Woman smelling scent of diffuser oils and stick in her house

(Photo by Ground Picture on Shutterstock)

NEW YORK — Home sweet home. Being back home after a vacation not only brings comfort, but familiar calming smells. More than half of Americans (51%) experience “scent-stalgia”, missing the comforting scents of their homes after being away for a couple of days. Interestingly, 66 percent of people said that they can recognize the unique scent of their own home, according to a survey of 2,000 Americans. 

For many, that aroma brings feelings of comfort – a sentiment shared by 77 percent of respondents. Thirty-eight percent of respondents also had a “familiar” feeling. These familiar scents not only included “traditional” aromas like flowers, but also the familiar scent of a freshly cleaned home

Favorite scents at home

When it comes to favorite scents people enjoy at home, floral (17%) and clean or sanitizing (e.g. chlorine bleach) (14%) topped the list, followed by citrus (13%), baked goods (11%) and wood/natural scents (13%).

What’s more, six in 10 Americans, even as adults, are able to describe the scent of their childhood home. Wood/natural scents like cedar, pine and fresh-cut grass are noted as the most popular (50%), followed by clean scents (48%).

The survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of AlEn USA, found that homes have the power to influence moods and emotions mainly on Gen Z (78%) followed by millennials (67%) and Gen X (56%). The top feelings associated with home among all generations were relaxation (38%), happiness (36%) and centeredness (32%). 

Leaving home can be tough for anyone, and the average American begins to miss their home after nearly five days away. It’s the comfortable and cozy feeling they miss the most (54%), followed closely by personal belongings (53%). People inherit scents, items, and crucial life skills and resources from past generations that they want to hold on to as long as possible. 

That’s why household chores like cleaning can bring about a sense of nostalgia for those who learned from their loved ones. Those skills include how to do laundry (54%), cook a certain meal (49%), clean in a specific way (48%) and even how to deep clean (43%). 

“In the wake of the pandemic, most of us are spending more time at home than ever before,” says chief cleaning officer at AlEn USA, Tanu Grewal, in a statement. “How that home smells can significantly impact our emotions and lifestyle, and many of us feel nostalgic for those scents when we’re away. We’ve found that taking on a regular cleaning routine can be one way to keep the house smelling fresh – and give it that signature, reliable scent that’s always comforting to come home to.” 

How to make your home smell better

To boost the scent of their home, the study found that people opened windows for fresh air (47%), cleaned regularly to remove odors (45%) and burned scented candles (43%). The average clean smell lasts almost three days according to the survey. 

Cleaning also has mental health benefits, as the results showed that after cleaning their home respondents are typically left feeling satisfied (49%), productive (42%), relaxed (40%), accomplished (37%) and in control (35%). 

“For many people, cleaning can be a source of calm and relaxation, and aroma absolutely plays into that feeling,” adds Grewal. “When you combine the comforting smell of home with the meditative act of cleaning, it can create an incredible de-stressing effect that leaves you feeling ready to tackle the rest of your day.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population was commissioned by AlEn between April 25 and April 27, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

About Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds' Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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