Home, Clean Home
There's something comforting about a fresh-smelling house
I love the smell of furniture polish in the morning. I love the smell of bathroom scrub, liquid bleach and window cleaner. I’m also good with the smell of fresh spring rain and newly cut grass, but mostly when those aromas are imitated by scented candles in my living room.
To the astonishment of my travel buddies, I once pronounced as we bounced up a winding road in a tour bus in Whitefish, Montana that the air smelled like pine-scented room freshener.
“No,” my friend replied, clearly annoyed with my cluelessness. “Air freshener smells like THIS.”
I like the smell of cleanliness and the ensuing sense of orderliness — it calms me. I like knowing my bed is made and the towels are folded, the dishes put away and the pillows lined up on the couch. This may be the only manifestation of my inner Donna Reed, but I really, really like it when my house is neat and tidy.
That is not to say that I am a slave to the virtues of housekeeping. No working professional without a house staff realistically can be. I cannot even claim that right at this very moment my house could pass the white glove test — if I had any white gloves.
Those who know me well will reinforce that I am not over the top in my desire for my home to smell clean. It is just that a pleasantly aromatic domicile universally indicates to me that the person who resides there has his or her act together. If it smells clean, it must be clean.
And if there is remnant evidence of enough flammable cleaning products lingering in the air, then the person who lives there must also be near-perfect.
So it is a logical assumption then, if my house is clean-smelling, that my house is clean. And if my house is clean, then I am an admirable, honorable person. And the plus side is if anyone should just stop by to say hello, I won’t be embarrassed to have them walk through my kitchen.
But it is not just for external approval that I yearn for the smell of a well-kept abode. It is for selfish reasons. I can relax in the security of my home that is respectfully maintained, self-assured that I can walk into the family room and type something brilliant without having to leap over discarded clothes or piled magazines. And I can stroll through the rooms of my house feeling like the dowager in “Downton Abbey,” if only because we share the same pride of place, if not the priceless antiques.
Perhaps it is primal instinct — and this inclination goes back to the days of cavemen and cavewomen, when someone was probably sweeping the rocky floor so everyone could relax from a day of hunting and being hunted. A person needs a clean place to chill — even a Neanderthal.
It’s true that I just think more clearly when my house is in order — and I mean that literally and figuratively. Maybe new ideas land more easily on a clean, uncluttered surface. I hope so.
Of course I do not mean to imply that there is not a fair amount of stuff lying around my house, the flotsam and jetsam evidence of a busy family. Because there is. It’s just that all the stuff is where it should be.
This sense of order that I demand of myself, I also tend to impose on others.
When I am invited to someone’s house, I am admittedly extremely judgmental. (And I can hear my name being deleted from invitation lists right now.) If it smells good, it makes me happy. If there are no piles of laundry on the floor or muddy shoes on the stairs, then I rush to judgment that the person who lives there lives right.
On the contrary, if the living room resembles a boy’s dorm room — and I know what my own boys’ dorm rooms were like — then I cringe a little. If the kitchen makes my stomach churn, then I cannot relax.
In my 20s, I remember going to a party at the apartment of a coworker and his place was so dirty I got hives. Not kidding. Hives.
There are only so many things on any given day that any of us can control. I understand that I may not be in charge of anything of much consequence when I go out into the world. So I may as well work to make the place where I lay me down to sleep as clean as possible. For me, that has the sweet smell of victory.Edit Module