How to Make Your House Smell Tropical—Any Time of Year

There are few things in life that are more indulgent than a trip to the tropics. And there are more than a few reasons why we love the region so very much: Wide crescent beaches and rocky coves that give way to sweeping ocean vistas. Tranquil cerulean seas that lap at the shoreline. Gentle trade winds that cool and restore sunkissed skin. And the unmistakable fragrance of sea salt, hibiscus, plumeria, citrus and sweet jasmine in the air. 

Try as we might, we can’t always recreate that feeling of total tropical bliss at home. But it is possible to create a similar sensory experience right in your own house or apartment—the kind that brings you back to the tropics with each and every deep, rejuvenating inhale. Here are seven tips for how to make your home smell like a tropical paradise, all year round.

Remove Unpleasant Sources of Odors

It’s so simple, you might just overlook it. But before you can truly scent your home the way you desire, you’ll need to address any sources of foul odor that are competing for control of the interior air. Common culprits include trash and recycling bins, litter boxes, and piles of dirty laundry—but don’t forget about sour sponges, mildewy dish towels, musty closets, and any areas that are prone to dampness, such as entryway mats. 

Use Deodorizers and Sachets

Even without purchasing a pricey air purifier or air freshener for multiple rooms in your home, it’s possible to create a few easy, DIY deodorizers that can go a long way toward eliminating stale odors and adding a hint of freshly laundered linens throughout your home. This isn’t the tropical scent you’re ultimately going to create, but it makes an excellent base on which to build your preferred island scents in other ways. Here are a few ideas for make-your-own deodorizers:

  • Create an air freshener room spray using equal parts water and white vinegar, along with a few drops of your favorite essential oils, like those in our Relax and Energize collections. 
  • Add a few dryer sheets to specific areas of your home, including dresser drawers and closets (particularly entryway and hall closets), where they will last several weeks before needing to be replaced. Baking soda can also be used in place of dryer sheets. 
  • Make your own scented sachets by mixing rice, Epsom salt, and a mix of essential oils in a bowl, then placing the mixture into mesh or muslin pouches. You can easily refresh them with more scented oils every 3 or 4 weeks, or as needed. 

Incorporate Live Plants

Beyond creating that tropical look you’re craving, certain house plants can also help to mask mild odors by lending a fresh, outdoor scent to the interior of your home. To really amp up the sensory experience of the islands, consider bringing plants such as eucalyptus, orchid, hoya and gardenia into your indoor plant mix. These plants cast their own intoxicating aromas that will transport you to the islands in no time.

Devise a “Signature” Scent

One surefire way to recreate the tropics right in your own home is to identify a favorite scent, and stick with it. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every room in your house needs to have the exact same candle or essential oil burning at all times; rather, figure out a scent “profile” you like, and play with individual scents that contribute toward that recipe. For example, many fragrance experts recommend pairing something “masculine” with something “feminine,” which could mean pairing musky vanilla and sandalwood with lighter, top notes of bergamot, pink pepper and citrus. Alternatively, lavender, eucalyptus and a dash of citrus can create an ideal blend that smells like you brought your favorite tropical island spa home with you. 

Go Beyond Candles

The rule of thumb with candles is to go for ones that throw a strong scent, even when they’re not lit. This is because, practically speaking, you can’t burn candles around the clock. So it’s best to opt for ones that give off a serious scent—then supplement with alternative means, such as reed diffusers, essential oil burners, and the occasional plug-in air freshener in the far corners of your home where the candles can’t quite reach.

Consider Fresh Flowers

Few things can cheer up a space quite like fresh flowers, and it doesn’t hurt that they also give off a rousing and room-filling scent for days on end. In terms of tropical fragrance, opt for bouquets that feature plumeria (also known as frangipani), ylang ylang, passionfruit, orchid, lily, jasmine, and most potent of all, gardenia.

Grow Fresh Herbs

Another way to bring the fresh scent of the islands indoors is by growing a small herb garden in your kitchen. They’re relatively low maintenance and easy to grow indoors. With rosemary, basil, cilantro and mint at the core, your kitchen will always have an unmistakable air of the tropics—and with fresh herbs to throw into all of your everyday meals, your culinary prowess just may jump up a notch, too. 

Time to Create Your Tropical Oasis

With so many easy and affordable fragrance hacks, turning your home into a scent-sational tropical retreat is easier than ever. Stock up on essential oils to infuse each room of your house with your choice of relaxing or energizing aromas, and grab a few tropical fragrances for yourself while you’re at it. You’ll be feeling the island vibes in no time—just enough to tide you over until your next trip to the tropics.