It’s probably not a shock to you that the year I was teaching a class of all-boy grade 5 students, my room turned sour. The hot Queenslasummer was not my friend, especially on sports days! Sweaty boys, combined with an old, musty carpet sometimes left me gasping for air and reaching for the window latch. Even my students were complaining! I couldn’t deny it, I had a bit of a stinky classroom.
Being a primary teacher comes with many perks. One thing that I didn’t sign up for, however, was a musty, smelly work environment. I needed to do something to fix it, and fast!
When you’re in your classroom for up to 10 hours a day, you really shouldn’t have to put up with a bad smell!
By the end of that year, I’d come up with a few tried and tested solutions! So, whether it’s from busy little bodies, musty carpet or things just needing a bit of a freshen up, I have a few tips and tricks I’d love to share with you to help your room get smelling fresh.
5 Tips for a Fresh Classroom
Sometimes freshening up a smelly classroom can be a hassle, especially if it’s a large space or you have students with allergies to artificial air fresheners. To help you out, I’ve put down a few solutions – there’s something for any classroom, so don’t be afraid to try a few things and see what works best for you and your students.
Natural Air Fresheners
Sometimes all your room needs is a bit of fresh air! Open up the windows and doors and let air circulate as soon as you get to school in the morning.
Leave your doors and windows open as long as you like! If you have fans in your room, turning them on may help to push the stale air out that has gathered overnight.
If that’s not quite enough, how about some flowers? Placing some bouquets of some sweet-smelling flowers around the ventilation areas in your room can help to give things a pleasant smelling aroma.
What’s more, they’re going to make your room look great too! Just be careful of students who may have seasonal allergies.
If fresh flowers aren’t your thing, try some dried potpourri in suitable places around your room.
Lastly, if you’re still looking for something to help filter the air in your room naturally, think about getting some classroom plants. Certain plants are fantastic at absorbing nasty chemicals and smelly air. For more information on plants in the classroom, read our blog Plant Power | 5 Benefits of Plants in the Classroom.
An easy and efficient way to give your room a weekly blast of freshness is to ask each student to wipe down their desks and chairs once a week with some natural cleaner.
Provide your students with a mini spray bottle and a cleaning cloth on a Friday afternoon and watch them do the work for you! Your room will be smelling fresh for the week to come.
My favourite cleaner to use is citrus oil, mixed with a little water. This has the added benefit of removing any nasty germs left on these surfaces at the end of the week.
Educate Your Kids
Sometimes the smell isn’t coming from items in the room but from the students themselves!
As little bodies grow older, they tend to produce some…ahem…interesting aromas. Make sure you educate your students on proper hygiene, especially if they are approaching puberty.
Some things you may need to discuss with your students include:
- the importance of regularly and thoroughly washing. It’s no good if mum and dad make them shower every day if they don’t actually scrub themselves clean!
- wearing fresh clothes, especially if they only have one or two uniforms
- applying deodorant, especially on days when they will be completing physical activity.
Make sure your students leave smelly shoes and bags outside, especially on hot days!
Unfortunately, not every child is taught lessons about proper hygiene at home or has access to toiletries such as deodorant. Puberty can be a touchy subject for shy students as well. Keep some soap and deodorant handy in case you have a child in need, and always approach students about these issues privately to avoid embarrassment.
Possibly the most common form of air-freshening is aromatherapy!
Using essential oils to sweeten the smell in your classroom is a fantastic way to keep things fresh and pleasant.
On top of this, essential oils can also have other added benefits for your students:
- Lavender – calming and relaxing.
- Lemon – eases worry and fear. Energising.
- Mint – boosting mental concentration.
- Bergamot – physical and emotional balance.
To avoid workplace health and safety issues, make sure you purchase a reed diffuser or other non-burning diffuser, such as the one in the image above (helped out with our Thanks For Helping Us Grow Flower Templates) – search for these at your nearest office supplies store! Of course, you can always get a spray air freshener that squirts off at regular intervals throughout the day, however, these usually contain chemicals that some students might be sensitive to, so check your students for allergies before purchasing.
Bring Out the Big Guns
If you’ve tried all of the above tricks, and it’s still not working for you – it may be time to bring out the big guns.
It may be time to get a professional cleaner to find the exact source of the smell and help eradicate it with some deep cleaning.
If it’s been a while since their last clean, musty window coverings, carpet or air conditioning vents won’t be improved with some simple aromatherapy or fresh air. On top of this, these smelly areas can also produce mould and spores that may have negative health effects on your students or yourself. If you think you have something musty in your room that needs a freshen up, chat with your maintenance staff about having it seen to.
You’ll get your room smelling fresh as a daisy in no time!
What are your tricks for freshening up a stinky classroom?
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