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History of home fragrances: why and how we make our homes smell good

We all want our homes to smell good, and these days there is a huge number of attractive home fragrance products on the market. We want to get rid of cooking smells in the kitchen, and eliminate pet odours from our living spaces. As for bedrooms, we want to make sure they smell fresh and clean, with no traces of old shoes in the air!

Home fragrance is key to creating a relaxing and welcoming environment in the home. You might think this is a relatively modern phenomenon, but in fact it can be traced back thousands of years – our ancient ancestors were just as keen on fresh-smelling homes as we are today! Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about the history of home fragrance, along with some suggested scents for a beautiful home.

The history of home fragrance

1. Ancient civilisations

The earliest recorded home fragrances date back to around 3,000 BC, and Ancient Egypt. Perfume makers used natural scents including jasmine, lotus flower and Frankincense as a means of connecting with the gods. Some of the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs and priests were even buried with their own special fragrances – these could still be detected thousands of years later when archaeologists discovered their tombs!

At around the same time, the ancient Chinese and ancient Greeks were also experimenting with fragrance. In China, incense made from mandarin oranges and fragrant flowers was burned as a means of cleansing a room, while the ancient Greeks would scatter mint leaves on the floors of their homes to create a fresh scent.

2. Middle Ages

Perfume for personal use was generally frowned on during the Middle Ages, as it was seen as frivolous and disrespectful to God. However, when the soldiers brought rose water back to Europe from the Crusades, this smelled so beautiful that it became an instant hit with the general population! A perfume made from rosemary and wine also became extremely popular during this time.

Perfumes during the Middle Ages weren’t worn – instead they were used to fragrance rooms, as they were believed to ward off diseases such as the Plague.

3. Renaissance

During the Renaissance, France became the capital of home fragrancing, with most of the popular scents originating in Paris. At this time, perfumes were particularly important, as bathing was believed to be unhealthy!

Because of this, strong scents were understandably popular! Musk, tuberose and jasmine in particular were used to hide unpleasant odours in the home.

4. 19th Century

It was in the 1800s that air fresheners began to appear. They looked extremely different to the products we experience today – small ceramic containers would be filled with aromatic wood or lavender, which was burned to release a pleasant scent.

This was believed to help destroy bacteria and disease, as well as masking the strong smell of sewage which was a problem in all towns and cities before the invention of the flushing toilet!

5. 20th Century

The 20th century was when the market for home fragrance products really began to open up and resemble the industry we know today. Companies such as AirWick, Glade and Yankee Candle sprang into existence, catering solely to the home fragrancing market, along with products such as Magic Tree for the car.

These innovative products started a trend for aromatherapy, which demonstrated the power of pleasant aromas to improve our sense of wellbeing.

6. Present day

Since 2000, the home fragrance industry has boomed. There has never been a wider range of products for us to choose from, including scented candles, melts, reed diffusers and sprays.

Current scent trends are for natural fragrances which are derived directly from nature, such as Amber and Patchouli or Bergamot and Peonies. Beach fragrances are also extremely popular, due to their ability to create a fresh scent throughout the home – try Beach With Seashells to transport yourself to a relaxing and exotic setting!

Find out more about home fragrance

If you want to learn more about the various ways to fragrance your home, and the various effects different scents can create, we’re always happy to help. Please contact our team for more information about our home fragrance products