How to Make an Air Freshener and Essential Oil Diffuser at Home

Photo: Getty Images/Photo Allel
How nice is it to walk through the door and notice that your home smells amazing (think: notes of tea tree, citrus, and vanilla extract)—as opposed to the lingering odor of last night’s dinner? (Eww.) While it feels like the wellness world can be divided evenly into team palo santo or team sage these days, raise your hand if you still create your sanctuary's signature scent using store-bought air fresheners or lighting a candle.

You're definitely not alone, but there's something you need to know: While neither is dangerous in small doses, according to the National Capital Poison Center, they both have strong, toxic chemicals that can aggravate allergies, cause skin problems, and may have other harmful effects on your health and the environment. So, if you're regularly using fresheners to clear the air in your home, it's worth investing in natural, non-toxic alternatives. Better still, you can create your own air freshener recipes that you return to again and again.

Taking your home's scent into your own hands is a simple, cost-effective way to keep things smelling fresh. And it's not as hard as you might think. All you'll need are a few household ingredients like odor-absorbing baking soda, rubbing alcohol, cinnamon sticks, essential oils that'll make your air fresheners double as health-boosting aromatherapy, energizing, naturally fragrant fruits such as lemons, and some easy-to-follow directions. Ready to get started?

Scroll down to see how to make 5 DIY air fresheners.

Mango nutmeg simmer pot

Here's an easy way to make your whole house smell amazing: Fill a small pot with water, add some mango, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. Then, let the mix simmer on the stovetop for a few hours or more. Simple, right? If you're not a fan of the combo above, there are dozens of simmer pot recipes you can choose from—another favorite is rosemary, a teaspoon of vanilla, and a couple of lemon slices. Get creative and come up with your own, or check out DIYNatural, which suggests some other great seasonal recipes. You can bottle your signature scent up in a mason jar, or another rustic container, and re-simmer it at a later date when your home needs a little fragrance. You can even pour it into a spray bottle and spritz the stuff in every room.

Scented wood blocks

Use some small unvarnished wooden blocks and coat them with your favorite essential oil by combining them in a sealed mason jar overnight. The wood will absorb the scent, creating a long-lasting fragrance cube you can tuck away in your car under the seat, keep under your bed, or store in the bathroom.

Cloth pouch air freshener

Sachets are a perfect, portable air freshener you can take to your car or a closet to keep it from becoming musty. Use lightweight cloth pouches with a pull string at the top. Fill each with incense cones, spices, or cotton balls with a few drops of essential oil. A leggings drawer that smells like a lavender field in Provence? Yes, please.

Baking soda air freshener

Another easy way to make an easy air freshener is to use a small mason jar, 1/2 cup of baking soda, and an essential oil of your choice. Put the baking soda in the jar and add 15 to 25 drops of your favorite scent. Put the top back on and shake the jar a few times to mix it in. You can either leave the jar open or replace the inner top with paper punched through a few times to let the air flow.

Homemade oil diffuser

To make a homemade oil diffuser, pick a favorite decorative glass jar and add 1/4 cup of hot tap water and 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol. Next add 20–25 drops of essential oil and mix the liquids together.

Cut off the tips of some bamboo skewers or use diffuser reeds and soak them for several hours. Then switch them around and soak the other end. The evaporating alcohol will draw the scent up the bamboo sticks or reeds. You can add more oil and water every few days to keep it fresh.

This story was originally published on August 7, 2018; updated on February 25, 2020. 

Air freshener isn't the only home product you can DIY: Here's how to use essential oils to create cleaning supplies—plus, 4 recipes for homemade drain cleaners that actually work

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