Written by Arnie Dorr
Everybody loves a fresh, pleasant-smelling home, but it can be a challenge to maintain. With odors from cooking, pets, and kids permeating walls, curtains, and rugs, your home can pick up foul scents. You can buy commercial air fresheners which often come with aerosol and added chemicals or you can let nature do the work with fresh herbs.
Every herb comes with a scent, but over time a few have become favorites. Among them are mint, lavender, lemon balm, rosemary, and lime thyme. Unlike commercial fresheners, natural herbs have aromatic health benefits such as reducing stress and aiding sleep. Plus, you can use many of them to flavor drinks and recipes. Fresh basil is great in your favorite gluten-free pizza sauce recipe.
Here are five ways to use herbs for a scent-sational home.
A few of the favorites, such as lavender, can be tricky to grow in the house. Others are easy with the right mixture of sunlight and water. Mint, which comes in varieties ranging from spearmint to catnip, can be potted and placed in indirect sun. You can also grow it in a glass or vase of water with a few daily hours of sunlight. Herbs quickly spread their fresh aroma through your house. When the weather is nice, open some windows to let the breeze help. Rosemary has a piney scent that makes it perfect for the holidays. You can let rosemary plants winter in the house in a sunny window and move them to the garden in spring. Lemon balm, which gives off the scent of freshly polished wood furniture, is another herb that likes lots of sun. In fact, most of your indoor herbs will thrive a sunny windowsill.
2. Prepare a Potpourri
The word “potpourri” has its origins in a French term for a stew with different meats. It literally means “rotten meat.” But its modern meaning is much more pleasant.
An herb potpourri is a mixture of pleasant-smelling herbs. To make potpourri, dry out leaves and buds from your favorite herbs. Mix essential oils, a little orrisroot with a few drops of lavender oil and rose damask oil in a bowl. You can find them through Amazon or at retailers such as Hobby Lobby and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Add your herbs, and seal the mix in a jar for a couple of weeks. Then you can place it about your home in decorative bowls or dishes to freshen your rooms.
3. Create a Cachet
This is similar to a potpourri but involves a little bag rather than a bowl. Just mix your favorite dried herbs and put them in little mesh bags (available online or at hobby stores). Add a few sparing drops of essential oils and tie the open end of the bag. Give it a little rub to get the aroma going. You can put these in closets, drawers or even under your pillows for a fragrant bouquet. These little bags make nice party favors that your guests will appreciate.
4. Refresh a Rug
Grind your dried herbs into a powder and sprinkle on rugs or carpets. Wait about 10 minutes and vacuum. The result will be a nice fragrance that will pervade your room. Lavender is a favorite for this.
5. Mix and Mash
There are no hard and fast rules on using herbs for aroma. Try adding dried rose petals, a dash of cinnamon and a sprinkle of crushed cloves to your potpourris or cachets. Experiment until you find the scent that suits you – it’s your house, after all!
Arnie Dorr is a landscaper and gardener who prides himself on being eco-friendly. He maintains a green lawn without using chemicals. His garden is filled with herbs and native plants that attract pollinators.