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Is “Unscented” Really Fragrance-Free?

But chemicals aren’t the only culprits. Even strong natural smells -- such as aromatic flowers, for example -- can trigger migraine headaches or asthma attacks in some people. Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as looking for a product that is labeled as fragrance-free.

Unscented or fragrance-free products still may contain a small amount of added fragrance to cover up unpleasant smells, but not enough to have a strong scent.

Some Smell Solutions

So what if you want to avoid problems from synthetic or other strong fragrance? There are several ways to eliminate smells in a healthier fashion. You may want to start with some products that can be heavily scented, like laundry detergents and air fresheners. Here are some more natural, possibly less-irritating methods to rid the air of unwanted odors:

•      Baking soda. You can place a box in your fridge and freezer to soak up nasty smells. But this standby deodorizer -- which chemically neutralizes odors instead of covering them up -- can also be put to work in litter boxes, garbage cans, kitchen and bathroom drains, smelly sneakers, musty cars, and carpets to absorb smells before you vacuum.

•      White distilled vinegar. The smell may be strong the first few moments you apply it, but it quickly dissipates. The uses for this all-natural product range from cleaning bathrooms and kitchens to washing windows and hardwood floors. Just dilute it and use as you would a typical household cleanser. You can also put a bowl on your counter to eliminate smells, such as when you’ve burned something in the kitchen.

•      Citrus. When there’s something stinky in your sink, cut up a lemon or orange -- or simply toss the rinds down the drain -- and turn on the garbage disposal. For odors elsewhere, slice up a few lemons and place them in a bowl in the kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room. The citrus smell will help freshen the room and cover unpleasant odors.

•      Coffee grounds. Put a bowl of dried coffee grounds in your refrigerator or freezer or set them on your kitchen sink to absorb distasteful smells. Make a sachet with coffee grounds in some nylons or cheesecloth and hang it in your closet or other musty places.

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