If you love having a wonderful-smelling home or home office, then you’re probably no stranger to commercial air fresheners. But, did you know that what you’re spraying around your home might be putting your and your family’s health at risk?
According to a 2011 study, a lot of commercial air fresheners emit phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), some of which are known to be toxic and hazardous.
VOCs cause symptoms like liver and kidney damage, allergic skin reactions, nosebleeds, memory impairment, and more. Meanwhile, phthalates are linked to health problems such as reproductive and developmental problems, breast cancer, and obesity.
Since labeling laws aren’t really strict when it comes to ingredient transparency in air fresheners, it’s best to steer clear of commercial ones.
Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that you’ll have to say goodbye to air fresheners forever. You just have to make your own, ones that you know that are completely safe and toxic-free. Even better, they’re significantly cheaper, very easy and quickly to make, and you can have fun experimenting with the scents and decors!
Spray-Based Air Freshener
Air freshener sprays are great if you want a quick burst of a wonderful scent. It allows you to control exactly where and when you want it. However, since it only changes the odor of the ambient air, it typically doesn’t last long. The good news is that there are some ways to make long-lasting spray-based air fresheners.
First, using distilled water will make your homemade air freshener spray last longer because it’s free of impurities. Second, the right essential oil blends will have heavier base note oils that can help the lighter middle and top notes get more staying power.
Even with these tips in mind, compared to commercial air fresheners, homemade ones just don’t linger that long because essential oils evaporate faster. They are, however, free of harmful chemicals so you can use them without any worries.
Thing You’ll Need
- 2 tbsps. witch hazel, vodka, or alcohol
- 6 tbsps. distilled water
- 20 or more drops essential oil
- Spray bottle (Glass or thick plastic)
- Funnel, tablespoon, and glass jar
- Add the witch hazel and essential oils to the glass jar.
- Put the lid on and shake to mix well.
- Take off the lid.
- Add the water.
- Put the lid on once again and shake to mix well.
- Take off the lid.
- Using the funnel, pour the jar’s contents in the spray bottle.
- Put on the spray bottle’s spout.
You can use this video as a guide:
Since you’ll be using distilled water to make this, it can last up to a month without going bad. When not in use, place the spray bottle in a dark, cool place to reduce the rate of evaporation.
Before each use, give the spray bottle a good shake to mix the oil and water.
- Either witch hazel, vodka, and alcohol can be used in this recipe. They all work well in helping the oil mix with the water and also act as a preservative and mild disinfectant.
- It’s important that you use a spray bottle made of glass or thick plastic since the essential oil can damage thin plastic ones.
- Avoid spraying on fabrics unless you’ve done a patch test on an inconspicuous part of the material.
- Never spray directly to the skin, especially the face.
- Use with caution around pets, kids, and pregnant women.
- If you’re having trouble with the oil and water not mixing, you can try adding a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin.
Long-Lasting Air Freshener Spray Blends
Here are some essential oils blends for spray-based air fresheners that include top, middle, and base notes for longer lasting scents.
- Sunny Citrus: Sweet orange, lemon, and ginger
- Antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, and mood-boosting
- Calming Floral: Lavender, geranium, and ylang ylang
- Antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and relieves anxiety, stress, sadness,and fear
- Woodsy Fresh: Juniper berry, cypress, cedarwood
- Antibacterial, antiviral, and spirit-uplifting
- Scent of the Earth: Patchouli, grapefruit, and clary sage
- Antifungal, antibacterial, and fights feelings of depression and apathy
Gel-Based Air Freshener
A gel air freshener is a passive air freshening solution that doesn’t require human interaction to work. You simply set it in place and the fragrance will continuously disperse as the inside the gel evaporates.
Compared to a spray-based air freshener, it has a longer staying power. However, it takes longer for the scent to fill up the room especially if there’s poor air circulation.
You can leave the container open so the area will have a wonderful scent at all times or you can simply reseal it when you don’t need deodorization.
Thing You’ll Need
- 1 oz. unflavored gelatin (4 envelopes)
- 2 cups water
- 1 tbsp. salt (mold inhibitor)
- 1 – 3 drops liquid food coloring (optional)
- 1 – 2 tbsp. fragrance or essential oil (about 10 to 20 drops)
- 4 8 oz. glass food jars with screw-on lids
- Silk flower, sea shells, or other decorative items (optional)
- Whisk, small saucepan, funnel, and spoon
- Bring 1 cup of water in a small saucepan to a boil over high heat.
- Remove from heat and add unflavored gelatin..
- Stir for about a minute until dissolved.
- Add the other cup of water and salt.
- Stir until the salt is completely dissolved.
- If you’re going to color your air freshener, add food coloring, a drop at a time, until desired shade is reached.
- Stir in the essential oils, mixing gently to prevent bubbles from forming.
- Carefully pour the mixture into the jars using the funnel.
- Add desired decorations.
- With the jars unlidded, allow the gel to set overnight.
- Put the lids on and store in a cool dark place.
Here’s a video that you can follow.
Each jar can last anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. The gel air freshener, however, will disintegrate faster if you put it in a sunny place or if you use it without a lid.
- Plan ahead and think of how many air fresheners you need right away. Then, poke holes into the corresponding number of lids using a hammer and nail.
- If you’re using mason jars, you can purchase frog lids so you won’t need to poke holes into the lids.
- If you have kids that might mistake it for Jell-o, use a hot glue gun to fix the lid into position.
- Decorate your homemade gel air freshener according to the season and holiday. For example, light blue-colored gel with an ocean blend and sea shell decoration would look and smell great in the bathroom especially during summer.
- Try making multi-layered gel air freshener. Just pour a small amount of gel in the jar, let it set, and pour another color of gel. Repeat this process until there’s enough amount to fill the jar.
- Make sure to completely dissolve the salt and gelatin to avoid having a cloudy end product.
- If you’re planning to make a big batch of the air freshener and want different colors and scents, you can just directly add the food coloring and essential oils to the jar once you’ve poured the gel mixture into them.
- If the gel air freshener that you made is too mild-scented for your taste, you can leave it unlidded to let more of the scent out. It will, however, dry up faster.
- Once your homemade gel air freshener has dried up, you can add it to your compost since it’s made of organic ingredients.
- If you’re going to be using the air freshener in your baby’s room, make sure that it’s across the room from where your baby will be sleeping. It’s also best to leave the door open to allow the air to circulate.
Must-Try Fragrance and Essential Oil Blends
Essential oils like vanilla, lavender, lemon, and orange are great on their own. But, it’s always fun to try combinations and to even make your own signature blend.
- Scent of Fall – Bergamot, cinnamon, frankincense, and sweet orange
- Sunny Day – Tangerine, lavender, lime, and spearmint
- Sweet Spring – Lemon, grapefruit, and geranium
- Refreshing Citrus – Spearmint, orange, lemon, and grapefruit
- Holiday Cheer – Peppermint and ylang ylang
- Winter Woods – Balsam fir, cedarwood, cypress, and lemon
- Date Night – Geranium, cedarwood, patchouli, and orange
- Exotic and Sensual – Jasmine, sandalwood, and tangerine
- For a Colicky Baby – Chamomile and lavender
- Lullaby – Lavender and lemon
- Baby Fresh – Orange and tea tree
- Full Bloom – Lavender, geranium, and jasmine
- Energize – Lime, grapefruit, tangerine, and spearmint
- Deep Sleep – Lavender, wild orange, and frankincense
- Antiviral – Tea tree, lemongrass, and clove
- Fight Congestion – Lemon, lavender, and peppermint
- Happy Kitchen – Lemon, oranger, cedarwood, and fennel
Pest-Repelling Essential Oils
There are some essential oils that do not just smell nice, they repel certain pests too. So, if you find you have a pest problem, why not make a pest-repelling air freshener that’s free of toxic chemicals?
- Ants: Geranium, spearmint, peppermint
- Beetles: Peppermint,thyme
- Chiggers: Lemongrass, lavender, thyme, dage
- Fleas: Tea tree, spearmint, peppermint, geranium, lemongrass, lavender
- Flies: Rosemary, geranium, sage, thyme, peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus
- Gnats: Patchouli, geranium, spearmint
- Mosquitoes: Lemongrass, citronella, lavender, basil, geranium, eucalyptus, peppermint, vetiver, pine, bergamot
- Moths: Peppermint, spearmint, citronella
- Roaches: Peppermint, geranium, citronella
- Spiders: Peppermint, spearmint
- Ticks: Lemongrass, sage, geranium, thyme, tea tree, lavender
For starters, you can try my favorite insect-repelling combination for my gel air fresheners. Just mix lavender, lemon eucalyptus, tea tree, lime, and bergamot.
Where to Use Your DIY Air Fresheners
You can use your homemade air freshener anywhere you want a nice scent – your bedroom, bathroom, car, office desk, and even in the kitchen.
It’s also a lovely DIY gift for family and friends. Just wrap with cellophane and tie with a ribbon and some dried flowers on the side.
You can even use it as a themed party giveaway. For example, if you’re having a Halloween party, an orange-colored gel air freshener with plastic candy corns and rubber spiders would look great. Combine sweet orange, frankincense, and cinnamon for a sweet and spicy scent.