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10 Easy Ways to Make Eco-Friendly Air Fresheners

A collection of different herbs and fruits in glass jars and on plates

Making your home smell fabulous naturally couldn't be easier with these quick DIY tips!

Air fresheners have been used in our households for decades, and their shapes and sizes are as varied as their fragrances. From "Pinewood" tree fresheners to "Sea breeze" gels to "Brazilian Carnaval" sprays, air fresheners are an easy fix to masking odors or completely altering the ambiance of our houses.

In this article, we look into sustainable alternatives to artificial air fresheners that can be made at home to achieve a nicely smelling living space all year round. Roll up your sleeves and get ready for some relaxing and fulfilling activities that can positively impact your health and our planet.

What you'll learn about in this article:

It is estimated that the air fresheners' market will reach $12 billion by 2023 , with the highest growth rate projected by Asia-Pacific, with up to 30% of the overall market revenue by the same year. According to an Indoor Air Quality report released by the EPA, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, where the concentrations of specific pollutants can be 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.

The vast majority of people who tend to spend time indoors are very young or older adults with respiratory or cardiovascular disease who are more susceptible to illnesses caused by the adverse effects of pollution. Knowing that most artificial air fresheners contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful to your health in the long term, questioning their relevance is understandable.

So, what's there to do? Keep reading because we will bring under the spotlight a series of eco-friendly solutions to making your living space smell incredible.

Let The Fresh Air Come Inside Twice a Day

Knowing that artificial air fresheners can negatively impact your health is a good enough reason to seek new alternatives to a pleasant-smelling living space. First of all, it is crucial to get to the source of the pesky smell and fix it as soon as possible. This way, there will be no need for you to mask the odor with artificial air fresheners. It is also important to ensure that the space is properly ventilated and that fresh air comes in regularly. After all, no artificial air freshener could ever compete with a good breath of the crisp morning air.

An open window freshens up the room

Opening the windows in your home every day, regardless of the season, is essential to your wellbeing. Nowadays, modern houses are perfectly sealed to keep us warm and dry, but that can also cause the indoor air to become stale. 

While our buildings' heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems circulate and filter the air throughout the day, they cannot physically bring fresh air into our homes, so the indoor air is not nearly as refreshing as the air outside. And there are proven health benefits to cracking the windows open twice a day, even for as little as five minutes:

  1. Feel the Gentle Breeze Coming in Through the Windows - by opening the windows on opposite sides of the room, you can mimic the effects of an air conditioner without ever having to spend money on one. That will create a nice breeze that can keep you cool on warm, summery days and bring in a sense of freshness in the colder months.
  2. Reduce Condensation and Prevent Mold - have you noticed your windows weeping every once in a while? Keeping the windows closed at all times causes condensation to form on the panes. In turn, this can become the perfect environment for bacteria and mold to develop, which can cause serious illness in those living inside the house. However, opening the windows for a few minutes daily can work wonders in such situations! 
  3. Reduced Risk of Getting Sick - our lungs absorb the oxygen from the air we breathe, which travels to other organs and body tissues. Breathing in the fresh air that's rich in oxygen helps our lungs dilate and enhance tissue repair. Fresh air also enables our hearts to relax, which can result in lower blood pressure and heart rate.
  4. Improve Your Sleep - when was the last time you got a great night's sleep? In case you've tried everything so far and still have trouble falling or staying asleep, give some fresh air a try! Leave the windows to your bedroom open for a while before heading to bed, just enough to feel the pure air all over the room. A good night's sleep will be calling your name in no time!

Sustainable Alternatives to Air Fresheners

With this overload of artificial air fresheners, you might be forgiven for wondering if there are any natural air fresheners, after all. Thankfully, the short answer to that is yes, there are many ways of improving the smell in your house, naturally. 

If you are still interested in finding some ingenious ways to make your home smell nice naturally, then keep reading, we have a few suggestions for you.

1. Make a Herbal Pillow

Who said that pillows should only be used for sleeping? These herbal pillows are living proof that there are multiple uses to a single item! Herbal blends are an efficient and inexpensive way of making your home smell nice, and also a great little DIY project. All you need is a small muslin bag, a handful of herbs, such as chamomile, lavender, rose petals, rosemary or sweet marjoram and your favorite essential oils. Mix these all together and secure the pillow with a piece of thread. Simple as that! Take a look at the video below for a step-by-step guide on how to make your herbal pillow.

2. DIY Natural Room Spray

Another sustainable alternative to harsh and artificial air fresheners is natural room sprays. Thanks to their unique mixture of essential oils and dry flowers, these sprays encapsulate nature's most subtle scent and can liven up the room at any given time. Are you ready to make your room spray and add a touch of your personality to your living space? You will need a few items, including:

  • A spray bottle
  • Essential oils
  • Some distilled water
  • A handful of dried flowers
  • Unscented witch hazel

And now for the fun part:

  • Pour 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oil into your bottle and fill it halfway through with witch hazel
  • Make sure to fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water (this method ratio works best regardless of the size of the bottle)
  • Shake the bottle firmly to ensure that all the ingredients are properly mixed
  • Enjoy your new, all-natural room spray

Take a quick look at the video below to see how you can make a natural room spray yourself

3. Handmade Reed Diffuser

Diffuser sticks can easily pass as one of the most visually appealing air fresheners out there, but they are usually filled with unnatural scents that we do not need. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to work around this and make some safe, beautiful and eco-friendly diffuser sticks yourself. And the best thing about diffuser sticks? They release a more gentle scent that lasts for longer, and they do not require a flame to work, so there is no need to constantly keep an eye on them.

Reed diffusers in glass vases

Making diffuser sticks yourself is an entertaining and rewarding process that will only take a few minutes and a handful of tools. Here is what you need:

  • A glass bottle with a narrow neck to help reduce evaporation
  • Natural reeds (you can even pick some sticks from your garden!)
  • Oil to use as a base, such as sweet almond oil, fractionated coconut oil or sunflower oil
  • Essential oils

Pro Tip #1

Essential oils degrade when exposed to the sun, so it's best to choose a dark-colored bottle

Pro Tip #2

Make use of any dried flower stalks you might have. They are light and thin enough to make the perfect diffuser sticks!

How to make a reed diffuser:

  • Combine 70% oil and 30% essential oils
  • Add the oil mixture to the glass bottle
  • Add the reeds

Make sure you place your reed diffuser near a vent or a window to ensure the scent is dispensed around the room. Be careful not to place it right in front of an open window or vent, as that will speed up the evaporation process of the fragrance.

For more details on how to make your reed diffuser, take a quick look at the video below:

4. Grow Fragrant Herbs at Home

Having herbs that smell good around your living space is a great way to elevate the atmosphere in your home and add a subtle scent to it. You can choose from a variety of plants, including basil, lavender, eucalyptus or mint to freshen up the smell of your home, while also enjoying their stress relief and relaxation properties.

Basil pot and lemon on the desk

When looking for fragrant plants to have indoors, it is essential to choose the organically-grown plant to make sure that it is free of harsh chemicals and pesticides. Beware that before placing any plants inside your home, it is important to check whether they are poisonous to your cat or dogs. Please refer to ASPCA's list of Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants.

5. Make a Pomander Ball

Pomander balls are amazing at making your home smell incredible, thanks to their unique mixture of fruits and spices, such as oranges and cloves. Plus, they make the perfect decorations for any eco-friendly interior design enthusiast out there!

So, what do you need to make these yourself?

  • A whole orange: make sure the fruit is fresh and firm, otherwise it will be difficult to poke it with the cloves
  • A bunch of toothpicks
  • A sharp vegetable peeler
  • A handful of cloves
  • Paper towels

Carved pomander ball with cloves

To avoid hurting yourself, we recommend poking holes in the orange with a toothpick before inserting the cloves. Also, keep some paper towels nearby because some orange juice will surely come out of the fruits.

Once you have everything in place, you are free to let your imagination run wild and start decorating the pomander ball with the cloves. In case you need some inspiration, take a glance at these cool designs and detailed guide on how to make your pomander balls:

6. Turn Coffee Beans Into Natural Air Fresheners

Did you know that, apart from its delicious taste, coffee works as an efficient air purifier too? Coffee beans are great at absorbing unwanted smells in your home and freshening up the air. Simply fill up your favorite cup with whole coffee beans and place it anywhere you want around your house. Now all you have to do is to sit back and enjoy your new eco-friendly air freshener.

Coffee beans in a glass container and a pack of coffee

And if that didn't make you love coffee even more, you should also know that coffee grounds make a perfect surface cleaner too. Mix soapy water with a couple of tablespoons of leftover coffee grounds to quickly make a sustainable and efficient cleaner for your home.

Coffee grounds are also great at minimizing the appearance of scratches on your wooden furniture. To do this, you will need to dampen a spoonful of coffee with lukewarm water and smoothly stroke it on the affected surface.

7. How To Make a Potpourri Jar

Why throw away orange skins when you can make a natural air freshener out of them? This DIY potpourri recipe is not only fun and easy to make, but it also brings a holiday vibe to your living space.

Next time you're having oranges (or any other type of citruses), remember to store the peels in a mason jar, next to a handful of cloves, a cinnamon bar and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Close the lid and shake the jar a couple of times a day until the potpourri is completely dried. Note that orange peels will take around a month to dry.

Orange peel

However, if you're in a hurry, you can quickly dehydrate the citrus peels in the oven. Preheat the oven to 392°F, then let the skins dry for roughly 30 minutes. Once they're ready, take them out, let them cool down and place them in the mason jar, next to the spices and the essential oil.

And there you go, your nicely-looking, eco-friendly air freshener is ready!

8. Prepare Bicarbonate of Soda Bowls

Last, but not least, using bicarbonate of soda as an air freshener is the easiest way to ensure that all the foul odors in your home will be gone in no time. Want to know how you can do that?

Simply pour a few tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda into tiny bowls and place them in key points across your house, like the bathroom or near the stove. It is best to place the bowls somewhere higher to prevent your pets or children from reaching them and also to limit the risk of tipping them over.

Bicarbonate of soda in a glass bowl

We also recommend adding several drops of essential oil to the bicarbonate of soda bowls to speed up the air freshening process.

9. Opt for Natural Wax Candles (Non-vegan)

Scented candles have always been a favorite option for those seeking to add a pleasant smell to their homes. It is always best to go for natural wax candles made of soy, beeswax or stearin since they produce less soot than paraffin candles. These are also less likely to cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to specific fragrances or have asthma.

Beeswax candles in a glass candleholder

Beeswax candles are considered the best alternative to paraffin candles due to their high quality and completely natural production process. However, these are not unanimously considered vegan since they are made by the bees, hence an animal by-product. Also, harvesting the beeswax is not ethical, sustainable or even cruelty-free to the lifespan of the bees, which makes beeswax candles unsustainable too. However, there are things we can do to prevent the bees from getting hurt, while still enjoying their precious beeswax. It is crucial to investigate and choose beeswax candles only from beekeepers with ethical farming practices, such as Flore, Tiny Ritual or The Future Kept.

10. Use Vinegar as an Odor Remover

Getting rid of pungent smells, such as burnt food or stinky flower water can sometimes be tricky. But there is one natural, sustainable and cheap thing you can use to remove that odor in no time, and that is vinegar. The acetic acid in vinegar neutralizes alkaline smells quickly and effectively so that you can enjoy fresh and clean air in your house again. Vinegar is also a mild antiseptic, which makes it perfect for cleaning kitchen and bathroom surfaces too, such as tiles, windows or mirrors.

Wooden brush and sprayers

There are a few ways to get the most out of vinegar when it comes to eliminating bad smells, such as preparing a vinegar-based room spray. Mix the vinegar with any essential oil of choice and add it to a spray bottle. Spritz this over carpets, trash cans or slippers whenever they need a refresh.

How Can Air Fresheners Be Recycled?

There are several ways you can dispose of used-up air fresheners, depending on the material of the air freshener holder. For instance, if you used a glass bottle for your reed diffuser and do not wish to repurpose it, you can simply throw it in the glass waste bin.

Plastic air freshener holders can be recycled similarly, by placing them in the designated plastic bins.

When it comes to empty aerosol cans, they can be recycled the same as steel cans.

Useful Things to Know About Air Fresheners

Are Air Fresheners Safe?

While the term "air freshener" can evoke a sense of cleanliness and freshness, these devices do not improve air quality by removing impurities. These air fresheners cause the formation of multiple substances linked to a series of negative health effects, such as cancer, neurotoxicity or even endocrine disruption.

Do Air Fresheners Damage the Environment?

According to a study conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), using scented products, such as air fresheners, perfumes or hair sprays can cause the same amount of chemical pollution as petroleum emissions from cars. Every spritz of these products contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which react with the sunlight and the rest of the chemicals in the atmosphere to form ozone pollution. These cause serious health issues, such as nausea and headaches, eye, nose and throat irritation, and liver and kidney damage.


Caring for our environment is more than a choice. It is a lifestyle we must fully embrace and enjoy to make real change happen. We also know that change cannot happen overnight, but taking small steps in the right direction can make a great difference, and we are here to support you too, one sustainable trick at a time. With these 10 natural ways to make your home smell fresh and clean, you do better for the environment and your health.