Whether from being closed up and unoccupied for a while or from an entire season of heat or air conditioning, rooms get stuffy. Air fresheners may make things smell better but even natural ones only add scent to space -- they don't solve the problem.
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Common Causes for the Stuffies
The most common cause for a stuffy room is lack of ventilation. Closed windows and doors and a lack of natural airflow contribute to a sense of stuffiness. Open the windows and let the fresh air in; add a fan to circulate air through the room. Other typical culprits include moisture, mildew or fungus. A surprising source of that stuffy feeling can be things such as dirty laundry, bedding or a cluttered room. Spaces with few windows, or doors that open to interior hallways or rooms rather than outside, are particularly prone to getting stuffy. Check corners, inside cabinets and the carpet for any signs of moisture, fungus or mildew.
Bring on the Clean
If there are no signs of mildew or other problems after airing things out, move on to getting things cleaned up. Remove bedding, pillows or other small fabric items. Clean them if possible; if not, give them a good airing out. Some items can be dried on the air-only setting on a dryer. Gather and wash dirty laundry. Take out the trash. Give the room a thorough cleaning including dusting, vacuuming carpets and washing the drapes or blinds.
Dealing With the Yucky Stuff
If there is mold, mildew or fungus, it's usually because a space has excessive moisture. If things are really bad, call a professional. Mold, mildew and fungus can be dangerous. In most cases, it's a minor problem that can be handled with a thorough cleaning, drying out the space and taking steps to keep it dry. These problems are most common in areas with high humidity and rooms with little to no air circulation, such as bathrooms or basements.
Once the air is cleared, it's easy to keep things fresh. Regularly open windows or doors to let in fresh air. Keep the space clean, and routinely clean and air out draperies, pillows and other fabric items. Run a fan to keep air moving when windows and doors can't be open, and take steps to reduce moisture build up in the space. For spaces such as closets and cupboards, consider placing open boxes of baking soda to help absorb odors.