Whether you know it or not, your house has a unique smell. It can range from a light, fresh scent all the way to a musty, stale, wet dog kind of smell. The unfortunate part is, you get so used to this smell that you don’t even recognize it when you walk through your door. But, when other people come over, boy do they ever notice!
Think about it like this: some people have scent signatures —i.e. ‘I always wear Burberry Brit perfume—and when you smell it, you think of them. Inside a home is a little different. The smell of a home literally imprints itself into your mind, like a signature on paper. That’s why I refer to it as a scent signature because it’s a unique scent stamp of that particular space. When we cook, renovate, or neglect to clean certain parts of our homes, scent signatures can temporarily change, and not always for the better! Smelling a lemony broiled salmon at 6pm on a Tuesday evening is great, but smelling that at 9am the following morning… not so much!
A number of companies make products to create positive scent signatures for your home. However, this can become expensive and can bring unnecessary chemicals into your home. If you want to change your home’s scent signature I have a few really easy and fun things to try—and they cost next to nothing!
Choosing A Scent
First, think about what scents you love; it’s different for everyone. You can even think about the season and what you want your home to smell like at this time of year. Now, you know what to base your scents around. Also, consider room appropriate scents. I don’t want my bathroom smelling like freshly baked cookies, or my kitchen smelling like fresh laundry.
How to Make Natural DIY Home Deodorizers
Hunt & gather the following items for your DIY home deodorizer:
- Mason jar(s)
- Pot for the stovetop
The Stovetop Simmer
- Cut any fruits, oranges and grapefruit are two of my favorites! Place in a pot, I use a small saucepan.
- Add spices, extracts, and herbs—think cinnamon, rosemary, thyme, clove, etc.
- Fill your pot 3/4 the way with water, cover and bring to a boil.
- Once it reaches the boiling point, reduce to low and simmer—with the lid off!
You can let the pot simmer (attended) for hours on end, continually adding liquid to prevent the ingredients from burning. When you’ve had enough, you can jar the liquid and refrigerate (once cooled), and re-use a few more times. Keep in mind that some fruits and herbs hold up better than others for prolonged periods of time.
Realtors will often tell you to bake cookies or boil cinnamon sticks or vanilla on your stove to create a welcoming scent in your home just before an open house—this is an extension of this idea.
Natural Home Scent Recipes
- The famous recipe that people claim comes from Williams-Sonoma consists of: 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and one sliced lemon.
- Fall Wonderland: 1 sliced orange, 5 cinnamon sticks, 2 tablespoons of whole cloves
- Orange Amaretto: 1 sliced orange, 1 tablespoon almond extract
- Sweet Mint: 2 sliced limes, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- Gingerbread: 5 1/4 inch slices of ginger, 1 tablespoon almond extract, 3 cinnamon sticks
- Orange Creamsicle: 1 tablespoon vanilla, 1 sliced orange
- Cordon Bleu: 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon of peppermint extract, 4 sprigs of rosemary
- Italian Backyard: 1 lemon, 1 tsp black peppercorns, handful of basil
- Forest: Cedar twigs, by themselves. I love cedar.
- Regal Cream: Bergamot tea (Earl Grey), 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Blueberry Tea: Bergamot tea, 1 sliced orange, 1 tsp almond extract
- Coconut Bay: 1 tablespoon coconut extract, 1 sliced lime
DIY Home Scent Inspiration
You have the opportunity to create your own scents depending on what smells get you going.
Apples, lemons, limes, oranges, cranberries and ginger. Citrus fruits last the longest in the pot, so keep that in mind.
Fresh is the only way to go. Leafier, thinner herbs won’t hold up as long as more rugged herbs. Look for fresh herbs that are woody or with twiggy stems for best results (rosemary, thyme, lemongrass). The thinner herbs can be used, but just keep in mind that they won’t last as long in the pot. But they’ll still smell divine.
Cinnamon, cardamom, clove, star anise, peppercorn or any other mulling spices work well too. Of course, you don’t want to boil paprika so stick to the sweeter smelling spices and leave the savory ones for cooking. These can be used whole or ground, however, I’ve found whole spices tend to work the best.
This is where you can have some fun. Use peppermint, vanilla, maple, almond or coconut extract to add a powerful note to your home’s scent signature. There are hundreds of extracts available, if you look for a specialty extract provider, you can find lovely scents including cotton candy, apricot, and blueberry.
Creative Scent Ideas
If you love tree scents, add some pine needle twigs from fragrant trees to the mix. You can also find your favorite tea and add in a tea bag alongside some fruits for a lovely smell. If you want something that tastes as good as it smells, consider making some masala chai tea and drinking that afterward. What a sweet reward!
Cleaning, Deodorizing & Airing Out Your Home
These are all well and good, but they’re just band-aid solutions to a larger issue. In short, if your home has a not-so-good smell to it and you’re bringing in a product or DIY scent to deodorize, you’re really only masking the problem. If you truly want your home to smell fresh (i.e. like nothing), then the house needs to be cleaned and the root of the odor problem discovered and dealt with. Here are a few ways to achieve this:
- Empty garbage often, especially with compostable food items.
- Deodorize carpets and upholstery regularly—use professionals if required.
- Vacuum often to remove dirt and odors from carpets.
- Refrain from wearing shoes in the house.
- Refrain from smoking in the house.
- Open windows to let fresh air in, we do this as often as we can (weather permitting).
- Use bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans to remove odors and moisture from the home.
- Manage pets properly (i.e. emptying litter boxes and cleaning pet paws after being outdoors).
The next time you walk through your front door, think about your home’s scent signature. If you need to change it you now have a handful of DIY natural home deodorizer ideas!