DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: My in-laws are big antiquers. Their house is like a museum, which is kind of cool, but not so much when we bring our two toddlers into it. My in-laws are smart enough to have child-proofed the rooms we stay in during visits, but what bothers me is that they have all these expensive Persian carpets, which cost them a small fortune each, but have a really bad odor to them. They said they had them professionally cleaned, but either they got ripped off, or the yucky smell can’t be removed.
I never wanted our kids to be on the floor at my in-law’s when they were babies, and now even though they are toddlers, they still spend as much time on the ground as they do on their feet! I used to bring a couple of old sheets with me to put down in the living room on the carpet there, but it really bugged my mother-in-law, who honestly seems not to smell the stink.
What can I do to make visits less awful? My in-laws, especially my mother-in-law, could not be sweeter or kinder to my children and me. I just don’t like the smell of their house and the fact I am nervous having my kids playing on their stinky carpets. --- CAN’T STAND THE STINK
DEAR CAN’T STAND THE STINK: It’s not impossible your in-laws are so used to the smells in their home that they’re no longer aware of them. Many of us become desensitized to ever-present odors in our environments. I recall my mother saying that after working in a bakery for a few weeks when she was a young woman, she, like her coworkers no longer smelled the delicious scents that originally peaked their hunger when they were new to the job.
Although there are several common household tricks to deodorize musty carpets, your in-laws possibly tried them all before resorting to hiring someone to clean their expensive investments. So they may have done the best they’re able to do to remedy the smelly situation.
As far as what could be done to make your visits more comfortable, perhaps you can ask to open a window or two, when the weather permits. And although it bothered your mother-in-law when you used to put down a covering on her rugs when your children played on the floor, continuing the practice might be worth risking her displeasure for some peace of mind for yourself.