How to keep your home smelling fresh

By Abi Adeboyejo

You have been out all day and you return to your home. You open the door and you are hit with a bad odour. I am very particular about odours and I find that I quickly associate a fresh scented home with a clean, wholesome person. Fresh scents also create a sense of opulence and serenity. So, even if you are happy to have the smells in your home all day long, consider freshening up your home especially when you are about to have guests. You’ll be amazed at the compliments you’ll get and how very sophisticated you’ll feel for living in a house that smells like the Queen’s living room.

Fresh smell in your homeThere are a lot of products on the market to help you get rid of bad odours, but unfortunately a lot of those products do nothing but cover and mask the odours with chemicals. Spray all the air freshener you like but when the spray dissipates the bad odours will return.

I’d like to share some of the tried and tested (and also very cheap) methods I’ve used in the past. Thanks also to all my friends for sharing their tips too.

First thing first

The first thing is to attack the bad odours at the source. If you can identify them, address them before you attempt to freshen up your home. Clean out your dustbin, fridge, food cupboards and any potted plants. Check all the rooms in the house and ensure there is no half full dustbin anywhere or forgotten food containers under beds or in cupboards.

Also check the windows and window seals for mould, clean in and under your furniture, clean the fabric of furniture and be sure to clean your curtains. Heavyweight fabric curtains can harbour a lot of strange, bad odours. Wash curtains and seat covers, if possible. Check drains. If they are the source of bad odours, this can be tackled by getting a plumber to check to see if there is a blockage.

Get rid of the odour

If it is drains in the house causing the smell, run hot water in the drain. The stinky scent in your drain is most likely caused by bacteria. Boil water in a pan on the cooker or in a kettle. Once the drain is good and hot, throw in about a teaspoon of baking soda, and pour even more boiling water. Baking soda is great for killing odours and this just might do the trick. If the smell persists, pour in bleach or lemon juice and let it sit for an hour before rinsing out. I usually do this at night and then rinse out in the morning. If you’re going to use bleach, wear old clothing, since it may spatter when you pour it. And only use it in a well-ventilated area.

If odours from your kitchen are leaking through your home, clean it up! Wipe down the inside of the fridge with vanilla extract. To prolong the fresh vanilla scent, soak a cotton ball or a piece of sponge with vanilla extract and leave it in the fridge. Clean out dustbins and sprinkle baking soda there when completely dry – before adding the bag. To prevent odours from lingering in your kitchen drain, scrape your dishes into the dustbin can instead of down the drain, especially if the food on them is mouldy or has a strong odour. Wrap waste food in old newspaper before putting in the dustbin. Use extra plastic bags to wrap again before you throw in the bin. The heat makes waste rot quicker. So do all you can to prevent you dusting from stinking your home down.

Cleaning the bathroom and toilet might seem like a daunting task but you can wash the toilet bowl and sink with bleach (not suitable for some types of baths, so check before using). Pour more bleach in the toilet bowl and under the rim and leave overnight, if possible, to kill all the germs. Rinse out the bleach the next morning and dump a cup of white vinegarine in the bowl and let it sit for five minutes. Clean and flush as usual to leave behind a much better-smelling environment. Remember to drop a tablespoon of baking soda down the bathroom drain about once a week to prevent odours from building up.

Baking soda can be sprinkled into carpets and upholstery. Leave for around 15 minutes, then vacuum or shake it out. The same can be done in shoes, suitcases and dirty laundry bags to help neutralise odours. You can also air out these items in the sun before de-odourising with baking soda.

I also love using lemons to clean. It is a natural deodoriser.Use freshly squeezed lemon juice to neutralise bad odours on counter tops and cutting boards in the kitchen. The peels can be tossed into the dustbin to help clean it (use with baking soda for a really fresh clean), and also around the bathroom to help neutralise bad odours.

Keeping the lovely fresh fragrance

After deodorising, it is necessary to keep the home smelling fresh and inviting all the time. This time I use vanilla extract to get the job done. About half an hour before visitors arrive at my home and usually after I have cooked a lot of strong –smelling food, I pour two tablespoons of vanilla extract into a pan and cook the vanilla at very low heat on my cooker. I only cook for about 20 minutes and I set the timer to remind me to remove it so it doesn’t get burnt.

You can also put  dishes of baking soda, white vinegar, cut slices of lemon or a cotton ball soaked with vanilla extract around the house for a natural, fresh smelling home.

Shopping list:

  • Baking soda
  • Vanilla extract ( same as used in baking)
  • White vinegar
  • Fresh lemons

You can buy all these items at big market stalls selling baking ingredients and at good supermarkets. Some local supermarkets may also stock some of the items but it is better to target baking stalls in the market where you’ll get a wide variety depending on how much you have to spend.

You can find bleach in big markets stalls selling washing detergent and soap. Ensure you buy good quality bleach and remember to always keep away from children. If you employ a housekeeper or maid, ensure you inform them of the location and danger of ingesting bleach.

Finally: Enjoy your lovely, fresh smelling home. Please send me any tips you have for keeping your home smelling fresh.