Smell is often called our most powerful sense. In fact, recent research has shown that humans can distinguish more than 1 trillion smells. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these findings show that our sense of smell is much more discriminating than we once thought. Given our noses’ ability to detect so many scents, it’s not surprising that we are much more comfortable in environments with pleasant odors. After all, good (and bad) smells tell us a lot about the world. And when it comes to our homes, if a space smells fresh, that’s a great sign. If the smell is bad? We feel uneasy. Considering that we spend about 90 percent of our time inside of our homes, it’s important to assess the smells that can affect the indoor air quality and get in the way of a relaxing home environment.
We all fantasize about our homes having a signature scent that makes it feel like a clean, safe sanctuary, but life (and reality) can sometimes get in the way. Whether it’s a funky-smelling washing machine, messy kids, stinky pets, mysterious kitchen smells, or even unwanted moisture, there are so many factors and side effects of everyday life that can fill your home with offensive odors.
Say “No” to Fragranced Air Fresheners & Cleaners
When you notice that an area in your home smells unpleasant, you may be tempted to mask the odor with a sweet-smelling air freshener, fragranced cleaning product, or perhaps a scented candle. However, simply covering up the stench is only a short-term solution, and it won’t be effective for very long. It may also affect your health. While they may smell as fresh as spring flowers, the harmful effects these fragranced products have on our health and the environment would shock you. Here are a few reasons why it’s best to avoid household products with synthetic fragrances:
- “Fragrance” is actually an umbrella term that the cleaning industry uses on ingredient lists that discloses only that there are unnamed chemicals in the product. The truth is that any one artificial fragrance can be made up of potentially hundreds, or even thousands, of different ingredients, including phthalates – which are known to “cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems," – as well as a number of hormone disrupting synthetic musks, including galaxolide, tonalide, musk xylene, and musk ketone.
- Products that contain synthetic fragrances release harmful particles into the air, called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which according to the EPA can cause respiratory irritation, headaches, liver and kidney damage, and even cancer.
- VOCs in household products can affect indoor air quality and can even contribute to outdoor smog.
- According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science, fragrances used in household products are associated with headaches, sneezing, infant diarrhea and vomiting, asthma and exacerbations, chest tightness, wheezing, respiratory irritation, thyroid disorders, irritant and contact dermatitis, and more.
- When consumers use a fragranced product, everyone in the home, including children and pets, will inhale or absorb some of those harsh fragrance chemicals into their bodies.
- And if the product uses an aerosol spray, it also contains propellants like butane and propane, which come with their own list of dangers.
Use Vital Oxide to Destroy Odors
To avoid the noxious chemicals found in fragranced products, start by reducing the exposure in your home. Begin by spring cleaning your cleaning products (now’s the perfect time!), and rid your cupboards of any products that include “fragrance” in the ingredient list. Take heart, Vital Oxide is the only product you need to combat and remove odors. It’s effective on even the harshest, most offensive smells – and works by eliminating odors at a molecular level – not by masking them with fragrance. Vital Oxide is fragrance-free, bleach-free, phthalate-free, VOC-free, and allergen-free. Use Vital Oxide to remove the leftover fish stink from your microwave, neutralize the pet urine smell embedded in your living room carpet, and deodorize the fecal funk in baby’s stinky diaper pail.
While the source of some odors may be obvious, others may not be so easy to pinpoint. If you can’t figure out where that gnarly smell in your home is coming from, check these six usual suspects – you might find the culprit where you least expect it. Once you know where the smell is coming from, you can take action to eliminate the source entirely.
1. Your Front-Load Washer
Most front-load washing machines on the market these days are high-efficiency, meaning they use about 35% less energy and 35% less water than regular washers, which is great for the planet and your wallet. However, there is a downside: like other household appliances that come in constant contact with water, front-load washers are known for their tendency to harbor mold and mildew, which can be unpleasantly pungent (it’s often described as smelling earthy, meaty, or resembling the odor of wet socks) and aggravate allergy and asthma symptoms. Most of the time, the smell comes from the stagnant water trapped in those pesky rubber gaskets. To nix odors coming from your washing machine, spray the gaskets and washer drum door with Vital Oxide at least once a week to keep mold and mildew at bay. Also get into the habit of leaving the washer door open for a few hours following your last load to allow it to thoroughly dry. If the washer has been closed for a while and smells foul, you can add 1 cup of Vital Oxide and run a clean cycle to eliminate it.
And if you do find mold or mildew growing inside your washer? Follow these steps to eliminate it:
- Eliminate all visible mold from the washer using paper towels or a cleaning cloth and a mixture of laundry detergent and water to wipe down affected areas.
- Rinse with water.
- Apply Vital Oxide from a distance of 12 inches until visibly wet.
- Allow to air dry.
2. Your Dishwasher
Just like your washing machine, this is a popular spot for potential mold and the smells that come with it. Your dishwasher’s warm, damp environment is like paradise for mold spores, especially when there’s food residue leftover from your last cycle. Fix it by regularly running an empty dry-heat cycle to flush out the interior. If your silverware basket gets moldy, remove it and scrub it in the kitchen sink with soap and hot water. Spray with Vital Oxide and allow it to air dry before replacing.
To keep your dishwasher from getting smelly in the first place, you should clean it every month or so. It’s as easy as running the dishwasher empty with a cup of Vital Oxide. Also keep in mind that your dishwasher is not a garbage disposal. Rinsing food off of dishes before you load them into the dishwasher will help to prevent odors.
3. Your Trash Can
This one might seem obvious – we all know that garbage stinks. But spills, crumbs, and leaks can build up overtime and form awful odors inside your can that linger long after you take out the trash. To prevent garbage smells from forming in the first place, clean and disinfect both indoor and outdoor garbage cans at least once a month. For lightly soiled cans, wipe down the inside, outside, and lid with a damp paper towel, and then spray with Vital Oxide to disinfect and deodorize. Let air dry before putting in a new garbage bag. Heavily soiled cans should be hosed out and scrubbed with soap and warm water to remove grime. Then spray with Vital Oxide and let air dry.
4. Your Bedding
Bed sheets, pillowcases, and blankets become steeped in our own body oils, sweat, and dirt when we don’t wash them regularly. Gross, right? To keep your bedding fresh, wash it once a week with an Anti-Allergen Laundry Detergent. To sanitize your bedding, add ½ cup to 1 cup (depending on the size of the load) of Vital Oxide along with your detergent.
5. Your Pet’s Bowls
How often do you wash your pet’s bowls? Like most pet owners, probably not enough. Dirty bowls can smell really bad, but worse, they can also harbor dangerous bacteria. According to William Burkholder, DVM, from the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the microbes from your dog’s saliva can be transferred to your dog’s bowl, creating an area where bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, Pasteurella multocida and different species of Corynebacterium, Streptococcus, Enterobacteria, Neisseria, Moraxella, Bacillus, Salmonella, and Pseudomonas can flourish. In fact, a study done by NSF International found that pet food dishes are the fourth germiest item found in the average home.
Be sure to clean your pet’s bowls daily to keep odors (and germs) at bay. Here’s how:
- After each meal, wash food and water dishes with hot, soapy water.
- Spray both bowls with Vital Oxide to kill 99.999% of bacteria, no need to rinse – Vital Oxide is certified “No rinse required on food contact surfaces” by NSF International – simply let air dry before refilling Fido’s bowls.
6. Your Carpet & Rugs
Does your carpet have a mysterious odor? Everyday dirt and grime as well as gunk brought inside on shoes, pet accidents, spilled milk, and pizza grease can leave your carpet looking dirty and smelling worse than awful. While a weekly vacuuming and spot cleaning routine can get rid of crumbs and spills, your carpet and rugs need special attention generally every 12 to 18 months to eliminate odors and germs. According to Matt Bare, carpet merchant at The Home Depot, “It is easy for bacteria and debris to get caught within the carpet’s particles.” You can hire a professional carpet cleaner to get the job done, or DIY by purchasing or renting a hot water vacuum.
Vital Oxide can be used to kill odor causing bacteria, eradicate foul odors, and eradicate allergens found in soft surfaces like carpeting and rugs by eliminating the source. Vital Oxide has the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) Seal of Approval and is safe for use on stain protected carpet and fabric finishes, and can be used as a carpet stain remover and pre-spray, as well as in the tank of hot water vacuum extraction units.