Ben Zabel Household Odour Drives Aussies Scents-less Interview

Ben Zabel Household Odour Drives Aussies Scents-less Interview

Ben Zabel Household Odour Drives Aussies Scents-less Interview

It is official! Odours are a source of conflict in 78% of Australian homes, with 45% saying that arguments are caused on average at least once a month!

The nationwide survey was conducted by global air care brand, Ambi Pur, the official odour eliminator in this year's Big Brother House. Odours that cause the most arguments in Aussie households include, breaking wind (34%), smelly garbage (30%) and bathroom smells (25%).

To help clear the air on this pressing problem, Ambi Pur has recruited ex-Big Brother housemate Ben Zabel (otherwise known as Ben from Brisbane) to share his two -scents' worth.

'After weeks in the Big Brother house with all the housemates I was amazed at how quickly bad odours could transform the mood. Between Tim's flatulence, the boys – Caleb, Matt, Ed and Drew – stinking out the bathroom and Mr Clooney using the house as a giant toilet, I would have died in there without Ambi Pur. It was the secret to my peace-making skills. Just eliminate the odour and everyone calms down with a breath of fresh scent," Ben revealed.

Supporting Ben's claims, as many as 95% of those surveyed by Ambi Pur said they were bothered by bad smells in the home, including 39% that find smells very uncomfortable and 11% that are so badly affected that it makes them angry. Participants of the survey were cited as feeling irritated by bad smells deeming them both offensive (25%) and hard to avoid (24%).

Leading Psychologist Jacqui Manning supports the rationale behind these findings. 'Odours have an intense effect on our mood because of the structure of our brain, and how close our olfactory nerve is to the emotion processing part of our brain. This means we are quick to react to odour, both in a positive and a negative way. If you are surrounded by bad odour, it may feel like you can't escape, triggering your -fight or flight' response, which may heighten any tension or anger you're feeling. Further to this, odours have a powerful ability to remind us of previous experiences, so if you're remembering something awful that happened, you're going to feel worse and be more likely to lash out at those around you," said Jacqui.

According to the survey, the most common way to resolve an odour issue in the home is for someone to take it upon themselves to fix the problem and thereby avoid conflict (50%). The next most common course of action is to do nothing (27%). In shared households, it is more common for odour problems to prompt the introduction of a cleaning roster (30%) or a house meeting (12%). 'During my time in the Big Brother house some of the biggest arguments we had were over odours. Arguments about housemate's casual personal hygiene habits, dirty dishes and smelly bathrooms happened pretty much every day," stated Ben.

Ambi Pur is once again helping the Big Brother Housemates breathe happy this season by eliminating odours and freshening the air. Throughout the series Ben will be acting as the Ambi Adjudicator, providing a regular commentary on the Big Brother website as he tries to #cleartheair by discussing the highs and lows of all the arguments and action in the Big Brother house (insert URL to column).

Other findings from the Ambi Pur research include:
Those living with their parents are more likely to rate odours from the bathroom (38%) as a significant cause of argument, while those living in a house share arrangement would appear more tolerant of breaking wind (19%) and more likely to fly off the handle because smelly garbage bags haven't been taken out (43%)
Men (80%) are considered responsible for most smells in the home. There is little doubt about this fact among women, with 85% blaming men for most smells in the home and even 74% of men agree.
From those surveyed one in five (18%) complained that smells invade their personal space with women (23%) twice as likely as men (11%) to say they are sensitive to smell.

Join the refreshing conversations at

Interview with Ben Zabel

Question: Are you surprised that odours cause the most arguments in Aussie household?

Ben Zabel: No at all! One thing I learnt very fast in the BB house is that everyone is different and we all have different opinions, thresholds and reactions. A smell will affect me differently than the person sitting on the couch next to me and I think it is that difference that makes smells so arguable. What stinks to me, may be normal or tolerable to you!

Question: Can you talk us through some of the arguments in the Big Brother house regarding odours?

Ben Zabel: If there's anything I learned from being in the house, it's that boys seem oblivious to their own smell! I was constantly putting dirty clothes in the clothes hamper, telling the boys to put on deodorant, putting out the rubbish each night, spraying the bathrooms with Ambi Pur and always going to the supply cupboard when we ran out. The arguments were the usual, boys flatulence and not spraying the toilet area after they left. Plus who was going to pick up Mr. Clooney's droppings inside the house, which were stinking up a storm!!

Question: What were the main odours in the Big Brother house?

Ben Zabel: Drew and that un-washed hair was one of them!!! Living in the BB House you're stuck with a big group of people with limited space and nowhere to escape too! Let me just say, eventually EVERYTHING smells! Your clothes, the kitchen, the bathroom – everything. Don't get me wrong, I loved the dog, but he did make the house stink from time to time. We had limited resources in the BB House so I was certainly glad to have Ambi Pur to help us get to the next cleaning day, as its superior technology eliminates the bad odours. We were really lucky to have access to the Ambi Pur range last year – they have a product for everything from the toilet to the couch! My favourite scent was the Air Effects Lavender Vanilla & Comfort Air Freshener.

Question: Was it the boys or the girls of the house most responsible for odours?

Ben Zabel: Definitely the boys! I think girls are a lot more conscious of their personal appearances and hygiene. Whereas some of the boys would go a few days without showering – some of them would even walk around the house farting. To some boys that kind of behaviours is passed off as a joke but you'd rarely see that from any of the girls… Imagine if Jade broke wind in front of Ed – it would have been hilarious to say the least.

Question: What was it like to live in the Big Brother house?

Ben Zabel: What's it like being an astronaut in space? It's impossible to explain really. You're completely at the whim of Big Brother. He decided when you go to sleep, when you wake up, doesn't allow you to nap during the day, decides when and for how long the hot water comes on. There's no internet, TV, phones. If you kick a ball over the fence, good luck ever seeing it again! You're filmed 24/7 including while showering and being in the toilet, even though it's not shown. You have zero privacy and the inevitability that even your so called closest friends are nominating you to go home. It's not an experience for the faint hearted.

Question: How did your time in the Big Brother house help you with dealing with smells in the home?

Ben Zabel: For starters, I became very familiar with the Ambi Pur product range – which was a life saver last year! To be honest, I'm quite a clean person so odours never really bothered me in the past. Living in the Big Brother House taught me there is many the different ways you can subtly eliminate odours from a house so you can breathe happy (without causing a fuss or offending anyone). For instance, Ambi Pur has a product called the Ambi Pur, Electrical Plug In which plugs into your wall and provides a continuous / slow release of fragrance that actually eliminates the odour from the air – leaving the room smelling fresh and clean. Other techniques like always taking out the rubbish, having a consistent air flow and keeping the place and dog clear helped as well.

Question: What are your top tips and watch outs on finding the right housemate?

Ben Zabel: It's funny, I've never actually had a housemate before in the 10 years I've lived out of home, but have often thought of getting one. I can categorically tell you now; I never want to live with anyone, EVER! Big Brother has scarred me for life, perhaps not the best trial run.

Question: What advice do you have for those who want to audition for the next series of Big Brother?

Ben Zabel: Have a friend who was a housemate on the previous series, jokes! Three pieces of advice, 1. be yourself. 2. be yourself. 3. be yourself. I arrived late in the day for auditions, it was early afternoon. All the news cameras and wannabes had gone home. I didn't wear any crazy outfit. I just arrived with a bottle of water and a muesli bar. My main reason for being there wasn't to actually audition but that's a whole another story! I would just say, have an understanding of what makes you different/special/unique and then emphasise it.

Interview by Brooke Hunter