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The following is part of an Organic Living Guest Post Series written by Amy, a long time helper behind the scenes of Southern Savers.
Last week, we looked at why air fresheners aren’t the best option for our health even if our noses like them. This week, I’m ready to learn about how to make my home smell fresh and clean without making anyone sick. From dirty diapers to sick kids, we all have some stink to deal with now and again. There are two simple steps that will beat any synthetic air freshener.
Step One: Eliminate the funk
1. Figure out what is causing the stink. Instead of masking it, eliminate it. This sounds so ridiculously obvious, but how many times do we rush around our houses noticing that the diapers need to be taken out or that the compost bucket is starting to get a little funky and we just keep going? Maybe that’s just me. Normally, by the time I get to eliminating the source of the odor, it has spread its way into more than one room. If you get rid of it when you notice it, you’ll have less to deal with.
2. Sometimes, though, we need something more after we have removed the source. Like the time we lit a fire in our fireplace and the smoke decided not to exit through our chimney, but through our living room. Odor absorption is key. The three basic all natural odor absorbers are charcoal, vinegar and baking soda. Set out an open box of baking soda. Boil some vinegar (and you won’t even have to wash the pan!) You can even easily make your own deodorizing disks with distilled water, essential oils and baking soda using this tutorial. I made some of these and tossed them in the diaper pail. When they are done absorbing odors, you can toss them in the washing machine to help get your clothes cleaner.
3. Buy a house plant. NASA partnered with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America in a study to see if indoor plants can remove certain toxins from the air. They found that plants were extremely effective in eliminating toxins. Do your research though and make sure that the plant you are buying isn’t toxic if ingested (especially if you have pets or little ones).
4. If the odor remains, it could be that it is time to change the air filters in your heating and air unit. Odors can get locked into the filters, and every time you turn it on, you are recycling the stench. I know when we first moved into our home, we had to get someone to come and clean out the duct work because everything else that we had tried didn’t eliminate the pet odors. The amount of dog hair and dust that came out of the vents showed me exactly why all of our other odor absorbers had failed.
Step Two: Let the Good Smells In
1. One of the most effective ways to get some fresh air in your house is to open the windows and literally let in some fresh air! If you have allergy issues like me or live in a city with frequent smog alerts, it probably isn’t the best plan. But if you’ve got fresh air, embrace it!
2. My favorite way to add a pleasant aroma to my house (other than baking bread!) is to put a saucepan on the stove and add water, cinnamon and some sliced oranges (I’ve even just tossed in leftover peels.) Let this simmer all day, adding water as needed, and your house will smell wonderful. If you are nervous about leaving a pot on the stove all day, you can get a mini crockpot instead. The Yummy Life has several recipes using everything from herbs, spices and fruit to extracts. You can find a scent that you love, no doubt.
3. I’m at the front end of learning about the vast uses of essential oils, but I do know that you can use them in a multitude of ways to scent your home. Some suggest using the oils in a diffuser or in a misting bottle mixed with water. Remember though that not everybody can tolerate all scents well, even the all natural ones.
Truth be told, clean doesn’t really smell like anything. My clean cotton candle that I love is actually a myth. Clean cotton doesn’t have a smell and neither do clean houses. That said, I love to walk into a house with an apple pie or cookies in the oven. It just smells inviting, but instead of lighting a candle or plugging in an air freshener, try one of these tips and see what you think.
How about you? Have you found a great way to eliminate odors or enhance the aroma of your house naturally? As always, I’d love to learn from you!!