickering candle from time to time. After many years of using toxic paraffin wax candles with synthetic fragrance, I now only use candles that have been made with pure essential oils and beeswax or soy. I absolutely love the wonderful and all natural handmade soy and essential oil candles by Cottage Candle Company.
I do try to diffuse essential oils on a daily basis. Essential oils can be placed strategically in each room to evoke a calm or uplifting feeling and fresh and clean aroma depending on the oil combinations that are used. I recommend purchasing a high quality diffuser for maximum benefits.
Sometimes stale odors or food odors still persist in the kitchen. An all natural simmering potpourri can be very effective at eliminating these persistent smells.
As you can see, it is easy to keep your home looking and smelling fabulous all year around without spending a fortune. Simply using all natural cleaning supplies and scents is the way to go! I am actually looking forward to spring cleaning and this post has inspired me to get started now with a refrigerator clean out! Do you have any other all natural cleaning cleaners that you have found to be effective for strong odors? I would love to hear from you.
Happy (all natural) spring cleaning!