Commercial air fresheners have come a long way from the chemical-laden aerosols perched atop bathroom windowsills. Supermarket shelves are now lined with liquids, gels, powders, plug-ins and pumps. Some are even automated, dispensing a spritz of fragrance at regular intervals. Handy as these may be, many still release cloying scents.

Thankfully there are other ways to get rid of common household odours and create amazing fragrances and aromas using herbs, spices and essential oils. Here are a few tricks to try…

Light some candles – Place vanilla-scented tea lights in a bowl of coffee beans. The warmth of the candles will heat up the coffee beans and make a living room smell incredible. Or tie cinnamon sticks around pillar candles for the same effect.

Just add vinegar – Stick a bowl of white vinegar in the corner of a room and after a few hours all stale odours will be gone. This works especially well for cigarette smells, cooking odours and to tone down the fumes from that freshly-painted wall.

Make an herb wreath – All you need is a vine base, florist’s wire and your choice of herbs (rosemary, lavender, mint, and thyme are good choices). Cover the base in rosemary sprigs, then tuck in small bunches of lavender and mint, etc, tied together with the florist’s wire.

Bake something delicious – Nothing beats the homely smell of freshly baked bread or biscuits wafting through a home.

Make a batch of potpourri – For a long-lasting natural scent, combine cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise and dried apple and orange slices. Slice the fruit thinly and dry the slices on a baking sheet in the oven at 250°C before adding them to the spices in a glass bowl.

Burn incense – This comes in scents of varied intensity, so pick one that suits you (jasmine and white sage are popular). Light the coated end of the incense stick, holding it at the other end. Wait for the flame to penetrate through the incense then blow it out. The end of the stick should glow red and will give off a scented smoke. Slot the lit stick into an incense burner or ‘plant’ it in the soil of an indoor plant and let it burn itself out.

DIY reed diffusers – Easy enough to make yourself, simply fill a jar with your favourite scented oils, pop in a few thin bamboo skewers (trim off the pointy ends and make sure they’re no more than twice the height of the jar) and leave them to soak up the oil so they can diffuse the scent into the air.

Make scented sachets – Fill little fabric sacks with dried flower petals, lavender or potpourri and place them inside clothing drawers and linen cupboards.

Cook up some stove-top scents – Fill a saucepan three-quarters full with water. Pop in a combination of peelings, spices, herbs and extracts. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for as long as you need to. Good ‘recipe’ combinations include orange, lemon or apple peelings, combined with vanilla, almond, orange or lemon essence, herbs such as lavender, mint, sage and thyme, as well as spices like cinnamon, ginger, clove and allspice.

Powder the carpet – A mixture of equal parts baby powder and baking soda sprinkled onto the carpet and later vacuumed up will neutralise pet odours in a flash.

Got a quick-fix scent solution of your own? Tell us about it…