How to Smudge Your Home

By Amanda Lutz Updated February 16, 2024

If you’re interested in removing negative energy from your home, you may be familiar with the concept of smudging. But for many, the process seems like a mysterious ritual reserved for the super spiritual. 

In reality, smudging is a cleansing process you can use in the way that best meets your needs. Once you understand the tools involved and the purpose behind clearing away negative energy, you can decide whether it will improve your living environment. Read our guide to learn exactly what smudging is, the history of the practice, the benefits of smudging, and how to smudge your home.


What Is Smudging?

Smudging is the practice of burning medicinal herbs to cleanse negative energy from a space and welcome positive energy. The herbs most commonly used in the practice include cedar, sage, sweetgrass, and tobacco. Native Americans have practiced smudging for centuries to purify and cleanse negative energy, bring good luck, and protect a person or place.

During the process, participants burn a smudge stick—a bundle of dried herbs bound together by twine—and direct the resulting smoke to capture and remove bad energy from a designated space.

Smudging typically requires four components, each representing a different element:


History of Smudging

The practice of burning medicinal herbs to cleanse a space of negative energy has a long history in different Native American cultures. Members of various Native American tribes used sacred smoke to purify and bless themselves and their surroundings. They believed the herbs used in smudging had healing properties that could eliminate unwanted thoughts, sadness, impurities, poor health, etc. Indigenous smudging rituals aim to leave behind good spirits or energy for peace and harmony when performed in a home or other living environment.

Tribes often performed smudging rituals before ceremonies and special gatherings. They would also practice smudging before occupying a new space, when individuals were sick, or after arguments occurred. 

The practice has infiltrated cultures across the globe over the years. It is often hailed as a wellness practice or a component of feng shui practices, although there is no evidence to support the use of smudging in feng shui traditions. Given the sacred place that smudging occupies in many cultures worldwide, anyone performing this ritual should do so with reverence.


How to Smudge Your Home

Whether you would like to smudge your home to introduce positive energy into your life or to cleanse an environment that is new to you, these instructions can help you perform the practice properly:

  1. Set your intention. This can be a prayer or a simple reflection on what you want the ritual to achieve. 
  2. Open at least one door or window for airflow and promote smoke and negative energy exit. 
  3. Light your smudge stick or herbs in your designated shell or bowl. Let the flame burn for 20 to 30 seconds before extinguishing.
  4. Read or recite your prayer or intention.
  5. Use your hand or a feather to direct smoke throughout the room as you move in a clockwise pattern from the door around the room’s perimeter. Repeat the pattern of movement throughout all the rooms you want to cleanse. 
  6. When finished, extinguish the smudge stick to eliminate any continued burning and dispose of the ashes outdoors.

Tools for Smudging

Depending on the purpose of the smudging ceremony, you might require different tools, but the following are quite common: 

Container

You would typically use a container to catch the ashes during the ceremony.  The container is usually made of natural materials and represents water. The most commonly used vessels include:

Feather

While you can use your hand to spread and guide smoke emitted from the smudge stick, a feather is a traditional tool to represent air in a smudging ritual. An eagle feather is one of the most widely used feathers for smudging, but you can also purchase turkey feathers for smudging practices.

Herbs

The sage bundle or sage smudge stick is composed of different herbs, each said to have different properties. These can include:

Igniter

This tool is used to light the smudge stick, representing fire in the ceremony. Igniters may include:


Benefits of Smudging

The origins of smudging are rooted in spiritual practices for healing and prayer. In recent years, Western cultures have adopted smudging as a wellness practice. As a result, there is minimal scientific evidence to support the benefits of smudging. 

Individuals who practice smudging cite many spiritual and emotional benefits, which include:

People commonly practice smudging to clear negative energy. However, it has a practical purpose as well. Smudging can remove dampness from environments and kill parasites and insects.


Our Recommendation

Smudging is a practice intended to remove bad energy. It’s used in homes for various reasons that range from cleansing a place one has never occupied (such as a new home or dorm room) to erasing angry energy related to an argument or event. While smudging has become a widely advertised wellness technique, the origins of the practice date back centuries and are related to sacred rituals.

Before smudging your home, take the time to do your research concerning herbs commonly used in the practice and the different effects they can have when burned. Determine where you can purchase herbs that have been sourced ethically and learn about the history of the practice to respectfully practice smudging in a way that uplifts the cultures from which it was derived.


Smudging FAQ

What is the purpose of smudging?

The purpose of smudging is to remove negative energy from a space. Smudging a home can be used when moving into a new house or to remove negative energy associated with a specific event. However, it’s a ritual you can repeat as often as you want to remove negative energy from your home.

What are the rules for smudging?

There are no specific rules you’re required to follow for smudging. However, if you plan to follow the traditional practice performed by indigenous people, there are certain guidelines you can use. These include starting with an intention, using the four elements of smudging, and providing an opening—such as an open door or window—for negative energy to leave.

What should you not do when smudging?

When smudging, you should not take actions that can endanger your health. The practice of smudging requires you to light sage or other medicinal herbs. You should not leave these burning smudge sticks unattended. It’s also recommended to avoid breathing any type of smoke that causes irritation or ill effects.

What are the four elements of smudging?

The four elements of smudging represent water, earth, air, and fire. The abalone shell or clay bowl represents water; the herbs and resins represent earth; the feather and the smoke it creates represent air; and the flame used to ignite the herbs represents fire.

Can you smudge your home too much?

Whether you can smudge your home too much depends on your intentions. Technically, no rules exist for how often you should smudge your home. Some people do it weekly or even daily, while others only use the practice of smudging for specific purposes, like clearing a new home of negative energy or for a sacred tradition.