The basic smell of your home has much to do with how comfortable and appealing it feels. A clean, fresh scent makes a more welcome statement than the garbage convention going on in your garbage disposal or the odor of wet dog emanating from your pet.
As an alternative to commercially available room deodorizers and re-odorizers, I offer some equally effective solutions you can make fairly simply on your own;
these range from potpourri to teabags! Most of these items are non-toxic and will not trigger anyone’s allergies.
So let’s see 22 hacks that will transform the air in your home to a smell heaven:
Hack #1 - Baking Soda And Vinegar
If you were to sniff baking soda (I would be careful about sniffing too hard) you would not smell much. You probably know about the tradition of putting a box of baking soda in the refrigerator to absorb odors. Baking soda soaks up bad smells and neutralizes them.
Vinegar has an acrid scent that is not all that unpleasant, but can be off-putting for some people. The thing about vinegar is that it does have that initial salad dressing smell, but as it sits, it absorbs other, more distasteful scents and leaves a “nothing” smell in its place.
Place some baking soda or vinegar in small dishes and set them in areas out of the way of children and pets.
I keep a small bowl of vinegar in my bathroom and it keeps away the litter box smell, among other odors. This won’t add scent to your home, but it will neutralize less attractive smells.
Hack #2 - Garbage Disposal
The garbage disposal is easily a major source of offensive household odors. Nothing is worse than anticipating an at-home feeling after a long day away, only to being walloped by a garbagy malodor as you enter your kitchen. It’s even worse when you realize the stench is coming from your sink.
Eat an orange or cook with a lemon and toss the peels in your garbage disposal to freshen it. I keep some peels in zip-lock bags in the refrigerator or freezer and use them throughout the week.
I never keep them longer than four days in the refrigerator but find that they seem to keep their freshness as long as they stay cold.
If you freeze fruit rinds, they last longer and it doesn’t hurt to put them down the garbage disposal while frozen. Just run that disposal and get rid of the nasty smell.
Hack #3 - The Vinegar Fix Vinegar
This will also deodorize your garbage disposal. Throw a few ice cubes in along with a squirt or two of white or apple cider vinegar and churn away. The ice cubes will dislodge anything stuck to the blades and the vinegar will kill the germs and help break down greasy buildup.
Hack #4 - Lemon And Orange Aromatherapy
Citrus fruits give off a lovely clean scent that is pleasing to the senses. Cut a lemon or orange in half. Juice it and use the juice in cooking.
Sprinkle about one tablespoon of sea salt on the inside of the peel along with a few whole cloves. Place them in a bowl and leave them around the house where pets and children cannot reach them.
The salt enhances the scent and also keeps the skins from rotting quickly. Once they stop giving off their pleasant aroma, it is time to throw the peels away and start with a new batch.
Hack #5 - Vent Air Freshening
You know those cute little deodorizers you clip onto the vents in your car? You can use them in your house, too. Just clip them to the air vents. The air coming through the vents will push the scent out into the house and get rid of any staleness.
Hack #6 - Make Your Own Bamboo Diffuser
You have seen those pretty bamboo diffusers with a pretty jar or bottle and bamboo sticks sticking out.
The scented liquid in the bottle soaks in and travels up the bamboo to infuse your home with a lovely scent. They can be quite expensive, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money on them. Instead, you can make your own for a fraction of the price.
It can be large or small, plain or highly decorated. Just select something you will enjoy having around. In fact, you can add any scent you want to this mixture.
Hack #7 - Eucalyptus Treatment
Eucalyptus has a strong scent that some might say is antiseptic. The scent tends to clear the sinuses. I happen to love the smell however, even when I don’t have a stuffy head cold.
That said, hanging a sprig of eucalyptus in or near the shower where it won’t get all wet, will scent the bathroom when you take a shower. The steam releases the oils into the room.
It can definitely clear your head in the morning, as well as making the room smell very pleasant.
Hack #8 - Scent Your Home With Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets come in a bunch of different scents and you can use them to scent the entire house. Pop off the cover of your heating vents, lay a dryer sheet over the back side of the vent, and pop it back on. The dryer sheet will be behind the vent. Since dryer sheets are manufactured to take the heat, they should not cause a problem.
The heated air in the winter will flow through the drier sheet and invisibly scent the room. While the manufacturer makes no claims to this effect, dryer sheets may also trap and prevent floating debris from entering both the room and your lungs as you inhale.
Hack #9 - Scent Your Lingerie Drawer
Dryer sheets and sachets (We’ll cover them in a little bit) can also add fragrance to dresser drawers and their contents. They will scent your clothing, so that you’ll enjoy putting them on.
Hack #10-Essential Oils And Light Bulbs
I must have 20 little bottles of essential oils in a variety of different scents.
These come in very handy to scent my house. You can take a cotton swab and wet it with an essential oil. While your lamp is off, smear some of the essential oil on your light bulb. When you turn the lamp on, the essential oil will grow warm and dissipate the scent into the environment.
Hack #11 - Essential Oils And Cotton Balls
Another way to use essential oils to scent the house is to lightly soak a cotton ball in the oil and place it in a small dish. Set this dish out of the way and it will continue to scent your home for up to a week. I use a shallow bowl and set it on top of the books in my living room bookshelf. It keeps the room smelling lovely.
Hack #12 -Essential Oils And The Furnace
You are supposed to change your furnace filter periodically, so when you do, scatter 10 drops of your favorite essential oil on the fresh filter before you pop it into the furnace. The oils will scent the home for quite a long time and will circulate through the entire house.
Hack #13 -Essential Oils And Pine Cones
I love the rustic look of pine cones, especially in the winter and during the holidays. There’s no reason you can’t have a few pine cones strategically placed in baskets around the house any time of the year.
The petals of the pine cone are dry and they hold on to essential oils very nicely without having to add a fixative. Just sprinkle some drops on some big pine cones and set them in a basket.
I love to sprinkle mine with cinnamon oil during the holidays, but you can use any scent you like. The only problem is that you have to stay with the same scent. Like I said, pine cones hold on to those scents for a very long time.
Hack #14 -Coffee
Coffee is one of those scents that almost everyone likes. Grind some coffee beans to release the aroma and put the fresh grounds in a small bowl in an out-of-the-way place. The only problem with this is you’ll want to drink coffee all the time!
Hack #15 - Tea
Tea has the ability to neutralize nasty odors in the same way as baking soda. Pour some loose tea leaves in a bowl and leave them around the house in smelly areas to absorb and neutralize odors.
You can also add 1/4 cup of loose black tea to the bottom of your cat’s litter box and pour litter over it. Periodically give the litter box a shake to prolong the fresh smell.
Hack #16-Cinnamon Sticks
Cinnamon sticks carry a pleasant odor that is strong enough to mask nasty smells. Break some cinnamon sticks in half or crush them with a hammer and put the pieces in a bowl in an out-of-the-way place.
You can also add a little cinnamon, ginger, or nutmeg essential oil to the sticks. They do not need a fixative and will function much like the pine cones.
Hack #17 - Stovetop Potpourri
Boiling something on the stove is an age-old way of making your house smell good. A stovetop potpourri can be made out of common ingredients added to water. You just set a small pot of water on the stove to boil and it releases a pleasant scent that permeates the house.
The only problem is that once you stop boiling, the smell dissipates rather quickly. If you start the pot to simmering 15 minutes before guests arrive, your house will smell wonderful when they open the door.
Cinnamon sticks and whole cloves make for a spicy potpourri. You can also boil citrus peel to give off lemony or orange freshness.
A couple sprigs of lavender, eucalyptus, or mint can make your house smell fresh. If you want to build anticipation for a mouthwatering dinner, raid your spice cabinet again. Marjoram, sage, garlic, and even bullion can stimulate a ravenous appetite.
Hack #18 - Homemade Household Scents
Make your own delightful household spray by filling a spray bottle with 4 ounces of distilled water and 10 to 20 drops of your favorite essential oil. Mix by shaking well each time before you spray it.
Hack #19 - Dry Potpourri
Potpourri is an age-old method for freshening the air around us. The smells in the Middle Ages were pretty raw and people were always interested masking them with something more pleasant.
Back then, people would strew herbs across their floors. Whenever a person walked across the floor, they would crush the herbs underfoot, releasing a fresh scent to cover up other nasty odors in the room.
Victorian ladies often held small nosegays of dried flowers or carried scented handkerchiefs as they walked about. These they would sniff whenever the scents of the day grew a little too strong.
Dry potpourri is an offshoot of these older methods of refreshing the air we breathe. Everything used in a dry potpourri must be completely dry, except for the essential oils. Any moisture will cause the potpourri to mold and generate less-than-pleasant odors.
You can use dried flowers, herb leaves, and dried spices to make your own potpourri. The most popular ingredients are dried rose petals or rosebuds, lavender buds, cinnamon sticks, cloves, thyme leaves, and eucalyptus leaves. Some dried material does not have a scent, but is included because it is visually pleasing. The aim is to make something that looks as good as it smells.
All kinds of flower petals are easily dried to use in potpourri. Try some unscented straw flowers, German statice flower, or amaranth to add color to your mixture.
These flowers grow almost dry to begin with; they just need a little time to completely dry after cutting. Any kind of herb leaf works well in potpourri and so do the dried leaves of scented geraniums.
Scented geraniums come in a wide variety of fragrances that stay with the leaves after they dry. Potpourri requires a fixative, something that will hold on to the scent and slow its evaporation. As a fixative, I use about one tablespoon of orris root per potpourri batch.
Orris root is a powdery substance that absorbs any essential oil you put into your potpourri and sustains its essence for a long time. You can also use cinnamon (ground or stick) as a fixative. Nutmeg, coriander, and cumin are other fixatives you may already have in your kitchen.
Just put everything together in a sealed bag for a couple weeks to let the fragrance permeate your mixture, before placing it out to decorate both the appearance and the breathing quality of your rooms. If you have cats or dogs, you will need to prevent your potpourri from being eaten.
I place mine in small mason jars and cut a square of nylon net fabric placing it over the opening of the jar as I screw on the ring. My animals cannot get to the potpourri, but the scent can waft freely through my rooms.
Hack #20 - Gel Air Fresheners
Make your own gel air fresheners and put them in small mason jars to set about the house.
They are super easy to make and if you are afraid of pets trying to eat them, just place a piece of nylon net over the opening with a metal ring screwed on the jar to hold it in place.
Protect your skin before you begin the gel-making process, as the chemicals can burn your skin. Begin by pouring 1 cup of water into a saucepan and heating it until it boils.
Turn off the heat and sprinkle 1 ounce of gelatin over the top. With a whisk, stir the liquid until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 cups of cold tap water. Whisk the contents again and set the mixture aside.
Put 20 drops of an essential oil into the jar. Pour the gel mixture into the jar while it is still hot, filling it up to less than an inch from the rim.
Add some food coloring if desired and stir this in as well. Place the jar on a heatproof surface and let it set until completely cool. Then you can secure a piece of nylon net over the opening and place it out to freshen the air.
This gel freshener will last for 3 to 4 weeks, depending on environmental factors. Beyond a month it tends to get moldy, so I recommend discarding the contents earlier, washing out the jars, and when you have enough empty jars accumulated, make another batch.
Hack #21 - Sachets
Sachets are little fabric pillows filled with potpourri. They are an ideal use for your dry potpourri. The good thing about a sachet is that the potpourri is contained inside a little pouch.
You can cut two squares of fabric and sew the items inside of them or just place potpourri in the center of a large square and bring up all the sides to tie it closed with knot, a ribbon, or some string.
Place sachets in your drawers or hang them from a clothes hanger in a closet to keep your clothing smelling nice. You can put a sachet in the pantry, in your shoes, in the bathroom, or anywhere else you would like to freshen the air. You can use almost any fabric, but it must be loosely woven in order to let out the scent. I like to use muslin because of its loose weave and the availability of multiple colors.
You can also use loosely woven cotton. If you sew well, make a drawstring casing on one edge and lace it with ribbon to close the little pillow. You can refresh the potpourri inside at any time, by just opening it up, pouring out the old stuff, and replacing it with fresh potpourri.
Hack #22 - Fabric Freshener Spray
Don’t spend lots of money on fabric fresheners when you can make one that works effectively on upholstery, clothing, carpet, and rugs. In a spray bottle, combine 1/8 cup clear or white liquid fabric softener with 2 teaspoons of baking soda.
Fill the bottle to near the top with warm tap water and shake it so that the baking soda dissolves. This fabric freshener will keep for several weeks and you only need to spray it lightly on fabric items to give them a fresh smell.
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