Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Get a ‘scents’ of home sweet home

The aromas at home change every day. As a child, I could count on smelling fish and hot oil on Fridays or any day during smelt season, and pot roast on Sunday. If it was someone’s birthday, it was the sweet smell of cookie dough or cake batter that carried me through the door after school or following a day of play outside.
The scents differed with the weather. When it was cold and rainy, our house smelled of chicken noodle soup or grilled cheese sandwiches, both  comfort foods to me. On Saturday mornings, there was always a hint of ammonia, linen and lemon oil because that’s when chores like laundry, dusting and washing the floor were done.

I always enjoyed the aromas in the kitchen and even the smell of a clean house. But when it comes to the case of smelly socks, dirty laundry and the litter box, all of us do what we can to mask the scents. In fact, 64 percent of us go to extreme measures to rid our homes of pungent odors such as replacing a rug or carpet, purchasing new trash cans and even replacing a couch or another piece of furniture, according to a recent survey by Filtrete Filters from 3M.

Odor free is naturally easier on the senses.

But what if you’ve become immune to the smells? Aside from asking visitors the honest truth, it can be difficult to know if your home is odor free.  Healthy Living expert and building biologist Lisa Beres offers the following solutions to creating and maintaining a fresh-smelling home naturally:

* Start in the kitchen. The biggest culprit for foul odors is the refrigerator. Remove any left-leftovers, that is, dishes that were reheated more than once or no longer resemble food. Then take a wet cloth and remove foul odors and stains that build up on the shelves and in the drawers. For a natural cleaning solution, here’s Beres’ recipe: Add a few drops of natural dish soap to a bowl of baking soda and stir until it creates a thick paste to use as a cleaning agent. Your mom’s old trick of storing an open box of baking soda to eliminate odors still works. Just be sure to replace the box every three months.
* Candles and air fresheners are nice, but not natural, and according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can contain synthetic chemicals such as formaldehyde. This can irritate eyes, skin and throats. Instead of those, use all natural candles or a homemade concoction like 10 drops of essential oil (maybe lavender or eucalyptus) in 2 cups of water. Pour it into a pretty vase and add a reed diffuser. You might also go online and find a recipe for natural air fresheners or homemade candles. How about a bowl of fresh lemons or a bouquet of real flowers? Even opening the windows is a good idea.
* Resist using repellents. “Pesky ants and other insects can make their way into your kitchen pantry when they’re on a mission to find food, but dousing them and your kitchen’s surfaces in toxic repellent isn’t a healthy solution for the home or the family,” Beres said. “Instead set a line of coffee grounds, lemon juice, cinnamon or cayenne pepper around doors and windows to create an effective barrier they won’t cross.”
* Filter out the smells. There’s a reason you have a fan over the stove. Filters such as the Filtrete Odor Reduction Filter are designed specifically to prevent unappealing cooking odors (such as fish) from spreading and lingering throughout the home. However, like the box of baking soda, they need to be replaced now and then.
* Pick up those wet towels and bathroom rugs. You would be amazed at how quickly mildew can develop and remain if the towel is not washed properly. “To rid towels of the mildew smell, first wash them once in hot water with a cup or two of white vinegar. Then wash them again with a natural or eco-friendly laundry detergent,” Beres said.
Of course the trick to avoid the mildew and associated smells in the future is to get your kids to hang the towels up immediately to ensure they dry thoroughly, instead of plopping them on the floor.
For more tips on eliminating smelly odors in the home, Filtrete Home Filtration
For questions or comments, email gina.joseph@macombdaily.com.

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