How to Keep Your Home Smelling Fresh

lilacs on the counter in the kitchen

Every home has a unique scent, and the individual aroma of your home impacts your mood. Your olfactory system associates different smells with experiences and feelings. This is why we often feel a sense of nostalgic emotions when noticing the pleasant perfume of our mother’s scarf, or stepping into our grandmother’s kitchen—fragrances are really powerful!

Even if you’ve gone “nose blind” to the smells of your home—they’re so familiar you don’t notice them anymore—you’ll want to have a fresh-smelling house to keep your mood lifted and when welcoming guests. Your home’s signature scent is comprised of dozens of elements: The cleaning products you use, whether or not you have pets, if you keep scented candles lit or air fresheners running, or if you cook and bake often with certain aromatic ingredients. It’s a mosaic of odours!

With the sweetness of Valentine’s Day fading and crisp spring air a month or so away, keeping your home smelling fresh during the frigid months can be tricky. And thanks to our wintery Ottawa weather, it’s not always possible to open all the windows and doors to get a nice refreshing breeze from outside. Airing out your home is a must when you’re spring cleaning, but what can you do until then?

Create A Nose-friendly Space

The first thing you want to keep in mind is to neutralize common household odours instead of covering them up. Interestingly enough, moisture imbalances are a common reason unpleasant odours occur. Bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and fireplaces are all the most likely to harbour excess moisture. Additionally specific appliances like dishwashers and sinks, as well as your pets might add to these imbalances—which can ultimately also be an unhealthy aspect of your home if mold and mildew start to thrive.

Dry Out Unwanted Damp Smells

  • Deep clean your washing machine in your laundry room/area. This often includes running a special cleaning cycle, with specific washer-cleaning products. If you have a front-loading washer, keep the rubber gaskets and drain pump regularly cleaned as well, as those can harbour mildew and odour-causing bacteria if not cleaned and aired out regularly.
  • Linens in your bathroom like to lock in moisture and house mold and mildew. Prevent this by keeping your bathroom(s) ventilated, drape your bathmats, hang towels promptly and wash linens regularly.
  • Ensure your fireplace has a professionally installed chimney cap. Check for cracks in the stack and make sure it’s sealed. Once you’re feeling confident in the fireplace seals, have it professionally cleaned and deodorized.
  • Wash your family pet’s bedding, favourite mats and blankets often. These are often the biggest culprits when it comes to pet odours in your home.
  • One of the biggest moisture, mildew and mold offender is in the kitchen—the dishwasher. Make sure to always remove food waste from dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. Clean the drain filter periodically and don’t use other hot water appliances while the dishwasher is running to avoid diverting hot water resources. You can also use common pantry items to deep clean your washing machine via two separate cycles:
    • For the first cycle, place a bowl filled with white vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher, and run a normal cycle.
    • Then, pour a cup of baking soda into the bottom of the dishwasher and run a second cycle. Your dishwasher should be odour-free afterwards!

Anytime water lingers, it can contribute to unpleasant odours as it suspends water particles in the air. This is why oil diffusers work so well when you’re aiming to change the smells in a room to be more pleasant. When you have a damp fireplace, you might smell the scent of charred wood more often. But any dampness can also contribute to mildew, which usually turns into a negative feedback loop of more moisture and more smells. You may not notice the underlying smell of mildew, but it’s one of those smells a guest walking into your home is likely to note. Luckily, you can take the steps above to mitigate this!

Four Easy Ways to Incorporate Natural Scents

Once unwanted smells have been reduced or eliminated, you can give your home its own unique and enjoyable scent. Different scent profiles can send different messages to you, your family and guests. Spices and sugary scents are warm and welcoming, herbal and woody fragrances can be relaxing yet energizing, while clean and airy scents are inviting and calming. To create these scents, use herbs, spices, botanicals, essential oils and charcoal bags in different places around your home.

eucalyptus hanging, essential oil bottles and activated charcoal for scents

Simmer Fruits, Spices & Herbs

Simmering citrus and herbs is an old trick that still works wonders today. Add a mixture of herbs, spices, and water in a pot and simmer on the stove. You can modernize the method by using a slow cooker to create unique scents using citrus slices and peels, spices like cinnamon and star anise, or aromatic plants like lavender and rosemary. Simmering scents is most common during the winter holidays, but it’s something you can do anytime. You can also reap the benefits and joys of eucalyptus by hanging it in your shower. Shower steam helps activate and release eucalyptus oil compounds into the air, allowing you to breathe them in. You can use either fresh or dried leaves for this purpose.

Introduce Essential Oils

Essential oils have been around for thousands of years. It seems that they’ve really gained popularity in our present-day homes in the past couple of decades. To ensure the best quality, look for certified essential oils sold online or at health food stores. Some oils are meant for cosmetics and perfumes, but not for aromatic purposes, be sure to read labels and check with the manufacturer before purchasing.

Popular uses of essential oils include diffusing through the use of diffuser sticks, in water as a humidifier, or with heat or candle. Adding to a water bottle and spraying as a room spray or adding a few drops to items like wool balls and placing them around the home is another method for targeting specific areas. Do some research to find the best method for you and your home! We enjoy the ceramic vase diffuser from NOW, available on Take care to safely store essential oils away from pets and small children.

*Be sure to introduce herbs and oils is small amounts at first, as allergies can be a real concern. Be safe by taking it slow with your first few exposures to new scented products.

Pack in the Charcoal

Because activated charcoal doesn’t produce a scent, it’s a useful tool for people with allergies or who are sensitive to strong smells. Instead of creating a scent, activated charcoal absorbs odour molecules in the air. When you place them near shoes, litter boxes, gym bags, or anywhere else you find offensive odours, it leaves your home smelling neutral and irritant-free. Bamboo charcoal packaged in linen bags works as an air purifier that removes allergens such as mold, bacteria, bad odours, and even excess humidity from indoor air. The bags can last up to two years, so they’re a very cost-effective natural alternative to air purifiers. Moso Natural is a popular company that supplies these bags.

Try a Berger Lamp

Also known as a fragrance lamp, these ornate objects disperse scented alcohol using a catalytic combustion wick consisting of cotton threaded through a natural, porous stone. The combustion wick was developed and patented by its namesake, Maurice Berger, a French pharmaceutical dispenser, in 1898 as a means of purifying the air in hospitals. And it’s since been shown that this catalytic oxidation process destroys bacteria in the air.

Redesigned by famous designers, it was then fitted with a perfuming function and gradually became an iconic home accessory. It’s a functional and attractive object which has spanned more than a century, purifying indoor air using simple isopropyl alcohol and adding an elegant touch to perfume lamp owners’ homes. We recommend the Maison Berger lamp.

Lampe Berger at homeSource: Maison Berger Paris

Give Your Nose & Yourself a Break

Homeowners interested in professional house cleaning may delay services because they’re hesitant of the unfamiliar; even a change in how their house smells might be a source of apprehension. However, we create customized plans to accommodate cleaning preferences, schedules and budgets. We also use cleaning products that you are in control of, ensuring that only products (and scents) you approve of are used in your home.

For clients who enjoy regular service with Windsor Home Cleaning, we use client-supplied home equipment to minimize risk of cross contamination from other locations. This also ensures your confidence in the products used in your home. Our Cleaning Technicians review your products and can make recommendations if needed. That being said, for one-time or occasional cleans we do provide supplies and equipment.

When you need assistance with house cleaning, contact Windsor Home Cleaning for professional support, and regular or one-time cleaning options that will help bring back the joy of a fresh-smelling home—on your terms!

Learn more about our services or call us and schedule an estimate today 613-238-7761.