We have some guests coming over in an hour and I'd like to have our house to have a pleasant smell when they arrive. However, we don't have any air fresheners or anything like that on hand and I have some other things to do to prepare so I don't have time to go get some.

Note that I'm not looking to fix any particular unpleasant smells, but rather attempting to give the house a more prominent pleasant smell.

What can I do to make our house smell a bit better before they get here?

  • 3
    Do you have scented candles? A coffee machine is also good, or throwing some cider and spices in the crockpot
    – J. Musser
    Commented Dec 20, 2014 at 21:22

5 Answers 5


There is something I learned of my granny. Around Christmas people around here plug whole cloves into an orange:

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Place this orange in any room and it will soon spread the scent of oranges and carnation.

I must say however that not everybody (including me) likes this smell too much.

  • This is often called a Christingle. Sometimes they will also have a ribbon wrapped around its waist. Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 5:06
  • It is also referred to as a pomander.
    – Stan
    Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 4:14

A great way to create a pleasant smell is to take a couple of caps (not cups) of vanilla and place them in an oven-safe mug or something similar. Then place it in the oven at 300°F (150°C) for around an hour. In about 20 minutes the rooms nearby should start to fill with the pleasant smell of vanilla!

If you're looking to create a different type of smell, you can boil some water and then simmer spices in it like cinnamon or cloves.


Here are some ideas:

  • If you're cooking dinner for your guests, start before they arrive. This means the house will smell nice when they get there, and as a bonus, you'll have less time you have to spend in the kitchen whilst they're present.

  • Warm an orange in the oven or microwave (use a low setting in the microwave - you don't want it to explode!) and place it in the room you're going to be in. Waming the fruit makes it easier for the vapours to spread into the air and diffuse throughout the room.

  • Alternatively, just eat an orange in the room your guests will be in! I often find that with all the peeling and tearing of the skin and the cells, the place around where I ate the orange ends up quite strongly orange-flavoured.

  • Burn scented candles, if you have them. If you don't have them, burn normal candles with a few drops of essential oil (including vanilla essence or other oils used for cooking, not just oils bought exclusively for frangrance purposes) rubbed gently on the cold candle before you light it.
    N.B. Don't use perfume or artificial chemicals - chances are they will be highly flammable!

  • Fill a bowl full of boiling water and add a few drops of lemon juice or peppermint essence or anything else aromatic to it. Put the bowl in the room that the guests will be in. The water vapour fills the room and carries the smell with it. Unless you have awesome presentation skills, you probably want to remove it before they arrive ;)

  • Make coffee, if you have the equipment. Freshly brewed coffee scents the room quite nicely, and your guests can drink it when it's ready.

  • I was going to suggest making coffee +1
    – apaul
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 19:44
  • Not everyone likes the smell of coffee. Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 17:38
  • 1
    I'm sure every pleasant smell will have its detractors. Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 6:54
  • Another way of getting orange smell fast is to grate it (and leave the orange skin around) Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 8:42

I have heard the story of Real Estate agents that bake a batch of cookies in the oven at the house they are going to show for an "open house". (I am not certain if this is a myth or fact, but the theory seems sound.) Not only would this fill the house with a pleasant, and tasty smell, the theory is that it makes the house they are showing more appealing and feel more like a "home".

In your case, this would give the house a smell you are looking for (pleasant) and a wonderful side effect is that you have a batch of cookies to present to your guests!

  • 1
    Absolutely. Cookies or bread. You can use those frozen bread rolls to bake yourself, they really make the house smell like home.
    – RedSonja
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 9:40

An hour may not be enough time, but if you have a bread machine, make a loaf of bread; lacking that, if you will be eating dinner and have dinner rolls on hand, warming them up in the oven will create a pleasant scent.

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