If you are tired of the severe smell of most chemical cleaners, try these herbal mixtures instead. Lavender oil works as a strong disinfectant, and three or four drops steeped in a bottle of warmed vinegar will sterilize kitchen surfaces and also freshen the air. Rosemary oil will do the same; in the early 20th century it was used in many hospitals as a natural bactericide. Thyme will also work; the principal agent thymol is a potent antiseptic.
Lavender sachets are the perfect way to freshen up drawers and closets, leaving an appealing scent lingering on your delicates. When lavender plants are at full bloom, pick the flowered stems and hang upside down to dry. When they have dried to a crisp, simply gather a teaspoon of lavender blooms in a square of cheesecloth and tie with a ribbon. Distributed freely in drawers of clothes, they will easily last until next seasons plants bloom. You can also mix rose petals, mint leaves or cloves in to vary the scent.
Cupboards containing dry goods and pet foods can not only accumulate smell very quickly, but also attract pests such as insects and mice. There are several natural alternatives to chemical insecticides that can also serve to freshen up the air. Cloves, dried mint, or cayenne powder scattered on shelves will deter ants and mice. Small bunches of elder leaves or tansy will keep away flies, bluebottles and blowflies.
Many people live beloved pets sharing their household, who may or may not attract fleas if they are travelling from out to inside on a regular basis. If commercial flea-sprays are too harsh for you (many people find they irritate skin and respiration) pennyroyal is a simple natural alternative. Pennyroyal, also known as fleabane, will deter fleas quite effectively if a small sachet of leaves are tucked under pets bedding. Pennyroyal has a sharp, fresh, minty scent that will also perk up the indoor air. Be careful, however, not to let your animals consume the plant, as it can be dangerous if ingested.