Everybody knows what it feels like to walk into someone’s apartment for the first time and have their senses overwhelmed…their sense of smell, that is. Thoughts may run through your head like: “I guess they cooked salmon last night,” “So, where’s the cat?,” and “I really like Campbell’s soup too, but can somebody open a window?”
Every apartment smells different, and that often depends on the unique lifestyles of their tenants. Things like personal odors, pet dander, and the contents of your trash can make it rather difficult to control the way your apartment smells, especially if you live in a small/efficiency unit. That’s why it’s important not to focus on masking the odors, but to instead try eliminating them at the source. There are many products on the market that can help you get rid of odors, but there are even more “best practices” you can adopt to prevent them from ever taking over your apartment in the first place.
It should go without saying that the easiest way to keep your pets smelling great is to make sure they are regularly groomed and bathed. Of course, this can be a difficult and time-consuming task. Individuals with large dogs will tell you that it’s nearly impossible to properly bathe their furry friends in a small apartment-sized bathroom. And many more animals (especially cats) tend to be afraid of water, making it very difficult for their owners to keep them clean. A good way to get around this is to have your pet bathed by a local groomer. If using a groomer is outside of your budget, another option is to take your pet to a “do-it-yourself” bathhouse. Establishments like Dirty Dog in Austin, The Dog Wash & Supply Company in Chicago, and Do-it-Yourself Doggie Detailing in Boise give pet owners the opportunity to bathe their own dogs at a much lower cost than a traditional groomer would charge. Plus, it’ll help keep that wet dog smell out of your apartment for good!
Natural pet perfumes are another option, along with bad-breath busting doggie chews. And remember to brush your dog’s teeth regularly! Not only will this prevent tooth decay and oral cancer, it will also keep your pup’s breath minty fresh.
If you have a cat, there are many ways to keep its litter from “littering” your apartment with bad smells. The nation’s largest no-kill animal shelter, the Austin Animal Center, uses litter made from natural pine needles to keep the kennels fresh. Feline Pine brand litter by Arm & Hammer neutralizes odors on contact and contains natural oils that prevent dust from leaving the litter box. What’s best about pine-based cat litter is that it’s biodegradable, meaning it can be flushed down the toilet instead of stinking up your garbage can!
Garbage odors are undoubtedly some of the most difficult smells to mask. That’s why it’s important to keep food particles out of the trash can when possible. Make use of the garbage disposal in your sink if you have one, but be sure to clean its blades regularly, as disposals are notorious for accruing food particles and making even the cleanest of kitchens smell downright gross. An easy and natural way to clean your garbage disposal is to grab a lemon and cut it into small wedges. Run the water, then turn on your disposal and drop the lemon wedges in one by one, waiting about one minute between each wedge. The natural acids in the lemons will help break down the food particles stuck to the blades, and because lemons are natural antiseptics, they’ll also kill any odor-inducing germs and bacteria. Do this at least twice per month, and your kitchen will smell amazing!
Make sure that you purchase a trash can with a lid to keep its odors contained. If it’s an option for you, you can also try putting it under your sink or outside on your patio or deck. If you recycle, you’ll want to be sure to rinse any recyclable containers that had food in them. Unrinsed mayonnaise jars are notoriously smelly, as are plastic bags that have come in contact with meat or cheese.
Nothing is more embarrassing than bathroom odors — especially if you have company! And let’s face it: air fresheners like Glade and Febreze only have limited efficacy. This is because they only mask bad smells with good ones, creating a sort of “super smell” that’s still less than desirable. The best spray bottle air fresheners are made from essential oils rather than perfumes. This is because essential oils naturally eliminate odors from the air instead of covering them up with chemical perfumes. Using essential oil-based air fresheners is also better for your health. According to an article published by CBS News entitled “EWG’s Hall of Shame,” the Environmental Working Group has identified close to 90 hazardous chemicals in Febreze. As writer Sarah Jones explains in her article The Hazardous Effects of Febreze: “According to EWG, Febreze contains 89 air contaminants, including acetaldehyde, propylene glycol, limonene, and methyl pyrrolidone ethylacetate, which is toxic to the the brain and nervous system. These contaminants are linked to cancer, are toxic to the reproductive system, and cause allergies.” Chemical-based sprays are also hazardous to pets, houseplants, small children, and the elderly.
The best bathroom spritz on the market (by far) is Poo-pourri, which works by creating a barrier of natural oils on the toilet water to keep icky smells from escaping it. As the company explains on its website: “When spritzed into the toilet bowl before-you-go, Poo-Pourri’s pure blend of natural essential oils creates a film on the surface of the water… The protective barrier traps odor under the surface before it ever begins! All you’ll smell is a refreshing bouquet of NATURAL ESSENTIAL OILS. Flush yeah!” The company’s five-star rating and outstanding customer reviews speak for themselves.
The solution is as simple as one word: cornstarch. Cornstarch (or baby powder, which is made primarily of cornstarch) is an excellent natural way to get rid of odors. Cornstarch can be sprinkled on anything that collects body odors (like the insides of shoes and gym bags), and it will completely eliminate the bad smells from them. If you get sweaty feet, sprinkle a layer of cornstarch or baby powder into your shoes every morning, and they’lll never smell again. The cornstarch will absorb your sweat and prevent any bacteria from growing, which itself is the ultimate cause of most foul odors. If your carpet smells less than fresh, sprinkle cornstarch all over it and let it set for at least half an hour. Then vacuum it up, and you’ll instantly notice a difference.
Burn incense and natural soy or beeswax-based candles. If a black reside builds up around the rim of a candle, throw it out. This is a sign that there are toxins/chemicals in it, any of which could be harmful to your health. Natural candles burn clean, leaving little to no reside on their containers.
Essential oil diffusers are capable of killing air-born germs and viruses, and they can keep your apartment smelling like a garden in spring at the same time.
Change your air filters regularly.
Ensure proper ventilation by opening a window when the weather’s nice.
Brew a pot of coffee or bake some cookies before company arrives. The smell of warm cookies is inarguably one of the nicest smells on the planet. Plus, there’s the added benefit of getting to eat them!
Keep fresh-cut flowers in vases around your apartment.