Fall cleaning: It’s not as common a phrase as “spring cleaning,” but preparing our nests for the long winter is just as wonderful as cleaning out the cobwebs after a cold season spent indoors. And using botanical oils to get our homes cozy for fall is a natural way to nix cold-weather illnesses and boost spirits.
Fall Scents to Warm the Home and Heart
Warming botanicals are high in both phenylpropane and terpenoid compounds, among the strongest antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic agents known in the botanical world, says Marcel Lavabre, author of Aromatherapy Workbook. By carefully using spicy and earthy scents we may not only help prevent harmful viruses from entering our homes, but also help fight the bacteria that tend to accumulate in spaces closed up tight against the elements. In addition to cleansing the home, these warm and inviting scents can stimulate the nervous system and may even sharpen the mind, as new research on rosemary indicates.
Anise: The slightly sweet and aromatic scent of anise has spicy undertones. It is commonly described as licorice-like. In addition to being a powerful antiseptic, anise also has antifungal properties, as detailed in a 2005 study in the journal Acta Pharmaceutica. The essential oil makes a potent ingredient in any disinfectant cleanser. Historically renowned all over the world for its medicinal properties, the oil can also be used in a diffuser to promote relaxation and a healthy respiratory system. (Learn how to make your own reed diffuser with our video.)
Cinnamon: One of the oldest spices used by humans, cinnamon has a characteristic spicy fragrance. Various studies have reported the strong antimicrobial activity in cinnamon extract, and the essential oil has been found to be especially effective in repelling insects. Cinnamon’s stimulating volatile oils are also vasodilating, increasing circulation and warmth in the body. Use in a disinfectant spray, sachet or simmering potpourri for a delicious-smelling and healthy home.
Clove: The hot, spicy scent of clove has a sweet finish. Energizing clove oil possesses antihistamine, antiseptic, antifungal and antiparasitic properties. But its real strength lies in its antibacterial applications. In 2009, the Journal of Food Science noted the significant effects of clove oil against several bacterial strains, including Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella enterica and Listeria monocytogenes. The oil inhibited the growth of these bacteria when used directly or in a vaporized form. Using clove oil in your diffuser or disinfectant spray could be an effective way to combat these bacteria in your home. Use low dilutions of the oil, however, as it can be an irritant, or place whole cloves in a warming potpourri.
Fir: The fragrance of the fir pine tree is one of the finest coniferous scents. Fresh, balsamic and piney in fragrance, the oil and resin of the fir were traditionally used for their antiseptic properties. Use it in your home to disinfect especially noxious areas by adding it to an all-purpose cleanser. The volatile oils are energizing and can help protect against respiratory diseases. Place fresh fir or pine boughs throughout your home for a healthier and more energized atmosphere.
Rosemary: Truly intoxicating, the scent of rosemary is fiery and spicy with a hint of pine. The volatile oils of rosemary have long-lasting antibacterial and antiseptic properties, which make it a favorite in cleansers and sprays. It is also highly effective at dissolving grease and repelling insects thanks to its high camphor content. Recently, a study from Northumbria University in the United Kingdom found that 1,8-cineole, a main chemical in rosemary oil, is linked with increased brain performance when found in the blood. Activate your mind and repel bacteria by hanging sprigs of rosemary by the entrance of your home.
Naturally Clean and Fresh
Making your own cleansers for a fresh home is easy and economical. The first step is to stock up on basic ingredients such as white vinegar, baking soda and a few spray bottles. Then, gather some old towels or T-shirts to use for rags. Finally, use the scents of warming essential oils in any one of these easy formulas for a fresh fall fragrance.
Clove Spice Air Freshener
1 cup water
10 drops cinnamon essential oil
5 drops anise essential oil
5 drops clove essential oil
1 tablespoon witch hazel
1. Combine all ingredients well.
2. Pour into a spray bottle or atomizer.
3. Spray generously throughout the home, avoiding contact with eyes.
Rosemary-Fir All-Purpose Disinfectant Cleaner
2 cups water
1 cup white vinegar
25 drops rosemary essential oil
25 drops fir essential oil
1. Combine all ingredients well.
2. Pour into a large spray bottle.
3. Use to cleanse and disinfect kitchens, bathrooms and countertops.
Cinnamon-Anise Carpet Freshener
5 cups baking soda
50 drops cinnamon essential oil
20 drops anise essential oil
1. Blend ingredients together thoroughly.
2. Store in large Mason jar.
3. Drill or hammer holes in lid of Mason jar for a sprinkle top.
4. Sprinkle generously over carpets. Leave overnight or for several hours before vacuuming well.
Potpourris and sachets are great ways to introduce warm scents into the home. Simply gather up a mix of the whole dried plants below and place them in a large jar, vase or bowl. If you wish, add scent by sprinkling a few drops of essential oil over the mixture and stir well. Place throughout the home or tie up sachets of the mixture to place in drawers. To infuse even more scent and moisture into your home, simmer a few cups of potpourri with 2 to 4 cups water on the back of the stove.