Home Sweeteners: How To

Nothing makes a house feel better–or more like home–than scent. But with all the recent bad news about toxins in commercial air-fresheners, it makes sense to use pure aromatic herbs, spices, and essential oils to scent our homes. Itís so easy!

Find out how to turn your stove into an incense burner, what vanilla extract is good for besides baking, how to make an antibacterial mist, a simple potpourri (perfect for the pounded-flower potpourri bags in article 2), and more! Here are a few fast, creative ways to make your house smell pleasing and welcoming, n/aturally.

Instant Kitchen Incense
Hereís a delightful magic trick that turns your stove into a natural incense burner, giving you all the pleasures of spirit-soothing scented smoke without the toxic risks associated with many purchased incense products.

Just place a small sprinkling of ground spices on an electric stove burner, then turn on the heat to the very lowest setting possible. Instant incense! Cinnamon and clove work best, but you could experiment with adding a little curry powder to the cinnamon-clove base.

Summery Stovetop Freshener
Mint is a wonderful freshener. It is also very uplifting. You can use either fresh or dried mint in this formula.

A handful of mint leaves
8 cups of water

Combine all the ingredients in a pan on the stove. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer. Replace the liquid when needed as it evaporates.

Vanilla Odor Remover
The vanilla bean has properties that reduce odors! Try this super-easy trick for removing odors:

1 to 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

Just put the vanilla in a small cup anywhere you want air freshening.

Sweet Green Mist Formula
Mists and sprays are an easy way to add wonderful, natural scent to your home and they are proven allies in the fight against germs. Mists and sprays are a simple way of providing aromatherapy by just using essential oils, water and a spray bottle. Nothing could be easier than spritzing a few drops of these antibacterial sprays on doorknobs, bathroom surfaces, telephones–anything you touch–to keep your home smelling sweet. Because essential oils are antibacterial, they also help kill germs. The formulas keep indefinitely and, in a pretty bottle tied with a ribbon, they make great gifts. Your home will smell marvelous, and you wonít need to worry as much when guests bring coughs and sneezes in with them. Look for all-natural pure essential oils at your local natural foods store.

This couldnít-be-easier recipe makes enough for five cups of mist, enough to share with a friend. Use liberally on non-staining surfaces or simply spray upward in the center of the room, being sure to avoid contact with eyes.

Use an eyedropper to place the following in a small glass jar with a lid (a baby food jar is ideal)–
20 drops sweet orange essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops eucalyptus essential oil

Mix well. To use, add 4-8 drops of this base to one cup of purified or distilled water in a spray bottle, shaking to mix. Store in a cool, dark place.

Spicy Summer Potpourri
This potpourri looks lovely set out in a bowl, as well as in little potpourri bags.

Base: a combination of any or all of the following, thoroughly dried–orange peel, marigolds, chrysanthemums, lavender, asters, Queen Anneís lace, star anise seeds, cinnamon powder or sticks, whole or powdered cloves

Oil scents: a few drops each–
Sweet orange essential oil
Lavender essential oil
Clove essential oil

Sprinkle dried base with oils and mix well. Refresh base with a few drops of oil whenever needed.

Adapted from Natural Herbal Scents for the Home, by Cait Johnson (Care2 Publishing, 2002).


Tamara Austin
Tamara Austin5 years ago

wonderful - I love it!

Alicia N.
Alicia N.5 years ago

GREAT article, I love the Summery Stovetop Freshner. Nice comments as well. Good luck people.

Laura M.
Past Member 5 years ago


Robert O.
Robert O.5 years ago


veronika p.
Veronica P.6 years ago

awesome tips!

I usually put a pot of simmering water with cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla on the stove. It works pretty well.

Heather B.
Past Member 6 years ago

Interesting tips. Thanks for posting this, Cait.

Evelyn B.
Past Member 7 years ago

It is so easy to make your own room sprays, you know what is in them, you can make them as strong or mild as you like and there are no synthetic chemicals. One example: Orange Spice, nice for the winter: 7.5 oz Distilled or well filtered water, 1/4 tsp. Sweet Orange ESSENTIAL Oil (not fragrance), 1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract or Blending Vanilla (based in coconut or other natural oil), 3/4 tsp. glycerin (can be found at the Pharmacy) and 1 oz Polysorbate 20 (an olive oil & sugar product-helps oils blend into water). Mix water and other ingredients in 8 oz bottle with mister or sprayer and shake well. Without preservatives make small amount as needed. There are natural preservatives/anti-fungal and/or anti-microbial and/or antiseptic that are Essential Oils you can use such as, Sandalwood, Star Anise or Tea Tree Oil. Check crafting web-sites that have recipes or Formulary as well as the materials. Good for you, family, home, environment and best plus, it's lots of fun and works out to be less expensive than commercial products. There are many sites so shop around to find the one best for you, with all the information you want and need.

Jane Buckley
Jane Buckley8 years ago

If you don't find a minute amount of alcohol disagreeable, a few drops of a good witch hazel distillate will keep your sprays fresher for longer. One MAJOR natural company adds this ingredient to its aroma sprays. Jane

Rachel Brown
Rachel Brown8 years ago

I am responding to the warning for cats, I spoke to my vet and the only one that is toxic to cats is eucalyptus-when ingested. She said all others were safe with the exception of citrus which has the effect of catnip!!

Claudia M.
Claudia M.9 years ago

A great fall potpourri is 1/2 apple sliced, 1/2 orange sliced, 2 stick cinnamons, and 2 tablespoons clove in water enough to cover all the ingredients. Place it in a container on the stove or use a small crock pot and simmer all day. Refresh as needed with new fruit. The spices can be used for a week and it makes your house smell yummy.