You come home from a long day, step inside your lovely abode and…what’s that smell? It’s time to get serious about fresher air! But you don’t want to infuse your breathing space with commercial “air fresheners” that are loaded with harmful chemicals. Here are some favorite ways to safely freshen your home…
First…take out the garbage! Instead of using large bags made specifically for kitchen trash (which can stink up the whole house if left to fill up completely), use smaller bags (recycled from various shopping trips) and take those smelly food parts out of the house more frequently. Then grab your baking soda, lemons and vinegar and hit those stinky kitchen appliances…
Deodorize your microwave: Wipe up any lingering spills with some baking soda or vinegar sprinkled on a sponge (don’t forget the ceiling!). Then toss several lemon rind peels (we use a vegetable peeler on a medium-sized lemon) in a microwave-safe glass bowl, along with one cup of water, and zap it on high for about 30 seconds. Let the bowl sit in the microwave for 10 minutes.
Sweeten up your refrigerator: Wipe up any lingering spills with some baking soda or vinegar sprinkled on a sponge or damp rag. Dab a few drops of vanilla or lemon extract on a cotton ball and put it in a shot glass inside the fridge. Any lingering unpleasant odor will be replaced with an appetizing scent.
De-stink your dishwasher: Check along the interior walls and bottom (especially the hidden hinge area under the door) for spots of gunk or mold that just need a quick wipe with…you guessed it…baking soda or vinegar on a sponge. If you still detect a musty smell—which can happen if you keep the dishwasher door closed most of the time—put two tablespoons of baking soda in the detergent dispenser. Or balance a small bowl of white vinegar on the bottom rack. In either case, run your dishwasher empty (rinse cycle only is fine).
Freshen up your sink disposal: Once (or twice) a week, toss a lemon wedge into your disposal. Or, freeze white vinegar in ice trays, and toss a few cubes into your disposal…and operate as usual.
If you’re going to be gone from home for a week or more, before you leave, pour one-half cup of baking soda down the disposal…But here’s the trick—do not run the water. Let the baking soda stay in the disposal so that when you come home, you will have an odor-free sink.
General Room Deodorizer
Making your own natural air freshener is easier than you think! In a glass spray bottle (here’s how to make your own), add four ounces (one half cup) of filtered or distilled water and 10 drops of natural essential oil (available at health-food stores or online). You can use rubbing alcohol or vinegar instead of water for more disinfecting power, but we prefer the water mix for regular use. When misting, don’t aim the spray bottle directly over wood furniture or a wood floor because the oils can stain the wood. When you’ve finished misting, store the unused portion in a cool, dark place. We like to use eucalyptus oil in the basement, lavender in the bedroom and lemon oil in pretty much any other room. The herb oil may seem pricey (it’ll probably cost more than the toxic spray stuff from the store), but a one-ounce bottle can last you a year or more. Caution: Be sure to keep essential oils away from children.
Pour about one-quarter cup or so of mint-flavored mouthwash into the toilet bowl. Let sit for as long as possible (until you need to use the toilet, of course!). If you don’t like the idea of wasting your expensive name-brand germ killer, use the cheapest, most generic green stuff you can find. This splash of mouthwash will make your whole bathroom smell fresh and clean.