It’s your year to prepare the holiday feast, and it looks and smells delicious. The only problem? It still smells 2 days later…and that’s not quite so delicious. While there are certain foods that don’t produce too much residual cooking odor (oatmeal, anyone?), there are others that linger for what seems like eons (garlic and onions come to mind!). Most people throw open a window in the dead of winter to air things out, or reach for the can of odd-smelling floral freshener to mask lingering odors — the combination of which usually produces an even worse smell.
Nowadays, newer homes are built to be more energy efficient, safe and draft-free; they also end up being built in ways that tend to trap air. And that can lead to stale-air environments where odors remain trapped a lot longer than you’d like. So what can you do?
We’re sharing some of the best preventative tips about keeping the air in your home smelling fresh, and how you can remedy a problem odor after the fact. (Because your Great Aunt Sophia’s cornbread dressing just wouldn’t be as good without those sautéed onions, now would it?)
- Know thy offenders. The following foods tend to be stinky no matter how you prepare them: garlic, onions, cauliflower, boiled chicken, broccoli, popcorn, bacon, fish, boiled eggs, food that’s fried, cabbage and burnt anything.
- Forgo those synthetic fragrances, no matter how tempting they might be. Because at the end of the day, they really only mask any issue or odor that’s causing your home to smell stale. Plus, puffing any kind of chemical into the air isn’t that great for your lungs.
- Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate. Without proper (read: really good) ventilation, odors (along with contaminants and VOCs) can linger in the air. Your exhaust fan above your stove wants you to use it!
- Don’t skip the obvious cleaning tasks: emptying the trash in a timely manner, running the garbage disposal daily, and cleaning out litterboxes/diaper pails.
- Be diligent about replacing your home’s air filters. Having a seasonal schedule is a good way to stay on top of them, so they don’t end up dirty, clogged and blowing contaminants right back into your living space.
- Vacuum often. Sometimes adding a drop or two of a natural essential oil to your vacuum bag can add an extra touch of freshness without a cloying, synthetic smell.
- Simmer some natural ingredients, like vanilla extract, cloves, orange zest, rosemary or lemon, on your stove or in a small crockpot. You’ll get the lovely aroma without a heavy, fake smell or harsh chemicals.
- Open your windows every once in a while. Sure, deep into the hot summer or cold winter months, it’s less than appealing. But even 10 minutes of fresh air will do wonders for a house that feels stuffy or stinky.
- Invest in a high-quality air purifier. It can do wonders not just in removing odors in your home, but in actually cleaning the air (and surfaces!). The right air purifier can remove particulate matter, dust, dust mites, allergens and other contaminants from your indoor air — and that’s something you want for every season!