Smells like Home

by Sara Panton

Smells like Home

Whether you’re returning to your childhood home for the weekend or unlocking your apartment at the end of a long day, there’s nothing like going home. It’s not just about opening the front door with its familiar creak or spotting beloved decorations dotting every room. It’s about the invisible things that really make a house a home.

The smells.

You don’t have to be passive about the smells that define your home and just how homey it feels. You can create your dream home, scent-wise! That’s where essential oils come into play.

In the book Essential Well Being, author Sara Panton dives into all the ways we can use essential oils for self-care—including to cultivate a sense of home.

“Using scent to cue the brain to realize that a space means something is an incredibly powerful concept,” writes Panton. “For instance, lavender in a bedroom creates a sense of peace and lightness, while grapefruit in a kitchen feels fresh, bold, and crisp.”

This holiday season, fill your home with scents to calm and uplift you and your guests. Here are Panton’s favorite essential oils to diffuse in two important rooms: the kitchen (the busy heart of the home when you’re entertaining) and the bathroom (the oasis you can escape to for a quiet shower or bath).*

*You’ll also find a bonus section on DIY dryer sheets to give your coziest PJs and guest linens a little special something.

Bathroom diffuser blends

Diffuser blends that I love for the bathroom depend on the time of day I am using them. What makes a diffuser more adaptable than a candle for the bathroom is that you can set the mood or create an oasis even before you enter the space. Each of these diffuser blends was designed for a specific bathroom ritual, and each one plays with the senses at different times of day and in different routines. Add one of these bathroom blends to an ultrasonic diffuser.

Wake Up, Sleepyhead

A blend that fills your bathroom with the smell of a hundred peeled oranges.

Using citrus aromas in the morning is a subtle way to influence the brain and cue it to wake up naturally. Part of my morning routine involves drinking water as soon as I wake up and turning on my bathroom diffuser with this citrus and herbal blend before I make my matcha.

  • 10 drops sweet orange essential oil
  • 5 drops grapefruit essential oil
  • 2 drops lemon essential oil

Morning Spa Session

A blend that sneaks an early spa moment into your day.

This diffuser blend helps you turn your bathroom into a full-on spa in the morning. No one needs to know that your five-minute shower smells like a five-star hotel eucalyptus steam room.

  • 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 3 drops geranium essential oil
  • 2 drops tea tree essential oil

Glowing Girl

A perfect blend to set the mood for a little “you” time.

This is a diffuser blend for late-night bath moments spent with the lights off and the diffuser on. This mix of resinous essential oils combined with floral undertones helps create a sense of ritual and habit that has me craving evening baths as a floral-scented place of serenity.

  • 7 drops ylang ylang essential oil
  • 5 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 5 drops cedarwood essential oil
  • 2 drops bergamot essential oil

Kitchen diffuser blends

These blends are great to use in the kitchen on weekends to freshen things up. They’ve become a staple ritual in my cooking prep (especially when I’m about to cook with garlic or onions). Before I start cooking, I add one of these blends to my diffuser in the kitchen and turn it on—it keeps things smelling fresh and clean, regardless of the absolute mess I’m making on my stove and countertop.

So Fresh and So Clean

A blend that gives off ultra-fresh vibes at any hour of the day.

  • 10 drops spruce essential oil
  • 10 drops grapefruit essential oil

The Lazy Housekeeper

A blend that makes it smell like you just cleaned your house, even when you didn’t.

  • 5 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 5 drops lemon essential oil
  • 5 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 4 drops sweet orange essential oil
  • 3 drops spruce essential oil

Citrus Fruit Salad

A blend that smells like you just peeled and plated a giant fresh citrus fruit salad.

  • 7 drops grapefruit essential oil
  • 5 drops sweet orange essential oil
  • 5 drops lemon essential oil

There are so many types of essential oil diffusers. Which one to choose? Panton prefers ultrasonic diffusers, which work with a mixture of water and the essential oils of your choice. These diffusers use vibrations, not heat, to break the essential oils into micro particles and disperse them through the air in a cool mist. The gold standard? An ultrasonic diffuser made with BPA-free plastic and an auto-off safety switch!

Dryer Sheets

Makes 5 dryer sheets / Ready in 10 minutes

A natural alternative to super-concentrated commercial dryer sheets! Regular dryer sheets are filled with synthetic aromas and toxins—these chemicals are designed to help keep scents and fragrances on the fabrics. Using homemade dryer sheets lets you use the natural and more interesting aromas of essential oils to create custom scents for your clothing while feeling a little bit better about what you’re putting on your skin.

You’ll need:

  • 16 oz mason jar or jar with a lid
  • 5 small cloths or fabric scraps


  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 15 drops lavender essential oil
  • 15 drops lemon essential oil

Add vinegar and essential oils to mason jar and mix with a spoon.

Dip 1 cloth into mixture in mason jar. Wring out cloth to remove excess liquid, then toss it into the dryer with wet clothes. The heat from the dryer will make the vinegar scent go away, and your clothes will be scented with the essential oils.

Keep unused solution in mason jar covered with lid away from direct sunlight for up to 2 weeks.

Excerpted from Essential Well Being by Sara Panton. Copyright © 2019 Sara Panton. Photography by Britney Gill. Published by Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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