The sense of smell is an interesting one to consider when organizing your home and office. It’s often ignored because we tend to give much more importance to our visual sense.

We also tend to think about audible clutter and our sense of hearing before smell, and even our sense of touch—ergonomics, the texture of a drawer liner, the heft of a clothes hanger—is considered before smell when organizing. But odor is extremely important in an orderly space.

Have you ever gotten on an elevator with a person with way too much perfume or aftershave on? It’s almost unbearable. It’s aromatic clutter. Odor can signal a hoarding tendency. If you’ve watched any episodes of hoarding shows on reality TV, you have seen the therapists and organizers enter a hoarder’s home holding their noses or with masks over nose and mouth.

The person with too much cologne and the hoarder with too many indoor cats have the same issue: they have grown accustomed to the aromatic clutter and no longer sense it. Odor can become such a problem that it becomes the first, not the final, task an organizer has to handle before getting to the physical clutter. We open windows, turn on fans, find the source of the odors and begin a deep clean. Often, repairs need to be done with regard to plumbing and flooring.

However, for the average person the scent of the home is the cherry on the top of normal clutter clearing and organization. Once surfaces such as counters and desks are cleared, they can be given a thorough cleaning. Floors also need to be clear and easy to sweep and vacuum. Cupboards and closets that are organized are easier to clear and clean periodically.

The refrigerator especially is a place that can build up odors quickly if not kept clean. Make a point of cleaning it weekly, perhaps the day before you buy groceries when it is emptiest.

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Your cleaning supplies will have scents of their own, and I recommend using chemical-free cleansers whenever possible for health and environmental reasons. Also, harsh chemical smells, like bleach, are extremely unpleasant (though sometimes only the tough stuff will do, alas). Consider using unscented products throughout the home or stick with one scent for all your detergents and cleaning supplies (lavender, geranium, citrus or whatever). Too many competing scents create odor clutter.

I’ve started using doTerra products and love them. I’ve begun offering a doTerra consultation as part of my organizing sessions. For that final touch to cleaning and organizing, there are a lot of little tricks to add aroma to your surroundings.

Try spritizing distilled water with a drop of essential oil on the sheets when making the bed. Put a drop of essential oil in with your laundry detergent and a load of wash. A drop of your favorite herb, wood or flower essential oil in a diffuser can subtly scent a whole room. Cedar and lavender in the closet and dresser not only smell fantastic but will help keep moths at bay.

I find that a little bit of delicious scent helps me keep a positive mood and makes me a little more conscious as I go about my day, sort of like burning a candle or incense when meditating. I keep a tiny bottle of doTerra peppermint oil in my purse to roll-on my wrists and throat when I need a little pick me up. It’s really fun to find ways to use the sense of smell to make all kinds of little corners in life a little more pleasant and orderly.

Angela Hoxsey is a professional organizer based in the Napa Valley. For information about her services, go to www.houseinorder.com or call 707-738-4346.

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