How to sage your house, according to a holistic interior designer

An interior designer shares how to use sage to cleanse your home of negative energy

woman burning sage
(Image credit: microgen/Getty)

Things happen inside of a home that carry negative energy. From arguments, to work-from-home stress, to bad habits that hold you back, messy life moments build up in a space and eventually effect how you feel in them.  Holistic interior designer Gala Magriñá of New York-based Gala Magriñá Design likens it to walking into a room after an argument and noticing how you can just immediately sense something's off. That's where the idea of using sage to clear your home comes into play. 

Saging, or smudging, gets rid of those stagnant energies and infuses a space with positivity. You're already ridding your home of the physical dirt and grime by cleaning it on a regular basis, why not do the same for the energy of the house, to help renew and sanctify your living space?

Thinking about giving smudging a go? Here, we get the low-down on saging from Magriñá, who's been using smudging and Feng Shui practices in her design business since 2017. Read on to find out more about this growing practice, and exactly how to sage your house to reap the biggest benefits. 

Gala Magriñá headshot

Gala Magriñá

(Image credit: Gala Magriñá Design)

What is saging?

Saging exclusively refers to the burning of sage, while smudging encompasses all dried herbal material. Both are a deeply spiritual practice that dates back to Native American tradition. Smudging is an intentional ritual designed to get rid of stagnant energies and remove negativity from a space by filling the room with smoke as a way to purify the environment. Afterward, you should be left with a light and energized feeling in your room. Additionally, sage as a herb is known to treat anxiety and stress as well as boost one's mood, and is commonly burned when moving into a new home or at the beginning of a new year.  

One of the most common types of sage is white prairie sage, which beyond its holistic properties, also has antimicrobial properties. Sage release negative ions in the air which helps neutralize positive ions like pet dandruff, pollution, dust, and mold. It's packaged as a bundle of dried sage leaves has a stronger, more plant-like smell when burned. It's considered to completely remove any and all negative energies from space as well as induce a sense of calm, healing, and purification.

Another popular smudging method is with Palo Santo,  meaning "holy wood" which is used for bringing positivity and good fortune into your space and, and is considered more intensive than burning sage.  Palo Santo is found in South America and can only be harvested once trees have naturally fallen in the rainforest and lie dead for several years.  Sage and Palo Santo can be bundled together or separately, but consider sage for removing the negativity out, and Palo Santo for bringing new, better energy in.  

Ancient Native American practices would also incorporate an Abalone Shell into smudging ceremonies, combined with the sage, they believed that the abalone and sage together will carry their messages up to heaven. The practice also represents the four elements of nature: the smoke represents air, the unlit herbs or sticks represent earth and once they’re lit they represent fire, and finally the Abalone Shell that represents water. However, these shells are considered rare and endangered and are not fireproof. So for safety and practicality purposes, a small ceramic bowl or plate is fine, or line the abalone shell with sand to protect its delicate nature. 

What do you need to sage a house? 

  • A match or lighter
  • Sage or Palo Santo: For high-quality, ethically-sourced sage, it's recommended to seek out sage from local crystal shops and health food stores, but as it becomes more mainstream, sage kits can be found at mass retailers like Amazon and even Urban Outfitters. 
  • Abalone shell or ceramic bowl:  You'll use the bowl to catch any ashes or embers, as well as to put out the sage. The bowl or plate should only be reserved only to be used with your sage or Palo Santo. 
  • A feather: Optional, but helps spread the smoke around in desired directions 

smudge stick

(Image credit: Photo by Benedetta Marchi on Unsplash)

How to smudge your home?

Before you smudge your home, make sure to have a window or door open, which creates a pathway for the smoke to leave the home, creating a visual of energy leaving. 

Once you light the end of the sage with a lighter, let it burn for about 30 seconds before you blow it out. Gala suggests starting with your home's front door and moving in a counterclockwise direction. "In ancient practices, it's said that energy flows in a clockwise direction, so counterclockwise I see it as the undoing of the negative energy," explains Gala. 

Starting down low, let the smoke along the edges of the home or apartment rise up the wall, and don't forget to focus on corners in areas where energy might get stuck, as well as make sure closet and cupboard doors are open to release energy. 

"It's really important at the same time to set an intention when you're doing it," Gala says. "Where you put your attention is what creates change essentially, so add a simple intention like 'I let go and release what no longer serves me' as you're walking around, smudging along the walls of the perimeter of the home makes it a more powerful ritual."

Once she puts out the sage, Gala then walks around the house in a clockwise direction and set another intention. She'll commonly say," My intention was clearing out all the negative energy to now have a peaceful is and happy home."

It's a way to manifest your intention, she says. In doing this ritual and saying these words, it becomes a much more powerful practice. 

Gala prefers smudging twice a year around the winter and summer solstice, along with her own winter or spring cleaning, but it can be done weekly, monthly, or when you move into a new space, after an illness, after guests come into your house, as according to your preferences. "You get this sense of lightness and wellbeing," she said."

If you live in a space where burning candles or incense is not allowed, or if you are sensitive to smoke, you can achieve similar results by using an essential oil diffuser or adding oils with white sage and Palo Santo into a spray bottle with water. 

When Gala does sage her space, she also chooses to take off any jewelry, walk around barefoot, and when she finishes, she'll take a shower, and put clothes in the wash as a way to cleanse. 

Another practice Gala was sure to mention, as taught by her feng shui master, was to not leave any food or liquids open, with the idea that those open containers collect and absorb the negative energy. There's no scientific basis to it, but she does like to test the limits of her feng shui practices and found herself feeling ill after purposefully leaving a glass of water open and drinking from it. 

Just one more thing to consider as you right your home's energy.