HG: Annie Payne Column january 17, 2009

Homes shut tight for winter keep in heat and unpleasant odors

The Grand Valley isn’t the only place stuck in an inversion.

Your home could be suffering from an inversion of its own, an odor inversion. When windows are kept shut to keep out the cold, odors have no place to go.

The smell of a home, whether it is good or bad, is a combination of the level of cleanliness, the presence of animal life and the products and byproducts found therein.

Sometimes a malodorous malady cannot be identified; in that case you find yourself asking,

“What on earth is that smell?!”

Here are some home odor-causing culprits and their quick solutions.


The overriding smell of a home is most likely emanating from the kitchen.

•  Clean out your refrigerator regularly. I recommend weekly, on trash day. That way, any
expired food items that can’t go down the disposal,don’t have to sit in the can and wait a few days for the trash truck.

•  Deodorize the garbage disposal. While running the disposal, add a cut lemon and follow up with hot water. Baking soda and vinegar is another option that creates a volcano effect that is fun to watch. Again, rinse with hot water when finished.

•  Don’t neglect the pantry. Make pantry inventory and organization a regular part of your kitchen cleaning routine. A forgotten bag of potatoes in the deep dark recesses of your pantry may be that mystery odor you can’t quite pinpoint.

•  Regularly change out your kitchen sponges. Run them through the dishwasher to keep them fresh in between changes.

• Anything citrus in a spray or candle will cut the cooked food smell. Try lemon, orange or grapefruit. I like to burn an orange-scented candle after I cook bacon.


•  If you have carpet in the bathroom, rip it out. Bathroom rugs should be laundered weekly.

•  Don’t forget the fan. Use it before, during and after showers to cut down on moisture. Moisture is a conduit for malodors.

•  Again, a natural citrus scent is the best eradicator of odiferous emissions in the bathroom. Potpourri or floral-scented plug-ins makes a lousy combination of sweet and sour. It won’t cut odor; it will just mix with it. I recommend a grapefruit-scented room spray to de-stink the bathroom.


•  Don’t allow dirty laundry to sit. If a lull in washing duties has occurred, add a cup of white vinegar to your wash.
If your towels have a mildewy smell despite a thorough washing, use a cup of baking soda in place of your regular detergent. Then, use vinegar instead of your fabric softener. Finally, dry in old-fashioned sunshine to bring back a fresh clean scent to your towels.

•  If you have a front-loading washer, leave the door open for a least an hour after use to allow it to fully dry out. The water-tight seal keeps in residual moisture, which can cause your front loader to smell over time.

•  Warning: This is where I alienate half my readership. The smell of cat urine is nearly impossible to remove. I question the effectiveness, but I’ve read that you can remove cat urine odor from carpets with a combination of vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. If that doesn’t work, be prepared to burn down your house. That’s why I am a dog owner.

•  Fabric and carpets hold onto odors. Wash curtains and shampoo carpets in high-traffic areas a couple times a year. Vacuum furniture upholstery as a regular part of your housekeeping routine.

•  Wash out trash cans and wastebaskets and use liners.

•  Have a bed wetter? Use equal portions of water and vinegar in a spray bottle to remove stains and deodorize the mattress.


(Annie Payne receives no compensation for endorsing these products, although she will accept frequent flier miles, baked goods and movie tickets.)

•  Plink — Freshens garbage disposals.

•  Affresh — Deodorizes front-loading washing machines.

•  Febreeze (in the aerosol) — For carpets and upholstery.

•  Oxy Solution Pet Stain and Odor Destroyer — Great for pet messes and smelly diaper pails and their lingering odor.

• Method Daily Granite — Leaves granite counter tops streak-free and deodorized.

•  Axe Blue — Body Spray for Men — My friends with teenage sons swear this gets rid of the teenage boy smell, not just on bodies, but also in bedrooms and bathrooms.

It could be awhile until the inversion leaves the valley, but you don’t have to wait to use these tips to rise above the odor inversion in your home and breathe freshly once again.

For more on an unpredictable variety of other topics, visit Annie Payne’s “Anniethology” blog online at Anniethology.blogspot.com.


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