How to get that whole house fresh smell?

jockewingAugust 14, 2008

I want to walk in my front door and be greeted by a whiff of fresh, clean-smelling air. I have noticed that when you go into houses like this, it makes everything seem so clean and fresh.

I notice that sometimes my house has a stale smell. I live alone. My brother used to live with me and he smoked sometimes in the house despite my objections. I would think after a year there wouldn't be much smoke left. I do have a little chihuahua, but he doesn't smell, has very few accidents in the house (most of the house is tile or hardwood anyway). During Hurricane Katrina, a pine tree did crash through my roof putting a hole in the kitchen ceiling. It got a lot of stuff wet. All the carpets and drapes that got wet have been replaced. The holes in the ceiling have been patched, but there are still a few stains on the ceiling that could be a source of odor, I guess. The only carpet in the house is really an area rug in the living room.

I have tried incense, sprays, essential oils, etc. and nothing seems to last more than a few hours and the scent is only noticeable in the near vicinity of the source.

My house needs a deep cleaning from top to bottom. When I was a kid, we had a lady that came in once a week. We left the house and when we came back, the house smelled so wonderful and fresh.

Please tell me the best way to clean from top to bottom and if there are any products that can make my house smell good all the time? Are these Bergere lamps as good as advertised?

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I use Pinesol when i need to "lift" my spirits. Wash a floor with it and the whole house smells clean. I use to dip cotton balls in Pinesol and hide them around the house, behind drapes and furniture. But my REAL secret is just good fresh air. Open all the windows on a dry day, when it gets dark close them, don't forget to lock them. My elementary school music teacher Mrs. Hall lectured us kids about the benefits of fresh air and sunshine.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 3:27PM
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Wash the walls and paint, deep clean the carpets, wash every surface. Invest in a cleaning company, it will make your job easier. Throw away clutter, and use Glade Plug Ins (clean linen or other fresh scent, not the fruity smells) and keep your house clean!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 8:02PM
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That fresh, clean smell comes not from Pine sol, not Glade plug-ins, nor lemon fresh whatever...but from clean and fresh air.
Open your house on a breezy day and let the fresh air blow through.
Works every time!
Linda C

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 8:11PM
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That witch Katrina. We were pretty lucky. I just had a broken windowpane. As far as the odor, water probably wet your insulation. I don't like using plug-ins. I have heard horror stories about fires while using them. I have been using the Renuzit cones in the raspberry and laundry scents. I also havew laminate floors and leather furniture. I find that carpets and fabrics hold odors. BTW, I have 2 chihuahuas!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 9:54PM
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I think artificial air fresheners may be toxic; certainly they are not as safe as fresh, clean outside air. Once you've thoroughly cleaned your home, you might try putting a little real essential oil (of lavender or tangerine or rosemary--you can buy tiny bottles of the real essential oils at health food stores)in strategic places around your home. I like to dab lavender e.o. on the underside of shelf and drawer liners, especially in my linen closet and lingerie drawers. I also put a drop on the final air filter of my vacuum cleaner. For my bathrooms, I add Charlie's All-Purpose soap and a few drops of rosemary e.o. to a container that holds the toilet brush. Flylady says to "swish and swipe" the toilet every morning, and this give the bathroom a nice, clean smell.

As I'm doing long-overdue, really deep cleaning, my house's air feels fresher and fresher, even without the smell of a cleaning product.

Oh--my sister stores suitcases with scented drawer paper inside, so they always smell wonderful when she pulls them out of storage.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 9:59PM
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Well unfortunately in South Louisiana, it is way too hot and humid to open the windows except until maybe late October. Believe me, in the few days we get where it's nice outside, all the windows are open!

I wonder if it could be the attic insulation that got wet in the hurricane that causes the stale odor? I got a whole new roof, but they didn't replace the insulation. Funny but I don't detect a stale smell when I go in the attic? I haven't deep cleaned in a long time. I keep the place tidy and clean the bathrooms and floors at least once a week, but I guess it's time to vaccuum the furniture, clean the windowsills and baseboards, etc. I think I also need to clean the glass on the light fixtures, windows, wipe down the kitchen cabinets, etc. I LOVE a clean fresh house.

The past few weeks, I've thrown about at least 10 30 gallon garbage bags full of clutter and I'm still going. My smallish house gets messy so fast because of all the clutter, so I've been reluctant to do a deep clean.

When I was a young child, my mom kept an impeccable home. She developed back problems exacerbated by carrying my two brothers who were born in her 30's, so later on she couldn't keep the place as clean as she liked. Finally, she broke down and started hiring a cleaning lady once every two weeks. I loved it when she came. The house smelled so good after she was done! I wish I knew what she used, but I think I remember Murphy's. I do have some lavendar essential oil, maybe I should mix that with the mop water. My mom used to call the big cleaning days "D-Day".

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 9:25AM
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Walmart sells the charcoal odor absorbers - I usually put these in stuffy closets - I find them by the section with the hangers, laundry items and cedar wood chips for your closets.

They work pretty well for absorbing odors. That might be a start.

I think for a nice fresh smell, it's nice to open all your windows periodically to get fresh air circulating through.

I also pump a couple of sprays of perfume on my light bulbs (when they're off, of course), let them dry, and the next time the light is turned on it triggers the perfume scent in the room.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 2:46AM
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If you don't smell anything moldy in the attic, I think it's unlikely that the insulation is bad, unless it's a very small part.

Have you ever used lavender Fabuloso cleaner to mop your floors? It doesn't clean as well as Charlie's All-Purpose, but the Fabuloso left a really nice scent when I used to mop with it. It's cheap and doesn't require rinsing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fabuloso

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 3:47PM
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Our previous house was like that and a de-humidifier helped enormously. The wood in the house absorbs moisture, especially since you have experienced some water damage. You can pick up a de-humidifier for under $300. In your basement, you can probably find a drain in the floor. In the attic, you would have to direct the drain hose outside or remember to check the bucket often. You will probably be amazed at how much moisture it pulls out of the air.

My basement is now so dry that that is where I hang tablecloths, dress shirts, etc, to dry.

Here is a link that might be useful: Home Depot dehumidifiers

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 11:04AM
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Angerman Hardwoods

I'm using reed diffuser and I love it. I have used Glade plug-ins and they burn up too fast, too strong and hard to keep up with refills. With reed diffuser, you can find it anywhere like Target or Linen 'n Things... try it, you'll be glad. I turn my bamboo sticks over once a week.
I've included a link to give you an idea what it looks like.

Here is a link that might be useful: Reed Diffuser

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 11:43PM
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My husbands closet which has carpet floor used to smell stuffy and stale. I took everything out, washed the walls and painted, cleaned the carpet and when I put everyhing back added some fresh cedar chips and it's nice and fresh even though there's not much ventilation in there.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 8:57AM
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Well I have done alot to improve the stale smell in the house. I have done a deep cleaning - took down glass light fixtures on ceiling fans and chandeliers and washed in hot soapy water, dusted with wet cloth all light fixtures; cleaned baseboards and window sills with toothbrush, clean all upholstered furniture and rugs with woolite and brush and vaccuumed; cleaned out all vaccuum filters and put lavendar oil in the filters; washed walls; cleaned furniture with wood cleaner and polished with liquid wax polish; continued to declutter drawers and cabinets. It smells MUCH better now, and looks so good! I still have a couple of bookcases and closets to clean out, but I feel like I have finally made some headway!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 9:32AM
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jockewing, I have the same problem and am also in the south. We can only open windows for a breeze late fall, winter, and early spring. The rest of the time it will only make the house as humid and sticky as outside.

I don't notice the smell except when we've been gone & the house has been shut for 8 or more hours even with the central a/c on. Then the musty smell hits me when I walk in the door.

I've bought 2 air purifiers, a dehumidifier, charcoal, countless air fresheners, and the last thing I bought was the reed diffuser like cynnamama linked. Most scented things make my nose burn, but these just give off barely enough scent to smell, and that's all I smell when I come in. And after moving around in the house, I don't even smell that.

I'm glad your deep cleaning worked for you. I need to do more of that.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 12:35PM
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My cousin's husband is a fire chief. He said that he has seen a lot of houses burn down from using the plug-in air fresheners.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 1:52PM
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I noticed a bad smell in my kitchen. It wasn't the garbage or the sink drain. My nose led me to a bowl of wet cat food that had been half-eaten by the cat. Rewmoving the food bowl eliminated the odor.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 5:24PM
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I use everything from potpourri tarts, to reeds, potpourri, lampe berger lampes and electric plug ins. I love coming into the house smelling good. Some days I pop in a clean cotton smell for my tarts, other days pumpkin pie. definately sets the mood.
I tried the reeds and they are nice for the bathroom and bedroom. always have a little bit of smell in the background.
I use my lampe berger type lampes to eliminate odors and to freshen the air as the clean out the impurities in the air.
I have 2 bowls of potpourri, one in the living room, one in the entryway. I use a decorative one with nice big thinsg in it, not the small bits.
Electric plug in is in the teens room, smelly footballer. I have it plugged in under the desk where he doesn't even see it.

At night I occasionally light candles more for ambiance and light fragrance.

I have room sprays on the back of the toilets to eliminate embarassing odors anyone may create.
I also use clean aromatherapy based cleaning products for my counters, floors and dishes.
I love good smells. They can be calming and relaxing or festive depending on what you choose.

I buy all of my stuff locally at a Scent shop. I like to go in and smell the things in person, plus they have all the reeds on display to smell and usually have a lampe burning with a scent and a tart burner going behind the counter.
I know many people buy online but I like to smell the stuff firsthand.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 2:50PM
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I went in my local grocery supermarket twice this week and smelled the loveliest cinnamon scent. Couldn't figure out where it came from-maybe the bakery or the plant shop? Wish I knew-it was so clean and inspired me to think of fall - apples and pumpkins and Halloween. all that.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 7:34PM
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Nothing beats fresh air of course.
in the humid northeast, a dehumidifier has done the trick along with really regular program of dusting and vacuuming and NO wall to wall carpets.
Frequent washing of bed linens, a regular periodic cleaning program for bed covers (blankets and spreads)also help because these are large, heavy and absorb moisture and all the smells that are around.
Occasionally take throw pillows etc outside and beat them well. Vacuum them regularly too. Also, i invested in zip up cotton pillow additional layer that keeps stuff from getting into the pillow core. It has been worth it --- just pull off those covers once a year and wash them. Other times, you are of course routinelywashing the pillowcase that touches your face.
Once in a great while we are able to hang our sheets out on the line to dry on a breezy day.... Gee whiz! that night when you climb into bed it is a memorable fresh scent! Towels, being so thick i guess, dont quite capture it.
Then our windows are open as much of possible but most importantly in a fashion to creat cross ventilation draw.
We dont have a proper kitchen hood venting to out of doors so an inexpensive charcoal filter with fan has helped.
Also, we have put fans in the windows occasionally to EXHAUST air out.
We dont use artificial fragrances like Glade and sticks and Bergeres lamps... but we dont hesitate to let citrus skins perfume the place for a day (if i use a lemon or orange in cooking, i will actually cut up the peel or peel the colored non pith portion to release the oils and leave it laying on a plate for a few hours. We do burn very high quality incense every few days for a lovely cedar like scent.
Also, there are wonderful ways to use lavendar or other natural oils mixed with water, alcohol and glycerin. These are now sold as bathroom pump sprays (Wms Sonoma, Trader Joes, etc). A squirt once in awhile in a bathroom area (not near furniture) is nice.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 5:28PM
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I get migraines from a variety of smells so I only use fragrance free products. Masking smells don't work. I use TSP, Soilox (still have some left over before they replaced it with Dirtex) on all painted surfaces (walls, ceilings, etc.) and vingear & water to wash my hall and kitchen tile floors.

I'm not a fanatic about cleaning.....have only one area rug in living room. Laundering items helps with cloth, vacuuming drapes and lamp shades helps.

There is something to be said for the annual Spring cleaning our grandparents did where every nook and cranny got cleaned. Houses are made tighter and tighter these days so odors get trapped. Some houses benefit from more frequent furnace filter replacements. Fresh airing out with open doors and windows does replace the air but if the contents aren't cleaned as well, the odors just return when the house is closed back up.

In June this year I used the TSP on my entry walls and ceiling and was shocked to see how much dirt came off! And doing all the floor tile with the vinegar solution always makes a huge difference.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 7:46AM
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For those of you who like the glade plug ins, do you know how they work? The oil coats the inside of your nose so you don't smell the bad odors. Plus some of the ingredients are suspect for causing cancer.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 4:33PM
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If you've ever had a smoker in the jouse, and the OP said there was, there may be nicotine on any and all surfaces. We bought our house from a chain smoker. We noticed every time we took showers, brown rivulets of tocacco water ran down the bathroom walls. I washed the walls with Spic and Span, then we wallpapered over. Finally ended the brown rivers and the stink. By the way, to prove Karma gets you, the prior owner had died of lung cancer. He haunted our house for several years , but that's another story. And we drove him out with good vibes and the noise of two children.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 11:30AM
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I like to use a linen spray on our bedding. Doesn't help with the entire house but it helps the bedroom. I try to find natural ones vs something full of chemicals. Also my house is really clean except we have lots of dust... just because it looks clean doesn't mean it is. From reading this thred I know I need to wash the glass shades on the kitchen light. I think just making a cleaning routine that involves the things you dont really notice usually (dust, cobwebs)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 11:59AM
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I use scented dryer sheets in my vacuum. And or use the reed difusser. ( spelling?) I get mine at Kohls. They are fairly inexpensive and the scents are not too strong.

Don't get me wrong... I love a nice candle every once in while :)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 11:23PM
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If you like an option for natural cleaning, here is something I like. it's a liquid type of "oil soap" called Dr. Bonners It comes in several different scents (natural essential oils) and an unscented.

It cuts grease really well. I mix with water and put in a spray bottle to spray down woodwork, etc. I wash my wood floors with it. And I also use it to wash the dog!. I get it at whole foods, but some grocery stores and Targets have it too. Not the cheapest thing out there, but if you have sensitive skin like I do, it is such a pleasure not to have to wear gloves when cleaning.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 10:13PM
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I guess I'm part of the minority that thinks a clean, fresh smell is the absence of store-bought fragrance.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 3:14PM
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I smoke and so do 35 of my friends. Spend the $ and get a Ozone machine, from Ecoquest. These R not cheap, but U will get what U are looking for. I do not want to hear from any of U "Tree Huggers," out there and U will post the sites about the negative effects of, Ozone. I have been using these machines for 20 years with no problem. Why cover the smell up with all of that stuff, when U can just kill it?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 4:02PM
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Ozone is a toxic gas. It makes as much sense to use an ozone generator as it does to smoke cigarettes. Enough said.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 6:44PM
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I noticed the boy who runs the bottle return booth in my local grocery cleaning up the kiosk. It was filthy dirty from left-over liquids in the pop and beer bottles and cans. you know, sticky black greasy looking dirt. and what was he cleaning with? A spray bottle of Murphys Oil soap. I used to use it in my home, but a lot of the people here said it was not good. I may buy a bottle and start using it. I know it has a pleasant odor, and frankly I don't care if it's natural or artificial. I remember once I washed my kitchen floor with PineSol right before a Christmas party. everyone who arrived exclaimed how nice my house smelled. Another product to "consider."

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 1:54PM
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jockewing, you're on the right track by deep cleaning and decluttering. A build up of grease, dust, dog dander on stuff STINKS! I know you live in a very humid part of the country...I'm in East Texas, some dryer but not much. Do you have central air? Keeping your filter(s) clean is a MUST for a clean smelling house. A stove ventilation system that vents OUTSIDE is important too. It's going to carry smells outside and trap greasy steam in the filter (that should be cleaned often too). If you don't have a ventilation system or you've got one that recylces the air, all those cooking odors and steam are embedding themselves in clothes, carpet, furniture...everything :( Back to your AC. Do you have it set to cycle the fan on and off with the thermostat or does the fan continue to run after the AC cycles off? Not sure if it's the same with a regular units, but with a heatpump, if you leave the fan running when the unit isn't cooling, you'll create a more humid environment and as you know, that makes odors worse. I don't use air fresheners. I don't have pets in the house, I change my AC filters regularly, have a ventahood that vents to the outside and even tho I can't clean as often or as good as I used to, the lack of clutter in my home makes for a fresh smelling house. That's always the first thing I notice when I walk in the door :)
Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 2:07AM
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An Ozone Generator would be the best solution. An Ozone Generator could be put in a room for a few hours and then the timer could turn off an hour before you arrive. This will give time for the ozone to dissipate and clear reducing harmful levels.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 2:04AM
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Keep the house as cold as possible, keeps bacteria from spreading. This is a trick they use in jail.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 1:37AM
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I read somewhere (recently), can't recall the ssource, that you need to open your windows for only 5 minutes a day to air out a house. Hmm, if I start now, by the time I open all the windows, it will be time to start closing them. It's a sunny day, 70, not very humid. And I don't like artificial sprays,etc. I had bought Charlies soap, it's wonderful for laundryu, has a very faint coconutty odor. Reminds me of sun tan oil/sunscreen, the beach. What could be fresher?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 8:26AM
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When I dry all our sheets and towels on the closeline it makes the whole house smell fresh.

I take them off the line and put them on the bed & hang the towels in the bathroom. The house smells great for several days after.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 9:05AM
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Using chemicals to make the house smell better can actually make the house stink. I noticed this with my house especially when I returned home and first opened the door.

My son was visiting and recognized the stinky odor as being a "chemical" based odor. Stopped using chemicals, now use alcohol or vinegar for cleaning and the house smells better.

Go chemical free and see how your house smells after a few weeks.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 11:04PM
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Every few months I launder my bed blankets and quilts and air-dry them outside. If I can't put them on the laundry pole outdoors due to rain or snow, I'll drape them over a chair or my exercise bike to dry. The bedrooms smell wonderful that night.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 10:54AM
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