We all like our homes to smell great, but some of the fragrance products out there can come with a hefty price tag when it comes to health and wellbeing. Recent studies show that indoor air fresheners can wreak havoc on our respiratory, endocrine, and neurological systems. That’s why you might want to consider a natural air freshener.
Fortunately, there are some wonderful alternatives you can use to brighten your home’s scent. Below are a few options, as well as some scent combinations you can try out.
If you’re interested in freshening up your home in a clean, natural way, then read on!
Why Use Natural Air Fresheners?
Over the past few months, I’ve switched from candles to reed diffusers when it comes to making my home smell spectacular. Not only are they safer, but you never need to worry about leaving them lit and causing a fire. I also find that the scents last longer and travel further.
But there’s more to it than that. Conventional air fresheners have the potential to be bad for your health.
Plug-in fresheners, sprays, and scented candles (referred to as “pollutants” in medical papers) have been shown to release:
“…a range of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as terpenes (e.g., limonene), and generate secondary pollutants such as formaldehyde (e.g., Nazaroff and Weschler 2004),” reveals a study in the Journal of Toxicology Science.
Some of the adverse health effects associated with these kinds of fragranced products include respiratory issues (including COPD), asthma attacks, migraine headaches, and neurological issues such as seizures, fainting, dizziness, loss of coordination, and speech slurring.
What’s incredibly concerning is that many of the pollutants and their potentially damaging effects haven’t been made public:
“Previous studies that analyzed fragranced product emissions found that relatively few ingredients were disclosed to the public (e.g., Uhde and Schulz 2015; Steinemann et al. 2011). For instance, Steinemann (2015) found more than 156 VOCs emitted from 37 fragranced consumer products, the most common being limonene, alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, and other terpenes. Of these 156 VOCs, 42 VOCs were classified as toxic or hazardous under US federal laws,” write scientists in an article for Air Quality & Atmospheric Health.
One study in the Journal Environmental Research shows a link between chemical fragrances and autism, suggesting that exposure to these chemicals in utero can affect neuron development.
Fortunately, you have many alternatives for natural air fresheners.
1. Essential Oil Air Freshener Spray
Many air fresheners I’ve used before have been in aerosol form. This is convenient to use but results in wide dispersal so everyone has to breathe in the scent. Furthermore, we know what damage aerosols do to the ozone layer.
In contrast, essential oil (EO) sprays are just as easy to use, but are non-toxic and allow you to be much more precise with dispersal. For example, you can spritz them around a room for a subtle scent, or spray them directly onto the sofa or carpet before guests come around.
These sprays can also be used for therapeutic aromatherapy purposes. For example, a spritz of lavender spray in the bedroom an hour before bedtime can soothe fussy babies, or reduce menopausal night sweats and hot flashes. Additionally, nice-smelling sprays can be used under the bed or in closets to shoo monsters away.
You can use just one EO in your spray bottle—like the lavender mentioned above—or use scent combinations that you enjoy.
The basic recipe is:
- 1 cup of water
- 20-30 drops EO of choice (depending on how strong a scent you prefer)
- 2 tbsp vodka or rubbing alcohol (this helps to bind the oils to the water, and also speeds drying time on fabric surfaces)
Essential Oil Combinations
These are just a few of the EO blends you can use in your spray bottle. There are countless other recipes to try out, so be sure to experiment to see which one(s) you like the best! Just make sure to buy high-quality essential oils, and keep them well out of reach of children and pets.
Rise and Shine
A bright, cheerful blend that can help you start the day with high energy and a great outlook.
- 10 drops Sweet Orange
- 6 drops Bergamot
- 4 drops Rosemary
Use this spray to chase away monsters from spooky corners, or merely to create an uplifting scent in kids’ rooms and common spaces.
- 10 drops Tangerine
- 6 drops Jasmine
- 4 drops Vanilla
This blend is ideal when you’re feeling a bit down and need to shake off the grayness a bit. It can help you focus on work during an afternoon slump, or to alleviate premenstrual tension.
- 8 drops Clary Sage
- 6 drops Lime
- 6 drops Grapefruit
Center and Calm
If you’re feeling anxious and scattered, this blend can help ground and center you. It’s also great for helping kids and teens dealing with emotional upset.
- 5 drops Sweet or Wild Orange
- 6 drops Bergamot
- 5 drops Cypress
- 5 drops Frankincense
Do you have trouble concentrating on work or studies? Try this combination to help clear your head and help you get back on task.
- 8 drops Rosemary
- 4 drops Tea Tree
- 5 drops Clary Sage
- 4 drops Lemon
The Great Outdoors
“Green” scents can do wonders for brightening up a space, especially during dark winter days.
- 6 drops Eucalyptus
- 8 drops Fir
- 6 drops Cedar
If you love warm, autumnal scents, you can harness them year-round with this blend.
- 5 drops Orange
- 4 drops Cinnamon OR Cassia
- 5 drops Clove
- 5 drops Vanilla
Summer Herb Garden
This combination is reminiscent of soft summer evening spent sipping herbal tea out on the porch.
- 5 drops Lemon Balm
- 6 drops Bergamot
- 6 drops Chamomile
- 3 drops Peppermint
If you like traditional flower scents, these can bring softness and gentle nostalgia to your living space.
- 5 drops Rose
- 4 drops Carnation
- 4 drops Jasmine
- 2 drops Helichrysum
- 5 drops Oak Moss
You can use this to add a sense of calm to any space.
- 15 drops Palo Santo OR Frankincense
- 5 drops Benzoin
This scent is ideal for the bedroom, as it has aphrodisiac qualities in addition to smelling absolutely incredible.
- 8 drops Sandalwood
- 5 drops Ylang-Ylang
- 4 drops Jasmine
- 3 drops Orange Blossom or Neroli
Another romantic scent, but headier and more mature than the one above.
- 10 drops Sandalwood
- 5 drops Myrrh
- 3 drops Vanilla
- 2 drops Champaca
A lot of people think of potpourri as something their granny had in her house, not something to use as a form of natural air freshener in their homes. But have you ever tried a cinnamon and orange potpourri style centerpiece for your table around the festive season? The scent it gives off is sensational.
Forget the bad reputation, potpourri is worth keeping around. You can make potpourri entirely from scratch using things from your garden. You could get your kids involved and let them pick pretty flowers and leaves to dry and include. Add extra essential oils if you want a punchy scent.
3. Threaded Pomander Balls
These beauties were incredibly popular during the Tudor era, and they were often given as gifts around Christmastime. The scent combination of citrus and clove is both gorgeous and uplifting and can liven up your kitchen, living room, or bathroom beautifully.
Use a combination of lemons, oranges, and grapefruits to make these threaded pomander balls, and you can have the most delicious citrus scent floating around your home. The addition of the cloves will give it a sumptuous level of spice.
This DIY doesn’t take long to complete and is well worth it. It’s inexpensive, especially if you already have cloves and string in the house. By making pretty patterns across the fruits, you can create an air freshener that doubles up as cute decor.
Or skip the string and simply carve away through part of the rind to make pretty designs.
4. Simmer Pots
I had never tried making simmer pots to scent my home before my natural air freshener journey, but when you think about how far scent travels when you are cooking anything, it makes sense. Even better, you can re-fill and re-use the pot a couple of times.
Be creative when it comes to what you decide to add to your simmer pot. Try different fruits, herbs, and spices. For example, lemon, rosemary, and vanilla create a scent that is the perfect combination of sweet and fresh. I especially love the addition of vanilla as it is one of my favorite scents.
5. Scented Wood Balls or Blocks
Scented wood makes an amazing natural air freshener. They’re simple to make, just take some raw, unsealed wood and “paint” it with essential oil. The shape doesn’t matter, but blocks and balls can look nice, as well as unique shapes.
You can buy pieces of wood or cut your own. You can even drill a hole in the wood to make a hanging air freshener that is all-natural.
6. Reed Oil Diffuser
Oil diffusers are my most recent natural air freshener obsession. The great thing is if you feel the scent of your oil diffuser is dying down a little, all you need to do is flip the skewers round and a whole new wave of fragrance will be released.
Again the scent is entirely up to you and can be adapted depending on which room of the house you wish to put it in. For the kitchen, I go for something bright like rosemary or citrus. For the bathroom, keep it fresh with herbal scents like lavender or eucalyptus. Try something warmer in the bedroom with scents like cinnamon and vanilla.
To make one, all you need is a pretty jar, some reed diffusers, and your choice of essential oil.
7. Gel Air Freshener
This simple Gel Air Fresheners DIY makes crafting these natural air fresheners easy. This recipe makes multiple air fresheners which you could add different scents to and use all around the house.
I like that these gel air fresheners don’t look like what they are, and you can decorate them to match your home. They don’t take long to make and are entirely customizable regarding both color and fragrance. In one of the air fresheners in this example, they’ve added flowers to clear gel, which I think looks pretty.
8. Baking Soda Air Freshener
Baking soda is a great natural deodorizer, so if you’re looking for a safe and easy way to achieve a sweet-smelling home then look no further. These are especially good in small spaces like cupboards, wardrobes, or bathrooms to remove any unwanted odors.
I love the look of the sweet orange and cinnamon scented baking soda air freshener, but if you prefer floral scents, you could opt for lavender or rosebuds instead. All you need is your chosen scent and the baking soda itself; then you can get to work making your jar look pretty.
9. Citrus Air Freshener
Citrus scents are a sure-fire way of making me feel energized and ready for the day, so I can’t say no to this citrus air freshener. It only contains four ingredients which ensure it will be both cost-efficient and profoundly simple to make.
Bear in mind that the vodka in this spray will take a long time to infuse — between one and two weeks — so make this in advance of when you want to use it. Because the scent is coming from fresh fruit peels, it will be beautifully natural and sweet, exactly what you want for an air freshener. The orange essential oil will help to intensify the fragrance.
10. Cinnamon Candles
If you’re a fan of candles, this cinnamon candle is an excellent way to spread cinnamon fragrance around the house.
I love the scent of cinnamon and not only during the festive period. It’s a sweet and warming to me. If you aren’t as big a fan, you could take this as inspiration and experiment with other additions to your candle like dried herbs or flowers.
Not only will they smell divine, but they’ll also act as pretty room decor.
11. Electric Diffusers
If you don’t want to spend time making something but you want to spread the magic of essential oils throughout your home, try an electric diffuser. Add some essential oil and water, plug it in, and voila! Scent galore.
Don’t Be Afraid to Expirement
Every room in your house is different, so it’s helpful to take some time and try out different natural air fresheners. See which ones work best for you. The same goes for scents. If you try something and aren’t too keen on it then try, try, try again.