Have certain areas of your home been smelling a little funky lately? Our warm, sometimes humid weather is the perfect breeding ground for the mould and bacteria that cause most household odours.
Rather than covering up your stinky garbage bin, stale upholstery, or musty bathroom with a room spray, try these techniques to tackle the root of the problem:
After a while, even throwing out the garbage every day isn't enough to eliminate the odour of rotten perishables; the smell clings onto the bin itself. Toss whatever is in your garbage and give the bin a good scrubbing inside and out with a disinfectant cleaner. If you'd rather use natural methods, clean the can with your favourite eco-friendly cleaner and then deodorise it by spraying it with white vinegar. Let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe clean. If your bin requires more desperate measures, take it outside, spray it down with detergent, and spray it thoroughly with a garden hose. To prevent odours in the future, clean your bin at least once a month and consider switching to garbage bags that block odour from seeping out. Pour perishable items into a smaller sealable plastic bag before tossing them out, and take the garbage out more frequently.
Cigarette smoke in upholstery and carpet
The smell of cigarettes lingers in carpet and furniture fibres long after the smoke clears. Sprinkle baking soda over the offending surface, let it sit for several hours, and clean it up with a water-filtration vacuum, which traps small particles. If the odour lingers, take a day to deep clean your carpet or upholstery; you can rent a carpet cleaning machine at your local supermarket. Then take preemptive measures: ban smoking inside the house.
You guessed it -- that old standby, baking soda, is the best offense when it comes to fridge odours. But if you still sense that something's awry, try doubling up with some activated charcoal, available at suppliers of aquariums. Routinely check your fridge for expired or spoiling food, and give the interior a good wipe down with soap and water every week or so.
Coffee pot odour
The smell of freshly brewed coffee may be inviting, but the lingering scent it leaves behind is a wake-up call that your coffee pot needs cleaning. Fill the pot with one part white vinegar to two parts water, then pour this solution into your water reservoir and turn the coffee maker on. If you have a reusable mesh filter, leave it in, but otherwise you don't need a filter. Let the vinegar go through an entire cycle in the coffee pot. You may want to open a window to dissipate the scent of vinegar (it will eventually die down). Once the solution is done brewing, dump it out, let the coffee maker cool, and repeat the process. Then do two brews of water only. Lastly, wash your pot with dish soap and rinse it well with water.
Air out your furniture if you can (putting it in the sun for a bit may help zap some of the smells naturally). Then vacuum it carefully using a water-filtration vacuum or a HEPA filter (it's designed to trap small particles). You may also need a cleaning product like Nature's Miracle, designed to remove pet odors; check your local pet store.
Can't figure out where that kitchen odor stems from? Check your dishwasher: this appliance can hold on to odors of dinners past even when it looks clean. Run the machine while it's empty, using two cups of white vinegar instead of detergent. In the future be extra vigilant about scraping dishes before loading them into the machine, especially if you know they'll be sitting there for a while (or if the weather is particularly swampy).
Musty mildew in the bathroom
Mildew thrives in moist environments like bathrooms and basements. The best solution is to open all windows on a dry day and run a dehumidifier. Use the exhaust fan -- or an oscillating fan -- to circulate the air. Remove damp towels, rugs, and shower curtains and run them through the laundry. The best (albeit not the most pleasant) way to eradicate that mildew smell is by mixing equal parts bleach and water and spraying down your bathroom tiles (be sure to wear protective gloves and a dust mask). Prevent buildup of mildew by drying off the stall after every shower.
There are some very efficient ways to remedy a musty drawer. Our favourite? Sprinkle baking soda into your drawer and let it sit for at least a few hours (or a few days, if you can). Then vacuum it up. If odour still lingers, pop in a potpourri sachet.