Simple Recipes for Making DIY Air Fresheners a Breeze

According to Consumer Reports, about half of Americans use air fresheners, and about 34 percent use candles or incense to spruce up their homes. The comforting fragrance of air fresheners, however, may not be so comforting if you are to find out the lot of toxic chemicals used to make these products.

A recent study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows that the air inside American households is two to five times more polluted than the air outside. Chemical odor neutralizers are one of the contributors to poor air quality. Commercial fresheners, even the ones labeled natural, often contain respiratory irritants and cancer-causing agents ranging from benzene and formaldehyde to phthalates and voltaic organic compounds.

Fortunately, healthy alternatives are just around the corner. Check your pantry for items such as vanilla extract, orange peels and rosemary twigs to create a natural scent. Help your family breathe easier and your home smell nicer with these DIY recipes.

 Air Freshener

Air diffuser

Difficulty: Easy

Herb is the Word

Aromatic herbs such as basil, thyme, bay leaves and mint can hold their own as odor eliminators. Dry a few pieces of each on some old newspaper and place in your closet or car. The scent can last several days.

Baking Soda and Essential Oil

Fill a small mason jar halfway through with baking soda. Then add 9-10 drops of your favorite essential oil. Lavender and rose oils are good for stress relief, while eucalyptus, peppermint and ginger can give an energy boost. Poke little holes on the cap to let refreshing scents infuse your home. Shake the mixture every other day to prevent clumping. A video tutorial is available here.


To make potpourri, you will need dried flowers, herbs, spices, 2-3 drops of essential oil and your creativity. Portion the ingredients carefully so they don’t overwhelm each other. Add a fixative, such as orris root powder, to lock in the scent. Check out an example here.

Gel Freshener

This is a fun project for the whole family. Start by adding a few drops of food coloring to a heat-proof jar (available at major craft stores for around a dollar) and 20-30 drops of essential oil. Prepare the gelatin according to package instructions and mix all ingredients in the jar. Your kids are sure to love the colorful and great-smelling result.

Difficulty: Moderate

Stovetop Freshener

Many realtors have shared their secret to selling a house: make it smell nicer by simmering a pot of cinnamon sticks and citrus ingredients. With their antiseptic properties, acidic fruits such as lemons and oranges can sooner clear the air than most commercial fresheners. There are a variety of possibilities for this type of freshener. It’s best to transition into spring with lemon-rosemary and save apple-vanilla for winter.

Other fun options include aroma diffusers, pomander balls and room sprays.

Photo courtesy dannymol