Odor Toolkit – EcoBasics DIY
There is nothing like the heat to ripen odors. That old dog’s bed that hasn’t been washed in half a year suddenly reeks, as does the nearby carpet. The kitchen garbage disposal might begin to smell like an old sponge.
By understanding just a bit of simple chemistry you can neutralize odors on the spot. “Neutralize” is the operative term here because by using the right thing on an odor you actually can make it disappear entirely.
Folk formulas were often intuitively based on the pH scale of acids and alkaline bases. On the pH scale, 7 is neutral, with anything above that being an alkaline base (baking soda, washing soda, borax, and lye are examples), and anything under 7 being an acid (vinegar, lemon juice, silk, and wool, for example). Baking soda would be used in cleaning to neutralize acidic materials, and vinegar would be used for those that were alkaline.
Baking soda and vinegar neutralize each other.
Sometimes it takes some trial and error to find out if you need baking soda or vinegar to neutralize an odor. Sometimes, such as with cat pee, you need to alternate both since the pee is both acidic and alkaline.
As I’ve written about in other blogs, cutting up lemons and simmering them on the stove, is a great way to neutralize alkaline odors in the air, as the acid will neutralize them.
To use baking soda, sprinkle it liberally on areas that emit odors, leave it on for a number of hours (overnight is ideal), and then sweep or vacuum. Placing open boxes of baking soda works well as it adsorbs odors. If you want to remove odors from clothing, soak them in 1 cup of baking soda before washing as usual.
To use vinegar, pour straight white distilled vinegar into a clean spray bottle. Spray on areas and let set. Do not rinse. (Spot test on fabrics.)
Alternate between the two if the odors persist.
By Annie B. Bond, the best-selling and award-winning author of five healthy/green living books, including Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999), Home Enlightenment, Clean & Green (1990), and most recently True Food (National Geographic, 2010 and winner of Gourmand Awards Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World). She has authored literally thousands of articles and was named “the foremost expert on green living” by Body & Soul magazine (2009).Odor Toolkit – EcoBasics DIY,