If you've ever wondered what to do with your leftover herbs at the end of the season, you're not alone. Every year I'm faced with a glut of mint, lavender, rosemary, sage and more. Some of it I freeze to use in the kitchen throughout the winter, but usually I can barely make a dent before spring comes around again. If you're faced with a surplus of flowers and herbs you hate to see shrivel with the first frost, here is an idea to enjoy summer's fragrant bounty indoors, all winter long.
Homemade laundry detergent has been gaining popularity with frugal families everywhere and homemade dryer sachets are a perfect compliment. They are also an excellent idea for anyone with perfume sensitivities or allergies. Best of all, they are reusable, natural, and easy to make.
Start with dried flowers or herbs of your choice. I like Lavender because it grows well in my area and the scent is a personal favorite. Other herbs and plant parts that work well with lavender are mint, citrus (dried rind or lemongrass) and rosemary as well as most common flowers. Be creative and use favorites that grow plentifully in your area. Nearly anything that works in potpourri will work in a dryer sachet.
An average sachet contains 1-2 cups of dried herbs. You can use a variety of pouches from sewn fabric cases to pre-made muslin baggies to heat sealable tea bags* - even an old sock with a knot will work as long as it is free of holes.
If you keep essential oils in the house, you may add a few drops of complimentary scent to your herb blend. Be aware that adding flammable oils to a hot dryer could be dangerous, so proceed sparingly and with caution. Steer clear of synthetic fragrance oils which are often more volatile.
Seal or tie the sachet container shut and pop it in the dryer with moist clothes. The sachet can be reused many times. For lavender sachets, it helps to squeeze the bag between dryer loads. This frees up more of the fragrant oils inside the buds.
If you've already taken the "green initiative" and started venting your dryer inside your home**, you'll enjoy the added benefit of a natural air freshener.
Once dryer sachets are exhausted, they can be placed in dresser drawers for a light fragrance.
Dryer and drawer sachets make great gifts for anyone with sensitive skin, new babies or perfume allergies. Lavender is simple to grow in many climates and the sachets are very inexpensive to make - mine cost just pennies. It's not uncommon to see these sachets in stores for $12 each.
* Heat sealable bags and muslin bags are available from herb and spice suppliers such as San Francisco Herb (sfherb.com). For those who can't grow lavender, it can be purchased in bulk from the same company - around $10 a pound (20 sachets).