Household Uses for Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices can serve many purposes around the house besides cooking and remedies. They can be great for natural cleaning solutions, warding off summer time bugs, freshen linens, give your home a fresh clean scent with chemical air fresheners, and in many other ways.

Does your garbage disposal smell funny?
Drop a few lemon, lime, or orange peels down there and turn it on. Your kitchen will fill with a fresh citrus scent. You can also sprinkle lavender blossoms in there; about 2 tablespoons should do it. A good way to keep your disposal clean is to regularly (about 1-2 times a week) pour lemon juice or vinegar and a small amount of baking soda down there. It will clean up some of the deposits while it foams and help keep bacteria and fungus from growing in there.

Does your garbage can have a slight odor in the summer?
Try this. Take 2 full lemon peels, chop finely, and add 5 tablespoons of lavender blossoms, Place in a bowl. Crush 3 whole bay leaves and 2 6″ cinnamon sticks. Add to bowl. Smells good enough to eat, right? Set the bowl near your trashcan. Every time you throw something out, take a pinch of mixture from the bowl and sprinkle in the can. The mixture will over power the odor leaving you with a trashcan that smells like a garden instead of a compost pile! * If your kitchen easily gets fruit flies, you may want to avoid the lemon peels and try something else. Like fresh flower petals or basil sprigs from your garden.

Freshen up you linens and laundry
Add a few drops or lavender oil to your washer’s rinse cycle, dab a few drops on a washcloth or towel and toss in the dryer with laundry, fill a muslin bag with lavender flowers and tightly tie shut and toss into your washer with your laundry, or just place the muslin bag directly in your dresser draw or hang it up in your closet with a string.

Naturally scent your bathrooms
Fill a muslin bag with lavender flowers and tie shut. Place bag near your toilet. You can also use cinnamon chips or any other herb or spice you like the scent of.

Chopping onions and can’t get the smell off your hands?
Wash your hands with soap and lemon juice!

Natural blond highlights for blonds
Combine 2 cups of boiling water and 5 tablespoons whole chamomile flowers. Steep until cool. Add 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice and strain. Wash hair normally, and then apply mixture evenly. Repeat often for greater effect.

Make your own body scrubs
Buy an 8 oz jar of water-based cream containing vitamin A & E and no alcohol. In a mixing bowl, mix cream and 1/4 lb of sea salt, or large granule Dead Sea salt minerals. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of jojoba oil, 1 teaspoon aloe Vera powder, 10 drops of German chamomile oil, 5 drops lavender oil, and 3 drops of Eucalyptus oil. Mix well and place mixture back into jar. These jars also make great gifts. You can half the recipe to make 4 oz jars and then decorate them. Also, if your making this as a gift you should find out what scent they prefer and add about 3-5 drops of that. The chamomile, lavender and eucalyptus oil are in this to soften and protect your skin, but if they really don’t like the smell of these you can substitute them for others and double the aloe Vera for skin protection. Also, remember to “scrub” very gently, rubbing the skin to hard can lead to skin irritation.

Rid your kitchen of fruit flies in the summer
First, don’t leave anything sweet sit out (except for the trap your about to make). Second, take your trash out daily! Fruit flies breed in garbage cans, drains, and garbage disposals so its important to keep those areas very clean. Do not let your pet’s food sit out. Feed them away from the kitchen and as soon as they are done, throw the food away or cover it and store in fridge. Once you have made your kitchen un-fly friendly, take a jar and fill it with something sweet. The best thing is soda but you can use anything really sweet. Honey, cider vinegar, etc. You can either only fill enough to cover the very bottom of the jar, or fill it half way full. Its up to you. Once the sweet stuff is in the jar, cover the opening of the jar with plastic wrap and tie a string around it or use a rubber band. Poke a very small hole in the plastic. You can use a chopstick or skewer for this. Sit the jar by your sink. The flies will go in the hole but will not be able to get out. Leave the jar sit and it will collect all your flies. This works, however, try not to leave your doors and windows open without screens because the jar will attract the flies to it so well that you could get a problem on your hands if your not careful! – You may also want to try hanging some fresh basil springs around your kitchen; flies are not attracted to the smell and will stay away!

A scented fireplace for the holidays
If you always have a large amount of guests coming over for the holidays you may be tempted to stock up on air freshener sprays for your home. Especially if you have pets. Instead, if you have a fireplace, try one of these seasonal mixtures to delight your guests’ senses.
For Halloween, try a mixture of 2 cups dried pumpkin rind, 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice, and 1/2 pound of roasted chicory root.
At thanksgiving mix 2 tablespoons each of nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 a cup of cinnamon chips, and 1 cup each of dried sweet potato peels and whole dried cranberries.
For Christmas, take 2 cup of dried apple slices, 1 cup of cinnamon chips or 1/2 pound of 1inch cinnamon sticks, and 1 cup of small pine bark pieces and place in a decorative bowl above your fireplace. Right before company arrives, take a handful of the bowl ingredients and throw in the fireplace.
On Valentines Day try a scent mixture of Berries, roses, vanilla and chocolate. Mix 1 cup of dried rose petals, 1/2 a cup of dried juniper berries, and 1/3 cup each of vanilla beans and whole carob bean pods.
For Easter mix 1 cup each of vanilla beans and carob beans with 1/2 a cup each of dried honeysuckle, raspberry leaf, and nettles.
Just remember to be extremely careful and watchful of your fireplace! Do not leave your fireplace unattended.

Stop throwing away those herbs and spices you don’t use often. Be creative and put them to use in other ways.