Avoiding aerosols is as important as avoiding a typical room air-freshening sprayer. Y­ou can achieve the same effect — a clean, fresh-smelling house — with your own nontoxic concoctions. As an added bonus, you can mix and match scents to suit your own fragrance tastes!

DIY Freshener

The human sense of smell is a very sensitive thing, so much so that a clean-smelling home can play a large part in your emotional and physical health. Make your own earth-friendly freshener spray by mixing equal parts lemon juice and water and storing it in a spray bottle you’ve salvaged from some of your old cleaning products (make sure to rinse it out well first). Spray this around your home once or twice a week for odor control, or as needed when cooking or to get rid of smells that have seeped into the draperies, couch, and other fabrics.

Simmering Scents

One way to spice up your home is by simmering a little cinnamon, cloves, fresh ginger, and the herbs of your choice in a bit of water on your stovetop. For a more summery smell, try adding a handful of mint leaves to 8 cups water. Bring the mixture to a boil first and then turn down to a simmer. You can also use essential oils in combination with these spices, or alone.

Scent on the Spot

For rooms that need freshening in a jiff, soak cotton balls in vanilla extract or an essential oil. Place the cotton in a pretty dish or jar wherever you need to refresh the air. You can also just pour a little vanilla extract into a small bowl and place it where needed.


NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has determined that some common houseplants can do a world of good at eliminating nasty toxins that may be in your home. After all, indoor air quality is a matter of some concern: Along with everyday carcinogens such as secondhand smoke (which contains sulfur dioxide), common household products may also be emitting chemicals into the air we breathe. One of these chemicals is formaldehyde, which can be found in clothes, plywood, and carpeting, leading to headaches and breathing problems.

NASA studied three common indoor pollutants — trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, and benzene — and concluded that the average home could benefit from keeping about 15 plants around. Plants work to gently remove these toxins from your indoor air by producing oxygen, adding moisture to the air, and absorbing the bad stuff through their leaves. Consider them nature’s filter!

Here are some houseplants to consider adding to your indoor plant collection:

The Boston fern (Nephrolepi exalta “Bostoniensis”), florist’s mum (Chrysanthemum morifolium), gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii), dwarf date palm (Phoenix roebelenii), areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens), moth orchid (Phalenopsis), bamboo palm (Chamaedorea), Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), English ivy (Hedera helix), indoor dracaenas (Dracaena “Janet Craig,” D. marginata, D. massangeana, and D. warnekii), and the snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata laurentii).

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