Frugal Village: Scentsational solutions for fall

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Fall decorating is a luxury not everyone can afford. Fortunately, you can still add a bit of fall fair without busting your budget. Sure, you can bring the outdoors in and decorate using pine cones, acorns, gourds, branches, dried pods or flowers, Indian corn, etc. You can make simple color changes with throw blankets, place mats and table runners, too. But it's the scent of autumn that is the most comforting.

How do you scent your home?

Here are a few suggestions:

Clean and declutter: Bad smells linger in refrigerators, trash cans, garbage disposals, carpets, bathrooms, microwaves, closets that hold shoes, etc. Tackle these smells by cleaning.

• Refrigerator: Check for spoilage and wash shelves, door seals and handles. Make sure leftovers are sealed airtight and jars and containers are wiped clean.

• Garbage disposal: Pour baking soda and vinegar into your garbage disposal. Cover the drain and let it sit. Flush it with boiling water. Afterward, grind ice cubes and citrus peels to give it a fresh scent.

• Microwave: In a microwave-safe bowl, add lemon juice or 1/4 cup vinegar to a cup water. Add a wooden spoon to the bowl to prevent superheating. Microwave on high until the interior gets steamy. Let sit for 15 minutes and wipe away any debris.

• Closets: Hang a cedar block. Use crumpled newspaper or baking soda inside shoes, or pour kitty litter into a spare sock and place it in the shoes. I would put the shoes outside to air out, too.

Homemade air freshener: Pour vinegar into a spray bottle, add 20 drops of essential oil (optional), and spritz the air. Open a window and let fresh air in, too. If you prefer not to spray it, you can pour some into a small bowl and set it on a table. Don't toss it out when you're done: Use it to clean your microwave or make your own homemade Febreze.

Place 2 cups water and 1 cup fabric softener in a spray bottle and shake well to mix. Test a small area before using to make sure no discoloration occurs. Use as needed, shaking well before each use.

Linen spray: You'll need 20 ounces distilled water, 1-1/2 ounces 100-proof vodka and 1 teaspoon lavender essential oil. Find a large container with a lid. Mix the vodka and water, then add the essential oil. Shake thoroughly. Pour into a mister or spray bottle. You can substitute other scents, too. Use this on towels in the linen closet or on your pillows, sheets, comforters and clothing (it can help with smoke odors).

Soap scent: Open up a few cakes of bath soap and put them in your drawers to add scent. Dryer sheets or free perfume samples from magazines will work, as well. Both can help your bathroom smell nice, too.

Simmering potpourri: Slice oranges and boil them with cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg and water on the stovetop to add a scent of autumn. If you like the smell of baked goods or nature, try scented soy candles.

Scented pine cones: Gather pine cones. Place in a large plastic bag and add several drops of essential oil in orange, cinnamon, apple or eucalyptus scents. Seal the bag for a few days. Open and place pine cones in a decorative basket or bowl. You can also substitute cotton balls for pine cones.

Car air fresheners: These are cheap and can be used to scent your home, too.

Coffee grounds: Set coffee grounds (either unused or used and dried) in a bowl or Dixie cup in an inconspicuous area to add scent and absorb bad smells. Putting them in a sachet works best, but you can use a section of nylon pantyhose, too. If you don't want to use coffee groundsyou can use baking soda and a few drops of essential oil.

• Sara Noel is the owner of Frugal Village (, a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. To send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO, 64106, or e-mail


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