Challenge Day 20: Making Sense of Household Scents

living room scent

Standing on the threshold, the living room is lovely to look at, clean and organized. Soft sofa, attractive artwork, pleasant lighting all beckon.

But the nose wrinkles. Do you smell something?

Taking on the "to scent or not to scent" question is like stepping in a mine field. Today, we'll try to find our way to freshness, while staying clean and green at home.

Today's Assignment:
Making Sense of Household Scents

Life indoors? It can get pretty smelly in there! Infants, pets, cooking and just plain living can lead to a case of "house-atosis" in even the cleanest home. Is there a way to clear the fog ... safely?

Here's the bad news: recent research points out that many household scent products deliver health concerns along with the pretty aroma. Up to 40% of candle wicks have been shown to contain lead, and burning scented candles often leaves oily residue on ceilings, walls and furniture.

Room deodorizing sprays can contain petroleum-based substances that can irritate sensitive people--and even natural solutions, like essential oils, can cause allergic reactions for some people. How to keep the house fresh, clean and green?

To meet the muddle, evaluate your family's level of tolerance for the risks that can accompany use of scented products. Households with asthma or allergy sufferers, small children or older adults will need to be more careful about scent solutions; a group of healthy young roommates may have no problem using scented products.

With an idea of where your family's tolerance level lies, consider these strategies to scent safely in your organized home.

Tackle the Source. The best way to cure a smelly house? Tackle the problem at the source, rather than covering it up. Damp laundry, musty closets or soiled pet beds can spread odor throughout the house. Get pro-active by keeping problem areas clean and fresh.

Choose Candles Carefully. Burning scented candles can release airborne soot and toxic pollutants, along with that lovely smell. If you must burn candles, check labels to be sure wicks are lead-free, and choose beeswax or soy candles over petroleum-based paraffin candles.

Switch to Essential Oils. Better, replace candles with products that rely on essential oil.

Diffusers, light-bulb rings and heated scent warmers provide fragrance without adding smoke and soot to indoor air.

A few drops of essential oil added to a spray bottle full of water is a safer way to add scent to a room, and make it easier to tackle bad odors in a large area.

Deodorize with Natural Products. For quick fixes to sudden odor problems, natural products can offer an alternative to commercial room deodorizers. Both white vinegar and coffee beans have natural deodorizing ability. Pour a single layer of coffee beans into a shallow plate or pan, and place it in smelly rooms to cut disagreeable odors. A half-and-half mix of white vinegar and water can also deodorize a room when spritzed into the air; the vinegar scent will fade away when dry, taking many odors with it.

Bring on the Breeze. Finally, fresh air can go a long way to create a fresh household. Airing out closed rooms regularly can chase away bad smells without the risks posed by scented products. Open up windows to a cross-breeze for a natural solution to a smelly house!