House Smell

6 Ways to Make Your House Smell Better
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Let's face it. Sometimes the home where eldercare takes place can get a bit . . . smelly. Everything from incontinence accidents, medication side effects, closed windows, poor hygiene, and a penchant for mothballs can conspire to make your house lose its once-cheerful, cozy, clean odors. Time to freshen the air with these strategies:

1. Start the day with clean routines.

Some caregivers find if helpful to weave cleaning right into the fabric of the day. For example, strip the bed right after your loved one rises, then wash the sheets and his or her nightclothes while breakfast is taking place. Doing this often may seem like a drag, but it minimizes odors and becomes a habit the person expects, rather than an opportunity for resistance.

2. Open windows.

Much of the foul odor that can permeate a house comes from its sheer concentration. It's easy to feel reluctant to open windows to heat or cold with a fragile person around, but fresh air is good for everyone. Even in the depths of winter in a cold climate, a few minutes of clearing fresh air can help odors dissipate. Open the windows in the rooms where your loved one isn't.

3. Invite in naturally sweet smells.

Counter the stuffiness with flowers that give off a strong scent, such as gardenia plants or marigolds. Set out bowls of potpourri that you change out regularly (if you can be sure a loved one with dementia won't try to eat any if it). Cut open lemons or limes in the kitchen, squeeze them to release some juice, and leave them out. Stud an orange with cloves for a more decorative spin on the same concept.

4. Make your own deodorizer.

You can find plenty of sprays and artificial scents at stores, but these introduce chemicals into your home that may not be the best for you or your family. Try making your own: Soak a cotton ball in lemon extract, orange extract, vanilla, or peppermint extract, then place it in a clean glass jar with holes punched in the lid. Another trick: Boil cinnamon sticks (or ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or another favorite spice) in water on the stove for a few minutes and let it sit.

5. Don't let urine-stained clothes sit out.

Even small leaks can add up to big odors. Use a covered hamper, and empty it regularly. Even better: Use plastic hygiene bags (also called sanitary disposal bags) that have been treated to mask scents; look for them at hospital-supply stores.

6. Treat yourself.

One caregiver made a daily can of diet soda and a candy bar her personal bribes to herself. She'd tackle the bathroom, then wash her hands and allow herself a portion of her treats before moving onto the next room. Hey, whatever works!

6 months ago, said...

Help..this is all so new to me..my dad was recently put in va medical clinic and my mom came to live with me..I'm about at my wits end..so tired of smelling urine & poo.. she wears pull up and it's a major task at bath time. .help Help..this is all so new to me..my dad was recently put in va medical clinic and my mom came to live with me..I'm about at my wits end..so tired of smelling urine & poo.. she wears pull up and it's a major task at bath time. .help Hide

over 1 year ago, said...

Even though this is an older article that just popped up on my radar, I am reminded of how much some caregivers are doing for their loved ones and I am ashamed that I was feeling overwhelmed. I admire you all and appreciate all your tips. (Besides my older parent) I've had older dogs/cats with problems and have had good luck cleaning up odors/stains with Oxyclean. I prefer the smell to other perfume based odor cleaners including the ones at the petstores. The more you can get up, the... Show more Even though this is an older article that just popped up on my radar, I am reminded of how much some caregivers are doing for their loved ones and I am ashamed that I was feeling overwhelmed. I admire you all and appreciate all your tips. (Besides my older parent) I've had older dogs/cats with problems and have had good luck cleaning up odors/stains with Oxyclean. I prefer the smell to other perfume based odor cleaners including the ones at the petstores. The more you can get up, the less odor. Also I found a great carpet cleaning company. Hide

over 1 year ago, said...

wonderful.....simple and perfect wonderful.....simple and perfect Hide

over 1 year ago, said...

There are more causes listed in this article than I have read anywhere else for the "old person smell" and what to do about it than I have seen anywhere else. Having a number of older relatives, and getting there myself, it is helpful to have more than one way to do reduce it. There are more causes listed in this article than I have read anywhere else for the "old person smell" and what to do about it than I have seen anywhere else. Having a number of older relatives, and getting there myself, it is helpful to have more than one way to do reduce it. Hide

almost 2 years ago, said...

Thxs for most helpful advice. I will save in My favorites. Thxs for most helpful advice. I will save in My favorites. Hide

almost 2 years ago, said...

ALL OF YOUR SUGGESSTIONS WORK SYNERGISTICALLY TOGETHER. AND THE HOUSE SMELLS SO COMFORTING AND NURTURING. WHAT OUTSTANDING RECOMMENDATIONS. I'M A PROFESSIONAL CAREGIVER & USE SOME OF YOUR IDEAS IN MY OWN HOME; ESPECIALLY THE FRAGRANT HOMEMADE DEODORIZERS. ALL OF YOUR SUGGESSTIONS WORK SYNERGISTICALLY TOGETHER. AND THE HOUSE SMELLS SO COMFORTING AND NURTURING. WHAT OUTSTANDING RECOMMENDATIONS. I'M A PROFESSIONAL CAREGIVER & USE SOME OF YOUR IDEAS IN MY OWN HOME; ESPECIALLY THE FRAGRANT HOMEMADE DEODORIZERS. Hide

almost 2 years ago, said...

These are all good ideas. I must admit that the urine smell is the most offensive. These are all good ideas. I must admit that the urine smell is the most offensive. Hide

almost 2 years ago, said...

I had a friend when I was younger who said old people smelled like salt. I never noticed this before and now that I am over 70 years old, I wonder if there is any truth to this. I had a friend when I was younger who said old people smelled like salt. I never noticed this before and now that I am over 70 years old, I wonder if there is any truth to this. Hide

about 2 years ago, said...

I wonder, as I have a Tom cat now browsing around my house, if pet deodorizers would work. I'm going to try:)...as far as your dad, I wouldn't be too concerned with him smelling ( if it weren't for me, our linens would never be cleaned and changed every week, & he would be using the same towel ad infinitum!) You do what your immagination helps with. Can you" take him out" for the afternoon and open all the windows, clean laundry, and scrub with a nice muli purpose cleaner? I have to be... Show more I wonder, as I have a Tom cat now browsing around my house, if pet deodorizers would work. I'm going to try:)...as far as your dad, I wouldn't be too concerned with him smelling ( if it weren't for me, our linens would never be cleaned and changed every week, & he would be using the same towel ad infinitum!) You do what your immagination helps with. Can you" take him out" for the afternoon and open all the windows, clean laundry, and scrub with a nice muli purpose cleaner? I have to be sneaky since my only chance is when she FINALLY goes to bed! (Since when did I go to bed hours before my mother!?) Maybe I should check into an assisted living:O I do love her, but we're all a little frustrated here I guess?? Good luck& prayers! Hide

about 2 years ago, said...

If it weren't for the boiling temperatures my mom keeps her place! If there, at night, I turn on the heat for her bedroom, and open the window 1/4 way. I also use candles when she's not looking since she thinks the whole place will bow up with her miniscule 2L of O2 flowing at night, while the neighbors all smoke! Uggh, my patience in that apartment, plus her ONLY activity besides going to the bathroom ( having pelvic floor surgery next week thank God) and watvhing tv. It's so frustrating... Show more If it weren't for the boiling temperatures my mom keeps her place! If there, at night, I turn on the heat for her bedroom, and open the window 1/4 way. I also use candles when she's not looking since she thinks the whole place will bow up with her miniscule 2L of O2 flowing at night, while the neighbors all smoke! Uggh, my patience in that apartment, plus her ONLY activity besides going to the bathroom ( having pelvic floor surgery next week thank God) and watvhing tv. It's so frustrating watching someone give up so young. I'm her POA, and have been since I was 38.Glad no mothballs but other wives tale issues are just out there. Febreeze trash bags & taking it out everyday helps too. Just swiffering the bathroom and kitchen can help. Hide

about 2 years ago, said...

Great ideas! Great ideas! Hide

about 2 years ago, said...

Yes, my sisters and I have noticed the age related odors in their home...Thank you for addressing this. We are happy that they can be in their own home, but this development needs to be discussed. Wish us luck, as Dad doesn't notice any smells.... Yes, my sisters and I have noticed the age related odors in their home...Thank you for addressing this. We are happy that they can be in their own home, but this development needs to be discussed. Wish us luck, as Dad doesn't notice any smells.... Hide

about 2 years ago, said...

Light a match and wave it around the room. Will eliminate odors from the room immediately - does not just mask odors. (Old nurses trick) Make sure there is no open oxygen tank nearby though!!! Light a match and wave it around the room. Will eliminate odors from the room immediately - does not just mask odors. (Old nurses trick) Make sure there is no open oxygen tank nearby though!!! Hide

about 2 years ago, said...

Helpful other than recommending eating junk food as a reward. Why not recommend something healthier that will not cause one to crash later? (not to mention gain weight) special music or mantra while doing it maybe? Helpful other than recommending eating junk food as a reward.
 Why not recommend something healthier that will not cause one to crash later? (not to mention gain weight) special music or mantra while doing it maybe? Hide

over 2 years ago, said...

4.Make your own deodorizer.I am 67 years old and I have 3 dogs they are my kids and I love them to pieces.But I have a small dog that uses a potty pad and in that spot where it is has a really bad smell.I have shampooed it several times but the smell is still there can you help me?Thanks Cathie 4.Make your own deodorizer.I am 67 years old and I have 3 dogs they are my kids and I love them to pieces.But I have a small dog that uses a potty pad and in that spot where it is has a really bad smell.I have shampooed it several times but the smell is still there can you help me?Thanks Cathie Hide

over 2 years ago, said...

Naturally sweet smells and making your own deodorizers...a lot of older people don't like spending money on things they don't consider to be necessary. Sweet smells uses things from nature and making your own deodorizer is reality inexpensive with a few things people may already have hanging out in their home! Naturally sweet smells and making your own deodorizers...a lot of older people don't like spending money on things they don't consider to be necessary. Sweet smells uses things from nature and making your own deodorizer is reality inexpensive with a few things people may already have hanging out in their home! Hide

over 2 years ago, said...

i am 63 i have lost a lot of my sences so it is a good reminder for me to be more odores consceous i have a lot urnary insues ,thank you very much i am 63 i have lost a lot of my sences so it is a good reminder for me to be more odores consceous i have a lot urnary insues ,thank you very much Hide

over 2 years ago, said...

I am my 85 year old husband's caregiver, so all the information was extremely helpful since our home needs to be refreshed. Thank you for all the great ideas. I am my 85 year old husband's caregiver, so all the information was extremely helpful since our home needs to be refreshed. Thank you for all the great ideas. Hide

over 2 years ago, said...

Wonderful comments. The more natural the better. Also for genral cleaning but 1/2 rubbing alcohol and 1/2 water is a spray bottle and use all round the house, helps with mold and mildew odors Wonderful comments. The more natural the better. Also for genral cleaning but 1/2 rubbing alcohol and 1/2 water is a spray bottle and use all round the house, helps with mold and mildew odors Hide

over 2 years ago, said...

These ideas about the orange, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger would also work in the microwave, for those in assisted living that do not have stoves or burners. Just microwave for a short time. Or, you can take a mason jar, put the half orange, and all the spices in, then cover with white vinegar microwave only until liquid is very hot, but not boiling. Place up on a high shelf, and leave it for about a week. smells disappear, and the orange/spice smell permeates the room,... Show more These ideas about the orange, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger would also work in the microwave, for those in assisted living that do not have stoves or burners. Just microwave for a short time. Or, you can take a mason jar, put the half orange, and all the spices in, then cover with white vinegar microwave only until liquid is very hot, but not boiling. Place up on a high shelf, and leave it for about a week. smells disappear, and the orange/spice smell permeates the room, vinegar smell dissipates in a very short time - under 30 minutes. Hide

over 2 years ago, said...

Gently boil an orange cut in half, cinnamon stick, and about 8 or 10 cloves in water. It really makes the house smell festive. Just don't forget it's boiling! You can boil for a few minutes then turn it off and later turn on again. Gently boil an orange cut in half, cinnamon stick, and about 8 or 10 cloves in water. It really makes the house smell festive. Just don't forget it's boiling! You can boil for a few minutes then turn it off and later turn on again. Hide

about 3 years ago, said...

I put a pot with cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla, fresh grated ginger, sugar, and honey (and of course water) on the stove to a boil then long simmer. I add some tea for about an hour, strain into a pitcher and I have Chai and a nice smelling house. I add a little more water to the remaining spices and let sit on stove without turning the heat on and let it sit there for a day or two before throwing it away. I put a pot with cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla, fresh grated ginger, sugar, and honey (and of course water) on the stove to a boil then long simmer. I add some tea for about an hour, strain into a pitcher and I have Chai and a nice smelling house. I add a little more water to the remaining spices and let sit on stove without turning the heat on and let it sit there for a day or two before throwing it away. Hide