Homemade Air Freshener: Breathe happy without the toxic mess.

Homemade Air Freshener: Breathe happy without the toxic mess.

Homemade air freshener is probably one of the easiest and cheapest things you can make. But beyond those reasons, ditching the toxic stuff is important. Really important. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with a story…

About a year ago I was sitting in the foyer at my church watching my then little baby crawling around. It was an enjoyable morning. Calm. Peaceful. But then a slightly unpleasant smell began to tickle my nose. I looked over to see a little pile of kiddie vomit a couple of feet away from me.


I was about to investigate the situation when a man quickly came running down the hall, brimming with purpose. He had a wash cloth and a little blue spray bottle in his hand. He rushed over the to pile, wiped it up, and then sprayed it with some Febreeze. Everyone around the situation looked relieved. I didn’t think much of it.

At least not until the fumes of the air “freshener” (ha!) reached my nose. All of a sudden I was dizzy, nauseous, and repulsed by the toxic fumes of that chemical mess. Despite the unpleasantness of the kid vomit, this cover-up was way worse! I grabbed my baby and left immediately.

Ditch the toxic air freshener!

I could write a really lengthy post about the dangers of air fresheners. But instead I’ll just talk about some of the ingredients of one of the most popular air fresheners (rhymes with just-sneeze):

  • Acetaldehyde: This is a known carcinogenthat has reproductive and development effects, immune system toxin, and irritant to the skin, eyes, and lungs.
  • Fragrance: One of the most generalize terms that can contain up to 400 ingredients, most of which have a long list of health concerns from depression to headaches to skin irritations and beyond.
  • Propylene Glycol: Another known carcinogen, propylene glycol is toxic to the immune system, is linked to allergies, accumulates in the body and irritates the skin, eyes, and lungs.
  • 1,3-Dichloro-2-propanol: A cancer causing toxin.
  • Limonene: An allergen, immune system toxin, and irritant to the eyes, skin, and lungs.
  • Methyl pyrrolidone: Reproductive system toxin linked to birth defects, allergies, immune system toxicity, and skin, eyes, and lung irritation.
  • Alcohol, denatured: In this form it is linked to cancer, birth defects, organ system toxicity, and skin, eyes, and lung irritation.
  • Butylphenyl methylpropional: An allergen, irritant, and immune system toxin.
  • Ethyl acetate: This is a neurotoxin which is also linked to developmental and reproductive issues.
  • Benzaldehyde: Also a neurotoxin and skin, lung, and eye irritator

Of course, Proctor and Gamble don’t want you to know what’s in their “happy little air freshener” and only discloses three ingredients on their Febreze-brand products. Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group (EWG)—an American-based non-profit that advocates for health protection—found a whopping 87 chemicals in Febreze Air Effects.

Once again clever marketing has convinced people into thinking that they are “cleaning” and “deodorizing” the air for a more sanitary and healthy environment. But really these air fresheners are a serious threat to our health and environment.

Just. Say. NO.

Homemade Air Freshener is the way to go…

Thankfully, I was never a fan of air fresheners… even long before I went all hippe-diy-toxic-free. But I still HATE being bombarded with these fumes in other places. And it’s a crying shame because it’s just. so. easy. to make your own homemade air freshener.

And it’s cheap.

And non-toxic.

And did I mention easy? Good. Because it is.

So here is the simple solution to toxic garbage floating around in the AIR YOU BREATHE. You can keep it simple and just deodorize or add a little essential oil fun to give a natural aroma to your air. Your choice.


What did I tell you. Easy. So what’s stopping your from making your own homemade air freshener? Nothing. And if nothing else, please just throw out the toxic stuff. Even kid vomit is better.

While we’re talking about improving our health, let’s talk about something really important.

While the majority of my posts here on Thank Your Body deal with food, non-toxic living, and exercise there is one super duper important element that far too many people forget when they work on a healthier lifestyle: CLUTTER.

We live in a world with so. much. stuff. While that stuff can seem pretty benign, the truth is our clutter affects our health in a really major way. (Not to mention how much money it’s costing us!)


If you’re looking at improving your life may I suggest you take a nice long look at your clutter situation. If you feel overwhelmed (which so many do!) I highly recommend learning more about my book, The Clutter Trap. It has helped a lot of people get to the root cause of clutter.

The freedom you’ll find will serve to help all your healthy habits you’re seeking to live by. Click here to check it out.


Tell me, do you make your own homemade air freshener?





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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie


    1. Justyna

      If you don’t want to put it into a spray bottle, can you just leave the boaking soda and essential oil in a nice bowl (mixed of coure)? Would that have the same freshening powers? Anyone tried this?

      1. Lauralee

        You can also mix your favorite essential oils with a little carrier oil of choice and pour it over white rice. It imparts a nice light fragrance that works great in small spaces. We put a bowl in the bathroom & in the laundry/litter box room & it works wonderfully!

  1. Deborah Niemann

    Love this post! I’ve linked to it on the Facebook page for my book Ecothrifty, which advises readers NOT to use air fresheners for the reasons you stated. But this is a great alternative for those who really want something. Thanks!

  2. Barbara

    Hello! Thank you for the recipe! I have a question, won’t the baking soda accumulate into the “straw” part of the bottle? Does the baking soda dissolve in the water? Thank you for any response! Blessings!!!

    1. Post author

      Hi Mari, a 8 0z. – 12 oz. bottle would work great for this. If you have a bigger or smaller one just add/remove some of the baking soda.

  3. Marissa

    OK, dumb question. What exactly is distilled water? I saw this
    recipe for making mozzarella cheese, and same thing, calls for distilled
    water. Would water form my BIG Berkey water filter work instead? I hate to have to go BUY water! =)

    1. Diana

      If you don’t want to buy distilled water, you can just boil your tap water for about 10 minutes then let it cool. It’s not the same, but will work in a pinch.

    2. Post author

      Not a dumb question! Distilled water basically is pure water that has any microbes removed. You could definitely use your Berkey water instead (so jealous… want a Big Berkey someday). Or even just boiled water would work, as Marissa points out. Just want to keep it free from contamination as water can easily become a home for bacteria. :)

  4. Diana

    I’ve never tried homemade “febreeze” using baking soda. I would think it would leave a fine powder because of it. I just use equal parts distilled water and cheap high-proof vodka and then add about 20 drops of whatever EO I want to use (I use a spray bottle that only holds about 6-7 ounces so I can change the scent as often as I want). I may still try the baking soda one though.

    1. Post author

      I haven’t had a problem, but you’ll want to make sure you shake it really well before each use. The baking soda is great for deodorizing, but I bet the vodka method would work well for killing bacteria and odors, too. :)

  5. Mayling

    Quick question. After you spray the freshener, will it leave a residue on your floor or the fabrics?

    I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s something my fiancee brought up.

    Thanks for the recipe and the inside information on Febreeze. :) I can’t wait till I try it out.

    1. Post author

      Hi Mayling,

      You want to make sure you shake it really well before spraying, and I’d stick to fabrics or the air… and you shouldn’t have a problem. I did notice a small amount of residue on the lid of my garbage can, but I didn’t shake it that well that time. If it’s a problem, use a large spray bottle so that there is more water.


  6. Barb @ A Life in Balance

    I have a problem with scents. I can’t walk through the detergent or soap aisle in stores because the smell is so overwhelming. I need to try this recipe with my ds16 and see if it overcomes that ever present “boy” smell.

    Thanks for linking up to Motivation Monday.

  7. Bonny @ thedomesticatedprincess.com

    Thanks for this recipe. I’ve never been a fan of sprays because I feel like all I’m doing is masking odors while introducing unwanted chemicals into our house. However, my husband seems to like chemicals and loves fragrant air fresheners. I will give this a try in hopes for a compromise!

  8. Mindy W.

    I use the vodka method as another commenter mentioned but this is a great idea too. I tend to have baking soda on hand but not so much with vodka :)

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  10. sooz

    I love this idea…I make my own air freshener with water and about 10 drops of lavender oil…seems to work fine and smells nice, and I open to window to let in some fresh air too!! But I’ll remember this if I even want some ‘fabreeze’ Thank you :)

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  22. Justyna

    So glad I found your blog! I’ve been making an all-purpose cleaner that is almost identical to this air freshener recipe. I never thought to use it as an air/fabric refresher and with four sons, believe me it’s necessary! Haha.

  23. Janine Thompson

    I just got done reading your e-book, toxic free. Lots of great info. Thanks. I do have a question. You seem to have a thing against my favorite essential oil, Eucalyptus. I use it all the time, undiluted on me, on kids, on babies. Best oil ever. I have never heard that it can be lethal. In all the research and studies I have done. Nowhere. Unkess a child eats the leaves. Would you mind sharing your source as I would like to research that more. I recommend oils to people a lot and would hate to do anything that could cause harm. I am not terribly worried as The proof is in the using, but would like to reasearch this anyhow.
    Anyway, great book. I tested out the bleach alternative today and it performed beautifully!

    1. Post author

      Hi Janine,

      The information in the book has come from various research sources, and they are linked in the intro section of the book. The simple “beginners” guide that I included is just that: For beginners. Since I can’t control what type of oil people are buying, I have to put every precaution out there. I know there are some oils that are purer or better processed as to make them much safer. If you’ve used it without any problems, and your source/intuition tells you it’s okay, by all means… go for it. I just have to cover myself from anyone who may buy inferior oils or who doesn’t know how to apply them appropriately. :)

    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      Could be the kinds of essential oils you used. Try adding a few more drops. Ultimately it’s about neutralizing odors with the baking soda.

  24. Elaine

    Can’t wait to try this. I was looking for a homemade recipe because we live on my husband’s old age pension from the government and money is extremely tight. I can’t afford to buy the expensive ones. I bought some at the dollar store for $1.50 and when you use it, it leaves the floors so sticky that you have to wash them right away. You can’t walk in stocking feet! So, imagine what it’s doing to our lungs. My husband has had 2 types of cancer in the last 5 years so I try to be as environmentally friendly as possible, using vinegar and water for cleaning etc. Works just as good and if a stain is stubborn, you can just add a little baking soda to make a paste. I thank you for this recipe!!!

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  31. Roxanna

    I am so happy I came across your site! I am a fanatic about knowing what is in our every day household products. The more I learn, the more I make my own items. I love your articles and ideas! Air freshener has been a no-no in my house for years now; creative alternatives like this one are shockingly simple and effective. Thank you for all your great information!

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