Natural ways to remove nasty home odors
Removing Home Odors Naturally
by Eric Nirschel
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If you're anything like me, you take a good deal of pride in the appearance of your home. Still, no matter how clean you keep it, there's sometimes the issue of untoward odors. Maybe the smell is coming from a clogged pipe, a patch of carpet that still remembers when Fido was a puppy, or maybe just from the trashcan because it's full of trash.
It can be tempting to go out and get the most powerfully abrasive (and expensive) chemical cleaner you can find to deal with the unwelcome scent, but in truth, a wide variety of smells can be dealt with both easily and cheaply.
A common trick realtors employ is both cheap and easy. All you need is vanilla extract and an oven. Part of one of the reasons confectionery dishes smell so heavenly is the vanilla extract frequently used in their recipes. When heated, the smell becomes that much more potent. Capitalizing on this, you can take two caps full of natural vanilla extract, put it in an oven-safe dish, and bake it. An hour at 300 degrees should have your entire home smelling like cookies. This is possibly not a good idea if you're on a diet.
Another common trick is a lemon or orange peel in the garbage disposal. Run some hot, soapy water down the drain to clear out any debris and then drop in the peel. After a quick chop later, a citrus smell should linger in your kitchen for a few days, at least. It's worth mentioning that drain odors may not actually be coming from the garbage disposal but from the pipes themselves. If you think this might be a problem, remember that funky smells are caused by bacteria. If there's no bacteria, then there's no smell. A cup of hydrogen peroxide can put an end to funky drain odors by killing the bacteria in the pipes.
If a clog is causing bacteria to clump up in the pipes, don't immediately reach for the drain cleaner. A combination of baking soda and vinegar is not only just as effective for light clogging, but it's more eco-friendly, as well. After dumping a pot of boiling water down the drain to kill off the surface bacteria and loosen the clump, pour a half a cup of baking soda down the drain. After it sits for a few minutes, pour in a mixture of vinegar and water (one cup of each). The fizzy-pop reaction of the baking soda and vinegar will not only break up the clog, but also the vinegar will do away with the smells lingering in the pipe. Flush with boiling water, and you're done!
For particularly stubborn smells, my personally favorite method is sulfur. I know. Just hear me out. Most people don't think of sulfur when they think of good smells, and they'd be right (unless you're one of those oddballs like me who actually kind of likes the smell of sulfur). Still, sulfur is an excellent step to smelling good. You can get sulfur in large quantities from most places that sell herbs. (You can get three pounds of the stuff for ten dollars online.) The thing with sulfur is that it is an overpowering smell. It literally drowns out every other odor you can find. If you have a poor odor coming from carpet or upholstery, two tablespoons of sulfur burned nearby will likely overpower it. When burned, sulfur emits a thick, pungent smoke, but the smell doesn't linger long, assuming you open a few windows and flush the room with some fresh air. The warmer the weather, the faster the smell will go away. Afterward, all you need to do is replace the now missing scent with something you prefer (I'm partial to Dragon's Blood incense, myself). However, I wouldn't recommend this method with clothing, as body heat can reactivate the sulfur scent if you don't wash the garment before wearing.
The last method I'll suggest is also the most rewarding. Though it won't outright remove other bad odors, it can overpower faint smells and will work to keep your home smelling pleasant for a longer period. Growing your own vegetable bearing plants indoors can be an excellent way to make your home smell much more pleasant, especially in the winter. Fresh soil, vegetation, and flowers all have unique, pleasing scents, and growing a vegetable indoors can provide all three. Warm weather plants like tomatoes are ideal. If you place the pot in front of the vent or radiator, the plant will benefit from the heat in the winter, while the scent of fresh vegetation spreads through the house, not unlike living potpourri. I recommend tomato (cherry tomato, specifically) because they have a habit of not only providing a lot of tasty little fruits, but they also grow wildly if left unchecked. Since they grow rapidly, you can prune the plant at regular intervals and use the fragrant cut sections to freshen the scent in other rooms by peeling the outermost layer off the stem with a sharp knife. The peeling will allow the natural smell of the plant to spread even further!
So, put down the chemical sprays. There are plenty of options without using harsh, abrasive, and expensive cleaners.
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