Want to freshen up the room? No problem, just use some Febreze. Not only do their products smell good, but they’re super easy to use well. Just a few sprays here and there and you’re good to go. There are even scented plug-ins that you can use if you don’t want to spray manually. Just plug it into an outlet and it’ll emit a fragrance automatically.
As great as Febreze may be, however, their products still contain chemicals. While they’re not toxic per se, they can still cause coughing, sneezing, and other symptoms. For example, many of their air fresheners contain BHT, which can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs. Not only that, but they also contain phthalates, which are associated with asthma.
What’s more, is that they don’t actually remove the odor molecules—they only cover them up. Given all that, it’s not surprising to know that more and more people are seeking natural alternatives.
Is that why you’re here? Looking for a guide on how to freshen up the house without using chemicals? If so, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll be going over some natural alternatives below—so be sure to keep reading!
1. Essential Oils
Essential oils are aromatic, volatile liquids that are derived from plants. Not only can they benefit your health, but they can also be used for cleaning. For example, you can use it to clean the floor and other surfaces. That’s not all, it can help deodorize the air as well.
All you need is a spray bottle, some vinegar and water, and your favorite oil. Pour 1/4 cup of white vinegar into the bottle and mix it with 1 and a 1/2 cup of water. From there, add 20-30 drops of the essential oil. Mix the ingredients together by shaking the bottle and you can use it as an air freshener—just spray the areas that need to be ‘cleaned.’
Alternatively, you can use a diffuser. You can also add a few drops to your humidifier (if it’s compatible with essential oils); the water vapor will help diffuse the tiny oil droplets into the air. If anything, it’s even more convenient than using a spray. For the best results, use a warm air humidifier; they tend to work better than the cold mist variety.
In terms of what essential oil to use, some popular choices include lavender, lemon, peppermint, lemongrass, orange, clary sage, cinnamon, rosemary, geranium, and eucalyptus.
Warning: Do not use essential oils if you have pets. Most are toxic to animals and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, liver damage, and other health problems, even if it’s simply inhaled.
2. White Vinegar
White vinegar is great in that it’s a natural deodorizer. This has to do with the fact that it contains acetic acid, which is capable of neutralizing alkaline odors (as opposed to covering them up with Febreze). Not that, but it’s also a mild disinfectant. The best part? Most of us probably already have some at home!
To use it, all you need to do is mix it with some water. More specifically, you want to combine two cups of water with one teaspoon of white vinegar, ideally in a spray bottle. Put the lid on, give it a shake, and you can use it to mist the air (it won’t leave behind a vinegary smell, for those who are wondering). If you want, you can even add a few drops of essential oils.
You can use it for other things too. For example, you can use it to deodorize your clothes, furniture, shoes—even your car. If anything, you just have to tweak the water to vinegar ratio.
And it’s completely safe (which isn’t surprising seeing as how it’s edible) for humans and animals. Your pets might not appreciate the smell, but don’t worry, it’ll fade once it dries. It’s much better than exposing them to chemicals, that’s for sure.
Lemon is a natural cleaner with deodorizing properties. It contains citric acid, which is able to neutralize pungent compounds such as amines; this makes it a great DIY air freshener. It’s also cheap and easy to get, which makes it an even better choice.
Start by cutting the lemons horizontally. Use a small paring knife to release the fruit and hollow out each half (feel free to save it for lemonade). Add a bit of sea salt into a small bowl and mix it with the lemon rinds. The lemon will neutralize smells while the salt will help absorb stale odors.
Depending on the size of the lemons, you may need to add more than 1/2 cup of salt. If you want, you can also add some essential oils (20-25 drops will do). For example, you can mix the lemon with tea tree, eucalyptus, pine, or juniper. At the end of the day, it all depends on your preference.
Once everything is mixed, divide the lemon air fresher into small dishes and place them in different areas of the house.
Tip: Placing it in a sunny sport will help to diffuse the oils’ scent
Alternatively, you can make a lemon spray. Measure 1/8 cup of baking soda and add it to a small bowl. Next, pour in 2 cups of hot water. Stir until the powder is dissolved and add 1/2 cup of lemon juice (freshly squeeze). You can also add some lemon essential oil.
Allow the mixture to cool and pour it into a clean spray bottle. You can then spray it wherever you want.
Oranges, or more specifically orange peels, can be used to absorb odors; they’ll leave a fresh, citrus aroma behind, which will help refreshen up the room. And there are several ways that you can use it.
For example, you can make an orange peel air freshener spray. For this method, you’ll need the peels from two to four oranges. Place them into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and add 3-4 cups of rubbing alcohol (vodka works too). Make sure that the peels are completely submerged in the liquid and leave them there for at least one week.
Once you’ve let it sit, mix one part of orange-infused alcohol with one part of distilled water in a spray bottle. You can also add 10 to 20 drops of essential oils if you wish. Don’t forget to discard the leftover peels.
Alternatively, you can fill the orange peels with sea salt—both will help absorb odors. You can also add some dried herbs or spices for a more complex fragrance.
You can dry strips of orange peel in the sun (or use a food dehydrator) and leave them out around the house as well.
5. Baking Soda
Baking soda aka sodium bicarbonate can help neutralize stubborn odors. A weak base, it works by reacting with strong acidic and alkaline molecules, turning them into neutral-smelling salts.
To make a tabletop air freshener with baking soda, you’ll need a glass jar, baking soda, a tablespoon of herbs (e.g. dried cinnamon, lavender flowers), and a piece of breathable material such as burlap.
Start by filling the jar with baking soda—you want it to be approx. half full. Once it’s in, add the herbs. You can also add 5-10 drops of essential oils for added fragrance (consider adding a couple of drops to the underside of the fabric – that’ll help intensify the smell). When you’re finished, cover the jar with the fabric and you can place them somewhere in your house.
You can also create a spray. For this method, you’ll want to combine one tablespoon of baking soda with 5-6 drops of essential oil in a small dish or bowl. Stir until it’s combined and carefully pour the wetted powder into a spray bottle. Use a funnel if you have to – that’ll prevent the powder from getting everywhere. And as always, you can add your favorite essential oil to scent the freshener.
Once you’ve transferred the mixture into the spray bottle, add some water. Shake the bottle a few times to combine the ingredients and you can spray it throughout a room to freshen the air. You can also use it on specific items such as shoes or furniture.
While vanilla won’t neutralize the odors per se, it can help freshen the air in your home. For example, you can moisten cotton balls with vanilla extract and leave them in closets, basements, bathrooms, or other areas where unpleasant smells may arise.
You can also warm a little bit of vanilla extract in the oven; the aroma will permeate through the cooking device and into your home. If anything, it’ll smell like freshly baked cookies.
Start by setting the oven to 300F/150C (a little lower if your oven runs hot). Pour two tablespoons of vanilla extract into an oven-safe pan or dish and place it in the oven. You can also add a few vanilla bean pods to enhance the scent, but it’s not necessary.
Don’t use a non-stick pan—the chemicals on the surface will interact with the extract and prevent you from getting the true essence of the vanilla. And make sure to use the middle rack; that’ll prevent the vanilla extract from burning.
Bake the vanilla extract for up to 20 minutes. If you find the smell to be too strong, you can diffuse the fragrance by opening up a few windows.
7. Rubbing Alcohol
Not only is rubbing alcohol good for cleaning, but you can also use it to kill odor-causing bacteria (we recommend using 70% rubbing alcohol but 99% works as well – it’ll just be a little stronger). It also dissipates quickly so you won’t have to worry about it leaving a residue on your furniture or other items.
As it is, the easiest way to use it is to create a spray. In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol (aka isopropyl alcohol) with 1 cup of distilled water. For fragrance, you can add 15-20 drops of essential oils. Stir the ingredients together with a spoon and pour the mixture into a plastic spray bottle.
Shake the bottle again to disperse the alcohol into the water (you might need to do this a few times) and you can spray it with the freshener throughout the room.
Be careful not to use it around open flames, however, as rubbing alcohol is highly flammable.
8. Natural Candles
Candles will not only give your home a warm, cozy glow but they can also help reduce odors. If anything, you just want to make sure that it’s all-natural. For example, you can get candles made from coconut, soy, or beeswax. More often than not, they’ll be scented with essential oils. Some popular choices include lavender, amber, musk, and pine.
And make sure to use a sturdy candle holder; you don’t want it to tip over as that can quickly turn into a fire.
Other candle safety tips:
– Never leave a candle unattended in a room, especially if you have children or pets
– Don’t put a candle near anything that can catch fire (e.g. curtains)
– Be careful with glass candle holders as they can break if they get too hot
– Use a long match or lighter to light the candle
– Place the candle on a sturdy, flat surface
– Make a habit of blowing out the candle when you leave the room
– Don’t use candles in the bedroom or other places where you may fall asleep
– Always remove the wick trimmings
– Never try to touch or move a burning candle
– Burning candles should be kept at least three inches away from each other