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A Complete Guide to DIY Air Fresheners

essential oils

It’s one thing to clean your house but it’s just as important to keep your home smelling great too. That’s why air fresheners are hugely popular and a 1.72 Billion dollar industry in the US alone. But you aren’t limited to what’s in the stores. Making your own fragrances is not only more cost effective, it could be better for your health too.

Why You Should Make Your Own Air Fresheners

Have you looked at the air fresheners in your local big box store lately? You can get almost any scent combination under the sun. Looking for “Lavender Orange Cinnamon with a hint of Fresh Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies”? You have 3 brands to choose from.

But did you know that some of those beloved air fresheners may come at a cost – and I’m not talking dollars and “cents” (no pun intended).

According to the David Suzuki Foundation some are found with traces of known and suspected carcinogens and neurotoxins. Not only that, but the way some of these fresheners mask scents may be a concern as well:

More disturbing is how they work. Many mask an undesirable scent, but some use a nerve-deadening chemical that interferes with our sense of smell. Others coat your nasal passage with an oily film. Many air fresheners can trigger asthma attacks and affect our central nervous system. ~ What’s In Air Fresheners? (David Suzuki Foundation)

Also consider this:

A 2007 study by the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) spiked this public debate. In testing 14 different air fresheners sold at a Walgreens drug store, the study concluded that many contained chemicals that could cause developmental and reproductive problems, especially for infants [source: NRDC]. It highlighted the presence of phthalates, chemicals that manufacturers use as plastic softeners and to hold fragrances. California and Washington have banned the sale of children’s toys containing phthalates because of their link to hormonal disruptions in additional studies on animals. ~ Are air fresheners bad for your health? (

The NRDC study goes on to say that, “Most phthalates are well known to interfere with production of the male hormone testosterone, and have been associated with reproductive abnormalities” and “are associated with allergic symptoms and asthma.”

With that being said, we now strongly suggest using Do-It-Yourself air fresheners because:

  • They’re easy to make
  • They’re cheap
  • There’s no long-term health risk to using them

Some Things To Keep In Mind When Making Your Own Air Freshener:

  • Some recipes on the internet call for baking soda in the recipe – but some people complained about the baking soda clogging the spray nozzle
  • Other recipes call for just water and essential oils – but people have complained about no lingering scent
  • Some people suggest just spraying vinegar – your place will smell like vinegar for a short period of time but it’s great at cutting right through the bad smells almost immediately
  • Be careful when using essential oils, they’re pretty potent stuff. They’re highly concentrated so most of the time you need just a few drops.

DIY Air Fresheners (Non-Spray Options)

If you’re looking for an air freshener that you can just leave in a room and forget about we have some suggestions for you. You will need small glass jars for these options.

Baking Soda & Essential Oils

air freshener 2

Fill a ¼ of a jar with baking soda and add 8 drops of your favorite essential oil, screw the lid on top and poke holes in the lid. You’ll have to shake the jar every once in a while to boost the scent when it starts getting weak.

Kosher Salt & Aromatics

Fill a small jar with non-iodized (kosher) salt and mix it with either orange peels or flower petals.The salt acts as an agent to pull the oil out and release the fragrance. For flower petals, roses, lavender, and honeysuckle seem to work best. Punch holes in the lid or leave the lid off to freshen up any room.

Charcoal or Chalk

To get rid of musty smells, fill a jar with charcoal briquettes and punch holes in the lid. Charcoal is great for absorbing humidity. An alternative to charcoal is crushed up chalk.

Fabric Softener Sheets

This is by far the simplest option yet very effective too. Typically you would use these for freshening up clothes or small fabrics though. Put them in gym bags, under a car seat, or in your closet to keep things smelling like fresh laundry. You can also try taping one end of the dryer sheet to an air vents to freshen up a room quickly but make sure the airflow isn’t blocked.

DIY Air Fresheners (Spray Options)

This is usually what comes up when you look up DIY air fresheners on the internet; which makes sense because most of the time all you need is an occasional burst of freshness in your home. Here are your options for make your own air freshener sprays.

Vinegar & Essential Oils

bottles of aromatic oil

Sure vinegar cuts through bad smells like a hot knife through butter, but then you get that lingering vinegar smell. True it’s only for a short while but for some people that’s not good enough. So to lessen the vinegar smell trying mixing in some drops of your favorite essential oil in the spray bottle (citrus-like fragrances seems to work best).

Traditional DIY Air Fresheners

If the smell of vinegar doesn’t agree with you try using one of the many DIY air freshener recipes found on the internet. This is the best one I’ve found so far via Restoration Beauty:

  • 1 spray bottle (You can use an old one just make sure to rinse it out very well)
  • 1 cup water (distilled works best)
  • 2 tablespoons alcohol (vodka, believe it or not, works well – just make sure to save some for yourself)
  • 20-30 drops essential oil/s (I used 25 drops of lemon and 15 drops eucalyptus- a lovely combination)

All you do is combine the all ingredients in the spray bottle and shake well. In fact, every time you go to use it shake it well or else you’ll be wondering why the fragrance is no longer there.

The natural DIY air fresheners not only smell as good the chemically produced air sprays you see at Walmart, they’re healthier for you too. In fact, some research has shown that people who do use aromatherapy improve their lives in various ways like: sleeping better at night, reducing anxiety and depression, and other health benefits.

Do you make your own Air Fresheners at home? What are your favorite recipes? Share them below in the comments!

Additional Resources

How To Properly Dilute Essential Oils

An Essential Oils Chart from the Natural Health Advisory website and some tips.

How Aromatherapy Works (University of Maryland Medical Center)

The Dangers of Using Air Fresheners

Exposed: The Shocking Truth About Air Fresheners

Are air fresheners bad for your health?

A list of potentially harmful ingredients used in popular commercial air fesheners: Homemade Air Freshener: Breathe happy without the toxic mess


Essential Oil Tips via the Natural Health Advisory:

  • Before using your essential oils, read the directions on the label carefully. Essential oils are potent substances; they often will need to be diluted before use. They can burn or irritate the skin, eyes and mucous membranes if not handled properly.
  • Use small quantities of oils; only a few drops are needed.
  • Store your oils in a dark, cool place.
  • Children or pregnant/breastfeeding women should not use essential oils without first talking to their doctor or an integrative physician.
  • If you have a respiratory condition such as asthma, avoid inhaling the oils.



Scrubbi is a Calgary house cleaning service that cleans homes in major cities throughout Canada including Vancouver, Edmonton, and Winnipeg.





  1. I’ve been wanting to get some promotional air fresheners. I’m glad you talked about how you can make your own air fresheners, which could be interesting. I’m going to have to see what professional air fresheners would be good, and shop around?

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