As we proceed through the 30-Day Sustainable Domesticity Challenge (Yay for Day 18!) you may find yourself asking: why does my house smell? I mean, if you’re like me. *Ahem.* Sometimes our thoughts turn lightly from thoughts of the aspirational to thoughts of the imminently practical. Yes to showers, taking out the trash, self-love, and making our stuff. No to bad smells.
So anyway, hypothetical you is asking “Why does my house smell?” Go you. You’re so smart. This is an excellent question.
Houses smell for mysterious reasons.
Well, I mean some reasons are super obvious. But not all of them. Today let’s set aside Maxim 1 and 2 and take a little look-see at all of the nefarious ways in which a house can begin smelling.
Uh oh. Is that a whiff of something awful I smell?
A few years ago, I came home to a house that smelled terrible. The scent lingered for weeks. It was truly atrocious, the kind of smell that makes you wince and then embarrasses you. I searched high. I searched low. I searched the garbage cans, under the beds, in the freezer, under the sink. Under the house. I sniffed the walls, wondering if something had crawled inside and died.
Until, one day, I took a closer look at my fruit bowl.
Clementines. Moldy, malodorous clementines.
It turns out that the smell of moldy citrus is STRONG. Powerful. Disgusting. I ran those moldy clementines out of my house, hurled them into the green bin, and heaved a sigh of relief. Then I aired out my house.
As we say in our house after we make a mistake, I grew my wisdom.
Now when I come home and I smell THAT smell I go directly to wherever the citrus fruits are. Oranges. Lemons. Clementines. They all smell terrible when they mold. I mean way worse than other fruits. The smell is distinctive. I know it when I smell it now.
Have a mystery smell? It isn’t lemon-fresh. It’s lemon mold.
Okay. So we sleep in our beds. We sweat. We have a little bit of body odor. I skin cells shed. Our skin produces body oil. Any dirt or residual smell from the day that lingers on our skin rubs all over the sheets and pillowcases. And the sheets get moist.
Then we wake up and leave the blankets close to the mattress, capturing the moisture.
Things fester in there, my friends.
Bacteria frolics, growing ever mightier.
Eventually, your bedding turns into a veritable festival for smelly microbes.
Quick fix! Toss your blankets over the foot of the bed, flip your pillows upside down, and let your bedding air out while you’re awake. The sheets will be pleasantly dry when you crawl back into bed, and they will stay cleaner longer because you’re forestalling bacterial growth.
Dirty underwear anyone? No body shame. We all have oozing, sweating, pooping bodies. But it’s a simple describing fact that our clothes – particularly our undergarments – smell when we take them off. Unless you’re body oil and sweat only smell like rose and lavender potpourri, in which case, I am envious.
You don’t need to put your laundry away. You don’t need to sort it. You don’t need to fold it or iron it or starch it or anything. But please wash it and dry it and separate your clean stuff from your dirty stuff.
And put those dirty clothes in the washing machine AND THEN ALSO INTO THE DRYER as often as necessary to keep the smell down.
Make. Sure. To. Transfer. The. Laundry.
Because wet laundry that lurks in the washer for a few days makes a smell too. And if you’re bipolar like me, remembering to change the laundry over when I’m distracted – or mustering the will to rise and transfer it when I’m depressed – is an effort.
It’s an effort worth making. Wash your dirty clothes and dry them.
Ripe Pet Litter
Unfortunately, the urine and poop soaked bedding and litter of our beloved pets stinks horribly, and much quicker than we’d like. If you stay on top of it, it’s a quick chore. If you don’t… well, there are natural consequences.
Enough said. Change the litter.
Hidden Milk Spills
Today I traced a smell to my kitchen. It wasn’t in my fridge. Or my sink. Or my floor. Or in my garbage can. It was in the cupboard where I keep my pots and pans.
I opened the cupboard with trepidation.
Friends, someone spilled milk into a saucepan. They didn’t notice. The milk languished unseen and untouched in the saucepan. And it stank.
At least the milk STAYED in the saucepan and didn’t leak. Always think positive!
But anyway, look for hidden milk spills when odors stay mysterious. There’s always something you’ve never thought of before.
If your garbage contains wet wrappers, soaked paper towels, or old organic matter like meat or rotten vegetables, make a priority of tossing it – even before it’s full. Probably before you go to sleep, so the smell doesn’t ripen and seep through the house when you sleep.
Dry garbage is not a smell issue. Wet garbage is. Particularly wet garbage that contains tomato sauce. Trust me on that one.
It’s always a good idea to air out the house. I like to open windows at opposite ends of the house to create a cross breeze. Getting the old musty air OUT and the clean fresh air IN revitalizes the whole house. I like to do this in the early morning or late evening when the air is cool. I especially love to air out the house on cool rainy days or evenings. It smells so delightfully fresh.
Basically, oust the source of the smell and air out the house
Out with the wet smelly thing. In with the clean air. That’s the gist of it.
Hey, do you have any tips for getting rid of smells? What are your mistakes, sob stories, and triumphant smell hacks? Comment below and let me know.
See you tomorrow!