It is important to always be clean, wear neat dress, and smell good in the company of others. Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) says in the Quran:
“Surely Allah loves those who are most repenting, and loves those who keep themselves pure and clean.”
It was also narrated by Abu Malik al-Ash'ari that the Messenger of Allah, (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said,
'Cleanliness is half of faith and Alhamdulillah fills the scale, and SubhanaAllah and Alhamdulillah fill up what is between the heavens and the earth. Salah is a light, and charity is proof (of one's faith) and endurance is a brightness and the Qur'an is a proof on your behalf or against you. All men go out early in the morning and sell themselves, thereby setting themselves free or destroying themselves.'
Cleanliness and purity are key when we are amongst other people. As Muslims we should be careful not to harm others with our smell, our untidy or unkempt appearance. As humans we all have a natural instinct to be pleased by that which looks good and smells good. As Muslims we should be aware not to give displeasure to others, or harm them. This is particularly important if we are smokers for example, or if we eat any pungent smelling food prior to salah. The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) clearly prohibited this in the following hadiths:
Jabir ibn Abdullah (رضى الله عنه) reports from the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) that he said, “He who ate of this (offensive) plant, i.e. garlic” and once he said, “He who ate onion and garlic and leek, should not approach our Mosque, for the angels are harmed by the same things as the children of Adam.”
Narrated Ibn 'Umar(رضى الله عنه): During the holy battle of Khaibar the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, "Whoever ate from this plant (i.e. garlic) should not enter our mosque."
With respect to cleanliness and washing; Imam Bukhari (رحمة الله عليه) narrated that Salman al-Farisi said that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:
"Allah will forgive the sins of the past week for he who on Friday take a bath, cleanses himself, puts on his (regular) perfume. Then he goes out (to Friday prayer) and does not try to separate two friends. Then he prays wherever he can and listens to the Imam"
(Sahih Bukhari: Kitab ul Jumu'ah)
That is not to say that we just have a bath on Fridays! If the body becomes odourous, one should not wait, but cleanse the body as soon as required, to keep clean and fresh.
Abu Huraira (رضى الله عنه) narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:
"It is the duty of every Muslim to have a bath at least once every week to wash his head and his body".
(Sahih Bukhari & Sahih Muslim: Kitab ul Jumu'ah)
To take a bath on friday is recommended as there is always a large gathering in the masjids. To apply perfume in such gatherings, not only benefits us, but others too, and in this sense may be considered an act of charity. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) emphasised the importance to stay clean in the following hadith:
"If one of you had a river at his door and he washed himself five times a day, would any dirt remain on him?" His companions answered "No dirt will remain". The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) commented:"This is the example of the five daily prayers as Allah wipes with them your sins."
There are 4 things distinct from the sunnah of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) that we should hasten towards embracing, InshaAllah:
2) Fragrance (**For women, only at home)
4) Nikah (Marriage)
The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم)said, “Four things are from the ways of the Prophets: Modesty, applying perfume, using a tooth-stick (siwak) and marriage.”
There is a clear difference between the sexes, in the sense that women "adorn" themselves and men are more inclined to purification. That is not to say that women are not pure, or are less pure, but there are certain things that a man must take care of, that are not really applicable to women.
The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said,
“Ten matters are from upright natural disposition: Trimming the moustache, lengthening the beard, using the siwak, rinsing the nose, cutting the nails, washing the joints, plucking the hair under the armpits, shaving pubic hair and cleaning one’s private parts with water (istinja).” The narrator said, “I have forgotten the tenth, but it may have been rinsing the mouth.”
These points really highlight the importance of cleanliness and purity and are perhaps most important for men amongst men, or men with their wives, women amongst women, or women for the husbands. Certain precautions should be taken particularly with women amongst non-mahram men with regards to perfume in particular.
Abu Musa (رضى الله عنه) narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said,
'If a women scents herself and passes by people wanting them to smell her perfume, she is such and such [he emphasised his word]"