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“With all of my boys,” said my sis Meg, surfacing from her boys’ messy bedroom, “I really should be refreshing our home more often. Between odiferous shoes and sweaty bodies, it’s a true blessing my husband has no sense of smell.” With a sly grin, she added, “Maybe you could do one of your surveys on the subject of air-freshening.”

I can take a hint, and Lord knows my own house could use some freshening, so I quizzed a few friends on how they keep their abodes smelling sweet.

“When my kids were little I used spray fresheners around the house,” explained friend Erica, “but I stopped. I don’t like putting a chemical into the air. Why do we need to breathe that in? Now if I want a nice smell, I just clean. A clean bathroom, a clean kitchen, the house smells nice.”

“I don’t like spraying another odor into the room,” said friend Lissa, “though I guess I’m sold on the marketing because I do use Febreze [Air Effects — $2.50 for 9.7 ounces at Walmart]. Who knows if it’s true, but for a lot of people packed into a small house, Febreze seems to help with the smells.”

According to febreze.com, “It’s like a breath of fresh air because it actually sweeps away stifling odors from the air using our patented technology and leaves only a clean, refreshing scent.” To a mom tired of kid smells, that’s rather enticing.

Another Febreze fan is my gal pal Sarah’s mother-in-law. “Every time she visits, she buys some for us,” Sarah offered. “If someone has an accident, spray some Febreze about. It does take the odor away. For me, spray deodorizers smell too strong, very chemically. I prefer a candle or an essential oil. But when Grandma is in town, out comes the Febreze.”

Chuckling, my cousin Pat said, “Dad always left matches in the bathroom cabinet for all those unfortunate smelly moments that happen on the pot. He’d say, ‘Light it, hold it above the toilet, and then throw it in. The sulfur in the match will help with the odor.’”

Cousin Angela said, “Bath & Body Works sells Brilliant Citrus Odor Neutralizing Refresher [$7.50 for 8 ounces]. It has orange, vanilla, and lavender in it. Our family has been spraying it around the house and loving the results.”

Pal Bernice told me, “I only use essential oils. My husband Frank is quite sensitive to perfumes and strong scents. They make him sneeze. But the essential oils don’t bother him. Lavender [Aura Cacia Lavender Oil — $10.99 for .5 ounce at Henry’s] is the scent I always buy, and I put a few drops of the oil on a cotton ball and drop it in the bathroom trash can. Or I’ll leave a scented ball in the corner of the bedroom. The oil is very concentrated, so the scent lasts a long time. If you put a few drops of oil in your garbage disposal, it will freshen up the disposal and the kitchen. And for my bedroom, I will put a few drops of lavender oil in a spray bottle with water and spritz my pillowcases. Lavender is a relaxing scent, so it’s nice to use in the bedroom.”

Sister Nancy touted the essential oils as well: “I boil a pot of water on the stove and drop some oil into it. It’s great for making a room smell clean or for nasal congestion or for just plain mood-enhancing. Rose Otto Oil [Aura Cacia — $15.99 for .5 ounce at Henry’s] and Sweet Orange [Aura Cacia — $3.79 for .5 ounce at Henry’s] both claim to lift spirits and bring peace.”

My friend Regina said, “A friend gave me essential oils with a warmer. With just a few drops of lavender oil on the dish of the warmer, the whole room would radiate with the aroma. It was so strong, you would only need to use it for a short period [Metal Circle Oil Warmer at Bath & Body Works — $15].”

“Vanilla candles are my choice when I need to freshen a room,” replied sis Cathy. “The movement of the flame and the warmth of the vanilla bring on relaxation.”

My friend Margaret said, “I’ll give you a tip with refreshing the air in your home. Spray some air freshener into the intake vent of the heating or air-conditioning system and it’ll disperse the scent throughout the house. You’ll also use less of the product.”

As for particular sprays, “My husband is not a big fan of most products,” continued Margaret, “but he does love Pure Citrus Air Fresheners [$5.29 for 7 ounces at drugstore.com]. It’s 100 percent natural, and the orange oil powers through the nasty odors that can rise up from a boy’s shoe basket,” she chuckled.

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