Witchcraft Basics: How to Cleanse a Space

Woman Surrounded by Smoke

This guide covers a witchcraft basic: how to cleanse the energy in a space. I created this because a lot of witchcraft writers, myself included, will say “cleanse your space” as though everyone knows exactly what that means. The truth of the matter is that, when you’re a new witch, you have no idea what that looks like! Intermediate and advanced witches will likely not find this guide helpful, but there are a lot of witches who are just starting out who I hope will benefit.

This is my own advice based on my own experiences and practice of witchcraft. There are three basic types of cleansing magick that I cover here: smoke, smokeless, and tool cleansing. I recommend cleansing the home or living space once every lunar cycle on the Full Moon. Cleansing can also be used after a negative energy event, like a fight or illness, or just when you feel that the energy could use a scrub.

Smoke Cleansing

Smoke cleansing is typically referred to as ‘smudging’, though that term has fallen out of favor as it references a specific Native American ritual. That’s a whole debate, however, with some saying that anyone is welcome to smudge who respects to practice, and others saying no do not call it smudging ever. I like to err on the side of caution and call it ‘smoke cleansing’ to be respectful.

Smoke cleansing is a well-established practice, but it is not for everyone. Some people are very sensitive to smells (migraines), while others are sensitive to smoke (allergies, asthma). Others simply don’t like smoke being in their homes. If any of this is the case, go ahead and skip on down to the next section on smokeless cleansing.

I use white sage smoke (the classic) to cleanse my house, but it’s not for everyone. Some people really don’t like the smell (my cat hates it), or just don’t like using sage because they see it as disrespectful (see ‘smudging’ above). When I was a teacher I saged my classroom and a bunch of teenagers came in and were like, “You smoked weed!” so that was great (by ‘great’ I mean ‘annoying’). If any of this is the case, some good replacements for sage that you can use are lavender, thyme, cedar, or palo santo wood. Lavender and thyme can be made into bundles, dried, and then burned. You can use these same bundles for smokeless cleaning as well (see below). If you aren’t into herb bundles, you can use incense or oil in an oil diffuser. Cedar chips can be burned like incense, and palo santo wood can be burned just like the herb bundles are. All of these can be ethically harvested as well.

To cleanse a space with smoke, light what ever you are using to cleanse the space, then blow it out. It should be ‘smouldering’, meaning glowing red and smoking; if it’s a roaring blaze do not walk around with it in your hands. Obviously, fire safety is a must. Walk your smouldering item around the edges of each room, wafting the smoke with your hand or a feather (to symbolize the element Air) as you go. Once you’ve walked around each room you can extinguish the item, or, if it’s incense, let it burn the rest of the way down. If you are using an oil diffuser, put it in the center of the room you want to cleanse. After you extinguish the heating candle (which I never did, which is why every oil diffuser I ever had broke), move it to the next room and repeat. Do not wander around with a molten container of oil and fire.

Smokeless Cleansing

If you absolutely cannot use anything that makes a smell, like me when I have a migraine or during allergy season, a cedar wand is ideal for cleansing your space of negative energy. Walk around the perimeter of each room with the wand in front of you to cleanse the space. Sage, thyme, or lavender can be made into bundles as mentioned above and used in the same way as a cedar wand, for witches who want to keep the smoke away.

Tool Cleansing

A besom (magickal broom) can also be used to sweep negative energy out doors. Any broom can be used as a besom, which is helpful for witches still in the broom closet because people will just think you’re sweeping the house. To use a besom, open the doors and windows (weather permitting) and sweep all the energy out. Take the broom and sweep, starting with the point furthest from the door or window, and sweep away until the energy is outside.

Energy Replacement

Once the space is cleared of energy, something should replace it. You wouldn’t just take out the filter in your air conditioner and not replace it, right? Same principal! Burning seasonal incense, magickal candles, playing music, or having a positive conversation (think laughter) are all ways to refill the cleaned space with positive energy.


Hopefully you found this guide helpful and have a good idea of how to cleanse energy out of your space and replace it. If you have any questions or feel that I’ve missed something important please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to address it. Blessed be!

Image Credit

Stock image via Pexels

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