Thursday, August 03, 2006

Home Scents


The scent of the house says a lot about the attitude of the homemaker and the family. It can smell like no one has ever washed their hands or their clothes, or it can emit a scent of fresh flowers, or spices used in home cooking. It all depends on the care that goes into it. Spraying scented water around the house will do no good unless the house has a basic cleanliness. Before you can add the delightful touch of scent, you have to roll up your sleeves and get to work cleaning all those areas which seem to collect unpleasant odors. These odors will prevent even the strongest bouquet of flowers from permeating the atmosphere of the home. There is a wealth of ideas in bookstores and on the web, for making the home smell good. Here are a few of them:

The kitchen trash can: It is best that this recepticle be small, and emptied daily, than large and emptied once a week. Bits and pieces of things can sit and accumulate bacteria, which then wafts into the house. Clean the trash can with soapy water and let it dry in the sun, then bring it in, spray it with a pleasant room scent or linen water,or wipe it with some kind of scented oil, like lemon. After that, add a trash can liner. This can be anything from a purchased roll of scented bags, some in colors, to the leftover bag you brought your groceries home in. Hook it over the edges of the trash container, and tie it with a wired ribbon or anything to hold it in place. For smaller trash containers around the house, Emily Barnes suggests in her book, "The Spirit of Loveliness," the idea of putting a pretty paper doily just inside, or over the edge. If it is something you are going to throw away anyway, it can be used to make things prettier.

The laundry: Naturally, laundry done daily is not going to create a smell, but if for some reason you are not able to keep on top of the huge amount of laundry that is accumulated daily in your home, there are some great laundry sorter bags made of mesh, which allows the air to circulate around the clothing while you are waiting to wash it. Dish towels and bath towels can be thrown into their separate sections, making it easier to throw in a load of laundry without sorting every little things. These mesh laundry sorters come with a metal frame that they hang neatly on, and it is very easy to set up and use. If your family is not allergic to scent, a small amount of scented dryer sheets or anti-static softener can be used.

Bathroom: This area must be cleaned daily, and it is helpful if there is an outside window to provide the best ventilation. Bathrooms tend to be very small, and this adds to the problem of odors, but with daily cleaning, they can be the most sanitary rooms in the house. The bathroom can be stocked with a small container which holds disposable cloths and cleaning agents to use on the appliances and the floor. One expert suggests that a person can clean some spot in the bathroom every time they take a shower or wash their hands, with the "clean-as-you-go" method. Unwrapping a new bar of ordinary bath soap, creates the best kind of scent for the bathroom.

Kitchen: One woman wrote that she likes to light a small tea light or votive candle in a pleasant scent, and let it burn in a candleholder in the kitchen while she cleans the area and washes the dishes. It lasts just long enough for her to get the job done, makes the work more pleasant, and helps eliminate the odors. Having clean dishes and a clean sink will prevent bad odors from building up. Happily, there are some wonderful scented detergents on the market now, and some for under a dollar. Green apple, berry, lavender, and many other scented dishwashing liquids are available. Of course, the best scent for the kitchen is the scent of food, or cooking!

Living Room: There is an endless variety of scented tea lights, wax melts, or tarts (short candles) for the home, and they don't necessarily have to be lit. Just buy the highest quality type you can find in the scent you like best, and wrap it in a bit of tissue paper, then place it inside a glass holder. It will scent a room for a long time. Fresh flowers provide a fresh scent for the home. They are not expensive if purchased at a grocery store, and sometimes a rose is a little more than a dollar. Windows with screens are a must, to help keep a fresh smell in the living room. Even a clean house will develop staleness, if closed up all day long without fresh air circulating.

Bedrooms: Closets are a problem with stale odors in bedrooms, mainly because of shoes. For this reason, it might be better if only shoes that are worn for special occasions, such as dress shoes, be stored in the closet, and the shoes we wear the most, can be kept on the back porch near an outer area of the house. Cherly Mendellson, in her book, "Home Comforts," recommends turning down the bedding each morning and letting the sheets air out, and not making the bed til later on. Clean sheets help keep the room smelling fresh, and women in the past changed the sheets once a week. You can avoid sour mattress smells by never letting your body actually touch the mattress. Purchase a foam mattress cover or any kind of mattress protection, to put under the sheets, and nothing will stain the mattress.

Home Office and Library: This room tends to be the most neglected, but old books and papers can get an unpleasant smell after awhile. One technique that was used in the past, was to put baking soda or talcum powder between pages of old books and letting them sit for a few days, then shake the soda out. Cleaning out bookshelfs and wiping the bindings of books can help make the office areas smell fresher. The tops of the printers, desks, clocks, and equipment seem to be overlooked when cleaning.

Live house plants are known for their ability to keep the air fresh and sweet. Some research suggests that: " some house plants are efficient in purifying indoor air. These plants filter out pollutants and toxins, replacing them with oxygen. One plant will purify approximately 100 square feet.Plants for indoor air purification include: Golden PothosSpider PlantHeart Leaf PhilodendronChrysanthemumGerbera DaisyAloe VeraChinese EvergreenFicusEnglish Ivy (see http://d21c.com/Sherry727/seasonal/pgs/houseplants.html)

Every woman's house is uniquely her own. One of the ways to express our love for the home is by attention to details like scent.

71 comments:

Stacey said...

Oh thank you! Hubby wants some plants here and ther inside, and now I have another reason to get them. :) What wonderful ideas here.

Honey Cakes said...

Nice ideas...I was wondering how to make things better around here.

I've never heard of that trick with the candles!

Calla Lilly said...

I would also add the cleanliness of one's pets is paramount to the cleanliness of the home. :)

Anonymous said...

I love candle warmers, they are very inexpensive at the craft store (which usually have discount coupons in the weekly ad) and make a scented candle last much longer than actually lighting it. And much safer than an open flame around pets or young children.

plainandsimple said...

I fill a pretty jar full of small pumice stones and the put a few drops of essential oil on the stones. This keeps a bathroom smelling fresh for a week.

Anna said...

In the kitchen you can put out a small pretty container of white vinigar..after a very short time you do not smell any vinigar smell but it certainly does take out any of the fish and such cooking smells. I just leave it out, and replenish it when needed...it can be hidden behind canisters or whatever if you like. I also put 1 or2 tiny lightly scented tea lights or tarts in tissue paper, as it was suggested, and place them in the pretty jar I put our combs and brushes in on the bath counter.
I am sorry but I do not know what linen water is or where it can be purchased. Does it have a fragrance?

jenny said...

How would you suggest taking care of pet smells (especially litter box smells)? I feel like I'm going out of my mind trying to make our home smell fresh while combating our cats' bathroom odors. Help!

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia wrote : "women in the past changed the sheets once a week"

...and this woman still does! Nothing beats getting into a freshly-laundered bed, and the aforementioned airing-out trick works wonders to extend that feeling for several days. I purchased "Home Comforts" a couple of years ago; it's a MUST for anyone who grew up without a home-maker mentor.

As for scents: I used to be an incense/potpourri/perfume person until I got married; my husband can't stand "smelly stuff", as he calls it, so I've had to cut back a bit. It's just as well, however, because incense makes more dust!

The best thing I've found for trash odors is to lightly sprinkle baking soda in the bin every time I change it. This works for pets, too.

Also, cedar blocks are a subtle way to keep your closet linens fresh and moth-free. Just rough 'em up with sandpaper from time to time.

Houseplants do indeed help air quality, but it's important to occassionally gently wipe their leaves with a soft damp cloth so as to improve the filtering process. And some plants are better at this than others; there was an interesting study done by NASA a few years back that found that 15 to 18 good-sized houseplants in 6 to 8-inch diameter containers can significantly improve air quality in an average 1,800 square foot house. The faster the plant growth, the better -- Spider plants are quite effective.

Finally, I make sure to air out the house by opening windows and running ceiling fans on "high" every morning, but make sure to do this *before* the summer air heats things up; this makes a notable difference and helps keep things cool all day.



-- Laura

Anonymous said...

Regarding pet smells-I believe there are scented kitty litters you can buy that would help with smells. Also, where do you keep the litter box? I would suggest someplace like the bathroom or laundry room.
Or, perhaps you could train the cat/s to take their potty outside and bury it? When I was growing up we had alot of cats but we never had a litter box-they did their business outside.
I don't know if these ideas help but they are what came to my mind. (Our cats stay outside so thankfully I don't have this problem but one of my children would like a parakeet and another a hampster so I may have to deal with pet odors someday myself!)

ladynicole said...

Anonymous and PlainandSimple - Thanks so much for the ideas!! A wonderful smell in my rooms (or anywhere, for that matter) adds a special something, and I'm always on the lookout for fresh ideas! I guess I'm a "scent" person - I'm the only person I know who finds a squirt of perfume essential to starting my day:-)!
Jenny, maybe you could try placing a box of baking soda near the litter box, replacing it every so often.

Anonymous said...

Re: Calla Lilly's comment about the cleanliness of pets: this is so true. Those of us who keep a pet in the house need to be vigilant about keeping them and their bedding clean. If they have toys, be sure to toss them in with the bedding once a week. Baby wipes are handy and effective for wiping off furry feet as needed in between baths. You can also get chlorophyll drops at the pet store to add to their drinking water which helps keep down pet body odors. Also, you may need to have your carpets shampooed more frequently not necessarily because of accidents but just by the fact that animals are on them most of the time. As for cats, I just don't know. Never had one that stayed indoors. Hope this is helpful to someone. Thank you for posting these great topics Mrs. Sherman and Mrs. Alexandria! Best wishes from Mrs. T.

Mrs.B. said...

I have always had multiple cats and haven't had much of a scent problem.

First off you need to have several litter boxes and clean them at least once a day or even more. I also use scoopable, hard-clumping cat litter.

I also use REALLY deep cat boxes that have lids (with an opening so the cat can get inside). This helps keep the mess inside the litter box and keeps the cat from accidentally missing the box. They come with a place for a charcoal filter on top and that can cut down the smell too.

And last....at least twice a year dump out the litter, wash the boxes (I use a spray cleaner and rinse it very thoroughly) and refill with fresh litter.

Febreeze Air Effects air spray really helps. I like the spearment scent because it's not perfumy. It seems to take the odor out of the air instead of just covering it up. Oust does the same thing but I don't like their scents.

Hope that helps.

Jenny said...

Thank you so much for the advise. Unfortunately, using nature as a restroom won't work for us as we live in an apartment, but there are so many ideas I didn't think of. (I won't object to any more, either!) I appreciate all your comments as I am very new to life as a homemaker (married just over a year) and have so much to learn still.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Vinegar is a great household product that is non toxic. If you will take a damp rag and soak some vinegar into it, it can be used to get rid of cloisome smells and musty odors by wiping it across table tops and ledges, surfaces, etc., Also you can wave the rag around the air to make smoke smells disappear, a great magic trick ;-) The smell of vinegar soon evaporates so it doesn't leave the place smelling like vinegar, either.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Linen water or spray:

Lemon Fresh laundry rinse can be used as a spray to freshen things in the house made of cloth, such as the linen closet. In Victorian times, lavender was tied in ribbon to make a wand, which was stored between folded sheets, blankets, towel and table linens. It kept it smelling fresh and also kept bugs off.

Here's one recipe:

1 teaspoon lemon essential oil
1 quart bottle white vinegar.

Add oil to the bottle of vinegar, secure lid, and shake well. Shake well before using. Measure 1/4 cup rince to add to the laundry's final rince in place of fabric softener. Use also as a spray for freshening fabrics.

Some linen sprays are made with rubbing alcohol, scented oil, and distilled water.

You can get more ideas here:
http://www.snowdriftfarm.com/form_sprays.html

Wendy WaterBirde said...

Lady Lydia I loved your idea of putting baking soda in the pages of books. I love antique books, but they can have a weird smell. Another idea there a friend of mine told me is to keep a sealed box of cedar shavings and put books in there from time to time to pull odors out.

Plain and Simple, I loved your idea of the essential oils on the pumice stone, i will have to try that. What I do now is put a few drops of essential oil periodically on lampshades, and the heat of he lightbulb releases the scent.

I did want to mention something. Non-natural scents (synthetic perfumes, glade, febreeze, non-naturally scented candles and cleaners etc) are actually toxic! One may not notice the effects till they build up in your system and then bamm, one day you may find you have chemical sensitivity, which believe me is no fun. Unfortunately, I know about this first hand. A good article on this is here, http://www.myida.org/stinks.htm

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

I second the comment that the commercial air freshners, even some of the candles are very toxic.

If possible, get candles with out leaded wicks. In the US it is supposed to be illegal to sell leaded wicks, but it is done. You can tell by looking at the top of the wick. You can see the black lead wrapped inside the cotton wick. In a non leaded wick, it is just a plain white piece of string.

Amy said...

My husband and I are very sensitive to fragrances, but I would love for my home to have a nice scent. If anyone with allergies/sensitivities has suggestions for helping your home smell nice I would appreciate it! By the way, even "natural" scents like essential oils can be irritating to some with fragrance sensitivity.

Would heating lemon slices in water, or perhaps cinnamon sticks and cloves work well? Has anyone tried anything similar?

littlejennywren said...

Throwing open the windows to let in fresh air as often as is practical is essential for a pleasant smelling house. If you can, a fragant plant in the garden just outside the window will also help nature come indoors. Ofcourse fresh flowers or even attractive foliage in a vase seems to freshen the air and lift the mood

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Planting fragrant bushes and vines like honeysuckle and daphne outside of bathroom windows is also good.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

simmering scented coffee grounds makes a great room scent. Also a little vanilla in water simmered, as well as any spice you have.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to mention incense, and give a bit of a warning.

Incense can be very harmful to anyone with a respiratory problem, and it isn't the best thing for anyone. Why? The base of incense, the part that actually burns, is charcoal, which has then been scented with essential or fragrance oils. Charcoal creates a great deal of smoke and dust, and if you're in the same house where incense is burning, you are inhaling a lot of things you shouldn't.

My mother had a continual respiratory problem, and the doctor finally realized that it was smoke inhalation. It took us a while to figure out just what was causing it, and finally twigged to the incense she burned, as her symptoms got worse when she used it. The doctor confirmed that that charcoal in the incense was exactly the thing to cause chronic smoke inhalation, which leads to the buildup of particles in the air passages of the lungs, making breathing difficult, and in severe cases, impossible.

Better to use some of the natural fragrances mentioned above and avoid anything that smokes.

Leslie said...

I appreciate the advice so much. I have used simmered cinnamon sticks, orange slices and other spices on the stove to give a good fragrance to our home.

We live in an old house, and it still smells like the lady who lived here before us. For instance, she was a smoker and periodically I have to clean the walls, as the tar is seeping out of them and running down the walls in black streaks. Any tips for getting rid of really old, old, smells? Maybe we should just paint!

Grace said...

The scent of a home is really such a special & unique thing. I really enjoy visiting the homes of others and enjoying the different scents in each home.

I make my own rose water linen sprays for around my home and really enjoy doing so. I also make my own tarts, candles and potpourri. Boiling lemon wedges, nutmeg, or cinnamon sticks in hot water on the stove is a really nice scent treat. If one has a garbage disposal, they can take some lemon peels and grind them in their disposal to make for a nice smelling sink.

Planting fragrant flowers or herbs in a window box outside your windows is a great way to scent the home, porch, and patio areas. On a nice day you can open up your windows and the breeze will carry in the delicious scents of the flowers inside. :-)

Anonymous said...

Leslie,

Definitely paint the walls and ceiling! Odors (especially cigarrette smells) absorb into walls. If you seal (with primer) the walls and ceiling, then paint them, that will "lock-in" the odor so it will no longer be released into the home. You may also want to have the carpet replaced or at the very least steam-cleaned. Carpet absorbs odors too.

Anonymous said...

I must be really strange; I actually love the scent of old books. Reminds me of wonderful ancient libraries in England. :)

And Mrs. B - did I read that correctly? Only changing the kitty litter out a few times a year? I change it weekly, I didn't know you could do it that seldom?! I don't ever intend to allow the cat outdoors - too many dangers for her, busy streets and teenagers, dogs, etcetera!

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

If you have mint growing outside or any other herb, such as rosemary, or basil, they are great air freshners if kept in a vase of water, and they look wonderful, too. Bugs generally avoid anything with those smells, also.

Kerri said...

About cats: My sister has a rare breed of cat who has to stay indoors. He can be quite smelly, and the only solution has been to clean the litter as soon as it has been soiled. She uses some type of flushable litter so the bad stuff can be flushed away immediately.

veracity said...

I have boiled water and put cinnamon, allspice and cloves in it. I also found that I could leave that mixture about a week before having to change the water and spices. I would have added orange peel too, but we didn't have any. We were getting ready to move, and didn't want to buy something we might not be able to use up before moving cross country.

Mrs.B. said...

Hi Anonymous: I use a scoopable cat litter. The waste clumps and I scoop it out several times a day and then add fresh. I've not had a need to totally change it any more than that. Now if you use regular clay litter you would definitely need to change the box at least once a week.

I've had up to 3 indoor cats at one time in a small home and NOONE can ever smell my litter boxes. (o:

Anonymous said...

Great ideas here!

Unfortunately I have found that homes still tend to spell like well homes even if they are very clean. I use the solid air freshners such as Glade and just forget about it for about a month until they need replacing. However, I have just found out that those things are toxic and would like to eliminate them.

Any ideas as to a less toxic but "forget about it" home fragrance?

Anonymous said...

There is nothing like fresh air to clean out smells. Having a window open and airing things out is a good habit. I believe having natural scents are the best. Keeping your house clean is the beginning. I use white vinegar, or vegtable soap, and it goes a long ways to making the home smell fresh... I

Calla Lilly said...

Years ago, when we were selling a house, anytime I knew that we were going to have a showing, I would bake brownies. Home cooking makes a house smell homey. Also, I have a plug in scented oil right by the front door. Just because we don't smell our pets doesn't mean that other people don't. We shampoo our carpets fairly regularly and bathe the dogs once a week.

Anonymous said...

I have a small electric "crock pot " potpourri burner. Instead of using commerical potpourri (which often times to me smells either too strongly or fake) I use 2 herbal tea bags, the fruity ones such as lemon, orange, etc. in a cup of water. Let simmer for several hours, smells wonderful and it is a breeze to clean. Just remove the tea bags and dump the water!! Wipe out with a damp paper towel,much easier than loose potpourri is to clean. And the fragrance is all natural.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Ah, yes, the old fashioned cake: it makes the best scent, and it isn't necessarily unhealthy to eat it, if you haven't been eating cake all month! This is our problem with food: if we could have it in moderation, we could have anything we liked, and be much happier for it. In the past, sweets were rare and so people didn't end up with so many serious health problems. Cakes were not as sweet, either, but the smell while baking was just as wonderful as today!

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

You can buy dried eucalyptus wreaths and sprays and bouquets which last for years and years and keep the house very fresh:- Well worth the investment.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

here is a picture of some. Mixed with sage leaves, they provide a fresh air scent for a long time.
http://www.driedflowersdirect.com/wreaths/dried-flower-wreaths.htm

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Lady Lydia Speaks said...
To the woman who submitted a comment about being pressured to earn money outside the home, while raising small children, we will address this issue possibly in an article. You are not alone! Because of the worlds lures and pressures, some husbands do want their wives to work. They want better things and they feel anxious about mounting debt. You can read the articles about living on one income and get some courage.
Just click on the articles on the side bar.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

When you peel and orange, leave the fresh peels in a small dish, and pinch them whenever you pass by. It emits the most wonderful, natural smell. Or, put them by an open window and let the breeze catch the smell which wafts through the house. Citrus peel is still good even as it dries and can be crushed up and bottled, for further use in steamed poupouri's

Susanne said...

I love it when I walk into a house that smells lovely. I like to use those little burners that you put a bit of water in the top and add a few drops of scented oil. MMMM!

Wendy WaterBirde said...

A note to the anonymous poster who asked: Any ideas as to a less toxic but "forget about it" home fragrance?

100% Natural soap bars are good for this, you can just find a scent you really like and put a few open bars in strategic places. I do this sometimes with "Kiss My Face" brand (I get the little mini round bars), and there are lots of others, like natural rose or lavender or lemon...

I've also used a low heat essential oil burner, the kind that are electric and like a little shallow bowl. Rather than put the straight essential oil in it I mix it with pure coconut oil first (maybe a few drops of essential oil to a tablespoon coconut oil for proportion). And then I find you can leave it plugged in and just check it occasionally to refresh/refill, because the coconut oil seems to last forever and does a long slow release of the fragrance (essential oil) that you added to it.

(This is coming from someone pretty home based though. If you are gone from home much of the time you should probably plug it in and out)

Theodora Elizabeth said...

Garbage odors:

I have found that with having a small kitchen trash can, in addition to making you take the trash out more, enables you in many cases to be able to keep the trash can UNDER your kitchen sink. Having it behind a closed door really helps with odors!

Theodora Elizabeth said...

Something else I forgot to add...

For those who are allergic to manufactured scents, or don't want them in the home, just burn a beexwax candle. The smell is just lovely, although it is somewhat muted. You can find them in various places online, or make your own.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

I think the beeswax candles smell like honey!

Anonymous said...

Just a note of warning for the ladies who were talking about kitty litter - it's important not to use the clumping kind before your kitten is three months old. Small kittens can lick themselves, swallow the clumping litter, and suffer dangerous blockages in their digestive track.

I also love beeswax candles - they smell just like honey! And I make my own spray cleaner for the kitchen, using a little cheap disinfectant, some washing up liquid and vanilla essence - it smells lovely, like vanilla. I put it in an old spray bottle.

Incog & Nito said...

Some great ideas here that I will be using - thankyou

Anonymous said...

I just looked up some information on clumping kitty litter and found this website which may be of interest to fellow cat owners.
http://www.thelighthouseonline.com/articles/clump.html

I clean my litter tray each time kitty uses it, and find that gets rid of any odours. Also simply lighting a match in the bathroom can be remarkably effective at clearing away stale air.

Angharad said...

Plain borax dissolved in warm water does wonders for removing stains and odors (including pet smells!) from carpet and upholstery. Can be used on almost anything, but test a patch first for colorfastness.

For litter boxes, it helps if you line the bottom of the litter box with several sheets of newsprint or a brown paper bag. I have no idea why this works, but it significantly reduces odor.

An easy way to add scent to a room is to balance a metal or felt ring over a light bulb and add a drop or two of essential oil. This even works with the energy-saving fluorescents. (I tied crocheted cotton flowers around the track lights in our office area and use them the same way).

Mrs.B. said...

Anonymous: Thanks so much for the link about the clumping cat litter.

I've never had any problems and all my cats have lived to be quite old. But I think I'm going to try an alternative given on the link you provided because it's better to be safe than sorry.

Thanks again, I really appreciate your sharing the information! (o:

Blessings,
~Mrs.B

Anonymous said...

Re: keeping your trash can under the sink behind the closed door. We were stationed in a hot tropical area and learned from an expert never to put a trash can there. Bugs and critters will travel along plumbing pipes into a home and having trash there (even if you empty it often) is a way to possibly lure them into your home.

Anonymous said...

An idea for stopping food smells in your fridge is to wipe the inside down with vanilla essence. Takes away the odors and smells delicious.

Suzanne

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

I have to agree about the kitchen trash bin. It should not be kept under the cabinet beneath the sink. The contents actually rot worse in that kind of atmosphere and if you live in the country, it attracts ants and rodents. The best kind is one with a lid that opens with a touch, or has a place you can press open with your foot. The smaller the container, the more sanitary, as you will empty it more often. Replace them, also, and don't keep them around forever. After they are worn out, they can be relegated to your garage to put tools and things in, or used for your recycling sorting.

Regarding candles: there are now some scented, battery operated candles,and electric candles with a scented waxy bulb that can be replaced.

Anonymous said...

Just a comment. This particular post has had me thinking about things. When I was a kid, about five years old, my parents moved into a new home. A three bedroom ranch. Rather simple home. One particlular memory stands out, the smell. Being new, it smelled like freshly cut wood. Just plain old wood. We only lived in that house five years. I was between the ages of 5 and 10 at the time. But, I never forgot that lovely scent. In the spring, when the sun was stronger, while the snow was melting, this particular smell would be there. Hard to explain. But, it was a blessing.
Scents do matter. I just wish I could capture this particular one in a bottle!
Enjoy your blogs.
Sincerely, DMC000000000

Anonymous said...

To the lady that commented about the wood smell, what about getting some blocks of cedar to set around your house if you like the wood smell? Or having a piece of unfinished furniture (like a shelf or something) around?

My family and I were weeding the church flower bed a week ago. There was a HUGE scented geranium that had mostly died. We were cutting the dead part back so the new growth could have more room (some of the branches were an inch thick!) and the smell was WONDERFUL. All that cut geranium wood smelled just as good as the plant ever did. I could smell it halfway down the parking lot and around the other side of the building. I was trying to think of how I could use some of those sticks around the house! The sticks don't have such a strong scent now, but what a wonderful plant to have (alive, of course) in the garden and to bring some cuttings into the house. I believe they come in many different scents, too.

Anonymous said...

In damp climates, be sure that you wash and dry your towels daily. They don't get dry when used over and over, and it contributes to the musty smell. Or, dry your bath towel daily in the dryer or on the line, making sure that you are the only one that uses it again, before you wash it at the end of the week.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous -

A BIG AMEN to your post above on towels.

My college roommate was not very savvy in matters domestic. One example, her bath towels. They STUNK. She would hang her towels to 'dry' in our bedroom. She claimed that she only needed to wash them only once every week and a half to two weeks because after all, "you're only drying off a clean body - besides, it doesn't smell". Your body is clean yes, but sterile, NO! Her towel would grow heaven only knows what in it. It REEKED and would make my eyes water when I walked into our room.

She was a highly sensitive person and did not take constructive suggestions well. So, I resorted to clandestinely washing her towels when she was at class! I would grab them as soon as she left and wash them with her detergent (unscented of course - ;) and then dry them. Then I'd hang them back up in our room just as she had left them.

I know that this seems pretty silly, but it became unbearable and since I only had to live with her for 3 more months, it seemed a reasonable, liveable solution at the time :) LOL

We all need to realize that we can ALL become 'immune' to our own odors......good or bad. Case in point, women who get used to their perfume and wear way too much. Their noses are used to it so they have to wear more to smell it....even though everyone else around them is getting a migraine! Or, when you have chronic halitosis - you are used to it so you can't tell that your breath is bad but everyone else around you is cringing away! :)

OK - I'll get off of my SOAP box - pun intended! Please please please wash your towels! :)

Anonymous said...

I am the lady who made a comment about the wood smell. Cedar blocks may be a very good idea. I would just like to mention, and this goes along with "becoming immune to your own smell." My home now, actually does have some unfinished wood in it. We have several places where we added shelves of unfinished wood. Probably cheap wood too; why is it that even the cheap wood is still so pretty? Yet, I never enjoy the smell of it.
A couple of years ago, our family went away for a four day vacation. When we arrived home, (the house had been closed up), as we entered, we were all surprised at how lovely the house did smell. It smelled so clean, but, it was that lovely fresh wood smell. It has happened again here and there. I only get to smell this lovely smell when we have been away on a weekend or so. I think we do all get immune to the scent while we live here on a daily basis. I have no idea how my home actually smells to a visitor.
As is often the case, reading the the homeliving blogger and these posts has inspired me to work a little harder inside the home. (Lately, the work has been on the outside.) The extra effort was worth it. To hear my husband's pleasure on his return home from his job tonight was a blessing. I got a very positive comment from all my children, and even my 17 year old, who has often claimed that he doesn't care for all this "decoration stuff." LOL
My husband made a comment to me about our lives feelng a bit chaotic right now, but, when he came home tonight, his home had order and peace, which soothed him. To me, my husband's comment represents one part of what this blog is about.
Best part, it didn't cost a penny. Just cleaning and rearranging, with thoughtfulness. And I have heard it said that cleaning is mindless work. NOPE! It is not!
By the way, the plant information is very helpful. Thanks for this as well.
Sincerely,
DMC.....why there were OOOOO's at the end on my other comment, I don't know. Must of hit something on my keyboard by accident.

Anonymous said...

My great nemesis is dry-cleaning smell. You know that leftover residue of chemicals that the plastic wrap seals in more neatly than a Tupperware dish? (How does it happen that an open piece of plastic wrap with reasonable amounts of venting can keep your clothes smelling for three weeks like you took a swim in a vat of detergent? I can't get that kind of retention on my pizza dough if I hermetically vacuum-pack it!)

And worse yet, if I put them straight in the closet, the smell doesn't dissipate; it spreads. The laws of physics require that matter and energy be constant--you can't manufacture more matter out of nothing--but somehow the laws of physics don't apply to the odor of dry-cleaning. It multiplies. The DC'ed clothes smell no less musty, but everything I put in my closet starts smelling. Even my shoes--which has, I admit, cut down on the predatory instincts of my dog toward fashionable footwear, but it's still irritating to have exuding from my feet. It's also a bit embarrassing because people tend to think I've had my sneakers dry-cleaned. People already give me enough strange looks...

I've resorted to hanging my clean DC'ed clothes on my ironing rack until they air out. It looks very untidy, but I can't do anything else. And, unfortunately, now the cat is starting to smell.

Is it a punishable offense to dry-clean your cat? I'm just worried that the humane society will want to chat with me about a very reasonable misperception on that issue...

(Okay, most of this was exaggeration, although I do struggle with DC odor permeating my other clothes.)

Mrs. Bartlett

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

In the 1800's it was common to plant creeping thyme, a short bush thyme, on pathways and walkways, so that when people stepped down, it would release the fresh scent of thyme.

For a really fresh smell, pick mint (which can also be a pesky weed), and put it in a jar of water with flowers. It keeps a room fresh for a day or two and you can always pick a fresh bouquet of it every day.

Regarding drycleaning: We gave it up years ago. If we can't wash it, we don't buy it, or else we use special soaps for dry-cleanable things. My husband has suits drycleaned rarely, and if he does, he hangs them on the hanger outside on the line in the fresh air, for awhile. Drycleaning fluid on clothing is a chemical that is not really good for the body. There are ways of cleaning dry-cleanables without taking them to the cleaners, although I'm not sure what they are.

Elizabeth said...

The article and all of the comments are so helpful. I like that you are not just providing ideas for adding scent, but dealing with the underlying causes of household odors, as well. I need to be diligent in that area. I'm sometimes a bit self-concious, because we have a lot of people over, and, as someone said, you do get immune to the way your own household smells. I hate to be ignorant, but is lavendar scented linen water the same things as lavender scented starch water?
The hint about how to freshen old books is espeically helpful.

elizabeth
http://elizabeth-themerryrose.blogspot.com

Rebecca said...

I love your blog!!! I just sat and read ALL the articles that have not yet been archived and you are a wealth of knowledge here and a great motivator! Keep up the good work! Rebecca from www.zeahrenaissance.blogspot.com

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

While reading the articles, be sure and look at some of the comments and click on the names that lead to other blogs. Most of these blogs are good homemaking blogs where you can get a glimpse into the personal lives of other homemakers. This is helpful if you haven't had a multi-generational home and family life, or are in a culture that does not stress home and family.

Elizabeth said...

I do hope you do an article about wives who feel pressured by their husbands to bring in a lot of income through an outside job. I don't have any research statistics to share. Just from talking with people, however, I have a hunch this is a big problem for younger husbands and wives. I agree with you that many young hsubands today feel pressured and worried about the finances. Also, I have encountered many young men who were raised by working women, themselves. These young men do not have a healthy view of a woman who chooses to make her career being a keeper of her home and family. The idea that their wife might stay home, other than for maybe a short time after a baby is born, is so foreign to them that it doesn't even enter their planning. The wives also often come into the marriage with this mindset. Once they have a child, however,their motherly nature kicks in and they find it painful to leave the child in daycare. I look forward to hearing your suggestions about how to help. The only thing I have figured out is to personally encourage the few young husbands that I know whose wives are keepers at home. But, that seems like such a small thing.

elizabeth
http://elizabeth-themerryrose.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I hope I'm not lowering the tone of this discussion by mentioning this. If you have boys you may find that the bathroom needs freshening regularly, especially if you have visitors coming. A scented candle near the toilet is a good idea (if you have a safe non-flammable place to put it), encouraging your older boys to get into the habit of lighting it at the appropriate time really helps. Otherwise striking a match in the bathroom removes all traces of the odor - although some might not like the burning smell.

For paint smells an onion cut in half left in the room being painted absorbs the paint smell miraculously.

finance girl said...

Elizabeth, you so got to the crux of a very significant issue within today's views of wives (by both the husband AND the wife). You hit a definite point with respect to husband's being anxious about money. I was able to quit my job last January by preparing my husband emotionally for it by showing him how we could do it financially. He was able to support the idea after I was able to show him how it could be done financially.

Wendy WaterBirde said...

I'm with Elizabeth here. This is a topic incredibly dear to my heart, and something so few people address. How does one, when it really comes down to it, actually deal with the aggressively counter messages all around you if single, or all around your partner if you are married and he doesnt understand this, when you choose to be "only" a keeper at home rather than "working"?

It would be really wonderful for example to see an article that is kind of like a "letter to husbands or future husbands", explaining this coreness of keeping at home in a way that they can actually understand. A letter that does not just focus on the one area most understand already (motherhood) but also on keeping at home even without this. Kind of a way to pick up where things left off in the stay at home wives series that had begun earlier...

Peggy said...

love your blog!!!

Anonymous said...

Another great article - thank you so much.
I put a basket tray of perfumed soaps in my airing cupboard - the soap hardens and is a frugal way of getting it to last longer and my airing cupboard and linens smell lovely.

Anonymous said...

I had a vanilla hazelnut scented candle in a jar with a removable lid. I wanted some scent in my kitchen but my kitchen is very small with hardly any counter space. I put the candle in the under the sink cabinet. It releases just enough beautiful scent that I will continue to always have a candle there! I think I will do the same in the bathroom.

Rona's Home Page said...

In the fall and winter seasons I like to have candles lite. The scents of buttercream or pumpkin are my favorite.

I also like to clean my bathroom floor with water and borox. It's great for cleaning and eliminate urine smells but leaving fresh, clean smells.

Anonymous said...

Living in a garden apartment,our new neighbors cook strong curry and other spicy foods. The odors waft upstairs and permeates our home. How do I get rid of these strong odors? Would white vinegar in an open dish help? Any other suggestions?

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