The Practice of Smudging To Cleanse a Space

Zen corner of a room with a text overlay reading "The practice of Smudging to Cleanse a Space"

When you think of cleaning your home, you most likely think of things like vacuuming, dusting, deep cleaning the oven, and wiping down the walls. You probably don’t think of really cleansing your space of possible surrounding bad energy in your living environment.  Your home should be your sanctuary and so taking good care of it is a very important form of self-care.

Ridding your space of bad energy and vibes is actually done in a form called smudging.  It can be a great rejuvenation activity for you, your things, and your home.  These days we all could benefit from energetically cleansing our humble abodes to invite positive energy.

So take some time to contemplate what your wishes are for your home and family.  You will want to welcome your intentions into the newly cleared and open space  – let’s start by learning how the art of smudging began, how to master the technique and common questions about the practice.

Person smudging next to a candle

Clear the Negative Energy in Your Home

Smudging is a Native American tradition that has been performed for over 2,000 years. According to an interview in Vogue Magazine, Colleen McCann said that “burning sage is one of the oldest and purest methods of cleansing a person, group of people, or space and of getting rid of unwanted spirits. The practice dates back to prehistoric times and it’s been documented as having been used in every corner of the world by our ancestors.”

Native Americans and other cultures use smudging to remove negative energy and spirits from the environment, effectively cleansing the self, items, and/or the environment. Not only do they use this practice to rid people and places of bad vibes, but they also fill the space with positive energy and promote healing, wisdom, and longevity.

Smudge ceremonyWhile the concept is similar to incense, smudging is slightly different in that it’s about purifying your surroundings.

How Exactly Do You Perform Smudging?

Smudging tools on a counter 

Get the Right Materials

In order to effectively leverage smudging to cleanse your space, you need to have the right materials:

  • Smudging stick
  • Dried herbs
  • Candle
  • Bowl of sand
  • Matches
  • Fireproof container/bowl

When collecting your materials, take the time to find the right bowl, candle, and other materials for your smudging ceremony. These items are used to purify your energy and space so should be found with great care.

Be in the Right Mindset

In addition to having the right materials, you also need to be and feel calm. Smudging is about replacing the negative energy and vibes with positive ones, so starting the ceremony off on the right foot is key. Before you begin, meditate for five or so minutes to calm any nerves or a racing heartbeat. 


Set an Intention for the Ceremony

You should also set an intention for the smudging ritual:

  • What do you hope to bring into your space?
  • What are your wishes for you and your family?
  • Why are you performing the smudging ceremony?

Setting an intention helps your newfound positive energies find their way into your home and settle in.

Know the Process

In order to properly rid the negative energy from your home or items, you need to understand how to use your smudging materials to perform the ceremony. While smudging isn’t difficult to do, it does involve lighting herbs on fire so you need to be careful.

The Spruce, Karma and Luck, and Yogi Approved all share how to perfect the practice of smudging and also go into more details on the materials and tradition.

Additional Tips

Before you get started, here are a few additional tips from McCann’s interview with Vogue:

  • Remember to open a window or door to let the smoke and bad energy out before you light your smudging stick.
  • If you can’t get your smudging stick to stay lit, you may have packed it too tight.
  • If you’re not into the smoke or live in a smoke-free zone, consider using a sage spray as an alternative.

Common Questions About Smudging

Herbs used for smudging tied up on a string 

  1. What herbs are used to smudge?

Sage is the most commonly used herb to smudge. However, you can also use a combination of other herbs, like cedar, sweetgrass, or lavender.

When looking for herbs to use, consider the quality of the sage or sweetgrass versus the cost. McCann also told Vogue to avoid mass retailers, like Amazon, as they aren’t traditionally concerned with sourcing a quality, ceremonial, sacred product.

  1. How long does it take to complete the smudging ceremony?

This largely depends on the size of your space (whether you’re doing just a room or your whole house) and the intention you set for your ceremony. You want to make sure you have enough time to adequately rid the space of the negative energy.

Smudging spray set 

  1. What if I’m allergic to smoke or can’t have smoke in my home?

Even if you’re allergic to smoke you can still partake in a modified smudging practice. Instead of lighting sage (or another herb of your choosing) on fire, you can use a sage spray to get rid of the negative vibes. While this isn’t exactly the same, using a sage spray can still bring positive energy and boost your mood and wellness.

  1. How often should I smudge?

There is no set recurring timeframe to smudge your home. How often you choose to do so depends on the negative energy in your home and your own schedule.

  1. Why would I smudge my house?

Everyone has different reasons to smudge, however for new homeowners smudging can be a great way to remove the previous homeowners’ energy and replace it with your own. You may also want to smudge if you’re having a hard time selling your home and you want to bring in good vibes. Just remember that this practice isn’t something to do lightly and you have to believe in the art to make it work. Check out our blog for additional homeowner and home staging articles and tips.


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