Even before I my son was born, we became very conscious about our cleaning products because of our (fur)baby, Diplo Dog. Small beings are much more affected by harmful chemicals, than larger beings. However we needed to find ways to neutralize or remove odors in our small living space, because we lived in condo in Jakarta and Manila, and a Wohnung or flat in Berlin. I’d like to share some of the natural and healthier solutions we do at home.
1. Use baking soda or charcoal to absorb smells. An open box of food safe baking soda, will absorb food smells, but is not a replacement for regular cleaning and decluttering of your ref. Wipe down once or twice a month to remove spills, and remove expired food. If you don’t do the latter, then nothing can neutralize that smell. In areas like the bathroom, I like putting charcoal in a glass vase so it looks like decor.
2. Circulate air immediately after 1) waking up in the morning 2) bathing and 3) cooking, by opening ALL doors and windows for 15minutes. Don’t forget the main door because this provides a crosswind to carry out the smells. We do this after waking every morning, to release carbon dioxide that built up in the room, while we were sleeping. It is important each shower, so moisture doesn’t build up in our closets and bathroom, causing molds and mildew on clothing and bags.
3. You can diffuse essential oils for purification (or other essential oil blends), if you like, however the best on fastest way to neutralize odors in my experience is by using Lampe Berger. You can order a starter pack on Amazon for only $30 with lamp and one refill, or via Lazada in Manila or find similar catalytic burners wherever you are located. Lampe Berger was first used in French hospitals to neutralize odors and ionize air particles. It seems pricey, but it lasts a long time and is very effective.
Fragrance lamps do much more than perfume the air …
Fragrance lamps, which operate on the process of catalytic combustion, are the quintessential decorative accessory for indoor air purification. The primary function of these stylish perfume bottles is, first and foremost, to purify the air of offensive household, pet and smoke odors, eliminate bothersome bacteria and germs, and ultimately increase oxygen levels while permeating the air with gentle fragrance. This process sets the function of a fragrance lamp apart from that of candles, reed diffusers, oil burners, incense, room sprays, potpourri and sachets. All other home fragrance products, at best, “mask” existing odors and, in some instances, contribute to additional smoke and other airborne pollutants. – The Complete Insiders Guide to Fragrance Lamps and Oils
This works for even the nastiest of smells – when they clean our grease trap it’s really offensive and a few minutes with the Lampe Berger (used as per instructions) and the smell is removed, instead of masked.
4. Use a fan like Dyson Pure Cool Link which immediately cleans your air and removes odor. I had to buy 2 of these – one for our bedroom and another for the baby’s room – because of the quality of the air here in Manila. The baby and I were having respiratory problems, and we were sick for more than three weeks already so we were desperate.
We love that we can check the quality of the air in our rooms using our smartphones, and don’t even have to be at home. I love the sleep mode and automatic mode which turns on the fan, when it can sense that the air quality is less than idea. It may sound expensive but I can say they are truly worth it, when you are suffering from respiratory problems, or just live in a city with less than ideal air quality. (This is not a sponsored post, I just really love their product)
5. If you must spray, use natural sprays that contain essentials and baking soda to absorb odors. You can mix your own using only thing you already have in your pantry (see recipes here), which is what I did for the almost 7 years that I was living overseas.
For those in Europe, I love Puressentiel an awesome essential oil based air purifying product. And here in the Philippines, we find Messy Bessy products sooo convenient. We love their Disinfectant Aroma Spray, Tea Tree Mold and Mildew Spray and Odor Absorber. I love that you can buy in big 2L containers then refill the smaller spray bottles. So good for the environment! You can also order them on Lazada (but always check seller ratings), or buy them at any Echo Store.
6. Clean your kitchen, stove, ref and other surfaces with water baking soda and a squeeze of lemon as these absorb and neutralize smell, while disinfecting your surfaces, in a food safe manner. Easy recipes here.
7. If you own a Gruenheim Wet and Dry Vacuum or another similar water vacuum, you can place some essential oils like Tea Tree and Eucalyptus while you are cleaning, so that you can freshen your air while cleaning. In between vacuum use, you can turn it to air cleaning mode. It’s very effective.
Gruenheim is a more compact and cheaper, German-made competitor of the famous Rainbow vacuum. Personally I cannot afford the Rainbow as the price for me is too exorbitant. If you are in Manila, you can ask for a free demo of the Gruenheim Vacuum from Stephanie 0915-9116836, she is super nice and not very pushy, unlike other demo givers that I have encountered, which can be quite an uncomfortable experience.
8. Old pipes in a building or home can cause odors to come out of your bathroom drain. We take care of this by placing baking soda dry then pouring boiling water on the drain to melt the fat build up. Read more here. Before attempting to do this, please ask your building maintenance or Hausmeister first, to be sure your pipes wont melt or get damaged.
9. Change handtowels and wiping cloths daily. Throw them into the washing machine at the end of the day. Instead of reusing the next day. This is a breeding ground for bacteria and must be washed daily.
Be thankful for the smell
When there is a smell, your home is telling you something. Usually that means bacteria build up or molds and mildew. Your home is telling you that something needs cleaning. Isn’t that a blessing?
I would love to know other safe and healthy tips you use to remove odors and smells from your own homes, in the comments below!