Using pot pourri may seem like a throwback from the 1970s and 80s but the use of herbs and spices to create a fragrant ambiance became popular much earlier in the 17th Century. In France during this time herbs and spices were scattered across a floor, treated with salt and left to decay. Layers of flowers, herbs and salt were continually added throughout the summer growing season until the fermented medley was ready in the autumn to fill bowls and scent rooms. The French word ‘pot pourri’ literally means ‘rotten pot’.
Pot pourri was principally used to cover up the unpleasant aromas of the day, which were many! Small posies were made up and hung around rooms and even tied among the layers of ladies skirts to mask body odour. However a careful selection of herbs were also used to ward off pests such as clothes moth. Using plants and herbs to repel insects in this way can be traced back to ancient civilisations; the Romans used lavender among their bed linens and wore laurel crowns to ward of insects and the ancient Egyptians used herbs in the mummification process.
Clothes moths feed on the protein, keratin which is found in animal hair, skin cells and natural materials such as silk, wool and leather. It is also present in sweat and other bodily secretions which is why worn and dirty clothes attract moths and why our anti-moth advice includes never putting worn clothes back in the wardrobe. Cleanliness to this level would not have been possible centuries ago so it stands to reason that clothes moths were a constant problem and natural methods were used as standard to repel them.
Can I make my own pot-pourri?
Pot pourri went out of fashion about two decades ago as people opted for candles and reed diffusers. Interestingly, boutique pot pourri is now making a comeback as people opt for quality, natural scents but I never really thought of pot pourri as being in or out of fashion. At Total Wardrobe Care, we are focussed specifically on clothing care and protecting clothes and soft furnishing from clothes moth using natural ingredients. To my mind, a pot pourri filled pouch is a practical item to put between linens in wardrobes and drawers to repel moths.
Eight years ago I set about experimenting with ingredients to make my own moth repelling pot pourri. I had already researched a range of essential oils that have anti-moth properties, so I followed a do-it-yourself pot pourri recipe.. simple I thought!
To my horror, my attempt at pot pourri making was an absolute disaster; it smelled awful. What I didn’t know at the time is that each ingredient has a different sized molecule which effects how long it lasts and how quickly or slowly the nose detects it. Individual fragrances are divided in to three categories called top, heart and base notes depending on their molecule size. Putting fragrances together successfully requires a ‘nose’, a term used in the fragrance industry for someone skilled in the art and qualified in the science of perfumery.
So it was then, in the heart of the New Forest, I found a ‘nose’, an expert perfumer and aromatherapist who helped me to successfully put together my researched selection of moth repelling essential oils into what is now our signature May Chang blend. With it, we created our pot pourri cone which sits snugly among linens and woollens providing a beautiful scent whilst also protecting clothes from beastly moths.
What makes our pot pourri special?
Mass produced pot pourri will almost certainly use cheap synthetic fragrances some of which are derived from petrochemicals. Our pot pourri uses our May Chang blend which is made from eight essentials oils distilled from organically grown herbs. The pot pourri is hand made in small batches to ensure a consistent composition using a selection of dried flowers and herbs which work with the May Chang essential oil blend. It is finished with orris root, a natural fixative which provides a lasting scent. Each batch is lovingly created over three weeks and decanted into an embroidered cone made of 100% cotton.
How long does pot-pourri last?
A quality pot pourri can last for years if it is refreshed with a few drops of the matching essential oil blend every now and then. I am still using my pot pourri cone from the first batch we ever created so its about eight years old! Every six months I add a few drops of our May Chang essential oil blend, and give it and occasional squeeze to release a fresh burst of fragrance.
Need help with Clothes moths?
Using natural fragrance to repel clothes moths is just one of the tools to combat an infestation. We have a wide range of anti-moth products made with natural ingredients which kill, repel and even disrupt the mating cycle of clothes moths, such as our cedarwood moth balls. Don’t hesitate to contact us by email or phone for advice.