Does your house smell?

No one can smell their own home because they are so familiar with it that they simply don't notice it anymore. As many TV ads have suggested, the bathroom is often the source of smells but that is so obvious that most people do at least use a toilet block. Other sources of smells can be the kitchen plughole and dishwasher – for obvious reasons – the bin area and, more surprisingly to many, the floor. The problem with flooring is that although we vacuum it and occasionally wash it or steam it, essentially it shares everything you have walked in all day. And then keeps it, deep in the pile.

Prevention isn’t easy

Making people take their shoes off before coming into the house is one way of making sure you don't get street grime in your carpet pile. If you have shaggy rugs or long pile rugs they will tend to pick up bits more readily and then they disappear – this means crumbs and other bits of food as well as (if this isn’t too much information) shed skin, hairs, pet dander and other bits and pieces we really don't want to discuss! Hair and skin doesn’t smell on its own of course, but over time it does what all natural products do; it starts to go ‘off’ and that is when the stale and unpleasant smells begin.

Cure isn’t so hard

If you suspect that your house may be a little niffy, do the vacuum test. Put a new bag in (if appropriate) or empty the dust bin of your cleaner and then vacuum one room – preferably the one you think is the smelliest. Clean rugs if you have hard floors. Then, take the bag or bin outside and give it a good sniff. If it smells musty and generally not very nice, then that is how the room smells too, so you should do something about it. It doesn’t have to be drastic. If you sprinkle long pile rugs or hall runners with some bicarbonate of soda, well rubbed in, this will absorb nasty smells very quickly. You will need to vacuum thoroughly and also shake the rugs to get the powder out of the pile, but it will really freshen them up. Some people like to sprinkle some lavender florets under rugs (only on carpet though and not light colours) so every step releases the scent.