Freshen Up Your Home With These 9 Tips for Using Essential Oils

Afro Bohemian Living entryway table.

Afro Bohemian Living

Febreeze had its day in the sun, but today, homeowners are searching for natural, non-toxic ways to banish odors—and essential oils have answered the call.

Smells are much more than sour or sweet. They are intricately tied to our brains and even our emotions: the smell of smoke can warn you of impending danger, the aroma of fresh bread or potpourri may make you feel nostalgic, triggering memories of a childhood home or a beloved relative. In the same way, certain scents can help your mind and body unwind, setting the stage for a restful and relaxing home.

"It’s not home if it doesn’t smell like it," Dominique Gebru, a content creator and interior stylist says. Here are some simple tips to create a soothing scene in your home using essential oils.

Meet the Expert

  • Dominique Gebru is a content creator and interior stylist, based in Washington DC.
  • Mani Tagba is an interior stylist in Munich, Germany, and manages the popular blog, Afro Bohemian Living.
01 of 09

Choose a Stone Diffuser for a Minimal Look

Dominique Gebru essential oils.

Dominique Gebru

It can be challenging to find décor that's both practical and pretty, but ceramic diffusers, like this Terracotta Stone Diffuser from Vitruvi, have found the sweet spot. Their design is simple and understated, resembling a sleek clay vase.

Dominique Gebru has a Vitruvi diffuser in her home and uses it often. "Most of the time I use a diffuser in my bedroom," she says. "The gentle hum calms me."

If you struggle with headaches or seasonal allergies, Mani of Afro Bohemian Living recommends essential oils like peppermint in your diffuser to clear your mind and relax your sinuses.

02 of 09

Use Terracotta Pots to Spread Sweet Smells

Leaf + Lolo dining room.

Leaf + Lolo

Diffusers provide a perfect means of spreading pleasant aromas through a room, but if you don't have one, there are plenty of alternatives. For instance, plant lovers can place a couple drops directly on their terracotta pots instead. Terracotta is highly absorbent, so it'll soak the oils right up.

03 of 09

Sprinkle Oils on Your Pillowcase

Cathie Hong modern bedroom.

Cathie Hong Interiors

One way to gently lull yourself to sleep is by placing a couple drops of essential oils on the corners or underside of your pillowcase. Tagba suggests lavender essential oil for this purpose. "Lavender rests the mind and makes you fall asleep easily," she says.

You can even create a homemade mister with a little water and a few drops of essential oil in a spray bottle. Lightly spray your bedding a bit before snuggling up under the covers.

04 of 09

Blend with Baking Soda to Cleanse Carpeting

If Walls Could Talk living space.

If Walls Could Talk

Baking soda is an excellent cleaning solution, and essential oils provide a fresh smell to go with it. Mix a little baking soda with a few drops of pine essential oil for an outdoorsy vibe, then let it sit in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware for a couple days. Sprinkle the mixture over your carpet, wait for as long as you're able, then vacuum it up.

05 of 09

Hide Scented Cotton Balls in Your Closet

Reena Sotropa custom closet design.

Reena Sotropa

If you're a less-is-more kind of decorator, this sneaky tip may be perfect for you. Gather a handful of cotton balls, then dot each one with a few drops of essential oils. Hide them in your closet and dresser drawers to keep your clothes smelling fresh.

"I’m a sucker for lavender when I want to chill and eucalyptus when I want to freshen things up," Gebru says.

06 of 09

Incorporate Reed Diffusers as Unique Décor

Dominique Gebru bathroom with essential oils.

Dominique Gebru

Perhaps the greatest perk of reed diffusers is their simple design. Reed diffusers are made up of just three elements: a small glass jar, a set of reed sticks, and your essential oils. The oil travels up the reeds, which naturally disperse smells into the air.

If you're not sure which oils to use at home, Tagba has a few suggestions to get you started. "I always have a fragrance running at home," she says. "My base oils are lavender, peppermint, frankincense, geranium, and tea tree oil."

07 of 09

Swap Your Candle for a Candle Diffuser

Afro Bohemian Living living room with candles.

Afro Bohemian Living

If you love the warm glow of a candle in your living room, try a metal or ceramic candle diffuser, like the Ceramic Ritual Oil Diffuser by Bodha. This option uses heat from a tea light to send calming smells through the air. They also avoid the use of electricity and are typically more affordable than some plug-in diffusers.

08 of 09

Apply Essential Oils to Raw Wood Décor

Design: Kate Lester Interiors; Photo: Amy Bartlam

Design: Kate Lester Interiors; Photo: Amy Bartlam

Like terracotta, unfinished wood is another absorbent material you can use to usher in your favorite scents. Some oil enthusiasts place a couple of drops of geranium or bergamot essential oils on clothespins, then hide them in kitchen cupboards and bathroom cabinets. You can also use wood décor to transport the aroma, but keep in mind certain oils may stain.

09 of 09

Mask Strong Cooking Odors with Oils

Home by Polly kitchen with essential oils.

Home by Polly

If you're preparing a large meal, like a pot roast or stew, the smell can waft through the air even days after you've indulged. Fortunately, essential oils like cardamom and clove can replace these lingering odors with a sweeter scent. Simply add a few drops to a pot of water, bring it to a slow simmer, and inhale.

Article Sources
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  1. Peppermint Oil. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Updated October 2020.

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