It is said that smell is the most powerful and evocative of our five senses, with the ability to trigger memories and conjure up powerful associations. Yet too often scent is an afterthought when creating the right ambience for our homes, and we end up resorting to a hastily-sprayed can of air freshener to cover up the smell of last night’s dinner.
Essential oils are your friend
No list of natural air fresheners would be complete without a mini-essay on the wonders of
essential oils. From frankincense to fennel, peppermint to patchouli; their medicinal, therapeutic and mood-enhancing properties have been used for thousands of years. Here are just some of the ways you can use essential oils to infuse the most wonderful scents throughout your home:
1. Fill an empty spray bottle with water, and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil/s (a rough rule of thumb is a 2-3% dilution ratio). Shake well before spritzing lightly. You can even experiment with different scent combinations and create your own bespoke fragrances for different rooms to achieve a variety of effects — calm, sleep-inducing lavender for the bedroom, and restorative mandarin for the living room.
2. Ditch the artificial (and unattractive) bathroom air fresheners and make your own all-natural (and entirely invisible) infuser by dipping a cotton swab in your chosen essential oil and fastening it to the inner side of the toilet roll. Ingenious!
3. Some shop-bought scented candles contain potentially harmful ingredients, so adding a few drops of essential oil to these homemade olive oil candles will save you money and protect your health. All you need is a mason jar, wick, and paper clip — the full tutorial from Little House Living can be found here.
4. Add a couple of drops of your chosen oil to a bowl full of pine cones, which are great carriers of scent and double up as a natural decorative feature.
Simmer, simmer, simmer
If you haven’t yet discovered stovetop simmer pots, you’re about to become hooked. In the days before scented candles and motion-sensored air fresheners, your grandmother would almost undoubtedly have used one of these to make her home smell welcoming. Proving that the simplest solutions are often the best ones, just set a pan of water on a low heat and fill it with your favourite herbs, fruit or spices. The combinations are as endless as your imagination, but a few of our favorites include:
1. Orange peel and vanilla essence for a sweet, comforting smell
2. Cinnamon stick, whole cloves and bay leaves to conjure up a delicious earthy scent
3. Lemon slices, a few sprigs of rosemary and some vanilla = the freshest scent imaginable
Give flowers a new lease of life
Instead of throwing away your flower bouquets once they start to wilt, recycle them by turning them into homemade potpourri. Unfortunately, potpourri has earned a slightly unjustified reputation as something you find in a doctor’s waiting room or motel reception, but when freshly made it’s a superbly subtle way of infusing your home with fragrance.
Arrange the flower heads on a tray in a hot oven (around 200°F) and pump up the scent volume by adding some citrus slices, herb sprigs, or whole spices. Add 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil in a spray bottle (like the one you made earlier!) and bake for approximately two hours.
Either display in a pretty bowl, or make up some fabric sachets to freshen up drawers and
Get your bake on
There’s a very good reason estate agents swear by freshly baked bread as one of their top
recommendations to sell your home fast. The ultimate comfort-scent, studies have even found that the smell of freshly baked bread encourages people to be kinder and more altruistic to each other. Now there’s an excuse to get baking if ever we needed one!
P.S. don’t forget the carpets!
Did you know that carpet fibers are the most neglected harborer of unwanted smells in the home, lingering even after a thorough vacuuming? But fear not, it’s incredibly easy to freshen up underfoot by mixing a cup of baking soda with a teaspoon of ground cinnamon in a container, and sprinkling liberally on the carpet. Simply leave to work for around 15 minutes and then vacuum.
This dream team combines the odour-neutralising and disinfectant power of baking soda with the anti-microbial properties and sweet-smelling goodness of cinnamon to make your carpet smell like new.
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