The way a house smells when you first step in, might seem unimportant, but I can assure you it is anything but. Our sense of smell is connected to our emotions and that’s powerful in and of itself. Smells can elicit emotional responses such as being happy, relaxed and calm, or anxious, irritable and angry. Further to that, the way a home smells is oftentimes indicative of how clean it is; a stale smell means something entirely different than a gentle, fresh smell, or the welcoming (hopefully!) smell of home cooking. Let’s look at a few of my favourite simple and effective ways to make your home smell wonderful not only as a way to warmly welcome anyone who sets foot into the home, but also as a way to indicate that you take great care of your home.
The Stovetop Simmer
This will have your main floor smelling great in no time at all. Simply take a saucepan or your slow cooker, fill it half way with water and toss in your favourite combination of great smelling ingredients including hearty herbs, fruits and spices. Quick measuring note, you should have about 1 part ingredients to 3 parts water, so you can scale this up or down depending on the size of your vessel.
For the saucepan
Allow the water to come to a boil and then reduce down to the lowest heat setting and simmer, with the lid slightly off, adding water every now and then (keep the magic going for as long as you can!). Bare in mind that you do need to keep an eye on the pot, so don’t do this when you plan to leave the house. It’s a nice Sunday morning thing to do while you make breakfast and catch up on laundry.
For the slow cooker
The slow cooker doesn’t need much monitoring, you can continue to add water as the water evaporates and simply turn it off when you see the water is running low.
Some of my favourite combinations include:
(remember, just scale the recipe to have one part ingredients to three parts water)
- Orange, sliced, star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves, 1 tbsp. vanilla extract.
- Rosemary sprigs, lemon,sliced, 1 tbsp. vanilla extract.
- Cranberries (frozen or fresh), Orange, sliced, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon sticks
- Cranberries and cinnamon sticks
I love this method because it gives you creative freedom, is fairly non-committal and inexpensive because you don’t need to invest in essential oils. You can also reuse the mixture a few times (I just pour everything into a mason jar and use the next day, adding some more water), but you will want to replace it after about 2-3 uses.
Have you ever noticed those little bowls of coffee grinds or beans on a perfume counter at a fancy department store? Well, there’s a good reason (aside from reminding you that you need that Starbucks run 5 minutes ago). The smell of coffee neutralizes your palette, allowing you to smell each perfume with a fresh ‘nose’. Ergo, coffee helps neutralize odours and has the added bonus of smelling fantastic on its own.
Simply take some coffee grinds (these work better than beans) and place them in a bowl or open air container and stick it anywhere that needs deodorizing, such as your closet or cupboards. The grinds will absorb odors and leave that area smelling…well, hopefully like nothing (or at the very least, like coffee!). Just remember to change them out often, every couple of weeks or so, since the oils in the grinds eventually lose their potency and become stale.
Who doesn’t love the smell of vanilla? If you don’t, I’m sorry; I just haven’t met you yet :).
Now let’s say you’re in the I heart vanilla camp. Imagine getting a whiff of that sweet, sweet smell every time you open your fridge! Vanilla is a wonderful fridge deodorizer, hello! Your fridge has a few sources of bad smells one of which is the food itself, and the other is the plastic inside the fridge, which is porous and has absorbed odours over the years.
To deodorize the plastic interior of your fridge
Take a paper towel and dip it in vanilla extract. Then, wipe down the surfaces of the fridge with the paper towel. This will help neutralize odours in the plastic. I know what you’re thinking, vanilla extract is brown and I don’t want my fridge looking dingy. Don’t worry, this method won’t stain the fridge.
To keep the fridge air fresh
If you want to absorb odours floating around the fridge from the food in there, simply add a few cotton balls to a small bowl, and soak the balls in vanilla extract. Find a little nook in your fridge to place the bowl and voila, no more smelly handshake every time you open that fridge. Change out the cotton and vanilla every couple of weeks to keep the smells at bay!
My mother-in-law has been using this trick since before Chad was born (almost 40 years now) and she swears by it. Although no one in the family smokes, they use to allow their guests to puff away in the house as they pleased. Since none of my in laws were a fan of eau de cigarette, she would place several bowls around the areas with smoking and filled them half way with white vinegar. The vinegar absorbs the odors from tobacco (and frankly, almost everything else) and leaves the house smelling neutralized. You’d want to leave bowls out at least for 24 hours after the smoking or several days if there’s a heavy odour. Sure, you’ll smell a bit of vinegar but I’d take that over smokes any day and the smell of vinegar dissipates over time. This trick also works for other strong scents that may be in your home such as cooking. Leave a few small bowls around the house and you will be sure to notice a difference. Safe, super easy and dollar stretching.
Essential Oils (EO)
If you’ve seen one of our videos or read a couple other posts on this website, you probably know how much I love essential oils. They can be used several ways to deodorize and invigorate a space and I’ll share a couple here.
Have you seen a nebulizer before? It’s a small device that you fill with water and a few drops of your favourite essential oils. The nebulizer disperses a scented mist throughout a room or space for hours at a time. I have been using one in my bedroom for months; I love walking into a calm, fresh space especially before bed (lavender is a great choice to use in the bedroom).
DIY reed diffuser
You can also make a reed diffuser to slowly disperse the scent throughout a room. We’ve got a whole video on how to do just that, here!
Quick cotton ball fix
If you want a quick EO fix simply put a cotton ball in a small bowl and drop 5-10 drops of your favorite scent (or combination) onto the ball. Simply place the bowl in whichever room you’d like to infuse with the gentle scent and it will slowly begin to waft its way into the air.
Another great trick is to place a few drops of EO on your furnace filter each time you change it out (about every 3 months) and the scent will come up through your air vents!
Baking Soda Braun
Baking soda is one of my top used cleaning agents and for good reason. This powerful powder works to absorb and trap odours like a champ. There are many things you can do with this inexpensive ingredient:
- Pour some into bowls and place them around house to absorb odors.
- Pour some in a satchet and place it in your sock drawer, closet or anywhere that needs deodorizing.
- Sprinkle it on your carpet or upholstery; leave it for 10-15 minutes then vacuum it up. This will draw dirt out and remove odors.
I found this beautiful, mysterious looking item several years ago and have loved it dearly since. Lampe Berger is a French invention (hmm, I wonder what gave that away?) which has been around for well over 100 years. Initially, it was designed to to purify the air of hospitals using a special oil, a wick and a flame to keep patients healthy while in hospital. This happens through the process of catalysis. Since then, it has become famous for purifying and deodorizing air, dispersing a scent and decorating the home (because it’s so pretty!).
You can select a model which is made from glass or porcelain; it’s a small enough accessory that you can really have some fun choosing the model you love and making it pop in your home, or you can choose a simple one which blends in seamlessly. Fun fact: Coco Chanel designed one! Further to that, they have a large variety of scented oils (it’s almost exhausting to select one), but I’ve settled on Vanilla Gourmet and love it. In typical French fashion, the Lampe Berger combines all things sensual and beautiful into a neat little deodorizing package.
Strike at the Source
The best way to combat odors, of course, is to get at them before they have a chance to spread. As much as the information seems obvious, allowing something to linger, like dirty dishes, a spill, old food in the fridge, just exacerbates the odour issue. Keeping on top of removing odour-causing material quickly helps keep your home smelling fresh and clean because it is fresh and clean!
This includes regularly vacuuming carpets and upholstery, taking out the garbage before it gets ultra stinky and following a regular cleaning routine. I’m also a big believer in maintaining a strict no shoes in the house policy! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – shoes track in dirt, dirt gets ground into the floor, and that dirt smells! Lastly, remember to open the windows when the weather permits. Fresh air works wonders!
I hope your house smells better already. I would love to know what are your favourite scent combinations or your best home deodorizing tips? Please share them in the comments below.