Ways you can beat household odors - WBCB: The Valley's CW |

Ways you can beat household odors

Updated: Jan 8, 2014 03:03 PM
© iStockphoto.com / Diego Cervo © iStockphoto.com / Diego Cervo

By Sharon Liao
From Ideas That Spark 

A busy home with sealed-up windows can lead to stale, unpleasant odors. And the last thing that any host wants to hear is, "What's that smell?"

Fortunately, keeping a fresh home doesn't mean giving each room a complete scrubbing. There are a few simple ways that you can clear the air, so that you -- and your guests -- can breathe easy.

1. Odor culprit: Your dog

Rover is a bona fide member of your family, but he can also raise a stink. Thanks to his pungent fur, he can leave behind smells in all of his favorite spots.

Fix it: Besides giving Rover a bath, also toss his bedding into the wash at least once a week. It's helpful to have an extra bed to rotate in, according to the American Kennel Club. Remember to mop up the floor underneath, too. If Rover has access to the couch, spray it with a fabric spray and use a holiday-scented air freshener.

Prevent it: Use washable blankets and pillow cases for Rover's favorite spot, and remember to check his favorite hiding spots for forgotten toys, suggests the AKC. Also sprinkle carpets with baking soda for vacuuming.

2. Odor culprit: Kitty litter

The ammonia odor from your cat's box can permeate the entire room.

Fix it: Remember to scoop daily. Replace the litter once or twice the week, and wash out the box thoroughly with warm water and a non-ammonia-based cleaner.

Prevent it: Store that litter box in a well-ventilated area instead of small space. Also avoid placing it near heat-radiating appliances, such as dryers and furnaces, which can magnify the stench, suggests the Humane Society of the United States. You may also want to add a deodorizer, such as baking soda, to the litter.

3. Odor culprit: A pungent trashcan

Your trash may come back to haunt you, especially if you don't empty it every day.

Fix it: Use a lidded trashcan, and remember to empty it regularly. To clear up odors, use a room freshening spray.

Prevent it: Wash your indoor and outdoor trash cans at least once a month. You can also sprinkle baking soda or stash a fabric dryer sheet in the bottom of the can to keep things fresh.

4. Odor culprit: Cigarette smoke

Before you were able to stop it, your great-aunt Josie lit up a cigarette in the sunroom. Weeks later, you can catch a whiff of the smoky smell.

Fix it: Because cigarette smoke can permeate fabrics and linger on walls, you'll need to do a thorough clean. Wash slipcovers, or spray chairs and couches with a fabric spray. Wipe down furniture and walls with a gentle all-purpose spray. Can't get rid the smell before having people over? Light a holiday-scented candle for an inviting aroma.

Prevent it: Declare your home a smoke-free zone, and remind guests to step a few feet away from your home before puffing away.

5. Odor culprit: Bathroom mildew

The heat and moisture from your show causes mold and mildew to grow in the grout.

Fix it: Use a stiff-bristled brush or toothbrush to clean away the offending substances. If that doesn't do the trick, bring out the big guns: Use a diluted bleach solution. Remember to open windows as you clean, and avoid mixing the stuff with ammonia-based cleansers. (This can result in harmful fumes.)

Prevent it: Crack a window in your bathroom for ventilation. Also wipe down walls after showers, and do speed-cleans every few days: Spritz your shower and surrounding areas with a vinegar-based or gentle all-purpose cleaner.

6. Odor culprit: Lingering food aromas

While food scents are usually warm and inviting, some, like fish or greasy meals, can leave behind an unappetizing stink.

Fix it: Neutralize odors with an air freshening spray, or consider simmering a vinegar-water or citrus-water mixture on the stove.

Prevent it: Use your kitchen exhaust fan as you cook. And remember to wash those dishes and put away leftovers as soon as possible to prevent stinky smells from setting in. Finally, don't forget to store an open box of baking soda in your fridge and freezer to soak up food smells.

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