The old folks smell is really strong in the house right now. Is there any way to make it better before guests arrive?

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I don't know why, but the smell of the house is stronger right now than it has been. It is the smell that often haunts old people's houses. It's too cold to open the windows to try to air it out. My mother wouldn't be able to tolerate that. Does anyone know a quick fix for the smell? We have guests coming in for Christmas and I don't want them to get too disgusted with the smell.

I wonder why it gets so strong sometimes, while at other times the smell disappears. I read the article about the smell here on AC, but it is still a mystery to me, the way it comes and goes.

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I just spent 8 days in my folks smelly house. I finally managed to trick Dad into getting the carpet cleaned: YEA DAD, I RAN INTO AN OLD BUDDY OF MINE. HE WILL CLEAN YOUR CARPET FOR FREE! It worked. After 8 years, clean carpet.

Also febreeze and arm and hammer carpet fresh. Sprinkle it on, vacume. It not only freshens the rugs it freshens up the musty sweeper bag.

I don't have time for all the Martha Stewart crap. My folks are putting so many chemicals in their bodies anyway, a little bit more in the d*mn carpet won't kill them.
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Excellent ideas from all and even orange peel slices simmering in a pan will create a great smell. Wherever you smell it the strongest, search to see if there isn't some material hidden somewhere that is causing the problem and get a washcloth with vinegar and baking soda and wipe down the surfaces as much as possible. Vinegar is great for removing smells. Don't try spraying a can of air fresher right before your company arrives because it only covers a short period of time and then it will smell again. Try the vinegar, you'll be surprised how quickly it can change the odors in the room. I clean my fridge out with the mix of vinegar, baking soda and water. Mop the floors with it and wipe surfaces. That should do the trick.
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Here's a simmering mix I found for you that sounds nice:
3 cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
1⁄4 cup whole cloves
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 lemon slices, fresh or 2 tablespoons dried lemon peel
2 tablespoons orange peel or 2 tablespoons dried orange peel
1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 quart water
I have read of people using a slow cooker for this if you have one :)
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Yes Garden. I'm up for the Oscar this year. The carpet cleaner was an old buddie, the caregiver lady was an old girlfriend, the car wouldn't start, had long, fake phone conversation with dealer service manager, seems the computer is dead, your lawyer called, need to sign those wills Dad, Ill go to the foot doctor with you, I've got this bad hammer toe, my chain saw is busted, mind if I borrow yours? And the Oscar goes to..........

Yes Fyler! The d*mn Windows! I worked like a dog getting stuck windows open so the freshly cleaned carpet would dry, but Noooooooooooooo! Pops would close them right behind me. God forbid we have a breath of fresh air in the dump. So we sat breathing wet carpet fumes as the furnace ran for 2 days.

And my wife wonders why I'm a crazy grouchy pycho when I get home.
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Baking soda absorbs odours so that is really useful.

You have to establish what the source of the smell is and that could be a myriad of things:

1. Closed rooms and stuffiness - rooms do need to be aired if only for ten minutes so try getting them in another room while you air the place throw the windows open wide and let is blow through - I try to do this on a windy day because I don't have to leave the windows open for so long
2. Cleaning - afraid this is a common one you have to deep clean everything and if you have a steam cleaner that will help kill the bacteria that causes the smells and of your steam cleaner allows you to use a disinfectant so much the better. If not mix disinfectant with water and spritz the area the night before then steam it the following day. Cleaning with soap water and white vinegar is great too.
3. Laundry - I have to make sure Mums clothes are washed every day - she would have them on her back 4 or 5 times before she let me wash them if she had her way. Same with the cushion covers. If the covers come of the cushions of the sofa wash them with a good dose of vinegar - the final rinse with fabric conditioner will remove the smells.
4. They can't smell it but you can - older people lose their sense of smell - heavens Mum says its lucky her poop doesn't smell! So they don't clean anything because they can't smell it is ...well smelly to say the least. I get the bins out and give them a good wash and air dry them in the garden too because thats is a gross smell. If you use bins for incontinence products they really smell rank if you don't cleanse them. I use bleach and water in a big dustbin outside and just drop the bin into it for a couple of hours, even though I use a sanibin which should stop all odours. And it does as long as I give it a good clean now and again
5. Dental Issues - is the smell in the room or is it body odour now I am not just talking incontinence here. Dental smells just add to that elder aroma
6. Dehydration and dry skin - they don't want to go t the bathroom every 5 minutes so they stop drinking enough - ring a bell?
That f itself increases the natural odour of older people as the concentration of body odour increases. Add to that dry skin and scaly skin which sheds and you can see a problem beginning. Urine becomes stronger and smells stronger too. they feel cold because they are dehydrated so they have more heating on and before you know it you have a vicious circle
7. Bathing - they never bathed every day when they were children and sometimes getting them to wash thoroughly is not easy either but it is vital to even begin to clear up general body odour especially in the genital area where it is strongest
8. Medicines - if they are taking meds that have sulphur in them that too can increase that odour.. Which ones have sulphur in them? Well unfortunately some antibiotics, some diuretics and some treatment for diabetes all common on older people have sulphur in them. To say nothing of all those lotions and rubs they put on that reek of menthol
9. Deep Cleaning
Im mentioning it again because many people we things over but if the smell has penetrated then you have to really get down and tackle it head on, anything you shake on a carpet will just add to the problem in the long term. half and half vinegar and water soak the area, then pat dry with a towel well several towels and repeat until there is no smell then put a fresh towel on and weight it down so that any additional moisture is soaked up. If you want it drier quicker you could use a wet and dry vac I think but whatever you do don't rub it - you will just make it worse
10. Potential hoarder?
Old things tend to smell more = think of the musty smell old books have for starters. That doesn't mean you have to throw everything out but try to downsize what you can so there is less to deal with first. The use baking soda to freshen up old books (NOT PRECIOUS EXPENSIVE ONES) Take down those curtains and wash them (and pray they don't fall apart if they have been there for years.

SO now all is clean put some fabric conditioner into a saucepan add quite bit of water and bring it very gently to a simmer. continue to simmer for about 20 minutes making sure it does boil dry and you should have a lovely smelling home for your guests.
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Great idea to tell them a friend will do something for free. I might use that line, or add that I have a coupon to get it done for free.

Hmmmm....I think I'm going to be getting a lot of free coupons for various things that need to be done in the house.
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Maybe something to do with humidity, has it been damp where you are?
There are always nice holiday candles or you could put a nice simmering potpourri on the stove when you expect guests.
I also will pop open the bathroom window, shut the door and run the fan to bring in a little fresh air, but that won't work for you if your mom is in there a lot.
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Jessie make up some de-skunking solution: 1 quart peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda and 1tsp of Dawn blue dish soap. It will foam like mad. Take a stiff brush, dip it in the foam and lightly brush the chair and sofa where she sits. Let that dry and vacuum off any crystals that remain.
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GardenArtist, as an 81 year old myself. like Windyridge said, we are putting so many chemicals in our bodies that a few more won't hurt anyway. Besides that, it isn't though we have a lot of years left to worry about a few more chemicals. Sad but true. I don't care for Fabreeze because it doesn't really clean, it just masks odors for awhile. I like Lysol it kills germs and smells better than Chlorine. Ours is the generation that used to spray DDT around the house to kill flies (that was my job during WWII), Daddy used to "fog" the campground with probably the same stuff, and the first blow dryers had asbestos in the barrels. I remember in the 70's the news told us to look down the barrels of our blowers and if they were white, throw them out because the white was asbestos. I had two of them. We survived mothers smoking and drinking while they were pregnant with us. And as much as you want to, and I do hope my kids want me to stay around for awhile, we only have few more years to live anyway. I had 2 people close to me and a cousin, die in one week this month. 2 more found out they are terminal. As the Lion King movie said, it is the circle of life.
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My Mom had a strange odor in her house that was intermittent and seemingly unidentifiable. Although different that a natural gas odor, she eventually called to gas company to come and check it out. What they found that a critter (also know as a rat) and decided to expire in the vent from the dryer leading to outside of house. In my own house a gecko became trapped in an unused air-conditioner. the odor was only apparent when it became warm in the house or a breeze was blowing in from a window nearby. I also lived in a house once where a mouse died behind the dishwasher. Perhaps any these might be sources. If so, hope you can source and identify as very unhealthy as well as unpleasant to live with.
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