DIY Room Fresheners
Learn how to freshen your home with natural herbal scents.
There are many options for using herbs to scent your home naturally, from old-fashioned potpourris and pomander balls to herbal cleaners and room sprays. You might try several of these, coordinating the aromas so that your home has its own unique fresh, herbal scent.
Potpourri is perhaps the most traditional way to scent your home with herbs. Customize your own blend—floral or citrusy, spicy or woodsy—and place it in open bowls or baskets throughout your home. You might even develop a signature potpourri blend, or a different blend for each season. Learn how in our article on potpourri.
A simmering potpourri is simply made by putting wonderful smelling ingredients to simmer in a pot of water on the stove. Slices of citrus or apple peels, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, allspice and other warm spices, and vanilla or almond extracts are traditional. Experiment with other options, such as pine needles, rose petals, rosemary, lavender, and mints.
You can even place your ingredients in a slow cooker or fondue pot on low throughout the day. (No matter which method you choose, be sure to check the water and replenish as it evaporates, or you'll wind up with a less-than-wonderful burnt fragrance!)
Consider making up your blends for simmering potpourris ahead of time and storing them in glass jars in your refrigerator until you're ready to put them on the stove.
Herbal sachets can be tucked into dresser drawers, linen closets, and even kitchen cupboards, for a delightful, surprise scent. Sew sachets from small squares or rectangles of fabric and stuff them with herbs, or forgo the sewing and use small mesh teabags or little cloths or dainty hankies tied with ribbons. Learn more in our article on herbal sachets.
Pomander Balls were used by Victorians to scent the home and mask odors. They're traditionally hung in closets, but they're also lovely placed in bowls.
To make a pomander, choose a blemish-free orange or other citrus fruit. Using a knitting needle, flat head nail, or other implement, make small holes on the surface of the fruit, and place a whole clove in each hole. (The holes should be 1/4 inch apart or less.) Cover the fruit entirely, or arrange the cloves in a design. (If you like, use masking tape to mark off your design or the area you want to leave open for tying a ribbon around the fruit.)
When the fruit is studded with cloves, roll it in a blend of spices (ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg are traditional) and a fixative, such as orris root, to "fix" or hold the scent. A tablespoon of each—and a pinch of ground allspice, if you like—will be plenty. Place the pomander in a dark place (in a paper bag, along with the spices, works well) for a month or more, until it has dried out; the fruit will shrink and sound hollow when tapped. Tie your pomander and hang it, or place it with other pomanders in a bowl.
Room Sprays can be made by combing water with an herbal infusion. (An herbal infusion is simply a strong tea made from herbs.) Place the mixture in a spray bottle and spritz the air whenever it needs refreshing. Good herbs for room sprays include lavender, lemongrass, and mints. Or you can forgo the herbs and use vanilla extract or a favorite essential oil instead. Simply add a few drops of the extract or oil to the water in your spray bottle, and shake before each use.
Herbal Cleaners such as natural carpet fresheners and glass cleaners will leave your home smelling fresh and clean even when you've put away the cleaning supplies. Learn more about making your own cleaning products, including what other natural products are good bets for cleaning, in our article on Cleaning with Herbs.
Herbal fire starters add scent whenever the home fires are burning in a fireplace or wood stove. Use dried herbs along with your kindling; either sprinkle them on the kindling before starting your fire, or roll them into newspaper and place the roll under your logs.
Herbal trivets and coasters will release scent whenever you place your hot dish or mug on them. Simply sew your favorite scented herbs into homemade, padded and quilted shapes. You can similarly make potholders, too.