Eliminate odors in the home the cheap, green way — without using dangerous synthetic air fresheners. From Green Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck
It is rare that a home always smells sweet. Some foods are just plain smelly, others reek only after they have been burned. And most of us conduct the occasional refrigerator “experiment.” Here are some ways to exorcise those unpleasant odors without poisoning yourself with synthetic “air fresheners.”
Track down the source of the smell. If it is not a member of the family, get rid of it.
Clean Out Your Refrigerator
Throw slimy vegetables and rotting fruit in your compost bucket. Wash the slime out of the fruit and vegetable drawer. Put rotting meat in your freezer until garbage day. Wash sour milk off the refrigerator shelves.
Put an open container of baking soda in the refrigerator. The baking soda will absorb odors. Replace it after about six months. Use the old baking soda for cleaning jobs or to unclog a drain.
Empty the Garbage
If the inside of the can is wet, wash it out and let it dry. Sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom of the garbage pail to absorb odors.
Burned the Dinner?
If something has burned but is no longer producing actual flames, turn on the range hood to suck the smoke out of the house. If the weather is above freezing, open some windows.
You can try to placate your smoke alarm by whirling a vinegar-dampened towel over your head. Some of the smoke will catch in the towel, and the vinegar will neutralize the smell.
Damp and Dank
Molds and mildews are often rather malodorous. If they are growing in your undersink cabinet, you need to fix the leak and dry out the cabinet. Wash out the cabinet with vinegar and borax to kill the mold and mildew. A portable fan can be used to speed up the drying process.
Garlic and Onion Odors
Hot water sets in these odors. Cold water removes them. Wash your odoriferous cutting boards and hands in cold water. Rinse well.
ADD BETTER SMELLS
Warm a little vinegar on the stove while you are cooking fish, cabbage, or other strong smelling food.
Burn an unscented candle to help dispel odors. Be careful to keep the candle out of the reach of children, pets, and mischievous breezes.
Pour equal amounts of vinegar and water into a spray bottle. Spray a little vinegar into the air to dispel strong cooking odors.
Pour a little vanilla extract on a cotton ball in a saucer and set it out on a countertop.
Heat cinnamon sticks and cloves or cut-up lemons in saucepan of water on the stove. If the smell is too tantalizing, make mulled cider instead: Heat apple cider with a cinnamon stick and a few whole cloves in a saucepan over a burner turned on low. Do not allow the cider to boil. Let the cider small permeate the house until you can’t resist it any longer. Pour the cider into a mug. Drink.
GROWING CLEAN AIR
Green plants are the only true air fresheners. They produce oxygen and also remove toxins and particulate matter from the air.
Houseplants with scented leaves can make indoor air smell wonderful. Stroke the leaves of fragrant houseplants such as scented geraniums, lavender, thyme, rosemary, and mint to release their fragrance into the room. Or pick a couple of scented leaves and simmer them in a saucepan of water.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ellen Sandbeck, the author of Green Housekeeping (Copyright © 2006 by Ellen Sandbeck) and Green Barbarians: Live Bravely on Your Home Planet, is an organic landscaper, worm wrangler, writer, and graphic artist who lives with (and experiments on) her husband and an assortment of younger creatures — which includes two mostly grown children, a couple of dogs, a small flock of laying hens, and many thousands of composting worms — in Duluth, Minnesota.
MORE ARTICLES BY THE AUTHOR
- 11 Tips for Dealing With Your Piles of Papers
- First, Get Rid of the Clutter! Organizing With Everyday Objects
- How to Disinfect Your Home — Naturally
- The Greenest Way to Hand Wash Your Dishes
- To Rinse or Not to Rinse? The Eternal Dishwasher Question
- Read the Introduction to Green Housekeeping
- Read the Introduction to Green Barbarians: Live Bravely on Your Home Planet
- Learn more about Ellen Sandbeck