It doesn’t matter how often you clean. If you notice an unpleasant, unidentified odor when you walk through your home, you may have a case of house-itosis. While removing the origin of the stench often solves the problem, sometimes the only cure for this dreaded condition is a thorough cleaning of each room, hallway and closet. Every part of your house can develop odors without regular attention. Follow these suggestions to eradicate objectionable scents and keep your home smelling fresh.
Before you set out to remove the hurt from your nose, assemble your arsenal of cleansing allies. You’ll need the following items for the best results:
- Vacuum cleaner
- Steam cleaner
- Handheld vacuum
- Mop and bucket
- Scrub brush
- Old toothbrush
- Cleaning liquids
- Sponges and rags
- Wood polish
- Rubber gloves
Now that you’re armed and ready to take on your stinky enemy, take a few moments to plan your approach. For a whole-house project, it’s best to divide and conquer by attacking one flank at a time. Every part of your home has a gang of usual suspects that can cause random odors if left unattended, so now’s the time for a search and destroy mission through enemy territory.
The kitchen sees plenty of action and has more opportunities to get dirty and bend the air the wrong way than most rooms in your home. Virtually every surface is exposed to raw or cooked foods that leave a trail of bacteria and germs.
The most likely stench machine in the kitchen is over in the corner, quietly waiting for you to fill it with garbage that, by its nature, stinks. Frequently, people think that the garbage is what smells, when it’s actually the trash container that has absorbed odors for months without being cleaned. Soap it up, rinse it out and give it a blast of deodorant just to make sure it won’t offend.
Next on the list of possible odor donors is the refrigerator. Left-over pizza, thawing casseroles and spots of spilled milk can really get the smell party started. However, the guest of honor is the vegetable crisper, which college students, bachelors and yo-yo dieters across the U.S. affectionately call the rotter. What was green, red or yellow when it was placed in the crisper is now brown and stinky. Rotten food calls for a drastic response. Remove everything from the fridge, wash the racks and drawers, clean the interior walls and put it back together. Wipe down anything you put back in that might have crusted food on it, like condiment bottles. Always store leftovers and pungent food in plastic or glass containers with good lids.
The microwave should also be thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis. Don’t wait for it to start smelling bad. Get in the habit of using a plate cover to minimize the mess from microbursts of hot food. After wiping out the inside, let the door stand open for a few hours so it can dry thoroughly.
Sweep the floor and vacuum any loose crumbs or debris. You can then use a handheld vacuum to get dust along the edges or between the appliances and counters. Scour the edges with a used toothbrush or scrub brush before mopping with a disinfecting cleanser and waxing it. Follow these steps for the bathroom floor, too.
The best approach to keeping the bathroom clean is to be proactive. You don’t want to wait until deep cleaning becomes a life-altering event. Replace used bath towels and washcloths often to avoid a mildewy smell, and change shower liners regularly to avoid mold build-up. Clean the toilet with a commercial cleanser (or a natural alternative) before it gets dirty to keep it odor-free. Wash out the bathtub or shower area frequently using a disinfecting cleaner and scrub brush. Use a squeegee to clean mirrors and countertops. Use drain cleaner in the sink and bathtub to keep clogged hair or dirt from building up.
BEDROOM AND LIVING ROOM
If your mattress is older, it’s probably dragging around a lot of smelly memories. If it needs to be freshened, sprinkle some baking powder on it and vacuum it off in an hour. Give it a spray of laundry deodorizer, and put a dryer sheet under your mattress cover to keep it smelling clean. It’s worth keeping in mind that different types of mattresses may require different methods to clean, so be sure to do your research.
Closets are prime places for unexplainable odors because they’re kept closed most of the time. The trapped moisture has nowhere to go and is absorbed into coats, jackets and whatever else may be in there, which can leave them smelling like a wet dog. You can put an open box of baking soda or a piece of cedar wood in the closet to dehumidify the space and keep it smelling fresh.
Carpets should be vacuumed after you sprinkle them with carpet cleaning powder and give the powder time to do its job. Steam cleaning works well on deeply seated dirt in carpets or furniture.
Curtains and drapes can also trap and release odors as they are heated and cooled by the sun. For general maintenance, you can clean them with a hand-held vacuum or an attachment to your floor model. Seasonal dry cleaning will also remove objectionable smells and extend the life of the fabric.
If your pet’s bed has covers, remove the cushioning inside and wash the covers in your washing machine. You can also wipe your dog or cat with a deodorizing spray to keep them from smelling too ripe between baths. Speaking of pets, many cat owners keep a litter box in their bathroom, garage, mud room or basement. Wherever you choose to put your cat’s box, be sure to clean it at least once per day and change the litter frequently. If your litter box is still smelling particularly bad, try adding few scoops of pet-safe baking soda to the mix. You and your cats might even appreciate the extra filtration of an activated carbon air purifier.
AROUND THE HOUSE
Mold is another culprit you’ll need to find and remove. A leaky roof can permit rain or melted snow to seep behind your walls and create black mold, which stinks, but can also make you sick. Mold can also thrive in dark, moist HVAC ducts. From there, it gets disseminated throughout the home spreading germs and odors to every room.
These tips will help you get rid of any offensive smells in your home, but it takes diligence on your part to keep them from returning. The labor isn’t difficult, but it has to be done often to maintain a clean and fresh-smelling home.