Jeopardy: Potpourri Category
March 22, 2015 3:17 PM   Subscribe

How do you keep your house smelling nice without breaking the bank? Right now we're using candles, Glade plug-ins, etc., but it's expensive! What inexpensive methods do you use to keep the dog, baby, and body odor scents out?
posted by sciencemandan to Shopping (18 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Vaccuum often. Open windows. Shake out throw covers and pillows. Use fans in bathrooms. When my cats start to smell I put them outside for 1h in the bright sunlight but for a dog ymmv. Also bright sunlight is great on pillows, bedding etc. It really resets the smell.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 3:24 PM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Four cats, a husband, a teen boy, one extra stinky labrador. I don't burn candles due to the high risk of melted whiskers and plug ins & sprays make us all sneeze.

We open windows as much as possible, especially ones that will create a cross-breeze through the house. It's rare that there aren't at least two windows open even in winter (note: I live in a warm climate so YMMV for how that works out for you in lost energy efficiency).

We've replaced wall to wall with hard flooring wherever possible as installed carpet is a great repository for odors and grime. Same for window coverings: we have no fabric curtains, only wood blinds. I vacuum frequently and launder what ever can be laundered often.

Dog gets frequent baths (could use even more), we have duplicate sets of bedding for all to encourage regular changes. We have two automated litterboxes which get emptied out frequently and a third non-auto box which is scooped 2-3x/day.

Nuke water/vinegar in the microwave or boil it on the stove to kill cooking odors. Related: turn on the stovetop exhaust fan before you start cooking.

Kitchen and bathroom trash goes out to the bin every day, never leave it sitting overnight. Same goes for your garbage disposal: run it clean with a lemon wedge chaser every night after dinner cleanup.
posted by jamaro at 3:35 PM on March 22, 2015 [7 favorites]

I've seen recipes for the Williams-Sonoma scent all over Pinterest, which involve simmering lemons, rosemary, and vanilla on the stovetop. Never tried it, but it might be worth trying. You could also just bake cookies and bread a lot, always smells good!
posted by wsquared at 3:37 PM on March 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

Lots of open window time, with fans running when you don't have windows that make a cross breeze. Area rugs that get shaken outdoors. Sweep hard floors and vacuum carpets frequently. Mop weekly at a minimum.

Don't cook very pungent things (like sardines) in the house. Do make things that smell good in the long term. For me and my house this is pumpkin breads and citrus things. Some people suggest simmering lemons or oranges with cloves on the stovetop. You can also make mulled ciders for a good winter scent.

Wash curtains once a month.

Only buy cleaning products whose scents you like.

Wipe down the surfaces in bathroom and kitchen every day. Even if it doesn't look dirty, smells accumulate in those places from pee or greasy film. A hard and fast rule that anything that gets spilled is wiped up right away. In the kitchen and the bathroom.

No food or bathroom trash in the house overnight. I use small cans to facilitate this. Rinse out the cans every week or so.

Food only gets eaten in designated spaces. Anything that is not water is consumed in those spaces. Anyone can drink water anywhere, being mindful of spills.

There are recipes for room sprays that usually involve a little vodka and distilled water. I've made them and they're nice, but I never went through them quickly enough.
posted by bilabial at 3:43 PM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

The only thing that will make your house smell clean is actual cleanliness, which means scrubbing it clean and then putting the power of fresh air and sunshine to work. Throw open the windows once a day, air the bedding and sofa cushions in the sunshine as often as possible, and as far as possible eliminate the things in your house that just collect dirt and odors, like carpets and draperies. Wash the dog bed cover once a week. If the house has a moisture problem, do whatever it takes to fix that--moisture problems are the source of so many bad house smells.
posted by HotToddy at 3:46 PM on March 22, 2015 [10 favorites]

I toss apple cores & scraps in some water with cinnamon & simmer it on the stove.
posted by lyssabee at 3:59 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Frequently bathe the pets, vacuum everything often (including the couch), and stick to better brands of scented items. Febreze Noticeables are superior to AirWick/Glade items. Bath and Body Works candles and even more expensive brands are way better than grocery store candles. I'm really into Candy Mountain Candles from Etsy--they're super strong and clean smelling, even the most masculine of my friends has asked where I get them. Lampe Berger is great for after cooking, but too expensive for every day use. I have a 2,000 sq.ft. house and my setup is: a Noticeable on low in one living room, Airwick or Glade plug-in on low in each bedroom and the other living room/kitchen (open concept), a candle burning in the living room when people come over or as desired, and Lampe Berger for like 20 minutes after a strongly scented meal. I stick to clean, non-food scents like herbs, lavender, rain, ocean, etc. Lots and lots of guests compliment us in regards to our home smelling nice, and not like dogs (though our two dogs are under 20 lbs combined which I'm sure helps).
posted by masquesoporfavor at 4:22 PM on March 22, 2015

Essential oils are cheap as you only need a couple of drops. A few drops on a muslin cloth over a radiator, or in a small basin of water over a burner can be really effective. Much more natural than a plug-in fragrance plus you can have fun experimenting to make blends you like (though you can also just use a single oil at a time).
posted by billiebee at 4:29 PM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

They told me to put vanilla in the oven but It didn't make the house smell better.

I've gone with bath and body works candles, the big ones. Cinnamon pine cones/brooms are always nice.

The downstairs neighbors smoke skunky weed and it somehow comes up into our place and smells awful. But the candles help.
posted by discopolo at 4:49 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Glade Plug-Ins give me migraines, so this is a biased opinion, but I think they put a nasty chemically mask over the stink so you have two layers of stink. Once in a while I do some lemongrass essential oil and water in a burner heated with a tea light.

Essential oil (just a tiny bit!) and baking soda sprinkled on rugs and upholstery and then vacuumed an hour later or good. Washable pillows and upholstery are even better. Use a duvet instead of a bedspread. Throw open those windows. Make sure the garbage in all rooms and litter gets carried out every day.

Good luck!
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 5:01 PM on March 22, 2015

Two dog + 1 IBS sufferer household:

Find a no-rinse liquid floor/surface cleaner that you like (example), add half a cupful to a bowl of hot water and give a few key surfaces and/or door frames a quick wipe down each day or when the smells get overwhelming.
posted by humph at 5:17 PM on March 22, 2015

In addition to the above - if your range hood and vacuum cleaner are on the weak side, you might just be pushing stuff around - replace with high-powered versions if so. The maximum suction you can afford. Definitely get rid of any wall-to-wall carpeting (and send area rugs out to be cleaned if they're a problem; then vacuum regularly). Give the bins a good scrubbing now and then. Wash the dog regularly, maybe give it haircut every so often, if it's the kind that could use it. Also wash the dog's bed and toys. If your place doesn't have great ventilation, get an air filter.
posted by cotton dress sock at 5:53 PM on March 22, 2015

Agreeing with the above posters that mentioned simmering spices on the stove. I save my orange peels and throw those in a pot with water, cinnamon, cloves, and/or vanilla. I've also used lemon peels and any citrus or apples that I may have kept too long to be eaten. I get it boiling then turn it way down. Keep an eye on it. You don't want all the water to evaporate.
posted by MayNicholas at 6:16 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

You want to actually get rid of the scents not just cover them up! That means being smarter about cleaning (sorry ew I know, cleaning sucks).

My personal cleaning guru is Jolie Kerr and I have learned a ton from her. She has great cleaning advice and also has a fun writing style. I actually enjoyed reading her book cover to cover (and I hate cleaning). Also here's her archive of articles for Deadspin/Jezebel.

Although it's probably a pain in the butt, bathing pets more often will help a lot. We got one of those handheld shower heads and it makes washing a lot better. If your dog is still stinky, talk to your vet - maybe the dog has a skin problem or yeast infection or something that's making them smell even more. Brush the dog regularly - try the Furminator! Wash their bedding at least once a week with hot water, and use OxiClean or white vinegar as a booster. Try to keep them off the beds, couch, etc.

You can also use OxiClean or white vinegar as a booster in regular laundry too.

One deodorizer product that actually works (as opposed to covering up the scents) is the Bad Air Sponge (learned about this from Jolie). I keep one in our closet next to my SO's stinky laundry basket. I also like Zeolite (volcanic rock crystals) although it can be hard to find.

You can also leave out bowls of white vinegar to absorb smells. I personally dislike the smell of vinegar so I shove some citrus peels in the vinegar container for a month which makes it smell like fruit not vinegar. Much better!
posted by radioamy at 9:10 PM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Instead of burning the candles, get a candle warmer. We have an electric warmer (only $5 at Michael's) and we melt our jar candles over and over again.
posted by kbar1 at 10:18 PM on March 22, 2015

Windows open daily. Clean bathrooms and kitchens with bleach OR vinegar or strong cleaner. Bleach smell disappears quickly and gets rid of odors.

If you can't open windows in kitchen after cooking, boil a pot of vinegar (white or apple cider is fine) and water. Leaving out bowls of vinegar helps too, as said by radioamy.

A link to making your house smell like Christmas.

Wash dog's bedding and/or put it in the sun for a few hours a day. Just hanging something on a clothes line in the sun/wind really helps get rid of some smells.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 1:45 AM on March 23, 2015

Yes actual deep cleaning and airing out your home is the true way to defeat odours. However, erm, Everyone Poops, including my cats. So it's nice to have extra nice smells around.

You can make your own gel air fresheners with essential oils and gelatin. I also use incense for my bathroom. It can smell quite strong even without burning it. Unfortunately, incense is not good for air quality and will have the same negative impact on indoor quality as Glade products and candles.
posted by Gor-ella at 6:43 AM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a few of those candle wax warming contraptions (like, a glade one, a Michael's one AND and scentsy one) but instead of putting wax in them, which I think is expensive, I pour water in with a few drops of a scented oil. I don't know what to recommend for your oils - I've actually never found that a real essential oil holds up well to being heated. I'm still using my Crabtree and Evelyn ones that they've (frustratingly!!!) discontinued. So, yeah, I recommend synthetic-type oils over real essential oils, but that's only because as I said, I've had no luck after trying pure orange oil (yum) or lavender. Maybe it's just me...
posted by kitcat at 9:40 AM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

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