When you walk into your home, it likely smells of very little. If you are like most people, you are probably pleased that your cleanliness has earned you a pleasant-smelling home. However, your home may be more pungent than you realize. You may have gone nose blind.
What Is Nose Blindness?
When you are nose blind, you can no longer detect certain smells (not to be confused with anosmia). In particular, this applies to not being able to smell odors in a place where you spend a substantial amount of time. Despite the name, nose blindness is not typically permanent and is not a medical issue. It is a separate phenomenon than entirely losing your sense of smell.
Instead, people are typically only nose blind to specific smells or mixes in smells. Furthermore, most people experience at least some amount of nose blindness. Although it can be problematic, this condition is a natural part of how our brains operate.
If you ever walk into your home after a vacation and notice a strong smell or see your guests making faces as they enter your house, chances are you are nose blind to an odor usually present. The good news is that, since it is not permanent, you can do something about it.
Is It Really a Big Deal?
Obviously, nose blindness is not as serious a condition as its namesake. You are not losing any of your senses and the problem can be rectified relatively easily.
Nonetheless, it can be an unpleasant issue that most people want to deal with. After all, most people want their homes to smell fresh and welcoming. It is embarrassing to invite people over only to greet them with a foul odor.
If you are nose blind, you cannot tell when your home or other personal space is smelly. That makes it difficult to clean thoroughly and eliminate odors. It is like trying to sweep the floor of invisible dust. Trying to solve the issue of an odor you cannot detect could take a long time and likely be ineffective.
While you do not need to worry about going to the doctor for your nose blindness, it is an unpleasant and potentially embarrassing problem. Fortunately, simply knowing that it is a problem is half the battle.
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How Can You Tell If You Are Nose Blind?
One of the challenges of nose blindness is that it is hard to recognize. Since you cannot smell the odor, it is impossible to know for sure that there is anything you are missing.
If you return home from a vacation and your house seem musty or smelly, that may indicate that you are nose blind. It is possible that your home genuinely smells differently following your vacation, of course. However, the more likely explanation is that you are nose blind and the odor has always been there.
If you are concerned about nose blindness, consider enlisting the help of friends or family members who do not live in your home. You can simply ask them if anything smells unpleasant or musty. Keep in mind that most people try to avoid commenting on other people’s home’s smells. You may want to explain the situation beforehand and make clear that it is okay to say that something stinks.
You may also simply notice that your home smells a little. If you can detect the smell, you should expect that any guests will notice it much more clearly.
What Causes Nose Blindness?
Our sense of smell is achieved with a combination of odor receptors in our noses and the olfactory section of our brain’s limbic system. Odor particles hit the receptors, which send a signal to our brains. This is then interpreted by the brain as the sensation of smell.
When a new odor is introduced in our environment, this sense can be overwhelming. Our noses and brains work hard to identify the odor and respond to it. After all, our senses exist to keep us alive and healthy. Therefore, we notice threatening smells much more than safe ones.
However, very quickly after noticing a new smell, our receptors dull themselves to that scent. This can happen within two breaths for certain odors. We can still detect it, but it is much more muted. Smells dull after the initial detection because we have determined that they are not threatening. Therefore, they do not need to be focused on.
If we experience a smell for a long time, it becomes increasingly muted. Eventually, it reaches a point that we do not notice it anymore. This is nose blindness. Incredibly, that blindness can continue even after leaving the area and returning. In fact, it can take at least several days away from home for nose blindness to lessen significantly enough to notice an odor again.
Why Does Nose Blindness Happen?
Scientists believe that the reason for nose blindness is so that we can detect unexpected smells. If our brains were always focused on the smells that are supposed to be there, we would have less processing power to notice and interpret potentially threatening or dangerous odors.
This was especially important for early humans. For example, if an animal they had killed started smelling differently, that indicated that it may be rotting and unsafe to eat. In other words, detecting the change in odor was more important than simply smelling everything.
Our sense of smell is unique in the extent of its ability to adapt to the environment. However, the same concept is at play with your other senses. For example, if you are sitting and looking at the television, you likely do not truly see anything else in the room until you refocus on it. However, if something moves in the corner of your vision, you would suddenly notice it. The unusual thing about smell is that we are less capable of intentionally refocusing it.
What Are Some Common Smells That Homeowners Miss?
You may be worrying now about which smells you are missing in your home. The good news is that it is nose blindness is most common with a few odors. Therefore, you can easily take some steps to overcome them. These are a few of the most common odors that people are nose blind to:
- Pets: If you own pets, then your home smells like them. It is not necessarily anything as severe such as leavings. However, pet fur, slobber and dander can all leave smells around your home.
- Mustiness: This odor is caused by mold and mildew. Fortunately, you may be able to detect it without smell because the musty air also feels different. This is often the result of excessive humidity in certain areas of the home.
- Bedding and Upholstery: It is not just your pets that leave a smell behind. Ensure to wash bedding regularly. Upholstery can be cleaned less frequently. Consider using a freshening spray every so often on upholstered furniture.
- Refrigerator and Freezer: Your refrigerator and freezer may smell more than you realize. Fortunately, this is mostly limited to the insides. Be careful of how long foods are staying in either unit.
- Strong Food: Some foods smell delicious when they are cooking. However, many strong-smelling foods leave a lingering odor. Fish is a prime example. It may smell great at first but won’t smell as nice for your friend who comes over the next day.
All these odors are typical home smells. No home is completely free of scent. The key to combating them is to ensure that you stay on top of the sources of odors and introduce fresher fragrances to your home. Not only can you go nose blind to bad smells, but also good ones. Ensure you switch out the fragrances you regularly use if you begin not to smell them anymore. Switching up the good fragrances you use in your home is the best way to combat nose blindness to the candles and fragrance oils you use every day.
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What Can You Do About Nose Blindness?
If you are wondering how to get rid of nose blindness, the answer may be disappointing: There is no long-term solution. However, this is better news than you may realize. Our senses of smell have adapted this way for a reason.
While you do not need your sense of smell to keep you safe in the same way that ancient humans did, you would not want to be able to smell everything all the time. Imagine if you could not focus your vision on a single object and instead were focused on everything all the time. It would be overwhelming. Nose blindness is rooted in our need to ignore some information so our brains can concentrate on the important stuff.
However, there are some short-term solutions. First, try getting outside the home a little more often. Enjoying your yard on a nice summer day is a great way to re-sensitize your nose to your home’s odors.
Another option is to increase blood flow. Try running up and down the stairs a few times to get the blood flowing. Exercise can temporarily heighten all your senses.
Interestingly, the only solution that has somewhat long-term results is to be worried about the smell. As mentioned above, humans mentally ignore smells when we determine that they are not a threat. If you are worried about an odor, you will be able to detect it more easily. Of course, this is hard to control and will subside as soon as you are focused on something else or relax.
Beyond these solutions, the best thing you can do is be proactive about addressing the odors in your home. Even if you cannot smell them, you can likely guess what the usual suspects are and ensure that they are kept clean and odor-free.
How Can You Ensure Your Home Always Smells Fresh?
The most important solution to address odors in your home is probably unsurprising: cleaning your house. However, even if you are already cleaning your home regularly does not mean that it is odor-free. Pay attention to the most likely culprits for odor such as pets, trash, food and bedding. Take special precautions for those even if they seem odor-free to you.
For pets, you can lay down blankets on their favorite spots. Also ensure to help them with cleaning themselves if they need it.
If there are any damp areas of your home that may have mold and mildew, try a dehumidifier. Always clean up any mold or mildew you see promptly. It will only get worse if left alone.
Food can be a bit more challenging to deal with. Taking odorous food waste outside quickly is a good first step. Also, consider opening a window or scenting your home after making a strong-smelling meal.
Finally, ensure to wash any bedding at least once per week. For upholstery, you can use a freshening spray to improve the fragrance.
Unfortunately, no matter how much you scrub and clean, it is nearly impossible to completely eliminate odors from a home that people are living in. An alternative solution is to introduce a more pleasant scent into your home.
The good news is that with a home scent diffuser, you can easily give your entire house a fresh smell consistently. This will help you to overcome any of those unpleasant odors you may be nose blind to.
Get a Whole Home Fragrance System
The best answer to how to cure nose blindness is not to get rid of it but to create a more pleasant-smelling environment. The most effective way to spread a nice fragrance throughout your home is with a whole home scent diffuser from Whole Home Scenting.
All you need to do is connect the system to your home’s HVAC ducting and it will spread your chosen fragrance throughout your home. It is a reliable, healthy and enjoyable way to give your home a more welcoming scent.
Smell plays an important role in how we experience an environment. Just like the smell of a fire gives you a cozy feeling, the smell of a fragrant house makes it feel more like home.
Our fragrances range from light, summery options such as “Beach Cove” to warm, cozy choices such as “Apple Crate.” With our broad catalog of premium scents, you can be sure to find something that works for you.
Check out Whole Home Scenting scent diffusers today and choose the perfect fragrance option for your home. This is the most effective way to ensure that your home always smells as pleasant as possible to you and your guests.