The dried flowers of the scented English lavenders can be used in multiple ways around the home to keep it naturally scented and fresh. Beside the clean, sweet-sharp and slightly old-fashioned scent of lavender, all those toxic artificial thingummies seem pretty pathetic.
Dried lavender and the scent of lavender have long been associated with linen cupboards and laundry. This is because lavender contains a natural insect repellent which helps to keep moths and other unwanted lodgers at bay, such as ants and silverfish (and probably cockroaches, at least to some extent). Lavender smells much nicer on clothes than mothballs by a long chalk. It may also be used in the vacuum cleaner to prevent the bad smell of dust when doing the domestic cleaning.
Most people associate dried lavender flowers in the home with dried flower arrangements and pot pourri. If you want it for the scent rather than for the looks, the old-fashioned pot-pourri bowl is best. Stirring the dried flower heads of the lavender releases the scent. If the lavender gets a bit old and tired and loses its scent, replace it with fresh lavender or else add a few drops of lavender essential oil to recharge the scent.
Lavender bags are another traditional way of keeping your linens (and all your other clothes) smelling fresh and for keeping insects away. This allows the scent of lavender to get into the clothing in your drawer, but the dried flower heads don’t break off, leaving you with itchy dried bits in your knickers. You can buy ready-made lavender bags at gift shops and the like. These are usually made from delicate floral cotton lawn and trimmed with lace and ribbon, but this fabric choice doesn’t affect the scent. A hanky tied shut with a rubber band or a bit of string does just as good a job, and there’s no rule engraved in stone saying that you can’t make a lavender bag out of camo-print tied shut with thin rope (now there’s an unexploited market niche…). If you put some lavender bags in your wardrobe will make your room smell fresh and like it’s just been cleaned by your house cleaner.
A lavender bag can be used as a bath bag. Drop one in your bath. This can only be used once or twice. If you want to make a larger lavender bag, you can use it as a cushion. The scent will be released when it is sat on.
Bunches of dried lavender kept in one piece by bits of string or ribbon are best kept for sheets and pillowcases, as these get shaken out before use and so the problem of little bits getting stuck and itching you is less of a problem. Tuck these bunches of lavender into piles of sheets at regular intervals and move the periodically as the sheets get used. Make sure the lavender is dried before you put it into the sheets – dry stuff might go off or get odd smears on your best white Egyptian cottons.
Lavender bottles are a fancier variation on the bunches that have slightly less likelihood of shedding bits. To make a lavender bottle, get a bunch of fresh lavender and tie them tightly together just below the flower head. Then bend the stalks down so they enclose the flowers in a sort of cage. Tie the stems down below the flower head just below where you tied them at first, and then tie them together again at the ends. It looks a bit like a very long-necked bottle; hence the name.
Lavender bunches and bottles can also be kept in kitchen cupboards to deter ants and the like. It’s best to store them in dried goods that won’t get too badly affected by the scent/taste of lavender. A good suggestion that doesn’t leave you with lavender-flavoured salt or beans is to put the bunches on the shelf or in the cupboard between the boxes, containers and bags of dry goods, which should put the ants and silverfish off before they find their way into your flour.