Household Odors: A Home-Ec 101 Guide

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Scientists say that people can smell at least one trillion distinct scents, scent cells are renewed every 30 to 60 days, and women have a better sense of smell than men. Combine all those things together with a house full of people and there is potential for A LOT of odors. On top of all that we know that scent is a powerful memory trigger, and we want our house to smell good and create good memories. Listed below are some articles that can help you find and conquer bad household odors. Just click the title of the one you want to read more about.

Guide to Household Odors

Can This Smelly Freezer Be Saved?

Due to a series of unfortunate events, my small chest freezer (that sits under the house) was left unplugged for 3 WEEKS! Of course the entire inventory was a total loss, but the real problem is the SMELL.

Don’t Just Cover Up Musty Odors

My problem is that I keep towels that we have used in a closet until I do laundry at the end of the week, and I wanted to know if there is anything I could put inside the closet to keep down the musky smell until laundry day?

Eliminated or Hidden? Febreze vs. Stink

I’ve heard from a friend that the way Febreze works is by “gluing” the molecules causing the smell to the fabric.

Help! Our New House Smells Like Mothballs!

There’s only one little problem with our dream home: it smells a bit of moth balls. I’m hoping that most of the stench is attached to the current owners’ furniture, but some of the smell has certainly transfered to the walls and floors of the house.

How Can I Make My Cat’s Litter Box Smell Better?

Why is cleaning out cat boxes such an ordeal? How can I make my cat’s litter box smell better if I’m a little bit remiss about getting them scooped every day?

How to Clean a Smelly Garbage Disposal

How do you de-stink a garbage disposal?

How to Deal with a Cat Marking Its Territory

Our cat marks all areas of our house by peeing especially when another animal comes to visit or where she last marked. We are at our wit’s end…. is there any solution to this problem?

How To Deal With Mildew In The Laundry

I forgot about a load of wash in the washing machine. Of course, it’s almost the entire wardrobe for both my children and the entire load *reeks* of mildew.

How to Eliminate Shoe Odors in Small Closets

I just did some awesome cleaning in my closet and swapped out my winter for summer stuff. I noticed my closet has a funky shoe odor.

How to Fix Sour Smelling Towels

Why do towels and washcloths smell sour and how do I get rid of that funky odor?

How to Freshen Plastic Storage Containers

My spouse, it’s not me, no never me, has a bad habit of leaving his dirty plastic containers in the back of his car. I have to tell you, they are FUNKY. How do I remove the bad odor?

How to Get Rid of a Fish Odor in the Kitchen

I’m trying to encourage an elderly dog to eat and someone recommended canned mackerel.  It worked a treat but now my kitchen stinks like fish.

How to Get Smells Out of Car Upholstery

Have you any idea how to get the smell of smoke and sweat out of car upholstery without making the entire vehicle reek of Febreze?

How to Reduce Cooking Odors

I love having my home grown bacon or sausage on the weekend, but how do I get rid of the horrible grease smell after I have enjoyed breakfast?

How to Remove Kerosene Odors from Unwashable Items

I do alterations and repairs on bridal wear and I recently returned some dresses that ended up absorbing the smell of kerosene. How would someone remove the smell of kerosene from un-washable clothing?

How To Remove Mildew And Musty Odors From Towels

My towels all smell funky. Is it my teenage son? He’s usually pretty good about hanging up his towel, but lately they’ve all developed a stink. There is nothing quite like stepping out of the shower to be greeted with a musty, mildewed, smelly towel.

How to Remove a Musty Odor from Dresser Drawers

An old roommate of mine borrowed a dresser from me and used it while we lived together. After she gave it back the drawers had a musty smell that I couldn’t get rid of. If I put any clothes in the drawers they come out smelling funky and musty too. What should I do?

How To Remove Musty / Mildew Odor From Furniture

I recently retrieved a table from my garage that was stored for about a year and it smells like there could be a mold or mildew issue. How do I clean the table to remove any traces and the odor of mold and mildew?

How to Remove Mothball Odor from a Closet

There’s only one little problem with our dream home: it smells a bit of moth balls. I’m hoping that most of the stench is attached to the current owners’ furniture, but some of the smell has certainly transfered to the walls and floors of the house. So what is a gal to do?

How to Remove Mothball Odor from Clothes

How does one get rid of this smell; a smell that permeates everything it contacts?

How to Remove Musty Odor from Jeans

For a few weeks I’ve occasionally noticed a musty smell. At first I thought it was something in my house, but I couldn’t ever pin it down. I finally realized it was my favorite pair of jeans!

How To Remove Odors From Shoes

How do you get the foot-stink out of shoes? Specifically, leather shoes, since those make your feet sweat like a fat guy chasing after an ice cream truck in August?

How To Remove Odors From Stoneware

Whenever I cook or use a strong smelling condiment, my dishes always pick up the smell I can never get the odor out.

How to Remove Smoke Smell from Plastic Toys

I recently purchased replacement pieces for a beloved vintage Fisher-Price toy on eBay. They arrived today after a long wait, absolutely reeking of smoke.

How to Remove Urine Odors from a Couch

We contacted the manufacturer, who suggested spot cleaning the urine stained area with diluted dish soap. This got the stains out. Unfortunately, the smell of pee still remains.

How To Get Rid of Musty Odor In A Home

Here’s my dilemma. The house is clean, but there is a fusty, musty odor, like a large dog is secretly living in our house.

Potential Sources Of Mildew In The Bedroom

There is a musty / mildew smell in my home, but I’m having issues locating the source of the smell. As far as I can tell, it’s restricted to one bedroom. I’ve examined all of my clothing, removed the air conditioner, checked all of the furniture, and even the air ducts. I’m guessing it might be in the carpet? Any ideas?

Sour Smelling Towels (And How To Eliminate It)

Why do towels and washcloths smell sour and how do I get rid of that funky odor?

What Causes Smelly Sheets?

I have smelly sheets! I wash them and I promise I don’t use too much laundry detergent. Then I dry them and then store them in a built-in bookshelf that’s in our closet. For some reason as soon as I get the sheets out to put on the bed they smell weird, a little musty.

What To Do About Stinky Shoes

I got my favorite pair of shoes wet last week and now they stink to high heaven. Is there anything I can do to save these shoes?

What To Do With The Drawer That Makes Clothes Stink

After the clothes are confined there for a few weeks, they develop a strong odor that spreads to other clothes which would otherwise not get smelly.

What To Do When Your Mattress Smells Like Cat Pee

It’s been a week, and while my husband swears he can’t smell the urine anymore, I still get whiffs of something–whether it’s urine or just the cleaner, I’m not sure. But it smells funky, and I don’t know what to do!

Send your domestic questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

bathroom cleaning

Tips to keep your bathroom squeaky clean!

guide to the laundry room

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The Laundry Room: A Home-Ec 101 Guide

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guide to the laundry room

It’s great to have a house with a laundry room/area and really, those machines do a lot of work for our family. Why then, do so many people hate doing laundry? I, personally, am so glad I don’t have to use a pot of boiling water or a wringer to wash all of our clothes. The following articles will help you take care of your machines and as a result, the clothes that go through the machines. Just click the title of whichever one you want to read more of!

A Quick Tip To Detail Your Washing Machine

This is a special occasion kind of cleaning, perhaps I haven’t done it often enough (judging by the lint), but don’t think I’m trying to get you to add this chore to your already overwhelming to-do list. Maybe detailing your washer should be done whenever you get around to deep cleaning the laundry room.

Finding The Source Of The Mystery Spots On The New Clothes

I don’t use softeners or softener sheets and every piece of clothing we own is being ruined by these grease stains. I have no idea what it is but I can only assume its from the dryer. And I know, with kids, stains are highly likely but even their brand spanking new clothes are coming out with these stains.

How to Reduce Lint in the Laundry Room

Can you please post an article about keeping that nasty linty space along the sides of the washer and dryer clean?

How To Reduce Lint In The Laundry

My husband wears a lot of black shirts. Lately I’ve noticed that his shirts are covered in fuzz and lint. We’ve never really had this problem before. Is the lint coming from my washer or my dryer? Is there anything I can do to reduce the lint?

How to Remove Detergent Build-up From a Washer

I’ve recently noticed a layer of scum around the agitator.  If I were able to get my head in there I’d probably find it throughout.  Is there a way to get this out without scrubbing the thing?

How to Remove Gum from a Dryer

I / my husband / my kid didn’t check their pockets and now my dryer smells minty fresh, but is covered with with gum. How do I get the gum out of the dryer and off of the clothing?

How to Remove Mildew from a Front Loading Washer

Here is a gross one for you ladies. How do I keep my front load washer from mildewing? It smells so nasty.

How to Remove Ring Around the Washer

I’ve used everything possible I can think of to get the inside of my top-loading washer (where the top of the water line usually is) clean, but it’s still icky looking.

Lipstick In The Laundry

Help!! I took clothes out of the wash and found red lipstick in the dryer and all over my clothes.

Make Your Laundry Detergent Stretch Farther

A Tip to stretch your laundry detergent a bit further

Mildew in the Laundry

I forgot about a load of wash in the washing machine. I’ve rewashed the load at least three times now using a total of two gallons of white vinegar but the offensive odor remains.

Quick Tips From Real Life Laundry Experience

I have a few for you this morning and feel free to guess which ones I learned today and which I had done ahead of time.

Why Is There A Greasy Stain In My Washer?

Lately I’ve noticed a greasy ring around the top of my machine, a Whirlpool Ultimate Care II which is a top loader. I know my clothes are *clean* but the washing machine grosses me out.

Send your domestic questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

bedroom and closet cleaning

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keeping the kitchen clean

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Should I Use My Vacuum on Construction Dust Clean-Up?

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Dear Home-Ec 101,
I just found your site. I could totally read it all day! I was not given a lot of training on house keeping and still struggle in my 40s now on how to do things properly.

I was reading your article about cleaning fine dust from construction mess and you said don’t use your regular vacuum. This might sound lazy of me, I do like to cut corners when I can, but will it damage the vacuum to use it for this or just fill up the bag quickly? We just had a couple rooms’ ceilings de-popcornized and we’re doing the rest of the sanding and eventually painting ourselves and it is a big dusty mess. We’ve been using our regular vacuum which seems to be working ok. We have a shop vac but my husband says it’s not very good and I would need to get the fine dust bags.

Signed,
Vacuuming in Vancouver

Heather says

Construction clean up is certainly a pain and you have my sympathy. I’ll be right there with you when the contractor gets started here. (I am a wee bit excited)

When a regular household vacuum cleaner encounters fine dust particles it sucks them up, right along with the bobbie pins and legos, but certainly not with that one tiny piece of paper. No, you must run over that multiple times, pick it up, look at it, and put it back before the vacuum will work on that.

That is the household truth of random paper scraps.

So yes, your regular vacuum will pick up the fine dust.

The problem occurs after the fine dust is inside your vacuum. If you have a high-end vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter the filter will quickly clog and put strain on the motor. Some dust will manage to pass through the filter and it will find its way into the motors.

Small appliance motors and dust do not get along well. The fine particles will quickly cause excessive wear or clog the motor. If you live in a more rural area it may be very difficult to find a qualified repair person and even in an urban environment the repair may be cost prohibitive.


If you have a cheap-o vacuum that you were planning on getting rid of in the very near future. I guess you could use it, just be aware that some of the dust particles will get spewed back into the air each time you use the vacuum until it goes to that great hall closet in the sky.

My advice is still to stick with the fine dust bag in the shop vac.

And, please wear a dust mask while you do the clean-up. Yes, they are very uncomfortable, but your lungs are much more valuable than a small appliance motor and they don’t appreciate the particulates either.

Send your questions to HelpMe@Home-Ec101.com

How to Clean Home Appliances

 

Click for all the cleaning articles on Home Ec 101

Why Is Spring Cleaning a Thing Anyway?

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spring cleaning tradition
Heather says:

Why did Spring Cleaning become a tradition?

In the past many homes were heated with wood fire or coal stoves, both of which produce soot that gets deposited on walls, windows, and flooring. Over the winter this soot and the mud and filth tracked in would build up. Spring cleaning meant opening the windows wide, washing the walls, welcoming in the fresh air and cleaning out the dust, soot, and mud from the winter.

While many newer homes have forced air or other means of heating, it’s still nice to open the windows in the spring and welcome in the new season. Improved heating methods also have done nothing to stop the tracked in mess of mud and salt.

Related:

What is the point of welcome mats, door mats, and runners?

Finally spring cleaning serves as a convenient time to perform annual and semi-annual chores both inside and outside of the home.

  • Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors.
  • Check your fire extinguisher(s).
  • Wash your windows.
  • Rotate mattresses and clean them while you’re at it. You do have a mattress pad, right?

How to clean your mattress and why you should

How to store blankets without inviting mildew

Here at Home-Ec 101 I’ve been giving the site a makeover. I hope you’re enjoying the new more Pinterest friendly graphics. When I started this site, back in the dark ages of ’07, Pinterest didn’t exist. I am not a graphic designer and for years I stressed about how to fix this. Finally, I realized I should hire people who are good at this. HE101 is getting its own Spring Cleaning and articles that have been buried in the depths of the site are getting dusted off, tweaked, and brought out into the light.

My physical home is also getting a makeover and in the next few weeks I should finally have a bathroom that isn’t cringe worthy. Yay! It’s a big project that involves ripping out the subflooring, repairing joists, and adding an extension to a sewage pipe. I’m bringing in a contractor to handle the big stuff, but I still have to finish stripping the wallpaper. Can I tell you how much I hate stripping wallpaper?

While we aren’t a 100% done with the site makeover, if you haven’t looked at the Clean It section of the site, I invite you to take a quick poke around and tell me what you think.

Do you have an opinion on whether or not I should keep the Chore Post-It on the site?

Clean Up with Home Ec 101

Click this picture to read cleaning tips for every room of the house!

guide to spring cleaning

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How To Clean And Shine a Dull, Grimy Kitchen Table

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Dear Home Ec 101,
I love receiving your info! So much fun to read! Anyway, I really need help with the following: I
bought a beautiful dining room table and chairs from a friend with children. Unfortunately, she has never instilled the clean-hands rule with them and the table is sticky and dulled with finger marks every single place hands can reach! I am confident that I could remove them, but no luck and I am at my wit’s end. I have tried Murphy’s Oil Soap, liquid dish washing detergent, vinegar, vinegar and oil. Please help.
I have a formal home and this looks so dirty and tacky that I am embarrassed.
Signed,
Greasy Grimy Finger Prints

How to remove ground in dirt and grime from wooden furniture
Heather says

The clean hands rule is such an uphill battle, I can sympathize with your friend and because my kids leave the frustrating grime, I can sympathize with you, too.

That doesn’t accomplish much, does it?

I am going to make an assumption from the information provided, the hand prints and grime are noticeable because the table is a lighter, blonde wood without a high gloss finish. Do not use the following suggestion for a glossy piece of furniture.

Removing built up dirt and grease from a table has a fairly simple, if tedious solution. Grab a box of baking soda and some cheap vegetable oil, leave the fancy EVOO for another time. You’re also going to need a sponge or rag, a bowl, and a whole lot of patience.

Mix the baking soda and oil in the bowl in a 2:1 ratio. ( For every 1/2 cup of baking soda, you’ll use 1/4 cup of oil, make sense?) Stir to form a paste and apply with a rag or sponge following the grain of the wood.

The baking soda acts as a very mild abrasive and brings the grease into the solution. Remember the adage about like dissolving like? That’s what is happening here, the baking soda can get down into the tiny crevices and bring the bits of greasy dirt into the oil. Tasty!

Once you’ve removed the grimy hand prints from the table, wipe the entire table down with a damp rag with just a tiny bit of soap or cleaning agent like Murphy’s. (I, as most of you are tired of hearing, am a fan of Method’s line, especially the wood cleaner) and then wipe again with a rag that’s just dampened with water.

Now to restore a nice shine to the table, you’ll want to wax or oil it. Paste wax is the easier of the two options. And if you’ve ever waxed a car, you’ve got the basic idea. Wax on, wax off.*

Supplies needed:

Apply the paste in a circular motion, this works the wax into all of the tiny nicks, pores, and cracks in the finish of the table. Allow the wax to dry for a few minutes and then buff the table with the grain rather than in circles.

I know that was a lot of work, but on the bright side, if there aren’t kids in your home, you probably won’t have to repeat the oil and baking soda trick.

Waxing your table every six months or so will help maintain the finish of your table.

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com

*Award yourself One Internet if you said that like Pat Morita, please take care of it, all of my friends live in it.

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