When the weather turns warm and sometimes sticky, most of our homes could use a little help smelling and feeling fresh. Clean summery scents can do a lot for us, but we donít want to rely on plug-in air fresheners or air freshener sprays: both contain chemicals thought to be harmful. Instead, we can rely on the wisdom of our great-grandmothers, and use natural ingredients to make our homes smell delightfully refreshing and clean.
Find out how lemon peel, fresh or dried mint, vanilla extract, lavender, and more can make your home smell fresh as the proverbial daisy, here:
The zesty clean fragrance of lemon is an instant uplift. Try rubbing a few drops of lemon essential oil on doorknobs, or peeling a lemon and simply twisting the peel so that the oils are released into the room. You can simmer lemon slices in water on the stove to scent the air deliciously, too.
Plunk a handful of dried lavender in a pretty container next to the bed to make your bedroom smell fresh and to promote relaxing sleep and deep dreams.
You can burn sprigs of dried rosemary (using an ashtray underneath to catch any sparks!) to cleanse the atmosphere in your home. The scent is refreshing, and the herb has been used in sickrooms for centuries, since it is a time-honored antimicrobial.
Sweet Green Mist
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, or stored 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.
Vanilla Odor Remover
The vanilla bean has properties that reduce odors! Try this super-easy trick for removing smells you don’t want:
- 1 to 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
Just put the vanilla in a small cup anywhere you want air freshening.
Summery Stovetop Freshener
Mint is a wonderful freshener that gives an uplifting feeling to the atmosphere. 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.
I have a small terra-cotta pot filled with ground cinnamon sitting near my desk. I get wafts of the sweet fragrance all day long.
My friend Jo has honeysuckle planted around her house. In the evening, she opens her windows and her home is permeated with the heavenly fragrance. You could also try planting Scented Boxes for Your Windows.
By Cait Johnson, author of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air (SkyLight Paths, 2003).