At Seventh Generation, we’ve always been amazed by the power of plants, and their ability to clean, nurture, and inspire. The good news is that there’s lots of fun and easy ways to flex plant power in and around your own home.
Let’s start with cleaning, one of our favorite topics!
- Let lemon and salt work their magic. Sprinkle coarse kosher salt on a cutting board or butcher block, then using a halved lemon with the cut side down, scrub the salt against the wood. Scrape away any gunk, then rinse. If you have a garbage disposal, grind up the used lemon half to clean and refresh the disposal. You can also use salt and lemon juice to scrub dirty cookware or stained coffee mugs.
- Put your olive oil to work beyond cooking. We all love the subtle flavor olive oil imparts in our cooking, but olive oil is surprisingly versatile. It can be used to clean cast-iron pans, get paint off your hands, help repair scratches in leather furniture, and more.
- Keep crawlers outside. Sometimes insects and other critters can make their way indoors. Keep spiders outside with a homemade repellent of lemon essential oil and plant-based dish liquid. Long beloved for its scent and flavor, peppermint can help deter creatures that don’t enjoy it like we do—ants and mice.
For thousands of years, people have used the health and wellness benefits of plants to help nurture their bodies and homes.
- Make herb-powered medicinal tinctures. A tincture is an herbal concentrate made to bring out a plant’s medicinal properties. Many common herbs, like sage, rosemary, and mint have a variety of positive effects on the body. Here’s a great all-purpose tincture guide.
- Lavender-up your drawers and closets. Lavender sachets have long been used to freshen up indoor spaces. Tie up (or sew) dried lavender leaves in a piece of cloth, felt, or even a cut-up pillow case. Place the sachets in your drawers, closets, or even under your pillow. Lavender leaves are also wonderful sprinkled into a warm bath.
- Help cool the burn with aloe. Aloe plants are easy to find and easy to grow. Plus, the gel inside the leaves is a wonderful remedy for soothing burns and cuts.
- Purify the air with houseplants. No less an authority than NASA has done research on the air-purifying benefits of plants. Among those that may help improve indoor air quality: Boston Ferns, Peace Lilies, Dragon Trees, Spider Plants, and Bamboo Palm.
- Say “shoo” flies. Dip strips of paper into a mixture of simple sugar, honey, and water to make homemade flypaper — then hang it where houseflies concentrate. And to capture those annoying fruit flies that invade your kitchen, muddle some fruit in an empty jar, then cover with some paper or plastic wrap with a small hole in it.
- Freshen the air. Put a quart of water on the stove, then when it’s simmering, add one of these lovely combinations for some DIY aromatherapy:
- Lemon, rosemary, vanilla
- Lime and ginger
- Lime and fresh thyme leaves
Finally, let’s look at some of the ways you can make plants shine in the great outdoors.
- Banish mosquitoes. We all share a disdain for pesky mosquitoes. Luckily, there’s a variety of plants that naturally repel them. Here’s our full guide to get you on your way to living (mostly) mosquito-free.
- Embrace peppermint in the garden. Planting peppermint in your garden can help keep beneficial insects in, while naturally repelling unwanted ones.
- Manage unwanted insects in your garden with herbs. Start by planting some lemon balm. The furry leaves produce a lemony aroma, which can help deter unwanted insects. You can even crush up the leaves and rub them on bug bites. Sage is another herb that has insect-repelling properties. Bundle up the leaves and place on an outdoor fire, or some hot coals, and the scent can help ward off pesky insects.