It’s not just surfaces that need regular cleaning in the kitchen: the air is often laden with smells and cooking oils that make it heavy and unpleasant.
Commercial air fresheners often simply mask underlying odors with artificial fragrances that make things smell worse, rather than better.
Of course, nothing beats opening the windows wide and letting a fresh breeze into the kitchen! But bad weather can make this an impractical solution at times. Here are a few methods for creating fresher air using common household and garden ingredients.
SPICES AND CITRUS
This one’s a natural during the holiday season, but it works all winter long – or on any gray, gloomy day.
Liven up stale and stuffy air by simmering whole spices and citrus peels.
To a large pot of water, add 1/4 cup whole cloves, 4 whole nutmegs, 6 cinnamon sticks, and the peel of 2 lemons or one orange.
Bring just to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for an hour or so, to fill the kitchen with spicy-sweet fragrance.
The aromatic liquid can also do double duty, so don’t toss it out! When cool, strain into a spray bottle to spritz when your house needs a little freshening.
HERBS AND FRUIT
This one employs same idea as above, but with lighter fragrances.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add your favorite fruit cut into quarters, or several sprigs of garden-fresh herbs – or make a blend of both for your own signature scent.
Reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours, and enjoy the aroma. When cool, strain through a fine mesh screen and into a spray bottle, to spritz when the air needs a little pick-me-up.
Herbs with woody stems such as rosemary, lavender, thyme, bay leaves, or even southernwood (a medicinal herb that’s indigenous to southern Europe) are perfect for this.
They’re better able to maintain their integrity and perfume for longer periods in simmering water than leafy ones, but any herbs will give a lovely fragrance. A couple of tender tips from a pine or cedar tree can also be used in this manner.
Apples, citrus fruit, pears, and cranberries all give a light, fresh scent as well.
SALT AND BAKING SODA
This combination is particularly useful for cleaning drains and eliminating the odors that come from them.
Pour 1 cup rock salt into the drain, then 1 cup baking soda. Let the fizzing action of the sodium bicarbonate and the power of salt do the tough cleaning work.
Follow with a kettle full of boiling water to rinse away gunk and odors.
Lemons have remarkable cleaning properties, and freshening up the place is only one of them.
For a pure lemon scent that devours heavy grease particles, lingering fishy smells, and other cooking odors, slice 2 lemons into halves or quarters.
Line a baking sheet with foil and place the lemon pieces on top, with some breathing room in between. Then bake in a 250°F oven for 1-2 hours.
After turning off the heat, leave the lemons on the tray. Open the oven door, and allow their cleansing fragrance to continue working until the oven is completely cool.
BORAX FOR THE GARBAGE PAIL
Borax is another useful household cleaner that works well for absorbing odors.
Deodorize your garbage pail once a month by adding 1/4 cup borax and 2 quarts of hot water. Swish the water around to cover the interior of your pail, then pour the water out.
Turn the pail upside down to drain, and allow to dry. Once dry, sprinkle some borax on the bottom for continued odor protection, then put in a trash bag.
This is also good for removing odors from kitchen compost buckets and diaper pails.
THE NOSE KNOWS
A fresh fragrance in the kitchen not only makes the room feel clean, it’s a great mood-lifter as well!
Try these in your own kitchen and experiment with some of your favorite aromas from spices, herbs, and fruit – it’s fun, and your kitchen will smell great. Don’t be surprised when friends and family start asking for your “secret scent” recipe!
Do you readers have any favorite fragrance combinations or other natural air fresheners you like to use in the kitchen? Drop us a note in the comments below and pass along your knowledge!