Clear the Air
Winter's cold likely means you've kept your doors and windows closed tight, creating the opportunity for stale air and not-so-fresh smells. Scented candles and air fresheners can only go so far and will likely cover the odor, rather than eliminate it – plus, depending on what you are using, you might be adding toxins, a trade not worth making.
These tips will help you clear the air.
- Eliminate the Source
Did a piece of food slip under the fridge or fall behind the trash can under your sink? Perhaps you missed a spot your new puppy visited. Identifying the source is your first step in getting rid of an unwelcome smell.
- Clean the Dishwasher
To clean and freshen the dishwasher, place a cup filled with white vinegar on the top rack, and run the cycle as normal without any other dishes in the dishwasher. This will eliminate many of the smells.
- Check the Drains
Sometimes food can get stuck in the drains in your kitchen sink, where it turns rancid and starts to stink. If you have a garbage disposal, you can deodorize it by placing some slices of lemon or orange in it, turning on the water and running the disposal. If that doesn't work, send some mouthwash down it, or try some white vinegar.
If your seldom-used guest bath smells, it could be due to water not being run through the pipes for a time. Water can sit in the p-trap and get mildewy, causing a rotten odor. Run hot water in both tub and sink for 30 seconds to a minute to move the old water through. Deodorize further by sending a quarter cup of baking soda down the drain. If the odor persists, you might need to call in a professional to check the roof vents to make sure they aren't clogged.
- Clean the Carpets
Since it's winter, you may not want to have your carpets shampooed. But, if they are the source of the smell, you'll want to deal with it. Start by sprinkling baking soda, and letting it sit in place for about an hour. Then vacuum thoroughly. The baking soda will pull out some of the odors.
- Kill Urine Smells with Vinegar
The acidity of the vinegar will help it to kill the smell of urine, as well as bacteria. If you've had some accidents from pets on the carpet, mix one part vinegar and three parts water. Rub the mixture into the carpet with a cloth, rinse, and allow to air dry. This will help neutralize the odor without covering it with cleaning chemicals.
Now, let's talk toxins.
Most of us never think about candles as a potential toxin, but unless you are burning 100% beeswax candles, which are actually natural cleaners, you could be adding toxic chemicals to the air. The same goes for incense. Think about ditching your traditional methods for beeswax candles (with cotton wicks) and grandma's tried and true natural method of aromatherapy: simmering a stick of cinnamon and slices of orange on the stove.
For more suggestions, take a look at these tips from Seventh Generation. Oftentimes, simpler methods from the past are still the best!