3 Green Ways to Make Your Home Smell Sweet

An excerpt from the book 'Green Housekeeping'

It is rare that a home always smells sweet. Some foods are just plain smelly. Others reek only after they have been burned. And most of us conduct the occasional refrigerator “experiment.” Here are some ways to exorcise those unpleasant odors without poisoning yourself with synthetic “air fresheners.”

1. Eliminate odors

Clean out your refrigerator

Throw slimy vegetables and rotting fruit in your compost bucket. Wash the slime out of the fruit and vegetable drawer. Put rotting meat in your freezer until garbage day. Wash sour milk off the refrigerator shelves.

Put an open container of baking soda in the refrigerator. The baking soda will absorb odors. Replace it after about six months. Use the old baking soda for cleaning jobs or to unclog a drain.

Empty the garbage

If the inside of the can is wet, wash it out and let it dry. Sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom of the garbage pail to absorb odors.

Burned the dinner?

If something has burned but is no longer producing actual flames, turn on the range hood to suck the smoke out of the house. If the weather is above freezing, open some windows.

You can try to placate your smoke alarm by whirling a vinegar-dampened towel over your head. Some of the smoke will catch in the towel, and the vinegar will neutralize the smell.

Damp and dank

Molds and mildews are often rather malodorous. If they are growing in your undersink cabinet, you need to fix the leak and dry out the cabinet. Wash out the cabinet with vinegar and borax to kill the mold and mildew. A portable fan can be used to speed up the drying process.

Garlic and onion odors

Hot water sets in these odors. Cold water removes them. Wash your odoriferous cutting boards and hands in cold water. Rinse well.

2. Add better smells

Warm vinegar

Warm a little vinegar on the stove while you are cooking fish, cabbage or other strong smelling food.

Burn candles

Burn an unscented candle to help dispel odors. Be careful to keep the candle out of the reach of children, pets and mischievous breezes.

Spray vinegar and water

Pour equal amounts of vinegar and water into a spray bottle. Spray a little vinegar into the air to dispel strong cooking odors.

Use vanilla extract

Pour a little vanilla extract on a cotton ball in a saucer and set it out on a countertop.

Heat cinnamon sticks

Heat cinnamon sticks and cloves or cut-up lemons in a saucepan of water on the stove. If the smell is too tantalizing, make mulled cider instead: Heat apple cider with a cinnamon stick and a few whole cloves in a saucepan over a burner turned on low. Do not allow the cider to boil. Let the cider smell permeate the house until you can’t resist it any longer. Pour the cider into a mug. Drink.

3. Growing clean air

Green plants are the only true air fresheners. They produce oxygen and also remove toxins and particulate matter from the air.

Houseplants with scented leaves can make indoor air smell wonderful. Stroke the leaves of fragrant houseplants such as scented geraniums, lavender, thyme, rosemary and mint to release their fragrance into the room. Or pick a couple of scented leaves and simmer them in a saucepan of water.

Learn more housekeeping tips with Ellen Sandbeck’s Green Housekeeping.

About the author:

Ellen Sandbeck is an organic landscaper, worm wrangler, writer and graphic artist who lives with (and experiments on) her husband and an assortment of younger creatures — which includes two mostly grown children, a couple of dogs, a small flock of laying hens and many thousands of composting worms — in Duluth, Minn. She is the author of Green Housekeeping and Green Barbarians.

Related links from Simon & Schuster:

Take a look inside the book Green Housekeeping.
Find out more about the author Ellen Sandbeck.
Buy the book Green Housekeeping.
Browse more cleaning and caretaking books.

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