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You love spending time in your home, but there’s a problem: It doesn’t smell so good. While you might think it’s just your place, bad smells in your home can happen for all sorts of reasons–and they’re actually more common than you might think. If you’re on a quest to eliminate bad odors in your home and make it smell like a delicious candle once again, here are seven steps you should take:

Determine the source.

Conduct an odor investigation of your home to determine what could be the cause of the smells. Your nose can quickly get used to odors due to a phenomenon called olfactory fatigue, so if you find yourself suddenly losing the smell, you’re probably just adapting to it. Go for a walk around the block to help reset your nose and then come back and track down the smell once more.

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Troubleshoot problem areas.

If you can’t determine the source of the bad smell by your nose alone, you should start by cleaning up known problem areas to see if that improves things. Odor hotspots you should check out include trash cans, dishwasher, garbage disposal, refrigerator, front-loading washing machine, bathroom, old stains and pet beds. Thoroughly clean all these areas and dispose of any trash or debris that could be stinking them up. Odds are that you’ll discover the cause of your bad odor during your cleaning campaign. And if you don’t, you’ve eliminated a lot of possibilities, which will make it easier to determine the source of the smell.

Bust out the blacklight.

If the previous owner or tenant had pets, that could be the source of the smell, although you might not know it just from looking at the rooms. Urine, feces, saliva and other bodily fluids can penetrate the carpet or walls and cause lingering odors even though they’re not visible to the naked eye. If you suspect there are unseen stains in your home, it might be worth getting a blacklight. To use a blacklight, shut off all the lights and close the windows to make the room as dark as possible. Carefully pass the blacklight over the carpet, walls and furniture, looking for patches and discolorations that aren’t visible to the naked eye. You may need to use the blacklight while you treat the stain to ensure you get the whole area.
 
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Choose your cleaning solutions.

If you keep certain common household products on hand, you’ll always be ready to tackle a bad smell. White vinegar is safe for humans and pets and have excellent odor-fighting properties. Baking soda is particularly helpful because it can be sprinkled on things that can’t be washed, such as carpets, and then vacuumed up. You should also keep bleach on hand, which fights odor-causing agents on non-porous surfaces. For example, if your pets constantly pee in the house, it’s worth it to get a dedicated product specifically designed to clean up urine stains.

Optimize your air.

Having subpar air can make your home smell musty and intensify bad odors. Running your air conditioning or heat regularly (depending on the season) will circulate the air and keep it from getting stagnant. You should switch out your furnace filter at least once every three months, and ideally every month. Get your HVAC professionally serviced at least once a year in the spring to ensure that it is well-maintained and that everything is within working order. If you really struggle with the air quality, investing in an air purifier can filter troublesome particles out of the air and help you breathe easier.

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Clean your home regularly.

Cleaning isn’t our favorite thing to do either, but it really will keep your home smelling nicer. You should clean your home weekly, paying special attention to the problem spots outlined above, as well as any other sources of smells that you have identified in your investigations. Vacuum and mop all the floors, and vacuum up the couch and other furniture that gets a lot of use. Wipe up any dust and debris, and treat mold and mildew as you find the early signs–before they can become a problem. You might also find it helpful to clean up after yourself during the week as you cook or do other potentially messy activities.

Add in nice fragrances.

Once you’ve gotten rid of all the bad smells, you can focus on making your home smell good again. Bring in pleasant fragrances by lighting candles or setting up reed diffusers. If you want to celebrate, you can get yourself an electric aroma diffuser that will automatically dispense the fragrance for you. Other fun ways to bring scent into your home include fragrant baking recipes, stovetop potpourri, coffee bean sachets and flower bouquets. These fragrances can’t cover up a truly bad odor, but they can make your home smell a little nicer and make it more appealing to both you and any guests you’re having over.

With some smell sleuthing and the right cleaning chemicals, your house will soon smell much better than it currently does. Be sure to keep cleaning it regularly to maintain your nice smelling home!

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