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Ban Musty Odors and Freshen Your Home the Green Way

Updated on November 6, 2012

Potpourri came from the French

Dried roses are often used in potpourri mixes.
Dried roses are often used in potpourri mixes. | Source
This is what home made potpourri looks like.
This is what home made potpourri looks like. | Source

Aroma Therapy

Home odors – fish, onion, shoes, potatoes, mustiness and even pet smells like wet fur can add to sensory discomfort. This gives a type of bad energy in the home no matter how clean it may look. The nose knows!

Air fresheners on the market can sometimes be too harsh, leaving a chemically false smell in the air with aggressively commercialized scents. No one knows for sure what chemicals are inside and what effects they may have on the respiratory system and skin. What is a concerned homemaker to do?

Fortunately, there is a middle road, offering a natural solution to eliminating household odors.


Some of the ancient methods hold true today, and incense is one of them. Many types of incenses are available on the market. There are cones, sticks and very fat sticks. Many of them are too harsh, but let your nose decide. For me, the Japanese incenses are easier to take. Just one stick propped in a downward position will keep the ember burning and a gentle murmur of a scent escaping into the air.

Common Scents

meditative in nature, past lives
air associative
strength before battle
fire associative
good for love spells
fire associative
calm and peace
religious rituals - eliminating illness
fire or lust
love, beauty, life connections
glamor, attraction, romance
mental sharpness, meditation
air associative
balance and order
earth associated
communication with the gods
happiness and joy
used to mask the smell of pot
love, sex and desire
a "holy" wood
fire and water associative
intelligence and mental processes
air associative


Candles, scented or not, can help freshen the air and add a feeling of home and hearth. If you have small children in the house, be sure to place them high above their reach.

Use the scent chart to the right to choose a scent that you like and may correlate to the environment you want to create.

Never ever leave candles unattended to. If you leave the home, blow them out and re-light them later.

Going to Pot - Pourri

The ancient method to room freshening was a combination of flower and wood shavings called potpourri. It was invented by the French centuries ago.

Fragrant Blossoms and Other Finds

Naturally scented plants and flowers used in potpourri include allspice, cedar, cinnamon, cloves; cypress, lavender, jasmine, fennel (used in licorice candy); juniper, lemon, mint; orange, pinyon, rose, and rosemary. Fruits, flowers, leaves wood bark, seeds and herbs are all used. This is not an inclusive list – over 300 possible variants may be used in producing potpourri.

Preservation Techniques

In days of old, flowers and other scented materials were gathered in the spring and summer months and left outside to dry. When the plants became limp, they were covered with a layer of coarse sea salt. Another layer of dried scented material was added, and the process was repeated. The flowers and leaves would ferment, becoming grey, and then a wonderful scent would be produced. To prevent the scent from escaping too soon, a fixative, usually orris root, was used.


Once potpourri is prepared, it must be sealed in a plastic bag or ceramic pot to preserve its essence. There are specially designed pots with a pierced lid to allow the scent to escape slowly. Nowadays it is easier to buy a prepared potpourri mix which is both effective and mild compared to than chemically prepared fresheners.

Spirituality and Purified Air

A single candle can help still the air and add a release of purity, burning off odors.  A scented candle adds a different dimension.
A single candle can help still the air and add a release of purity, burning off odors. A scented candle adds a different dimension. | Source

Essential Oils and Baking Soda

Other Simple Remedies to Boost Freshness

Baking Soda

As simple as it sounds, plain old baking soda can work wonders. Placed in the refrigerator, it reduces odors. Sprinkled on a sponge, poured down the drain, sprinkled in the garbage between the container and the liner, and added to the cat litter box it does its part to keep your home fresh.

White Vinegar

White vinegar can be placed into a squirt bottle and used to clean various household surfaces. Your child's lunchbox, the inside of the refrigerator, the kitchen trash container, etc. For cleaning a table, soak a sponge in white vinegar and clean thoroughly. It is slightly acidic (5%) which is enough to kill germs but not be harmful to the user.

Hello Kitty!

Unscented kitty litter does more than just neutralize your cat's odors. It can be placed in decorative ceramic bowls in your home to absorb any odors. Inexpensive and inconspicuous, it looks just like gravel.

Essential Oil - A Theme Scent

Now that you have neutralized the “bad“ odors, you can use a few drops of essential oil to boost a fragrant aroma in your home. It's really quite simple, and very economical to freshen your home the healthy way. Your family will notice the fresh air without feeling deodorized. A variety of scents are available, including Eucalyptus, Pine, Lavender, Cypress, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Thyme, Grapefruit, Orange, Wintergreen, Rosemary, and Sage, which can be purchased for a song.

Place two or three drops on the inside of the cardboard toilet paper roll. The scent will be activated in the room when your toilet paper is rolled.

You can also use essential oils to make an inexpensive spray freshener. Dilute four drops of the essential oil of your choice into a pint of water. This can be sprayed into a room or used as a finishing scent on disinfected surfaces after they've been freshly cleaned with white vinegar.


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    • EuroCafeAuLait profile image

      Anastasia Kingsley 6 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      I guess that means, your aroma challenged friend is not "fresh as a daffodil"

    • John Daffodils profile image

      John Daffodils 6 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      Oo la la! I love the idea of putting an oil on the inside of the toilet roll, I shall pass this on to those who are aroma-challenged.

    • EuroCafeAuLait profile image

      Anastasia Kingsley 6 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Baking powder, potpourri and essential oils can be used - even unscented kitty litter - to get rid of odors without chemicalizing your family. The good news is that they are all economical - white vinegar is really inexpensive! and easy to use, and effective to boot.