Something Smells Fishy: How to Troubleshoot Odors in your Home

Something Smells Fishy: How to Troubleshoot Odors in your Home

The last thing you want to hear when someone walks into your home is, “What’s that smell?” It’s even worse when you don’t know how to answer the question because you have been wondering the same thing.

If you’ve found yourself in this predicament, it’s time to follow your nose and get to the bottom of “that smell” once and for all. Let’s look at a path to freshness that you can follow in order to identify the source of odors, treat and eliminate them, and prevent them from returning in the future.

Locate the source

“Articulating” with your nose is the best way to begin when attempting to identify the source of an unwanted odor. For instance, if you can describe the smell as smelling musty or like dirty socks, it is likely that you have a mold problem or built-up bacteria in your home.

To find the source of this kind of odor, look in the most likely sources: leaky plumbing, areas with poor ventilation such as the bathroom, and window frames that may have accumulated moisture from the elements.

You might also experience a burning smell. This could be from appliances overheating, a dirty HVAC filter, plastic melting in the ductwork, or exposed electrical wiring throughout the house that’s actually melting the insulation around it.

Perhaps the most dangerous odors are chemical or sulfuric in nature. Hopefully, a rotten egg smell is coming from a running faucet. If it’s not, it could be a gas leak.

There is another common odor, the “old food” smell. To find the source more specifically, take a good whiff from above your garbage disposal and pop your head in the dishwasher. These are the most likely sources for smelly food odors.

Finally, your carpet soaks up more and more odors as time passes, including pet odors and smells left behind from the many feet that traverse it.

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Buy a Gallon of Nok-Out Odor Eliminator NokOut Odor Eliminator

Treat odors accordingly

Once you have honmed in on the sources of odors in your home, you can take action to eliminate these unwelcome smells.

  • Mold—If you have discovered that you are dealing with mold, you first need to repair leaks in your plumbing. Seal your windows and doors as well to keep more moisture from accumulating. Once sources of moisture have been properly sealed, it is time to remove the mold and follow up with SNiPER Disinfectant and Odor Eliminator.
  • Electrical—You should never ignore a burning smell. If you believe it could be electrical, you can troubleshoot by sniffing out each room. Your nose might lead you to an overheated clothes dryer in the laundry room or a very concentrated area along a wall. If it’s either of those, you might file a home warranty claim and have an electrician take a look. If the smell seems to be in every room, it’s likely coming from your HVAC and being pushed through all the vents in your home. Inspect your air filter.
  • Gas—If an egg- or chemical-like smell is coming from your sink or shower, you likely just have hard water. It might be time to flush the water heater or service the water softener. If it’s not the water, it’s in the air, which could mean you have a gas leak. You should address this immediately. After all, carbon monoxide poisoning kills 400 people in the US each year.
  • Food—If the dishwasher or garbage disposal tested positive for “smelly food” odors, it’s again time to break out SNiPER Disinfectant. You can also refresh your dishwasher with vinegar. If you’re already deep cleaning your kitchen, it might be a good time to thoroughly clean and disinfect your refrigerator as well.
  • Carpet—To really be effective at eliminating odors from your carpet, it is important to use a solution specifically designed for not only the source of the odor but the type of carpet you have as well. If spot cleaning and vacuuming won’t do, you have the option of buying or renting a carpet steamer or you can hire a professional to do it for you.

Prevent odors from returning

Now that you have found where the odors in your home were coming from, you can make and execute a plan to prevent them from returning. One way of doing this is to keep up with routine maintenance of your home appliances and systems. Vacuum regularly, replace air filters and smoke detector batteries on a seasonal basis, ventilate rooms through open up windows, and use dehumidifiers or exhaust fans in windowless rooms, like the bathroom or basement.

Resources:

https://www.nokout.com/Odor-Eliminator

https://www.nokout.com/SNiPER-Disinfectant

https://housemethod.com/reviews/best-home-warranty

https://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/household-mold#1

https://www.hannabery.com/faq14.shtml

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_monoxide_poisoning

Remove Urine Odor from Chairs and Cushions

Remove Urine Odor from Chairs and Cushions

Recently I spoke on the phone with a long-time customer of Nok-Out who told me a story from her workplace. They had a temporary worker – a volunteer – who had an untreated incontinence issue. She leaked a little bit of urine somewhat regularly as she moved around in the office area, sitting in different chairs to do different jobs. The cushioning in the chairs was absorbing the urine and once bacteria get a hold of that urine as a food source, the chairs start to stink. The caller was purchasing some Nok-Out to eliminate urine odor from those chairs. It got me to thinking about the difficulty in treating foam cushioning. Here is how to treat smelly cushions for odor – including urine odors.

Problem: Nok-Out works when it comes into direct contact with the odor source. In fact, it can ONLY work, when it is in direct contact with all of the odor source. If you miss a bit of the source, then that missed place will continue to stink. Cushions are thick and are not necessarily as absorbent as a sponge, so it can be a bit of a challenge if urine or other smelly stuff has penetrated deep into the cushioning. How do you get Nok-Out to work for you in this case?

Solution 1

If possible, remove the cushion from the covering. There may be a zipper in the back and if you are lucky, you can pull the foam cushion out and put it back later. You will need a largish tub. It doesn’t necessarily have to be as large as the cushion, but it should be big enough that you can ‘dunk’ large portions of the foam in it. Add water to this tub,and then add Nok-Out. A dilution ratio of 8 water to 1 Nok-Out will work here and will be efficient. Dunk a portion or all of the cushion in your mixture and palm flat, squeeze it down slowly, forcing the air out. Then slowly release the pressure, allowing the diluted Nok-Out mixture to be drawn into the cushion. Do this a couple of times. Treat the entire cushion in this way. This will both rinse away the dried urine and will leave a bit of Nok-Out behind to eliminate the urine odor. Allow it to dry and put the cushion back into its covering. This is the easy, most reliable method.Unfortunately, not all cushions can be removed from the covering. So another plan may be required.

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Solution 2

Even if you can’t get direct access to the foam, you still need to get Nok-Out to penetrate deeply into the cushion to achieve direct contact with any urine source deep in the cushions. But it is not efficient at all to just pour Nok-Out directly on the seat or sofa. We can, however, dilute Nok-Out at a dilution rate ranging from 4 to 1 to the same 8 to 1 in the ‘tub’ method. Put this diluted Nok-Out into a sprayer and go to town on that cushion! Spray heavily. Wait a few minutes for it to be absorbed – and spray again. And maybe again and again as needed, to get this dilute Nok-Out mixture to penetrate deeply. Much like ‘lather, rinse and repeat’, you may have to go through this process more than once to be successful.

Why not just spray the cushions directly with Nok-Out?

You can, but your success will depend on how deeply you can get Nok-Out to penetrate into the cushion material. However deep the urine went, Nok-Out needs to get there also.

Will this work for pet urine also?

Yes indeed. At some level, urine is urine, whether dog, cat, ferret, pot-bellied pig or people. Nok-Out will work as long as it comes into direct contact with the odor source. It will remove ALL the odor if you can get it to come into contact with all the smelly stuff.

Related articles

What ‘Level of Clean’ is right for your home?

What ‘Level of Clean’ is right for your home?

Keeping Your Home Safe – Sanitizing or Disinfecting?

There is nothing like that feeling of satisfaction when you survey your newly cleaned home. But we all know that just because something looks clean, it doesn’t mean that it truly is clean, because germs that can cause illness are all around us. Some germs, such as Salmonella, E. Coli, canine parvovirus or Influenza can persist on hard surfaces all around us at home, at work and at school.  Some can persist on those surfaces for a year or more. For more than a century now, we have been taught to sanitize and clean so as to remain healthy and germ free. Preventing the spread of illness through hard surface disinfection or sanitizing can help keep your family safe and healthy. But what ‘level of clean’ is appropriate for your home?

Here are some tips to help you decide what ‘level of clean’ is appropriate for your home and work place.

What is the difference between Disinfecting and Sanitizing?

A non-technical explanation is that disinfecting means that you kill 99.999% of germs within a certain time limit (usually not exceeding 10 minutes).  Disinfecting ensures a high level of clean. Sanitizing means that you kill 99.9% of germs within 1 minute. The difference between 99.999% and 99.9% may not seem like much to you or me, but a microbiologist will tell you it is a big difference. Certainly it takes more work to achieve disinfection.  Sanitizing, on the other hand, is a level of clean that is practical and realistic and can be achieved in 1 minute.

How do I Know Whether to Disinfect or Sanitize?

You can think of disinfection and sanitizing as 2 points on a continuum. To the right is disinfected. In the middle is sanitized. To the left is dirty. Disinfection will require a high degree of care to achieve. This means more work. Often, however, that level of cleanliness is what is needed. If, for example, you brought home a new puppy and then discovered that the pup had canine parvo virus, you would need to thoroughly disinfect, because that is a really difficult pathogen that can live for a long time on a wall or something, just waiting for the right conditions to activate again.

Your bathroom, for another example, is probably a place where you would want to get closer to disinfection. In other places, ‘sanitizing’ is likely a level of clean that is ‘clean enough’. We’ll never get rid of all the germs in our homes, but we can find the ‘degree of clean’ on that continuum where our families can live safely and happily.

Where Exactly are These Germs?

High-touch areas where many people will put their hands such as door knobs, light switches, computer keyboards and mice, refrigerator door handles, car door handles, telephones (both desktop and hand helds) even pencils and markers! Any surface where many hands touch is a candidate to spread germs.

Kitchen – the cutting board is a surface that needs to be cleaned regularly and well, lest that chicken you cut up spread germs (such as salmonella) to your tomatoes and lettuce. Sanitizing your cutting boards regularly will go a long way towards keeping your family safe. The door handle to your fridge – in addition to the inside – is another area where you can expect that germs will multiply if allowed. The sink drain area, being wet often, is a growth spot for germs. Add faucet handles to the list

Bathroom – as crazy as this may sound, there are studies showing that the bathroom is cleaner than your kitchen. This may or may not be true for you, but in many homes, bathrooms are the subject of frequent and intense cleaning. Especially when those homes have small children. High touch surfaces here would include the toilet flush handle, light switches, the hand towel, handles to the shower and cabinet doors. Don’t forget the shower floor!

Office – how many of you eat or drink at your desk? I know my computer keyboard is too scary to think about. Then there is also office equipment where many hands other than just yours touch.

Classrooms – all it takes is one kid coming to school with the flu, and it can spread rapidly.

Other hard surfaces that need regular cleaning include countertops, toys, changing tables and remote controls.

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You can dilute SNiPER by 6 to 1 for no-rinse Sanitizing.

First, clean any mess that is present. Then just spray dilute SNiPER onto that surface, and walk away. It’s that easy. It’s that effective. Just one minute to a ‘sanitized’ level of clean!

Can I ‘sanitize’ food preparation surfaces such as cutting boards with SNiPER?

Yes, you can. Clean away any debris first, then spray diluted SNiPER onto the board – and walk away allowing it to air dry naturally. It’s that easy. It’s that effective.  Again it is just one minute to a sanitized level of clean.

How do I use SNiPER to disinfect a hard surface?

Pre-Cleaning Instructions:  Remove gross filth and heavy soil by cleaning. Thoroughly wet surfaces, by spray, sponge, mop, or immersion, with SNIPER® on to soiled surfaces then thoroughly clean and wipe away gross filth with sponge or cloth.

Disinfect Hard Non-Porous Surfaces:   For disinfection of pre-cleaned hard non-porous surfaces such as glass, plastic, painted or finished wood, chrome, stainless steel, aluminum, polyurethane coated hardwood floors, glazed ceramic tile, sealed concrete and linoleum floors.

Disinfect Items such as appliances, bed frames, wheelchairs, chairs, counters, tables, doorknobs, cabinet handles, handrails, light switch covers, tubs, showers, toilets, faucets, sinks, waste containers, etc.

Spray SNiPER® at full strength wetting surfaces thoroughly. Allow surfaces to remain visibly wet for 5 minutes for disinfection of bacteria1. Allow surfaces to remain wet for 10 minutes for virus inactivation2.

Notes

1) Allow surfaces to remain visibly wet for 5 minutes for disinfection of Gram-negative bacteria and Gram-positive bacteria, Salmonella enterica ATCC 10708, Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 6538, Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 15442, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) ATCC 33591, Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE) ATCC 51299.

2) Allow surfaces to remain wet for 10 minutes for virus inactivation of Swine Influenza virus, Type A (H1N1)* ATCC VR-
333 and Canine Parvovirus* ATCC VR-953.

Carpet Cleaning with Nok-Out or SNiPER – Pet Odors

Carpet Cleaning with Nok-Out or SNiPER – Pet Odors

We all love our pets (Pets are family!) but sometimes they may leave a little mess for us to clean. If that little mess is a hard surface, then it’s usually not a problem – clean away the urine (or other), spray some Nok-Out right there, and walk away allowing it to air dry, problem solved. But if that surface is soft or thick, (think sofa or carpet), then it becomes a bit more challenging to clean and deodorize pet-related issues. Carpet Cleaning with Nok-Out or SNiPER removes the odor and helps your carpet to smell normal again!  (and may redeem your pet!)

Puddle on the Carpet

Puddles left in the night will be pulled down deep into – and below – the carpet by the force of gravity. When you wake up, there’s a damp spot on top, but the puddle remains below. As it dries, bacteria get a hold of it and, oh my! It can become terribly stinky. When dealing with a puddle, remember that Nok-Out can only do its work, when it is in direct contact with all of the odor source. If the urine is all the way down to the concrete slab or other flooring, then somehow Nok-Out needs to go there as well.

You can spray right on that spot using a trigger sprayer, but the tiny little droplets that come out of the sprayer will just float on the surface of your carpet and not necessarily go down all the way. This is a great time to dilute Nok-Out heavily and just pour it onto that same area. Allow it to sit for 15 – 20 minutes, then get old towels and spread them out. Walk on them over and over to blot up the excess fluid as much as possible. Use a wet vac if you have one – you want to remove as much of that fluid as possible. Put fans on the area to dry it out as quickly as you can.

Hint: Each one of the carpet strands acts like the wick in a candle and as your carpet is drying, it is also pulling up stuff from deep down in your carpet. This is why ‘spots’ sometimes come back after a cleaning – wicking action. The solution is to remove as much of that liquid as you possibly can, and speed the drying, to reduce this wicking behavior.

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Buy a Gallon of Nok-Out Odor Eliminator NokOut Odor Eliminator

Whole Carpet Cleaning – Professional Cleaning

I recently met a nurse who works 12 hour shifts. She couldn’t always get someone to go let her dog out to pee. As you might expect, her carpet had serious odor issues from repeated peeing. She had had the carpet professionally cleaned, but they only really cleaned the surface – above the mat backing for her carpet. The smelly stuff deep down was still there and her apartment still stank terribly. We found her a carpet cleaner who did Hot Water Extraction cleaning and had the right tool for DEEP cleaning. They poured gallons of water on the areas and then vacuumed it all back out using the deep extraction tool. The water coming up was a horrible yellow color! But after many gallons of water, it started to come up clear again – most of the urine was gone.

We finished up by doing one more round of pouring a couple of gallons of water that had a 20% mix of Nok-Out (5 to 1 dilution) and allowed it to sit for 10 minutes, then deep extracted the remaining fluid and put fans on it to speed the drying. Problem solved! Solution: first, clean away the smelly stuff using the deep extraction process. Then get Nok-Out down there where it can come in contact with any remaining stinky stuff.

Whole Carpet Cleaning – DIY

Renting a carpet cleaning machine or using your own. This sometimes-cheaper solution can work, but these little machines don’t really have the powerful vacuum suction needed to accomplish DEEP cleaning. If you have a real problem (like that nurse) then it may be smarter for you to pull back the carpet from the wall, clean under it, spray with Nok-Out or SNiPER thoroughly, put fans on it and allow it to dry before rolling the carpet back down and re-attaching it to the tack strips. You may be able to do this one-half the room at a time without too much pain. If you don’t have deep cleaning capability, then this is a great method to tackle tough urine issues in your carpet on your own.

If your urine issue is not so severe, these rental machines can work well enough to give you a big improvement. Use less detergent than they recommend and clean the carpet. Take special care to rinse away as much as possible and then make several ‘vacuum-only’ passes to remove as much water as possible. While the carpet is still wet, spray Nok-Out on it at a 4 to one dilution. It is much more efficient to spray a wet carpet than a dry one, because when your carpet is wet, the surface tension is broken and Nok-Out can spread across the whole carpet more easily. Put fans on the carpet to speed drying and reduce ‘wicking’.

Regular carpet cleaning can reduce allergens and pollutants in your home. Spraying it with SNiPER Disinfectant/Odor Eliminator immediately after that cleaning can further reduce pathogens and give your home a much improved Indoor Air Quality.

Additional reading:

https://www.nokout.com/Carpet-Odors.html
https://www.nokout.com/How-to-remove-Urine-Odors.html

Are you part of the “Indoor  Generation”?

Are you part of the “Indoor Generation”?

How much time do you spend indoors, versus outdoors?

More and more, we are turning into an “Indoor Generation”. Recent studies tell us that modern people are spending less and less time outdoors. Indoors, we can get everything we need. Failing that, we can have home delivery. The problem with this is – indoor air can be terribly polluted, up to five times as polluted as outdoor air. Whether it is the accumulation of toxins released from cleaning products, or mold spores, or excess humidity or just plain old stale indoor air, our indoor air quality at home is quite likely to be much worse than outdoor air quality. And yet, indoors is where we are spending most of our time.

The Velux Group has released facts from many countries documenting “The Indoor Generation”. For Americans, 25% of the population reported that they spend 21 to 24 hours daily indoors. We get up and go to work – where we are indoors much of the day. Then, when we come home, we spend our “leisure time’ in front of the tv. Then we go to sleep and then do it all over again. Now that it is hot, we stay indoors just as much or more, due to the heat. How much time do you spend indoors versus outdoors?

What’s wrong with spending so much time indoors?

Most people don’t realize how bad our indoor air can be. The EPA publishes info telling us that indoor air can be 2 to 5 times as bad as outdoor air, but 77% of the respondents to this Velux Report survey did not believe that indoor air quality is worse than outdoor air. We have talked often about sources of indoor pollutants in this blog before here and here and here. Aside from the polluted air indoors, there are other health issues with spending so much time indoors. People who spend a lot of time indoors tend to be linked with higher rates of obesity, issues with cholesterol and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, as well as various chronic health concerns, such as asthma, headaches, fatigue, and respiratory inflammation.

There are plenty of studies showing that there are LOTS of benefits, both direct, and indirect, to spending more time outdoors. Sleep, for example. More time spent outdoors exposes you to more bright blue light during the daytime. This stimulates you so that you are more alert and productive and helps to reset your internal circadian clocks so that you sleep better at night. Time spent in sunlight will increase the vitamin D available to your body. Look around while you are out and relax your eyes by looking at far-away objects – rather than that computer screen!

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Buy a Gallon of Nok-Out Odor Eliminator NokOut Odor Eliminator

It is blazing hot outside – I don’t want to go out in it!

Being out in the outdoors doesn’t have to be for hours and hours each day. Try spending a few minutes here and a few minutes there outside. Small things you do can have a bigger impact than you think. Take your lunch out and eat it outdoors. You don’t have to sit in the direct sunlight to enjoy benefits.

What if I just can’t make it out more often?

There are many things you can do to clean up your indoor environment. Check out the 8 Principles of a Healthy Home here: http://blog.nokout.com/ideas-to-help-you-keep-a-healthy-home-in-summer-heat/.

Look in those places under the sink where you keep cleaning products. Read a bit about how to identify what might be a problem here: http://blog.nokout.com/personal-care-products-contribute-to-air-pollution/. Remember that one of the claims-to-fame of Nok-Out and SNiPER is that they are, at the most basic level, all-purpose cleaners that are suitable for casual use around the house and they will not pollute your home.

If learning more about Indoor Air Quality interests you, then visit the EPA website – they have lots of great information for us here: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=.

Other Information Resources

https://www.sott.net/article/385759-The-indoor-generation-A-quarter-of-Americans-spend-all-their-time-indoors

https://www.velux.com/article/2018/indoor-generation-facts-and-figures