It's peak lilac season where I live, and on warm days, one of my all-time favorite scents wafts in from every window, along with the scents of apple blossoms, violets, and roses. My daughter enhanced the moment in her bedroom by cutting a bouquet from the back yard. We avoid artificial scent chemicals at our house, so when we want our spaces to smell better, we clean up anything that stinks and add real things that produce aroma, like fresh flowers from the gardens outside and fresh-baked pies and cookies. Real clean scents almost always smell better than fake ones, and they are usually less toxic to release into your precious indoor air.
The only way to truly banish a stink from anything that is dirty, deteriorating, or moldy is to remove the stinky material from the premises. Bad smells are your clue that it's time to do some spring cleaning. This spring, my husband and I made a few changes that gave the smell of our walkout basement a total rejuvenation. We already take care to clean up anything that starts to stink, like musty laundry that needs washing or kitty litter that needs a change, and we make our own cleaning solutions using Dr. Bronner's castile soaps, water, vinegar, and a few drops of essential oils that are good at inhibiting the growth of mold and mildew. We've tried many different varieties of cat litter and determined that the one that works best at locking down our kitty's potty odors is also one of the most simple, healthy choices: Tidy Cats Naturally Strong with Lemongrass. We've tried just about everything over the past three years (our poor kitty has a congenital digestive issue that flares up once in a while), and this one works better by far than anything else, even varieties that contain heavy, poisonous-smelling perfumes or Febreze. And last week, we ripped out the carpet in our downstairs family room that always gets musty the moment the humidity rises. Not this year, stinky carpet!
We bumped up the freshness of the moment by opening all the windows in the house and lighting some high-quality incense for a minute or two. The weather has turned chilly again, and our windows are shut tight. We've been having fires in the family room wood stove using fragrant hardwoods, and they smell divine. Incense and fires, while "natural," can be hazardous to indoor air quality, so we use them sparingly.
Another way to freshen the indoor air when we can't open the windows is to run an air purifier with a clean and effective filter. This sucks allergens out of the air (with those lovely flower smells come pollen, unfortunately) and also zaps fumes and funky smells, for example, if we've burned dinner in the kitchen. Oops.
My husband, who loves scent but has asthma and a lot of allergies, likes to brew up his own scented body products in the garage using fresh herbs and spices, essential oils, and sometimes a little powdered incense for smokiness.
We find that anything that smells good inside of our home--my husband's homemade personal scents, our homemade cleaning solutions, fresh flowers, home-baked treats--also make good gifts that can really brighten someone's day. A complex, natural bouquet of scent can transport someone on a nostalgic journey, tapping into all their happiest and most beautiful memories. A naturally scented gift or aromatic baked treat or meal can be a great pick-me-up for anyone yearning for travel and going out as we enter the long, final(? I hope!) stretch of the pandemic.