Witch Tips: Clean Your Altar

I have no idea where the concept of NOT cleaning your altar came from.  Something about not wanting to drive away good energy or some such shenanigans.  But let’s be real here.  If those “good vibes” are so easy to drive away, then perhaps they were never that useful to you.  So here’s a quick guide to changing things up in your sacred space.


  • After Messy Spells: This post was inspired by an incident in which I burned a piece of parchment and the ash went EVERYWHERE. Trust me, you have to in such circumstances.
  • Before Space Clearing: Unless it is an emergency (or you’re out of paper towels), you should always dust your space before cleansing it.  I know this may seem redundant if you use incense or sage to smudge the area, but still it is an important step in the process.
  • Before Rearranging: New statue you are incorporating? Perfect moment to take a cleaning cloth to the items on your altar.


  • Consider Earth-Friendly Cleansers: If you are concerned with synthetic or abrasive chemicals coming in contact with spiritual items, research essential oil based recipes.

Other Ways to Change Things Up:

  • Fresh Flowers: Easy to do and a way to strengthen your connection to the Earth.
  • Seasonal Candles or Crystals: A simple way to change with the seasons.  Consider shape candles and rough cut stones.
  • Altar Clothes: Inexpensive and great for dinged-up tables.

© Ariadne Woods


7 thoughts on “Witch Tips: Clean Your Altar

  1. I can honestly say that I’ve never heard of this before, I guess I just never thought of someone just allowing their altar or shrine collect dust. That’s crazy. I think one would, but then some people are fine with being slobs–which isn’t always a bad thing, but I dunno, then again, I find the spiritual in cleaning. And you can clean it with a ritual, bringing in more cleansed energy, so…

    1. It’s not so much being slobs, as not being actively spiritual. Sometimes you create a shrine for the purpose of being a visual reminder in the room; you look at it from a distance and small, maybe send a thought toward your ancestors or what have you. But you forget to look closely when no magick is done. Next thing you know, you go to do your Samhain ritual and realize your ancestors are VERY dusty!

      For people with limited daily devotional practices, it’s easy to let an altar become a spiritual catch-all; I know, because mine was converted to a portable (i.e. unpack it when I need it) altar after I realized it’d been sitting untouched for over a year. My magick is usually done in small, no-altar-needed places/ways, so I ended up just placing candles, statues, and pagan odds-and-ends on my altar.

  2. The cleanser I use, in say, the size of a windex bottle: 1/4 cup vinegar, couple drops of dish soap, fill the rest with water. Vinegar’s a natural sanitizer, so I’ll add more in a kitchen solution, but it always works and I’m not worried about the chemicals I’m using. I have a lot of different chemical sensitivities, glad vinegar isn’t one of them lol

  3. Like I was saying to Dyslexic Witch, I recently switched to a packed, portable altar after realizing that my standing altar just collects dust. Now, I have to make the conscious effort to select items, set up my altar, and clean up everything afterward. You should’ve seen how much random pagan junk and incense ash had accumulated on my old altar! The altar cloth wasn’t always that pretty shade of grey…

    1. That’s what I did when I lived in dorm rooms because I didn’t have a ton of space. Now that I have a permanent one, I make a concerted effort not to let it get cluttered. It’s hard sometimes though!

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