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Home Sweet Home: Coming Clean About Smells

April 04, 1998|From Associated Press

Baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, rubbing alcohol and even cat litter will help rid a home of many odors.

The best way to keep a house smelling fresh, however, is to keep it clean. Air rooms, closets and drawers regularly. Use disinfectants such as chlorine bleach to prevent mildew and old-garbage smell.

Here are some tips on winning the battle against common household odors:

* To rid books of musty odor, store them for a few days in a paper bag filled with crumpled newspaper. The newspaper will absorb the smell. Repeat several times with fresh newspaper until the odor is gone.

* To deodorize a musty trunk, pour cat litter into a large, uncovered coffee can; set it in the trunk, and close the trunk lid. The next day, the odor will be gone.

* Cat litter can eliminate garbage odors too. Sprinkle litter in the bottom of a garbage can to keep it smelling fresh. Change it weekly, or whenever the can gets damp.

* Concrete absorbs odors. The smell of a concrete floor soaked with pet urine can permeate an entire house. To deodorize it, scrub the floor with a solution of half white vinegar and half water. Or put undiluted denatured alcohol in a spray bottle and spray the floor thoroughly.

* For a severe pet urine smell, use a commercial pet odor remover, available at pet stores. If a slight odor lingers even after this treatment, seal the problem area with two coats of shellac.

* To remove a musty odor, sprinkle a hard basement floor with chlorinated lime bleaching powder, available at hardware stores. Once the odor is gone, sweep the powder into a plastic bag, tie the bag and dispose of it. Avoid getting the powder in contact with your skin; wear vinyl gloves.

* The smell of mothballs can linger in an enclosed space for months. Restore a fresh scent by scrubbing the space with a mixture of equal parts of white vinegar or lemon juice and rubbing alcohol. Repeat the procedure if the scent remains.

Many household odors originate in the kitchen.

* To get rid of strong cooking odors, place a pan of white vinegar on the stove and let it simmer.

* To remove fish, garlic and onion odors, wash utensils, pans, cutting boards and even your hands in lemon juice.

* Remove odors and spills inside the refrigerator or freezer using a cloth wrung out in a solution of 2 tablespoons of baking soda to 1 quart of warm water. To keep a refrigerator or freezer odor-free, spread baking soda on a small dish and place it on a shelf.

* Eliminate odor from the garbage disposal by grinding cut-up orange, grapefruit or lemon rinds while flushing the unit with hot water.

* Keep a kitchen sink drain odor-free by running very hot tap water through it after every time you do the dishes. About once a week, throw in a handful of baking soda, followed by hot water. Or pour in 1 cup of vinegar, let it stand for 30 minutes, then run the hot water.

* In a compactor, even a built-in deodorizer can't combat the stench left by tuna and sardine cans. Rinse the cans well before putting them in.

To prevent odor, clean the ram weekly. Unplug the unit, open the door and lift the ram off its track. Scrub the bottom of the ram with detergent and hot water. Finish the job with a disinfectant spray.

* Wash a garbage pail with hot sudsy water to which a little chlorine bleach has been added. After drying, line the pail with a plastic bag to keep it clean.

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