Without sounding too neurotic I hope, I want to start with pointing out that I am constantly trying to answer these two questions – either a) does my house smell less than ideal as a result of some of the below scenarios or b) does my house smell like hundreds of candles and melts have just been made, i.e. like stepping into a confusing overpowering head spinning circus of scent.
As I have written previously, smell is deeply connected with emotion and a bad smell will inevitably conjure up bad emotions and for the most part, we all think the same things smell bad unless you have some kind of aversion to a particular type of cheese that you haven’t acquired the taste of yet etc. We are abundantly aware of this when it comes to personal deodorants and perfumes, so why should our houses and offices be any different? What’s the point of wearing amazing perfume if your house undermines the fragrance?
Wet and damp laundry is the first extremely common scenario I want to pick on. If you aren’t fortunate enough to live in a large house with a concealed partitioned laundry, and even if you do, the odours from damp laundry in a humid climate like Queensland’s where I live can quickly make themselves at home around the entire home, especially in apartments where we increasingly live. Have you ever walked into someone’s house and been surprised at how bad it smells and can’t quite put your finger on what the smell is? It may be this – piled up damp laundry, like towels, in poorly ventilated spaces. I’m guilty of this, especially at the moment as I suffer from the first world problem of having a broken washing machine, which is actually why I’m writing this article.
Another bad smell I come across sometimes is not from bacterial infestations on laundry but from overpowering air fresheners and fabric softeners. Yes they play a key role in combatting bad smells, but when an entire house smells like this, it becomes a problem. I think those plug-in air fresheners are usually a bad idea, at least when compared to candles and melts (yes I’m biased, but I’m also honest).
A not so obvious one is the way kitchens can smell. I remember walking into a lovely family’s house years ago and the smell of curry (new, old, in between) was absolutely everywhere. It had fused with the fabric of the furniture and probably into the molecular structure of the paint on the walls. It was overpowering and most likely too late for them to do anything about – they probably don’t even notice it and nor would their friends most likely. My husband complains about the way Parmesan cheese smells when I cook with it, but I don’t even notice. I guess it’s just something to keep in mind – cultural sensitivity? Then again, if someone’s coming into my house and I’m cooking for them and they don’t like the smell they should be careful about what they say next.
Another culprit is sweaty sheets and bed linen. Even if you can’t be bothered ironing linen after washing, just wash it regularly and this shouldn’t ever be a problem. It’s an uncomfortable experience being invited into someone’s home and being overcome by a stale, sweaty smell. The cure is simple. No, being time poor isn’t an excuse sorry – it literally takes a few minutes. Strip the bed, shove the linen into the washing machine or basket, put new sheets on, put a new quilt cover on, put new pillow cases on. See? A few minutes.
Dogs are another problem. If your large dog lives inside, it is probably very difficult to keep your house smelling completely fresh unless your dog is washed very frequently and some serious soy wax intervention may be needed.
But how can you identify that your house does in fact smell less than impressive when you’re already acclimatised? I know from making my soy wax candles that after a while I simply become accustomed to the smell and I have to take a break and sniff coffee beans etc to get an accurate gauge on just how intense my candles are going to be.
I think the same is the case when odours creep up on us and we just don’t know how our surroundings smell to an outsider. The example that springs to mind is when the old submariners returned from their voyages and they didn’t understand why people stood back when the hatch doors were opened. Have you ever been to someone’s house and had the thought hit you in the face that “this house has a particular smell!”? I have, many, many times. Often it’s not a bad smell per se but neither is it a smell that I want to include in one of my ranges.
So aside from consciousness of smell and cleanliness, I think a key way to combat all of the above in one hit is to simply mask the odours with (here it comes – the sales pitch) lighting key soy wax candles and using melts as routine. You will seriously be amazed at the difference these make… there’s just something about soy wax.