What's That Smell?

April 11, 2012

Everyday tasks, such as cooking and cleaning, along with pets, cigarette smoke, and stale indoor air, can all contribute to unpleasant odors throughout your home.  What steps can you take to ensure your home smells clean and fresh? The answer is not found in a spray can with flowers printed on it. For fresh, clean air, the odors in your home need to be neutralized and cleaned instead of covered up by potentially toxic scented deodorizers and air fresheners.

If anyone in your home suffers from asthma or allergies, odors including strong cooking smells, smoke, or chemical fumes can trigger asthmatic or allergic reactions. Even for those who do not have asthma or allergies, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, and respiratory problems may result, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

There are simple steps everyone can take to clean their home's air.  They include:

  • Use exhaust fans in the bath and kitchen to eliminate mold and mildew.
  • Don't use chemicals to clean unless you absolutely have to, and keep them tightly stored.  Use natural cleaning products instead.
  • Keep pet areas clean, and wash their beds regularly to rid your home of that “dog” smell.
  • Open your windows every day, if even for a few minutes when it's very hot or cold, to bring in some fresh air.
  • If you have a basement, keep it dry.

There are mechanical methods of removing odors from your air as well.

  • An air purifier is the most effective method. An air purifier works by removing the odor-causing particles from air that passes through the purifier.  Look for one that has a high Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR).
    • Use activated carbon filters in your purifier, which are the most widely used to remove gases, odors, and chemical vapors. Carbon filters work by actually absorbing the odors and gasses. A carbon filter, however, will not filter dust or other allergens.
    • Alternatively, use a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter, which filters at least 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns.  A HEPA filters weakness against odors lies in the fact that if the filtration media is too small, extremely small particles, such as odors and chemical vapors, can pass through. For maximum effectiveness, use a HEPA filter alongside a carbon filter.
  • A germicidal UV lamp can also destroy micro-organisms that are not captured by an air purifier. A UV lamp is placed inside the air handler and kills micro-organisms as they pass through your home's ventilation system.

Sources: http://www.aaaai.org/home.aspx

Last Updated: July 06, 2023