“Your Home Smells Amazing”
Now that your home is healthy, safe, functional & clutter free, let’s talk about its scent. The smells of your home are an oft-neglected part of its sensory experience, but can make just as much an impression as the sights, for better or worse. This article will discuss advice to have your home smell as well as it can.
Great smelling homes start with ventilation and airflow. Here the simplest advice is also some of the most effective: keep your windows open when weather permits. It’s often thought of as energy inefficient during hot or cold periods, but is in fact the most energy efficient method of removing (not masking) stale, odor-ridden or otherwise unfresh air. Modern, tight home insulation preserves scents indoors just as it does the temperature. A practically free option is to keep all (or most) interior doors open when not needed otherwise, taking advantage of the home’s whole space for circulation. Fans are the obvious next step, and for a tip: a table or floor fan cycles air much more effectively when used in tandem with a window fan. Venting in cool air at night during warmer months can save energy costs as well as keep the home fresher. Where possible, opt for fans that directly fit into a window frame rather than just moving a fan next to the window. Exhaust fans should ideally be present in both the kitchens and bathrooms to vent air directly outside, known otherwise as spot ventilation. You can also use temperature to your advantage with the chimney effect – hot air rises, so try opening the lowest windows (to let cool air in) and the highest windows (to let hot air out).
Of course, the humidity of the air is another important factor. Not only can damp air carry pathogens and cause mold, the extra water helps to capture and amplify the strength of the scents it carries all its own. Keeping your home’s air dry is healthier and fresher, so invest in a dehumidifier where the climate requires it. The surfaces in your home matter as well as the air. Avoid keeping carpets as well as carpeted or otherwise shaggy, dense or porous fabrics and furniture close to wherever scents accumulate to prevent them being captured and kept for far longer than they would be otherwise. Generally speaking, stone, concrete, ceramics or other more solid materials in floors and walls tend to self-insulate from odors as does well-sealed and finished drywall, while unfinished woods and porous, flexible materials like fiberglass tiles or fabrics allow odors to be trapped within the material and should be kept away from odors accordingly.
But what about the scents you WANT in your home? After all, the perfect way to cap off this aspect of the home experience is with pleasant aromas. Note, however, fragrances should be used for aesthetics and enhancing an already healthy, fresh home – it’s healthier and cheaper in the long run to remove undesired scents, not mask them. Incense is an excellent choice when used in moderation. A November 2006 study found that white sage can actually purify the air, and another from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found that frankincense may help alleviate anxiety and depression, a quality it shares with lavender. Always research the effects of your incense before you use them.
But there are far more options than incense: flowers or other fragrant plants can not only enhance the aroma but help to replace carbon dioxide with oxygen. Scented candles, potpourri and scent diffusers are also excellent options, especially when sourced naturally with herbs, spices or essential oils. For an inexpensive diy potpourri, try simmering slices of fruit, herbs and spices such as cloves or cinnamon in a pot for a seasonal scent! Just be sure to use very low heat on your stove top or a crock pot/slow cooker. Create your home’s unique scent by combining your favourite essential oils with clean water in a spray bottle. Try fresh, crisp and light scents like citrus for hotter seasons and warm, earthy or heavier notes such as vanilla for colder temperatures.