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Household Odors and Some Solutions

Posted 12-21-2009 at 09:38 AM by faucetman886

I have become well known among bloggers for my expertise and opinions on sewage smells. But when something else stinks, the cover-up is usually worse than the original culprit (blasting the bathroom with a rose-scented spray is like dousing your body with eau de toilette after two hours of tennis). The key to clean air is tackling the source of the smell, not its lingering effect. There's a difference between an air freshener and an odor counteractant. Odor counteractants do more than mask a smell; they actually get rid of it. While there are a number of reliable all-purpose counteractants, such as Lysol Disinfectant Spray and baking soda, certain pungent smells call for specific measures. Read on to find the best ways to eradicate unwanted aromas anywhere in your home.


Clothing Odors

The Cause: Stored clothing, mothballs may be toxic, and they make you smell like a thrift store or your grandmotherís house. Sweat, body odor ( bacteria on the skin plus sweat causes body odor) can seep into clothing. Shoes, consider the potent combination of 98 percent July humidity and approximately 250,000 sweat glands on each of your feet.

The Cure: Stored clothing, at-home dry-cleaning kits can remove stale odors. Sweat body odor, simply wash your clothes to kill unseemly body odor in fabrics. Shoes, avoid wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row, and stuff them with newspaper, which absorbs moisture and, therefore, smells. Avoid sprays, which can leave a white residue.

Refrigerator Odors

The Cause: A refrigerator odor that you can't "see" is like an itch you can't scratch. You can spend an afternoon scrubbing your fridge from top to bottom without getting rid of that whiff of food that has gone bad. That's because spills often trickle into the drip pan underneath the refrigerator or into the insulation and go undetected for months.

The Cure: There's still nothing better for absorbing fridge odors than baking soda, and the old staple just got a makeover: Arm & Hammer's new Fridge-n-Freezer Deodorizer has front and back windows lined with a cheesecloth like fabric to maximize ventilation. Vanilla extract is also an effective remedy: Soak a cotton ball in it and leave the cotton ball exposed on a dish until dry.

Pet Odors

The Cause: Litter box, the ripeness of a litter box depends on the litter as well as on the petís diet, allergies, or infections, and whether the box is cleaned daily. Fur, dirty coats breed odor-causing bacteria. Accidents, fluids spread as they seep into carpet padding and create nasty smells.

The Cure: Litter box, clay-based litter that clumps when wet absorbs odors. Donít make the mistake I did and flush it down the toilet. Believe me that creates a monumental clog that takes an award winning plumber to unclog. Fur , brushing and bathing can prevent the buildup of bacteria. Ask your vet about shampoos.

Accidents, you can spray any one of many available stain & odor removers found at your local pet stores, on an area wider than the spot (and under it, if possible).

Food Odor

The Cause: Poorly ventilated or cramped kitchens mixed with pungent foods -- such as garlic, curry, eggs, cheese, and burned casseroles (my specialty), make for strong odors.

The Cure: Lemon and citrus fragrances, or such antibacterial agents as Lysol or all-natural citrus products that can be found on the market today. Often the best (and easiest) remedy is to open a window or turn on a vent or exhaust fan that suck most everything out.

Cigarette Smoke Odors

The Cause: Cigarette smoke is insidious and depending on how bad the smoke is in a room, it sometimes can permeate the curtains, the bedspreads, the furniture and most everything else.

The Cure, Donít allow anyone to smoke in your home. One of the only good things about my ex-wife was her attitude about smoking in our home. Not only did we not own even a single ashtray, when asked by an unknowing guest she would advise them to step outside because in her opinion ďthe whole world was an ashtray ď. No one should smoke in your home or car if you object. if you dislike the smell or the habit, when hosting an incorrigible guest, rely on cross-ventilation is the best solution for ridding clothes and furniture of the noxious smell but avoiding the problem by insisting on no smoking in your home is the best cure.

Bathroom Odor

The Cause: Mold and mildew grow where there is moisture, darkness and still air. Odor-carrying bacteria can accompany it. This fast-growing ecosystem results in bad smells. Bodily functions, the most natural odors can be the most embarrassing, especially if there is no bathroom window and you have a house full of guests. Heck I can embarrass myself and I live alone.

The Cure, for mold and mildew, clean off the bacteria that generate odors and dry all tiles and caulking when wet by carefully using a diluted solution of household bleach and water in a spray bottle careful to avoid getting on any soft surfaces . As with trash cans, Lysol or other disinfectant can inhibit growth. Bodily functions, lit candles or matches kill odors. Urine can emit an ammonia-like odor, so clean the toilet regularly.

Basement odor

The Cause: Musty odors, the thick stench that seeps into books, quilts, and other valuable items are caused by moisture that gets trapped in unventilated spaces, resulting in mold and mildew that breed odor-causing bacteria. Water damage caused by leaks can create odors that won't dissipate until the wet spots and the source of the damage are dry.

The Cure for musty odors can be the use of activated charcoal. Pour two cups into an airtight bin, prop your items on a shoe box in the bin so they don't touch the powder, seal until fresh, then air them out. Water damage, once the source is sealed, ventilate and use a dehumidifier which may become a permanent necessity in your basement. They are widely available in small portable units or permanent more aggressive units can be added to your homeís central HVAC system.

Garbage Odor

The Cause: The fetid blend of banana peels, used paper towels, cheese scraps, onion ends, milk cartons, takeout containers, and dead flowers is inevitable.

The Cure, inside trash cans should always be lined with ecologically friendly biodegradable liners or bags, additionally lidded garbage cans left outdoors are especially prone to bacteria growth. Also, originally designed for pet odors, there are many antibacterial sprays that work well in garbage cans and diaper pails. These nontoxic sprays bind to odor particles and naturally biodegrade the odor-causing bacteria. To prevent garbage smells from forming, clean and disinfect both indoor and outdoor garbage cans with an all-purpose cleaner at least once a month.

Dishwasher Odor

The Cause: Most dishwasher odors are caused by dirty plates that have been sitting for a few days or by food trapped in the filter or on the tub bottom.

The Cure, if your dishes sit before you start the dishwasher, run a "rinse and hold" cycle until you're ready to wash. To clean the whole machine, run an empty cycle with two cups of white vinegar (a natural odor absorber and neutralizer) instead of detergent. Remember that your dishwasher is not a garbage disposal: You can prevent odors by rinsing food off before you load.

As always I know there must be dozens of other household odors and unique solutions to these problems. Please share them with me and I will see them published and credit you with the discussion.
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