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Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.
  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Here’s the facts: if you’ve got any amount of stressed college kids living in any sort of enclosed space, something’s gonna start smelling funky sooner or later. Whether that’s the pizza in the fridge you keep forgetting to eat, the laundry you haven’t had time to do yet, the dirty shoes that just can’t seem to “air out” through your tiny window, the sink full of dirty dishes you keep swearing you’ll get to, or any number of other little sensory details, things start to add up. So the question is: what can you do about it?

Obviously, the first step is to get cleaning. Open the windows, break out the vacuum cleaner, and no, the dishes actually can’t wait until you’ve done your homework. But what now? You’ve baby powdered the living daylights out of your shoes. You took out the trash, and then the other trash that you’d forgotten about, and then the third load of trash you had once you were all done tidying up. You’ve scrubbed the counters shiny enough to make your mother tear up with pride. And yet, you still can’t seem to get rid of that college dorm odor.

So here’s what’s next:

  • Tips and Tricks
  • Candles
  • Sprays and Air Fresheners
  • Essential Oils

Tips and Tricks to Make Your Dorm Smell Amazing

You don’t always need to buy a product; sometimes, some simple cleaning hacks and freshness tools will do the trick.

Nothing says clean and green like plants, and your dorm room’s air quality agrees. Image courtesy of Society19

Before you even start adding more smells to your dorm, there are a couple more things you can do to get rid of as many odors as possible. First off, make sure you’ve really cleaned everything. Are there dishes in the sink? Is there laundry to be done? Is something fishy going on in the fridge? Does the trash reek? Once you’ve got the basic checklist down, there are a few more tricks left.

If part of the smell is coming from shoes or vents, then dryer sheets are your new best friend. Dryer sheets absorb a surprising amount of smell, so putting them in or around your shoes, fans, vents, and etc. can go miles in eliminating unpleasant smells. And they’re still usable afterward!

Another problem with getting rid of dorm room smells is that the best thing to do for smells is to air out the room, and many college dorms don’t have the ample window space or air flow needed to really get that going. Try opening any windows and doors as wide as they’ll go and setting up fans nearby to direct airflow. This won’t necessarily fully get rid of smells, but the increased air blow will help with any stale stenches.

Finally, try getting some plants! Not only are they beautiful, but some plants can drastically reduce room odors and add fresh life to the place. This is true for many plants that are not flowering, and such plants are simple to take care of, no green thumb required. Go get yourself some little green babies for added cleaning backup.

Candles Might Help Smells... But Only for a Short Period of Time

Sure, they’re aesthetically pleasing. But there are plenty of reasons why candles might not be the way to go after all.

Sure, they’re pretty. But they’re not a feasible or effective solution for a dorm room. Image courtesy of Independent.

When it comes to keeping a pleasant scent environment and maintaining an aesthetic, candles seem to be the go-to option. If you’ve ever so much as passed a Yankee Candle in the mall, you know that scented candles come in more shapes, sizes, colors, and smells than most brands of candy. Unfortunately, they come with an equally wide range of draw-backs. 

The most pressing of these issues is that most college dorms do not allow open flames, attended or otherwise. And even if they did, a candle is by no means the sort of thing where you can “set it and forget it.” You have to be conscious of when you lit it, how long it’s been burning, how many more candles you have and thus how fast you’re willing to burn through this one, where it is in relation to vents and flammable objects… the list goes on and on. Plus, the scent given off by candles has a nasty habit of triggering scent-based allergies, or even releasing toxins and messing up indoor air quality. And finally, the smell of a scented candle doesn’t so much mask the bad smells already pleasant in the room. More likely, you’ll end up finding out what happens when you mix the smell of floral mountains with the smell of socks.

Sure, candles are pretty, easy to find, and smell decent. But they don’t really fix the problem, and in most college dorms they’re not even allowed. We’ll have to look for a different solution.

Sprays and Air Fresheners Smell Good, But are They Effective?

Are you really making your dorm room smell better? Or are you just spraying chemicals everywhere?

Instead of fixing the smell, aerosols have a nasty habit of just hiding it. Image courtesy of iStock.

If your college dorm is anything like mine was, sprays seem like everyone’s go-to response. From the esoteric stench of the little spray bottle someone put in the bathroom (which, admittedly, isn’t a bad idea), to the bleached-clean aroma of the cleaner under your sink, to the quote-unquote “floral” spray your roommate insists freshens the place up, it can almost be hard to breathe sometimes.

No, really. It can actually make it hard to breathe. Most aerosol sprays include volatile organic compounds (or VOCs, which, to be fair, sound scarier than they really are) and chemicals like benzene and formaldehyde that can trigger headaches or asthma attacks. What’s more, it can be almost impossible to figure out which sprays might not include harmful chemicals, because the companies are not legally required to disclose all ingredients. It’s not altogether unusual for a company to recall an air freshener because of the potential risks to health.

And if we’re being honest, these smells don’t tend to smell much like they’re supposed to. Actually, sometimes, they don’t even smell like anything. As in, they smell like the absence of any smell. Scientific American explains that some air fresheners contain “nerve deadening chemicals that coat your nasal passage and temporarily block your sense of smell.” That means you haven’t fixed the smell, you’ve just stopped having to deal with it. And when it’s not smell-blocking chemicals, it’s layers of chemicals trying to mask the smell rather than relieve it.

Essential Oils Can Combat Unwanted Smells

Available in a variety of scents, essential oils aren’t only door for your dorm room smell - they’re good for your health, too!

Essential oils come in a wide variety of scents and can have actual beneficial effects on your health. What more could you ask for? Image courtesy of Aroma Talking.

So what can you use that isn’t a safety hazard, doesn’t trigger asthma attacks and headaches, isn’t loaded with sketchy chemicals, doesn’t poorly mask already existing odors, and actually smells like it’s supposed to? Simple: essential oils.

The biggest major draw of essential oils is that, by definition, they smell like they’re supposed to without all of the extraneous additives. That’s because essential oils are made by distilling, cold pressing, or extracting compounds from plants to get a concentrated scent that captures the plants’ “essence.” What’s more, essential oils do more than smell nice. Widely used in aromatherapy, essential oils can have beneficial psychological effects by stimulating the limbic system. Some even have antiviral, antifungal, or antibiotic effects, so they can help combat the actual problem rather than just masking the smell. Smells like lavender and peppermint have been found to reduce headaches and stress. (Do remember that these health benefits apply to humans only. If you have a pet, do not use essential oils as it can be extremely detrimental to their health.)

In summary? Not only do essential oils not pose the same problems as other air fresheners, they actively counter some of those problems.

Of course, essential oils are, by nature, concentrated organic matter, so you can’t just spritz some around your dorm and hope for the best. While they smell significantly better than artificial alternatives, they aren’t as long lasting. You can easily get around this by getting a diffuser. An essential oil diffuser uses water and electricity to disperse small but effective quantities of essential oil into the air, keeping the smell around longer and making sure you get the most bang for your buck.

Introducing: the Portable Ultrasonic Humidifier with Aromatherapy

Finally, the perfect product to get your dorm room smelling fresher than ever!

Portable Ultrasonic Humidifier with Aromatherapy by OCM and Comfort Zone. Get your dorm room smelling better for less than $30!undefined

The Portable Ultrasonic Humidifier with Aromatherapy, offered by OCM, is an ideal pick. Its sleek and simple design, paired with the convenience of portability, means that it is a perfect fit for any dorm room. You get total control over the amount of mist produced and where it’s pointed, and the diffuser is “whisper quiet,” so you can have it on while studying, no problem. Plus, the auto shutoff function means that you really can set it and forget it, and the diffuser won’t waste any power or pose any sort of safety risk. It just turns off when it’s out of water, simple as that. Drop in some stress-relieving lavender or mellow vanilla, or use any other essential oil to get the aromatherapy you deserve and the fresh, clean smell your dorm needs. This ultrasonic diffuser is ideal for treating your dorm room with essential oils that will alleviate anything from stress, to dry skin, to unwanted dorm room odors.

No one should have to be chased out of their own dorm room by the smell. But with a few cleaning tips and tricks and a handy essential oil diffuser, you don’t have to settle for “not bad”; your dorm room could be smelling great in no time.