Cleaning Cheats: If It #SmellsClean, It’s Close Enough to For-Real Clean… Right?


I have a confession to make. Sometimes – not always, but sometimes – I cheat at cleaning. And that includes cleaning the kids. There was one morning not too long ago that I realized my 9-year-old son’s clothing smelled a little… musty. And it was two minutes until the bus was due; no way was I going to be able to get an autistic nine-year-old stripped down and into a different set of clothes in two minutes. (MAYBE in two hours, but definitely not two minutes – once that kid has clothes on – which is a feat in and of itself – he’s not changing). So what did I do?

I sprayed him down with Febreze and sent him on his way.

Not my proudest parenting moment, but with four boys (five if you count my husband – and I do!), “shortcuts” are sometimes necessary. Honestly, I should probably buy stock in Febreze and scented candles and other smells-clean type stuff.

Being cooped up in a house with five boys isn’t too bad in the warmer months; we don’t have central air or anything fancy like that, so there’s usually some air circulation happening. And we have one of those whole-house attic fans, so that really helps.

But now that winter’s coming and we’ll be sealing all the drafty old windows with plastic, I know my fresh-air smelling house is soon to become a boy-smelling house. So we took a little trip to Walmart to buy the necessary supplies to make the house smell like fall instead of like boys.

Walmart Bunny Ears

Why yes, that IS my husband doing bunny ears on the baby. Do you understand now why I count him as one of the children?

Here’s a non-bunny ears picture:

Walmart Shopping

And here’s some of the haul – candles, wax melts, scented oils (yeah, I was going for a fall theme, but I think I actually squealed like a pre-teen at a *insert whichever boy band is currently popular here* concert when I realized there was Snuggle fabric softener scented oil).


This is my “nook.” It looks pretty enclosed, but that’s just an illusion. I basically built myself a cubicle out of bookcases. It’s wide open to the rest of the downstairs and all the stuff that comes with living in a house full of men – stinky shoes, stinky cats, stinky diapers, stinky – well, I don’t even KNOW what that smell is or where it’s coming from, but regardless – just stinky stuff in general.

My Nook

You may notice, if you look closely, an abundance of scented candles scattered about the area. There are a couple on that shelf over the radiator (which is nice because when the radiator kicks on, it works sort of like a wax melter to disperse the scents), and a couple more over on the bookshelf on the far right. There are even more that you can’t see. I think I should probably add “scented candles” to my addiction list (right behind coffee, chocolate, and books).


My nook now smells like Pumpkin Spice Latte. 🙂

The bathroom is, obviously, another problem area. (Again, I remind you that I am the ONLY female in a family of six. Well, one of the two cats is a girl, but that doesn’t count – the cats both do their best to stink the house up too).

Problem solved: The bathroom now smells like clean linen and/or sage & thyme and/or lavender & peach blossom. (Bonus: scented candles are AWESOME bubble bath accompaniments!)


The baby’s bedroom is probably the cleanest room in the whole house, but that doesn’t mean it smells clean. At 18 months old, Taylor is still in diapers. And Taylor is a world-class pooper. We’ve joked that he’s making it his mission to produce more poop than everyone else in the household – combined. (His efforts are both impressive and a bit frightening – I think he may actually be winning).

So, ta-da! Now the baby’s bedroom smells like fabric softener, which I have to say is one of my favorite scents in the whole world. If it wouldn’t be utterly overwhelming, I’d just make everything in the house fabric softener scented, but there is such a thing as olfactory fatigue (the temporary inability to distinguish a particular odor after a prolonged exposure to it). And when the Snuggle scent runs out, I have Sweet Vanilla and Pumpkin to replace it with!


For the hallway, I plugged more good-smells into the weird eye-level outlet right outside the baby’s bedroom (which is across the hall from the nine-year-old’s bedroom, which in turn is between the two teenagers’ bedrooms). So now hopefully the upstairs hall will have the sweet smell of toasted almonds and caramel instead of boy bedroom (which, if you have teenage sons, you probably are all too regretfully aware is a real scent, and not a pleasant one, no matter how clean the bedrooms are).


There are more candles in various locations throughout the house – the shelves over the radiators are actually my favorite location for scented candles, because then we get the scent without the fire. (Fire has to be very closely monitored in a household that includes both a toddler and a child with autism). I also love wax melts that use light bulbs instead of tea candles for that same reason.

So, now my house smells clean (even though it’s still cluttered up with toys and books and papers and markers and the occasional stray sock), with the aromas of almonds and caramel and spices and Snuggle and pumpkins and all sorts of wonderful things. I just may survive another winter in my houseful of boys!

So tell me… what do you do to keep your house smelling clean?

14 thoughts on “Cleaning Cheats: If It #SmellsClean, It’s Close Enough to For-Real Clean… Right?

  1. I live for the smell of Febreze lavendar

  2. Haha, I actually laughed out loud about sending your son off with a spritz of febreze. I have definitely done similar things when in a pinch and my own clothing isn’t smelling too great. And I only have two kids! I love good smelling products too 🙂

  3. I love all things that smell great…. soy melts, candles, sprays, laundry crystals, oils, etc.
    I like to change my scents with the seasons.

  4. I love lighting scented candles but that usually masks the scent!

  5. I like the Snuggle fabric softener scented oil.

  6. My asthma has a sensitivity to room sprays/scented candles, so we use the plug-in scented oils.

  7. My fiance has scented oil plugins that she has around the house and she also cleans the house often so nothing has too much time to get smelly anyway.

  8. I didn’t know they made Snuggle Scented oil, I will be picking some of that up to keep my house smelling fresh this fall.

  9. Loving the Snuggle fabric softener scented oil!

  10. I have to admit that I have used this logic before!

  11. I have to do the same thing around my house. With 3 dogs I need my house not smell like dogs.

  12. I thought these things only happened to me!! I have scented oils and scented candles every where. No matter what I try with a five year old and 11 year old there is always a smell some where. My husband calls me the candle queen.

    • And sometimes (more often than I’d like to admit), you smell something “off” – like someone might have hidden a corn dog under the couch last month or something… but you just can’t find the source no matter HOW hard you look.

  13. I always use smelling oils, and dust alot! 🙂

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