You Don’t Smell That Bad

Unless you’re piling dead bodies in your basement like wood for the coming winter, your house doesn’t smell that bad.

Even with the biohazard impact of teenage boys or men over 50 on the household.

The advertising industry would like us to think that our houses stink. We have sprays, potpourri (invented by someone who didn’t have cats or small children in the house), scented candles, scented wax confetti (no lie), and scented oil warmers (see comment above about cats and children).

To what end? What exactly are we trying to hide from ourselves?

Room deodorizing sprays. Okay, okay, that one can in the bathroom gets a pass. But what on earth are you doing in your living room that needs to be masked with the chemically created scent of mountain meadows? Why do the commercials only feature women, and why do they all wear the same sweater set and insane smile as they douse the furniture with fake Tahitian Sunset?

Potpourri. An inoffensive idea, but within a day your house will smell like Grandma’s house. Doesn’t matter if you and the potpourri both are young and hip. It smells like Grandma. Until your cat eats it and then throws it up in your shoe, or your dog eats it and gets diarrhea. Upon which event you will note that chemically saturated dried bits of vegetation do not, in fact, smell better the second time around.

Scented candles. Again, not going to argue with anyone keeping one in the bathroom. And one candle with a light fragrance can be nice. (Fresh linen–I can’t quit you.) But you should never, ever light a scented candle if people are going to be dining soon. Nobody wants a mouthful of mac and cheese while their nose is full of Santa’s Feet. Because that’s what some of those holiday candles smell like. I have a cold, dark space in my soul that especially hates food-scented candles. Want your house to smell like sugar cookies? Bake some.

There’s nothing worse, or more offensive to your olfactory senses, than to enter a home with several scented candles, all different, all burning at once in the same room. Sensible nostrils either slam shut or begin violent sneezing. In a former life, when I was a Pampered Chef consultant, I showed up at someone’s house on a Saturday morning to do the requisite cooking demo/show. I counted at least six different candles burning, and I’m pretty sure I missed some. Not only could I not breathe, but the scented air was coating the inside of my mouth with a waxy film that tasted of Gingermagnoliaspringcookierain. When the hostess went upstairs to change before her guests arrived, I quietly blew out a few of the candles with what felt like my last gasp of breath. Just the ones in the kitchen, where the good smells of food cooking were going to emerge.

Didn’t help. She relit them as soon as she came downstairs.

Scented wax confetti. Saw this one at the Women’s Living Expo. Someone is laughing all the way to the bank. Whether you call it confetti or beans or candle poops, the bottom line is you put small bits of scented wax in a heatproof bowl with a flame or heating element under it. The wax melts, the scent is released. It’s just like a candle, only messier. And a bigger fire hazard.

How about the oil warmers and scent sprayers that plug in to a wall socket? So your room can be freshly inundated even when you aren’t home! Or the ones that spray a scented mist into the air at specific intervals? I saw an ad recently for a ridged, cylindrical room freshener that looked like some kind of alien sex toy. The point of the device was that, being round, it would blast scent into the air when it detected motion coming at it from any direction. Sounds like a horror movie or a defense mechanism. What if you don’t like the scent? You’re screwed, because if you make a move toward this thing it’s going to spray more of the scent you don’t like at you. There’s no sneaking up on it to disengage or remove the batteries–it’s got built-in, 360-degree protection.

If your house smells stale, open a window. Wash the moldering laundry. Change your sheets. Clean out your fridge. Sprinkle baking soda in the stinky footwear. Take out the trash and recycling. Stop buying sardines. Change the litter box. Cultivate some houseplants.  It’s a radical thought, addressing the root cause instead of flailing at the symptoms. But it’s so crazy it just  might work.



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5 responses to “You Don’t Smell That Bad

  1. Kate Sheahan Crawford

    Agree, agree, agree! And, I am keeping the candles we do have in the bathrooms!

  2. I think our society is all about flailing at the symptoms instead of dealing with the root problem. I’ve found I tend to find the smell of someone’s home pleasant, and that each one has its own set of scents: laundry soap, food, etc. Very rarely have I come across a nasty house, and those were always because of animal smells that were out of control or out of control wood smoke. Blech. No amount of scented candlesconfettipotpourrialiensextoys can fix that kinda’ filthy.

  3. I am so with you on getting to the cause. Unfortunately, or fortunately, all those other fixes give me an allergic reaction. Potpourri and perfumed candles are Ughh!
    Baking soda and vinegar can clean almost anything… except my dirty mind.

  4. Sue

    What Shannon said. But no, really, I HEAR you. I say the same about perfume/cologne/aftershave. If I can taste it, it’s too much. The only time we really HAD to use a “distraction scent” was when we had a particularly difficult to potty train foster dog. That is a dire situation.

  5. Nancy - Big Sister

    I guess I’m weird……I don’t use candles but I do have several of the plug ins and I have tart warmers…..I have an artificial Xmas tree (strike 2) and I love the smell of cedar and pine. I’m not trying to hide any smell, I just love the smell of lilacs in the spring…..and fall leaves in the fall. I DO NOT use food smelling ones or vanilla…..hate those….sorry Sis……or I also bake and love those smells.

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