As homesteaders, we love to plan and dream for the obvious parts of our homesteads: gardens, barns, outbuildings, animals, and more.
But, I think we often forget about one of the most important aspects of our homestead way of life: our homes.
It’s wintertime in Wyoming, which means that I am spending much more time inside than usual. As much as I love summer, I also enjoy the winter months for the chance to focus on my home and relish in a slower pace.
I invite you to join me on a journey as we strive to make a home that is welcoming, comforting, and inspiring, not only for our own family, but for our guests as well.
Over the months of January and February, you can expect a variety of posts that will feature homemaking as a part of developing our homestead way of life.
First up, I want to discuss a concept that I call “Homemaking for the 5 Senses”.
There are countless ways that we can help to make our homes more welcoming and friendly. In an effort to simplify these ideas and make them more manageable, I’ve broken them up into the 5 sensory groups: smell, sight, hearing, touch, and taste.
Today, we are jumping right in and talking about how we can use the sense of smell to create a welcoming atmosphere in our homes.
The Aroma of Homemaking
You might be thinking this is a silly place to start. Maybe you were expecting tips on decluttering or organization– you know, the “big” stuff. But take a moment to think about some homes that you have visited that have made you feel welcome and at ease. What are some of first things that you notice when you walk in the door?
For me, I love it when I walk into a house and it smells cozy and warm. When people enter my home for the first time, I want them to instantly be put at ease.
There are many ways to freshen up the scent of your home. In the past, I had an addiction to plug-in air fresheners and room sprays. It’s been years since I’ve purchases those items, thanks to my now-natural lifestyle, but that hasn’t kept me from keeping my home smelling fresh!
Natural & Frugal Ways to Freshen Your Home
1. Candles– this is an obvious one, but I love my candles. Not only do they fill my house with wonderful scents, but a flickering flame can “cozy-up” most any room. On those cold winter nights, you’ll always find at least one candle burning at my house. I especially love the warm scents like sugar cookies and vanilla, as well as the “spiced” ones such as apple cider, pumpkin, and cinnamon.
2. Vacuum and Mop- A home that is clean will usually smell that way. I always mop my floors with a simple mixture of vinegar and warm water- you could even add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to boost it’s scent. But even with just the plain vinegar solution, the air always seems fresher when I’m done.
3. Target “stinky” trouble zones– A few of the worst offenders in my house are my garbage can, diaper pail, dishcloths (am I the only one who get stinky dishrags??), and the garbage disposal.
I try to make sure that I empty my trash can frequently (and I avoid throwing away potentially smelly food scraps by feeding them to my goats or chickens instead) and give the diaper pail a good scrubbing whenever I wash diapers (I use cloth).
I haven’t found a good remedy for smelly dishrags, other than simply swapping them out often. If you struggle with the occasionally smelly garbage disposal, check out my 3 frugal methods for freshening your disposal.
4. Open a window- Air just seems to get stale after a while. Open several windows to create a cross-breeze and allow things to air out. This can be a little more difficult in colder weather, but even in the winter I usually can find a day here or there that is warm enough to allow for some “window time”.
5. Bake– Who doesn’t love the aroma of warm baked goods wafting from the kitchen? I think many of us have good memories connected to those scents. When we have company over, I often like to wait to bake any breads or dessert items until right before they are scheduled to arrive. That way, they are hit with the smell of freshly baked bread right when the walk in the door.
6. Make your own air fresheners- Forget the expensive, gimmicky chemical sprays and oils at the store and make your own. There are TONS of different ideas and recipes online. Most of them are incredibly simple, frugal, and a great project that the kiddos can help with.
- If you are in a pinch, you can simmer some spices (cinnamon, cloves, etc) or a bit of vanilla extract in a cup or two of water on your stove.
- Reed diffusers are all the rage right now. Skip the expensive store-bought ones and make them yourself instead.
- Save old spray bottles and fill them with your own concoctions for homemade room spray. I’ve included my recipe for Peppermint Room Spray below.
**Updated Version** Peppermint Room Spray
You will need:
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 10 drops of peppermint essential oil
Combine the water and vinegar. Add in the peppermint oil.
Place in a re-purposed spray bottle and use liberally whenever a room needs a little freshening up.
- Give the bottle a good shake before you use it each time.
- I orginally posted this recipe as calling for baking soda. However, I have since changed it. I was noticing a “mysterious” white substance all over my table and countertops, and finally figured out it was the previously airborne baking soda (D-U-H). So, I switched to the vinegar instead. Still deodorizing, but not as chalky.
- Feel free to experiment with different oils and extracts (lavender or orange would be lovely too). The sky is the limit!
- I love this spray because it definitely freshens a room, but isn’t overpowering or “perfumey”