Monday, February 19, 2007

War Against Odor


My new apartment is fan-freak'n-tastic with one exception - it's reeks of thick, putrid, stale, sticky, grimy, tar-y cigarette smoke. The odor didn't phase me initially, I must have been so excited by the fact I wasn't living in a ghetto this year that I didn't have a chance to pick up on the rank smell. By day two is was clear that leaving the windows open wasn't going to solve the stinking problem.

What does one do to combat residual smoke? I didn't know, so I turned to Google. It turns out washing the walls with vinegar can help substantially. When I do things I like to go all out so I bought an entire arsenal of goods to combat the smell including vinegar, Febreeze, baking soda and an apple. Yes, an apple, according to many tipsters on home remedy sites apples are great at masking unpleasant scents. And no, I'm not just gonna cover up the smell DAD! Having been raised by a man who detests synthetic perfumes, I leaned at an early age that anyone who had an air freshener was simply trying to mask a preexisting stench rather than dealing with the problem directly.


The vinegar deals in part with the problem. Vinegar has the ability to cut through tar in addition to being an antiseptic with an overpowering smell. Never huff the vapors coming off of a fifty-fifty mix of hot water and vinegar - it almost knocked me to the floor. We probably all remember that box of Arm and Hammer mom kept in the fridge, it was odorless and absorbed bad fridge smells. And while I have always believed Febreeze to be a coverup agent, which it is, I was enticed into trying it after reading so many accolades. It actually turns out that Febreeze contains cyclodextrin which is a sugar like compound that traps the odour molecules. Essentially this means the smelly molecules are engulfed by less smelly molecules. Smearing peanut butter around a pickle might have a similar effect, one would no longer smell pickle but it would still be there... mmmmm, peanut-butter pickle... For much better examples and more info on Febreeze see this page.


In conclusion, I spent a morning washing every wall in the house with vinegar. The water in my bucket turned satisfyingly brownish. I did a before and after sniff and can claim the vinegar helped immensely. The bottle of Febreeze didn't last long. I sprayed the stuff on the couches, chairs and blinds - heavily I might add. Again, I can actually say the stuff worked, it certainly didn't eliminate the odor, but it suffocate it quiet well. Finally, I cluster bombed my apartment with slices of apple bowls of baking soda which seem to be working thus far. I'll be back with an odor update come Sunday.

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