I have 3 great big golden retrievers in my home. When we say it was the dog, believe me, it was the dog! They can make the room a very uncomfortable place to be in at the drop of a stink bomb.
For us, the dogs are a big reason we need air fresheners in our home. But buying air fresheners is not something I can really accept. I have purchased a few times, but I much prefer a more natural scent, and the environmentalist in me just screams out STOP AIROSOLIZING!
We can create solutions that are easy to make, safe on the environment, safe on ourselves, safe on our pets, and safe on our pockets too.
There is a very important relationship between our dogs and what we use to clean up the air we breathe. It is very important to me that what I use is not harmful to my dogs or cats.
My kids are all grown up now, but raising them was always a challenge because of different allergies, and serious lung issues. I myself have asthma, so I have to be careful of what I expose my lungs to.
In addition to aerosolized sprays which are dangerous to the ozone layer, most store-bought air fresheners are packed with unnatural products that could harm the environment, as well as anyone who inhales them.
So, why go to the monthly expense of buying toxic air fresheners? There are so many ways to keep our homes, cars, offices, or rooms smelling great without just masking bad odors or overpowering the whole neighborhood with artificial deodorizer.
I know you came for air freshener recipes, so I will begin with the most basic solution for clean freshly fragrant air.
Indoor plants are a great way to make your house smell fresh and clean. Plants inhale carbon dioxide, and process this to exhale clean oxygen that is essential to our health.
They can blend in with your home or office colors or add striking contrasts to your decor.
The combination of the smell of a plant or flower combined with soil and moisture can be soothing and refreshing.
These are a few plants that will give your indoor space a fresh, clean smell:
Elephant Ear, Spade leaf, and Burgundy Philodendrons all have large leaves that are intensely colored and give off a soft smell.
Orchids are very popular house plants because they are strikingly beautiful, do not require frequent watering or nurturing and they release a very soft, understated, sweet fragrance.
All ferns release a lovely, cool, sweet, woody fragrance; they are very low maintenance only needing to be watered once a week.
Chrysanthemums, and all other mums are beautifully colored flowering plants that will liven up your home and release a decadent herby, earthy smell.
Gerbera Daisies have fragrant white flowers that look very pretty and release a soft, clean scent.
Mint plants grow quickly and can spread out quite a bit, maintaining them is as easy as cook with mint – a lot; they will make your home smell fresh and clean and they have another benefit in the home, mosquitoes hate the smell of mint.
Janet Craig Dracaena have large clusters of gorgeous, white, fragrant flowers to lighten and refresh your home.
Peace Lilies also bloom big white flowers that have a soft aroma that will gently freshen your home.
African Violets, here I go again, a fantastic South African export… African violets are grown in most homes in South Africa; they have a fragrant, sweet smell and come in a wide range of exquisite flowers.
Creating your own room spray is very easy to do, and you can create a blend that is exactly as you like it. It is very inexpensive, easy to make, and can maintain its scent in the spray bottle for a very long time.
The key to a good essential oil spray is vodka! Yup, you read right, vodka! If you feel using vodka is a sacrilege, rubbing alcohol will also do.
Oil and water do not mix, but adding a little vodka or rubbing alcohol immediately does away with this barrier neither ingredient wants removed.
If you are going to use the spray immediately, and you do not have access to vodka or rubbing alcohol, do not stress. Shake the spray bottle very well and immediately spray.
Once you put the bottle down, the oil and water will separate again, so you will have to give it a good shake before each use.
I keep big spray bottles around the house because golden retrievers do not go to the bathroom to fart, and small spray bottles for in my handbag and car.
The most basic recipe for a spray bottle air freshener is:
- 250 ml distilled water
- 75ml vodka or rubbing alcohol
- 10 drops of essential oil (3 of which I use Tea Tree Oil)
Tea Tree Oil has many benefits that blend well with almost every other essential oil. It is a great disinfectant, deodorizer, fungicide, antiseptic, all-purpose cleaner, and anti-inflammatory.
Now that you have your basic ingredients, you can start playing with different scents.
Sandalwood is great for managing anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, and irritation of the nose, throat, and lungs, as well as high blood pressure; it has a lovely, woody smell
Peppermint is a heavenly scent that helps clear and prevent headaches, muscle and joint pain, reduce flu symptoms, reduce stress, and improve mental function; it has a decadent fresh garden smell
Ylang ylang is the romantics dream scent, it is used to reduce pain and inflammation, improve your mood, repel insects, and improve libido – this is very much a ‘set the mood’ oil; it has a dreamy, sweet smell that lingers long after you have sprayed the room.
Lavender is a popular scent used in many household cleaners because of the freshness of the scent and the effects the scent has to treat anxiety, depression, insomnia, and instilling a feeling of relaxation (try adding a few drops of chamomile for an even more soothing effect).
I use a lot of lavender in my home, it grows like crazy in my yard, and is a great additive to all my household cleaners and bathroom products
Bergamot is consumed all over the world by people who do not even know they are consuming it, they consume it because of the taste and how it makes them feel.
Earl Grey is tea made with the bergamot plant; it will improve your mood, leaving you feeling soothed and upbeat; more than just a tasty tea, the scent plays a major role in the effect of the tea, using it as an air freshener will absolutely have a soothing effect on your home.
Jasmine is used primarily to improve your mood and relieve depression, it has a sweet, sticky smell that makes me think of hot days at the pool.
If you use jasmine, I recommend adding a drop at a time until you reach a level you are happy with as too much can leave the air overpowered in fully enclosed areas
Cedarwood has many effects on the body, it can protect your body from harmful bacteria, relieve muscle and joint pain, soothe irritated throats and chests, and stimulate circulation; it has a strong woody fragrance that smells like a walk in the woods
Citrus oils can be used separately as lemon oil, grapefruit oil, orange oil or as a blend of different citrus oils to reenergize your mind and body, overcome exhaustion and depression, reduce inflammation, and kill harmful viruses and bacteria, as well as repel insects (especially mosquitoes); citrus gives off a very clean, sweet smell regardless of what type of citrus you choose
Experiment with blends of all your favorite oils one drop at a time to achieve the perfect combination; vanilla extract and cinnamon essential oil make for a dreamy spray for your house and to spritz your linen.
You can get organic blends of cinnamon and vanilla, as these are very popular scents that are uplifting, invigorating, purifying, and stimulating.
To de-dog my home, I combine 3 drops of tea tree oil, 8 drops of citrus oil, and 6 drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil in my spray mixture.
If you are wondering why it looks like a spray bottle of orange juice in the picture, that is because it is orange juice; however, it is very diluted. This is a real spray cheat my granny taught me.
Squeeze citrus from 1 fruit (orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit) and dilute it in 500 ml of water. It is quick and easy if you need a quick recipe, and the mixture does not go off for at least 3 months.
When I was growing up, potpourri was in most homes housing elderly citizens. It came to be mocked by many teenagers – myself included – as a disguise for the old folk’s smell.
The truth be told, it really got a bad reputation by us young and dumb kids. Fortunately, we live and learn and develop a new appreciation of the older generation’s tricks.
As an adult, I became a fan of potpourri very soon after the birth of my first child, when the first diapers needed changing.
If you have babies in the house, especially babies with lung issues, you do not want to spray anything in your baby’s bedroom or play areas while your child is in the room.
Keep a decorative bowl of potpourri (dried out flowers, petals, and leaves) well out of reach of your child or children and just spritz it up every second week with a few drops of any floral essential oils.
You do not need to use the same oil every time. As you add different oils you will find the natural, layered smell of a beautifully sunny garden.
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Not all humidifiers can use essential oils. Specifically, no ultrasonic humidifiers can use essential oils.
There are humidifiers that have built-in compartments for essential oils. Using an evaporative humidifier with essential oils can give you the same blissful scent of a spray but prolonged and consistent.
I like to use a combination of peppermint, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil in mine; the smell gets all over my home and is very uplifting.
Scent jars are so easy to create, and can be discreetly placed or be used as centerpieces. You can use mugs, bowls, or even mason jars to blend colors and aromas that will last up to 6 weeks.
You will need:
- A mason jar
- 2 Fresh lemons
- 4 Fresh oranges
- Fresh herbs
- Optional: essential oil
To Make the Scent Jars:
- Clean your jars thoroughly
- Add layers of sliced fresh citrus (you can also use citrus peels for this, do not throw away your peels when you eat oranges, rather place them in a scent jar)
- Add layers of any of the greens to make the jars look more attractive
- Fill the jar with water
- Add 2 to 3 drops of any of the essential oils that repel mosquitoes while soothing your senses
Candles are a great way of freshening the air gently. Take care not to leave candles where children, pets, or clumsy adults could bump them, or place them close to flammable materials.
When you make your candles, you can use any essential oil you like to fragrance your home.
I like to use jam jars or mason jars for all my candles. When they are not burning, I put the lid on the jar to trap the scent so that the candle burns with the same intense scent whenever I want to burn it.
Gel Candles – learning to make gel candles can take time; when I started out, I got good instructions and followed them to the T. Once I knew how, it became a soothing, calming activity.
The scent released while making the gel candles is pure bliss to me. I now do not need to measure out ingredients, and I am almost on remote pilot when I make these scented candles. They are also a great gift for any occasion.
Wax candles can be very messy to make – I leave it to my son to make wax candles, and he does a great job. Again, he uses essential oils to scent the candles. I love his vanilla essence candles or the combination of vanilla and cinnamon essential oil.
Again, carefully follow the instructions until you know what you are doing.
Wax Tarts. Another type of freshener using beeswax. Check them out here.
Tealight candles can be converted into fresheners by simply adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the candle before lighting it.
Bamboo or Reed Diffusers
Bamboo diffusers are great air fresheners, and they are easier to make than you would think.
The first time I received a bamboo diffuser as a gift I was very intrigued because the scent was so delicate and lasted so long. I reuse my diffuser jar over and over.
I have a couple in the main living areas and bedrooms that have the same scent to make my home smell consistent. My favorites for the diffusers are lavender, rose, jasmine, mint, and vanilla.
To make a bamboo diffuser you will need:
- ¼ cup of distilled water or safflower oil
- 4 to 6 reed or bamboo sticks
- Essential oils (you can use 20 to 30 drops and you can add drops as the diffusers scent diminishes)
- 60 ml rubbing alcohol or vodka
- A decorative jar with a small opening
To make the diffuser, mix the distilled water or safflower oil with the oil of your choice and the alcohol and stir until the oil is no longer separated. Pour the liquid into the jar and insert the sticks.
Once a week, stir the liquid and flip the sticks over. Add more essential oil as the smell diminishes over time.
Essential Oil Burners
Essential oil burners are a great way of freshening up your home and setting a positive mood. They work best with whole essential oil, but you can dilute the oil with some alcohol or distilled water. The oil is placed into the bowl above the heat source (a tealight candle).
Everyone knows that much of the wax on a candle outlives the wick leaving a glob of wax at the base of the burnt-out candle. If you do not have wicks, or you are not inclined to go to the effort of making new candles, this wax does not need to go to waste.
To make scent bags, melt the wax down and add 10 to 20 drops of the essential oil you prefer. Pour the scented wax into small, silicone ice trays and leave them to set. When they are set, remove the small cubes and place them in small cloth bags that let the scent through.
These can be placed in every room in your home or in your closet, drawers, or even your car. The scent will last at least 2 months, at which point you can melt the wax down and repeat the process just adding more essential oil to refresh the scent.
Fruit baskets can also refresh your kitchen beautifully. Lemon is great for removing bad odors. Simply halve a few lemons and place them in the area that needs refreshing. You will have a clean, uplifting smell that took 2 seconds to prepare.
Citrus, in general, will brighten any room. Obviously, the fruit will need to be replaced as they age and rot.
Do not throw away your orange and lemon peels, place them in a bowl or jar and cover them with water for a long lasting clean, hygienic smell.
When making sprays to spruce up your carpets and upholstery, stay well away from anything that will bleach or discolor the fabric.
Do NOT use fresh lemon (oil is fine), as lemon has natural bleaching properties.
Combine 30 ml baking soda with 10 drops of essential oils and 125 ml of warm distilled water in a spray bottle to spray on bedding, curtains, and furniture upholstery.
Gel Air Freshener
Heat 200 ml of water with 30 ml salt in a saucepan until the salt is completely dissolved. Stir in 2 packets of unflavored gelatin and continue to stir until the gelatin is also dissolved.
Remove the mixture from the heat, add essential oils and pour the mixture into mason jars. You can add lemon and orange peels to make the jars more attractive.
Carpets are often the biggest harbors of bad odors in your home – especially with dogs who love to swim and then lie down wet on the carpets. Natural deodorizers work well to remove odors leaving the air free of indoor pet smells.
Combine ½ cup of borax, ½ cup of baking soda, with 30 drops of mint, orange, or lavender, stirring until there are no wet clumps left. Use a shaker container to store the deodorizer. Shake the powder onto the carpet and leave it for 20 minutes before vacuuming the carpet.
I am heavily into aromatherapy. I love the natural scents, and their effects on my mood. There are so many ways we can refresh our homes without resorting to chemical blends that can affect our health.
The best part about making your own air freshener is that you can tailor the scent, blending scents you love, and set the mood in your home, work, or car.
I would love to hear your methods for freshening up your homes. Let me know in the comments what methods and blends you use.
Di-Anne Devenish Seebregts was raised in an environment where daily life consisted of hiking, environmental conservation, growing fruit and vegetables, and raising poultry for meat and eggs.
She combined her passion for the writing word with her love of the pride that comes with not relying on others. She raised three children (who are now adults) to value the environment, and understand the value of being self-sufficient.