Updated with my newest discovery! S.O.S. (Smoke, Odor, Stain Eliminator)
We recently purchased a fixer-upper and unfortunately for me, we had to move in before we could do all of the fixing. This is a great house with good bones, but because of years of neglect, the smells of cigarette smoke, pets, grease, and dampness had seeped into the paint, wood trim, wood cabinets, windows and screens, flooring–everything. I’m especially sensitive to smell and this was for whatever reason you’re needing to get rid of odors, finding how to remove odors and clean the air in your house naturally and permanently can be a major chore.
Through research and trial and error, I have found several ways to get the bad smells out of your home. And none of these methods introduced harmful chemicals into our home! With the exception of synthetic flooring and paint, all of these methods of removing odors are natural.
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So I have made a new discovery! Snap S.O.S – Smoke, Odor, Stain Eliminator is an amazing enzyme cleaner that and is so versatile. It removes most organic stains from carpets, rugs, linens, and clothing. It also eliminates, on contact, odors from stale cigarette and cigar smoke, urine and fecal matter, vomit, food spillage, garbage, cooked foods, perspiration, and pet odor! You can even use it as a room freshener or laundry spot remover. I haven’t tried it on mildew yet, but it’s supposed to be especially effective on that. S.O.S. is non-toxic, biodegradable, phosphate free and hypoallergenic, so it’s safe to use in your home with children, pets–and YOU! Wow, I wish I had known about this when we first bought our house!
I have lots of furniture with stains that I’m going to be testing this stuff on. I also want to try it out on a laminate floor that we can’t get the smoke smell out of. I have nothing to lose, because we will have to replace it if I can’t get the smell out, so I’ll let you know how it all goes. If you already use SOS or if you try it through my link, let me know how it works for you in the comments. I’m excited about this stuff and I would love to hear some testimonials!
Because the carpet was old and went through most of the house, we tore it out. I sprayed spots in the subfloor with vinegar and let it dry, then I sprayed the spots with KILZ PAINT. Some of the spots from spills and pets had minor to medium water damage in the subfloor, so my hope was that the Kilz would both protect the floor and mask any odors. We opted not to replace the laminate floors in the office and guest bedrooms, and despite the cleaning and repainting, those rooms still smell like smoke, so replacing those floors has gone back on our “To Do” list.
Before the new flooring went in, we repainted the entire house, floor to ceiling. We bought a good paint that covered everything in one coat. Before we painted we washed everything first so that any smoke residue might not seep through the paint.
Clean with vinegar.
The fresh paint and new flooring helped some, but there was still a lot to be cleaned that wasn’t painted. Tar from cigarette smoke clung to the windows, screens, wood window trim, baseboards, ceiling fans, bathroom cabinets, and kitchen cabinets and all of them had to be cleaned and scrubbed with vinegar and a thick, rough rag. This helped the smell in the house tremendously–except for the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. We did clean the walls with vinegar before painting, as well.
I will admit it. I thought of this idea on my own. I remembered years ago reading that charcoal would help with the dampness in the basement and places like that and will help to remove the mildew. So I searched online and bought activated charcoal made for aquariums and made my own charcoal pouches by filling my husband’s old socks. But it’s a mess! If you decide to go this route, make sure you do this project outside and be prepared to turn black. I found the method that works best is using a canning funnel to aim the activated charcoal pellets into the socks.
But you don’t have to go that route! Who knew that there were these lovely pre-made activated charcoal pouches all ready for you! The large size is good for a room, the middle size for closets or the pantry where you keep the pet food–and look at these small cute ones–great for cars, drawers, cabinets or your teen’s stinky tennis shoes! And bamboo is one of our easily renewable resources, so these are eco-friendly, too. This charcoal will continue to absorb odors and moisture for up to two years!
Activated Charcoal Pouches!
DIY Charcoal Pouches with Bulk Activated Charcoal
If you have a large house to de-fumigate like I did and a bunch of old socks–and you don’t mind getting dirty–I get it. Here is what you need for that: bulk activated charcoal and a funnel.
Most of us know about the deodorizing effects of baking soda. Arm & Hammer has even made it easy for us by creating refrigerator shelf-sized box with a screen. It works great in the refrigerator. I also used baking soda in my cupboards and it helps a lot. Let me just tell you, I had a lot of cabinets to de-fumigate when we first moved in. Baking soda was the fastest thing for me to start with to deodorize, so I poured it into little dishes and place one on each shelf of my cupboards. So, while it helped to deodorize, I don’t recommend this open bowl method for reasons probably obvious to you. It is no fun to clean up the white powder off of everything when you flip it over. And you will flip it over. Haha! These containers make a lot more sense. It also doesn’t work to put the baking soda in a sock because the texture is too fine and comes through the weave of the sock.
Do you ever buy a new brand of coffee and decide afterward that you hate it? I’ve done this too often. I’m always looking for coffee to taste like the Guatemalan coffee I drank as a new coffee drinker. Mmm. But I digress. I usually let that unwanted coffee hang out in my cupboard just in case I run out of the good stuff, but after a couple months, I realize it’s never going to be used. Instead of throwing it out, I pop it in the freezer section of my frig! For some reason, my freezer collects the smells of leftovers from below in the frig, but this coffee trick works great at eliminating those odors. For some reason, the coffee deodorizes the frig but doesn’t leave behind the smell of coffee, if you’re concerned about that. If you don’t have any old coffee sitting around, you could always buy a bag of the cheap stuff at the dollar store. It works great! Try it!
Sometimes you just have to paint the cabinets!
If you’ve cleaned the walls, cleaned every inch of cabinets, ceiling fans, baseboards and windows, and screens with vinegar, and your space still smells, you may have to paint. That’s our next project. After a few months of using all the above methods plus some, my house smells much better. It’s livable now! But the kitchen and bathroom cabinets are still holding the odor of “old house”, so we will be painting those very soon.
Another thing that helped the smell of our house was to dehumidify our crawl space. The musty smell from the crawl space was seeping into the rest of the house. By drying it out and keeping it dry, that damp old basement smell left. You want to be sure to get a humidifier that is strong enough to dehumidify your whole space and will hold enough of the water it collects so that you don’t have to empty it more than twice per day. We have a large one like the one below which dehumidifies up to 2200 cubic feet.
We borrowed an ozone machine–before we did all of the cleaning. We ran it in room after room for a whole day or more in each. We were just trying to make the house livable and give me hope to carry on.–Really. It was bad! The ozone machine worked great. You can run it and then the air smells clean–well, like ozone–for about a week. Then it dissipates and you can smell the original smells. I think the ozone machine is best for maintaining clean air. According to Ozone Solutions, the Ozone Machine works because the volatile 03 Ozone molecules cling to bacteria, molecules, and spores which cause bad odors changing them into non-odorous molecules. I’ve used one like the first ozone machine. It really is a workhorse. My friend has one with the wood covering, and if you’re going to leave it out to use regularly, this is the one I would want. It just looks like a cool speaker.
Ongoing House Freshness, Deodorizing, and Air Purifying
Once the old smells are gone from your house, you want to keep those smells out. Regular cleaning with vinegar, using charcoal and baking soda deodorizers, dehumidifying damp areas regularly or during rainy seasons, and occasionally (or regularly on a low setting) running an ozone machine in your house will keep those smells at bay. In addition to that, to help keep pollen, pet dander, and dust out of the air, you may want to consider the following:
Hepa Air Purifier
I’ve wanted an air purifier for years and with my dust and ragweed allergies, I don’t know why I’ve put it off. This air purifier sounds amazing and at the right price, so I’m putting it on my wishlist. This one is great because it not only has a filter, but it has charcoal inserts. You already read above about the wonders of charcoal for purifying the air!
Salt lamps are the new rage, but the concept of ionizing the air is not. These beautiful salt rocks, when heated by a low wattage light bulb, not only glow with a pretty golden light, but they release ions into the air. They don’t have a smell, that I’ve noticed, and make a statement in whatever room you put them in. Caution, I gave my husband the kind pictured on the left and they do collect moisture from the air, which drips down. Be sure to set those on a pretty plate or get the kind that already comes in the metal basket.
Like the salt rock lights, beeswax candles work ionizers. The negative ions emitted attach to particles in the air. They look to neutralize and so fall to a grounded object–like the floor which can then be swept or vacuumed up. If you like the smell of honey, these are for you!
Houseplants are not the last on my list, even though they appear last here. We learned in school the benefits of plants because they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the air. I always have plants in my house and this package below provides you with 5 of the most beneficial for releasing the most oxygen into your home.