Anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with, and very sensitive to, smells. Smell informs much of our daily routine. Half the products advertised on TV are meant to either add or remove smells from our lives: shoe inserts, odor-block trash can liners, deodorant, shower products, perfume, air fresheners, laundry detergent, household cleaning products, deodorizing kitty litter, etc. The battle between good and bad smells is never ending. Our sense of smell is tied to our memories more closely than any other sense...one whiff of something familiar and a deluge of memories spring up. I find this fascinating.
College made the triumph of good smells nearly impossible. My roommate and I always had the “hangout” room. At any given time there were between 2 and 5 people occupying a space that can only be described as inadequate. Food preparation, dirty dishes, piles of laundry, improper ventilation and the tang of hormonal youth all crashed together in a cacophony of smell. In short, our room generally smelled like week-old spicy Fritos. Not pleasant. In an effort to battle this, every Saturday I would literally fling my roommate and all our moveable furniture out into the hall and give the room a thorough scrubdown. My poor roommate studied for many a test sitting in a beanbag in the hallway. Despite all attempts at keeping things clean, the Frito smell lingered. By junior year we admitted defeat and resorted to buying an air freshener, agreeing that no reed diffuser or potpourri would be up to such a monumental task.
The goal was to buy something subtle yet effective. Something light and clean. Something fresh. Something that wouldn’t give us a headache. We decided on a plug-in with a nice citrus scent. After all, lemon is a known odor absorber, right? And it was quite lovely. For the first minute it was plugged in. Then it became so overpowering we had to unplug it. Left plugged in for more than 10 minutes, we likely would have been knocked unconscious by the scent wave. So we got into a routine of constant plugging and unplugging to keep the Frito smell at bay, an effective but obnoxious plan.
Then, last month I saw it: the answer to our prayers. Nevermind that it was several years too late to do our dorm room any good. Finally, it existed! THE SMALL SPACE AIR FRESHENER. Some R&D team finally got it together and realized that not all spaces are created equal, and therefore all air fresheners must not be equally pungent. Hallelujah.
No longer confined to a dorm room, the task of keeping my living spaces nicely scented has been much easier (with the exception of the apartment I had above a very, very heavy smoker...in that case, charcoal filters and a lot of baking soda were needed). As far as my living space goes, I like light, clean and fresh smells. Ideally, I don’t want my living space to smell like much of anything at all, with perhaps the barest hint of something like fresh laundry or lavender or "crisp bamboo" (thank you Pier 1!). No longer having to battle the spicy Frito smell, I enjoy trying different, more subtle methods of fragrancing my space: reed diffusers, sachets, gel beads, candles (not all at the same time, mind you...subtlety is key).
Out of curiosity, I got online today to look for interesting solutions for small space freshening. I was looking for things that were outside the box, as it were, going beyond the traditional sachet and reed diffuser and such. My favorite idea that I turned up was hanging nice smelling tea bags in the space. I assume the space has to be quite small for this to be effective, so I am planning an experiment involving my closet and some jasmine tea bags. I don't know how it will turn out, but I do know I will never have to go back to the plug-unplug-plug-unplug routine we had in college.
Thank goodness for that.