5 Tips for Eliminating Odors

It’s spring cleaning time again, so we’re offering five tips on how to clear the air and get rid of any nasty lingering odors in your home.

natural cleaning
Baking soda and vinegar just keep showing up in cleaning tips. If you haven’t tried this pet safe, environmentally friendly cleaning method, it’s time you did. Image attribution: By katerha (http://www.flickr.com/photos/katerha/5703151566/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
  1. Clear the drains: Garbage disposals are notorious for getting stinky, but even drains without disposals can get funky when they’re clogged. You might not even notice yet that the the sink is draining slowly, but whatever’s down there is stinking up the place. Start by pouring down a mixture of baking soda and vinegar followed by very hot water. If that doesn’t do the trick, call a plumber, or your maintenance department if you rent.
  2. Keep the humidity down: mold and mildew thrive in humid environments, so keeping your home well ventilated is key. Although mold doesn’t typically have an odor, so mildew is the most likely culprit when your home smells musty. If your bathroom doesn’t have a fan, open the window after each shower (or during if possible), and create as much of a cross breeze as you can by leaving the bathroom door open. Wiping down the shower/tub and sink after use also helps to cut back on mildew growth.
  3. Clean soft surfaces: Fabric absorbs odor, so to get your home smelling truly fresh you’ll want to take down all your drapes to wash them (take them to a laundromat with industrial sized machines). You’ll also want to either rent a carpet shampooer or hire a professional cleaner if you have large area rugs or carpeting. Hiring someone is the best route to go because they’ll be able to clean your upholstery as well.
  4. Banish smokers to the outdoors: This may seem obvious, but tobacco smoke deposits tar on all surfaces it comes into contact with, so the smell of one cigarette lingers for ages. To keep your home smelling fresh, smoke outside.
  5. DIY odor eliminators: Most of us know the old trick of keeping an open box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb odors, but that trick applies to more places than the fridge. Plus, coffee grounds do the same thing, so before you throw out your used grounds, consider saving them. A jar full of used, dried coffee grounds soaks up stink just as well as baking soda.
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Battling mildew

Mildew is gross, and it can building lots of places, especially in bathrooms. Here are some tips for keeping at bay—and cleaning it up when it appears.

cleaning mildew
Bathrooms can be hard to keep clean, and mildew is one of the main reasons. So ventilate, clean regularly, and attack mildew before it overwhelms your bathroom.
  1. Ventilate your bathroom. If you don’t have a ventilation fan in your bathroom, you surely have a window, so use it. As long as it’s warm enough out that your heat is off, and as long as it’s not raining, open your bathroom window. This is most important right after showering. To create a cross breeze, it’s a good idea to also leave your bathroom door open. If you prefer them closed, shut them again once the room is aired out.
  2. Wipe down your tub/shower after using it. Wiping away excess water with a squeegee or rag keeps mildew out of grout. Bonus: it also prevents soap scum buildup and stains.
  3. Clean it up right away. If you see mildew starting to form, clean it up as quickly as you can. The longer you wait, the worse it gets. No matter the cleaning method you use, make sure the room is well ventilated and wear rubber gloves while you work. You’ve probably heard of using bleach on mildew, but there are safer cleaners that don’t produce toxic fumes. Vinegar and undiluted hydrogen peroxide are two of the safest cleaning methods, and they work on a wide variety of surfaces. Mixing borax with warm water makes a safe, effective cleaner not only for mildew, but mold as well. The two-step process of baking soda and vinegar also works on both mold and mildew. First, spray a mixture of baking soda and water onto the affected surface, then spray vinegar on top of it. After the fizzing of the chemical reaction slows, wipe everything clean.

Just like keeping your bathtub clean, prevention is key when it comes to fighting mildew. So ventilate and wipe, and clean when you need to.

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