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The Nose Knows: How Scents Impact Our Moods

The Nose Knows: How Scents Impact Our Moods

  • Contributed by Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo

    The salty beach breeze on a hot summer day, an arrangement of fresh cut flowers, mom’s famous chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven: we’ve all experienced certain emotions when we smell these scents, but why? Why do the scents we smell in fleeting moments linger in our memories forever?

    Smell has always been an important sensory function. Centuries ago, humans used to depend on it to survive, trusting their noses to track down enemies and locate food. Fast-forward to present day, and your nose is still intimately linked to your brain. In fact, there is a direct link from your nose to the limbic system, the part of your brain that is responsible for certain emotions and memories. That is why you can smell a scent you haven’t smelled in decades and go right back to how you felt in high school or in your childhood.

    This is why it is essential that the scents we smell in our homes—our safe place and shelter—invoke feelings of warmth, comfort and happiness. But, with the kitchen being a common gathering place, many less-than-favorable smells tend to loiter.

    While it may be tempting to ignore the after-meal smells and hope that they go away on their own, it may not be the optimal solution. Through a process called sensory adaptation, the brain may block out the foul-smelling kitchen odors overtime, but the stench is still present, and guests will be quick to notice.

    So, how can you combat those stinky kitchen odors? Here are three go-to tips to keep a kitchen smelling and feeling fresh and clean:

3 Kitchen Odor Fighting Tips

  • 1. Box It to Block It

    Place a box of baking soda in the fridge each month to help absorb malodorous smells caused by cooking ingredients (hello, onions!) or leftovers.

  • 2. Keep a Lid on It

    Purchase a garbage can with a lid to contain contaminating smells that your trash can produce.

  • 3. Scrub to Serendipity

    Use a good sponge to tackle tough, caked on messes immediately so that odors won’t linger in your sink.

    A good sponge might be the lesser-known kitchen odor fighter, which is why I recently teamed up with Scotch-Brite Brand. Their new Extreme Scrub Sponge eliminates the need to presoak dishes and is treated with a patented antimicrobial property that resists bacterial odors to keep the sponge smelling fresh and clean.

    With four times the scrubbing power of the next leading brand using this sponge can also make the cleaning experience faster, less smelly and more efficient. And the speedier the cleanup, the quicker you can get to feeling relaxed and accomplished, because clean just feels good.

    How else can you use scents in your home to promote happy, comforting feelings? Lavender is a great go-to scent as it evokes feelings of relaxation, calming the mind and body almost instantly. Also, vanilla is known to elevate feelings of joy and relaxation. For those in need of a morning pick-me-up, ditch the coffee and try a whiff of citrus instead! Just breathing in the scent of the fruit has been shown to boost alertness and energy.

    There are quick and easy solutions to get your home smelling its best. One of my favorite tricks is using a simmer pot. The idea is to combine aromatic spices, herbs and fruits with water in a saucepan, and then heat it up on a stovetop to release a heavenly aroma through the house. Here’s a recipe I love:

Simmer Pot Aromatherapy
  • Simmer Pot Aromatherapy


    • 1 lemon, sliced
    • 1 orange, sliced
    • Sprigs of fresh rosemary
    • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
    • 2 cups of water


    Mix the ingredients into a pot.

    Simmer on low on the stovetop. As the water evaporates, feel free to add more.

    The nose knows how powerful scents are and their tendencies to impact our moods. By relying on a mixture of natural remedies, cleaning aids and intuitive household products, such as the Scotch-Brite Extreme Scrub Sponge, it is possible to keep the home smelling warm, fresh and inviting, as it was always intended.

kitchen extreme_scrub_sponge