Natural Air Freshener Ideas to Keep Your Home Smelling Fresh and Clean

While those plug in air fresheners may seem like a good idea, the truth behind them can be very concerning. In reality, there are many hazardous chemicals that they can contain that can be damaging to your health. Luckily, there are plenty of natural air freshener alternatives that you may be already using. Alternatives like oil diffusers are a terrific option and are relatively inexpensive. But why are so many regular air fresheners so toxic to you? 

natural air freshener

Why Use Natural Air Fresheners?

There have been countless studies on air fresheners and whether or not they are hazardous to our health. It turns out, that the majority of them absolutely are. The harmful effects of air fresheners can range from hormonal and reproductive issues, to birth defects and developmental issues. This is highly due to the presence of phthalates. In fact, in a study conducted by the NRDC, it was found that 12 out of 14 air fresheners widely available contain phthalates. Even some that were labeled "All Natural" air fresheners or unscented. As a result, many of the worst ones were removed from store shelves and the manufacturer revamped the ingredients to remove the phthalates. 

Another toxic ingredient found to be in many plug-in air fresheners was formaldehyde. This is a well known carcinogen that has been linked to cancers of the nose and throat. It is also known to cause irritation of the throat and airways, and could lead to dangerous infections, frequent nosebleeds, asthma, and other breathing issues. These risks are elevated in older people, infants, and people with lowered immune systems. In addition, in 2013 a study was done on more than 2000 pregnant women. It was found that those who used plug-in air fresheners during gestation were statistically far more likely to have babies that suffered from serious lung infections. 

In addition to phthalates and formaldehyde, naphthalene is also a big concern. This chemical has been shown to cause tissue damage and cancer in the lungs of rodents in laboratory studies. It is plausible that the same result could be found in humans as well. 

All of this, combined with VOCs or volatile organic compounds which have been linked to asthma should be reason enough to switch to a natural air freshener alternative.  

natural air freshener

DIY Natural Air Freshener 

It is incredibly easy to make your own natural air freshener spray. All that it takes is a small spray bottle, a few different essential oils, and you are ready to go. Of course there are many other recipes that you can use, some even using vodka or alcohol. So just to give you a few great ideas to go off from, here is a list of great DIY natural air freshener recipes. 

Citrus Sunshine Spice Air Freshener

This blend contains uplifting orange and lemon essential oils. Sweet orange essential oil not only uplifts the mood but also has potent anti-fungal properties. Lemon has both antibacterial and antiviral properties. Lemon further affects the mood by increasing alertness and soothing angry feelings.

Ginger, on the other hand, helps to stimulate the mind in a positive way and is commonly used to alleviate depression.


  • 25 drops sweet orange (or wild orange) essential oil

  • 25 drops lemon essential oil

  • 12 drops ginger essential oil

  • 2 tsp vodka

  • 4 oz spray bottle

Walk Through the Woods Natural Air Freshener

This blend has a woodsy scent and a grounding effect on the mood. Juniper berry helps combat feelings of apathy, and adds a fresh note to the blend. Cypress is also used for apathy and even grieving.

Cypress cleanses the air with its antibacterial and antiviral effects, and cedarwood grounds the blend and ties it all together.


  • 15 drops juniper berry essential oil

  • 15 drops cypress essential oil

  • 20 drops cedarwood essential oil

  • 2 tsp vodka

  • 4 oz spray bottle

  • distilled water


  • 5 drops wild orange essential oil

  • 5 drops lemon essential oil

  • 5 drops lime essential oil

  • 5 drops grapefruit essential oil

natural air freshener

How to Make Homemade a Air Freshener with Essential Oils

It’s pretty simple … only two quick steps!


  1. Add the essential oils and vodka to the spray bottle and swirl gently to combine.
  2. Add distilled water until the spray bottle is almost full, then cap tightly and shake to combine.

To Use:

  • Shake well before use and liberally spray into the air. Aim as high as possible, as the mist will fall through the air, releasing its scent as it does.
  • These natural air fresheners can also be sprayed on most linens and upholstery to freshen them. If there’s any concern about damage occurring, test an inconspicuous piece of fabric first.

Other Natural Air Freshener Ideas

If you are not big on the whole DIY natural air freshener thing, not to worry. There are plenty of great alternatives that you can go out to a store and buy. My personal favorite are the oil diffusers. These can be in the form of a oil reservoir with wooden reeds sticking out of the top, an electric oil diffuser, or even a burner diffuser that uses a small candle inside a ceramic (or otherwise) construct with a bowl on the top. All of these are easily found in basically any store and are rather cheap. 

But if essential oils are still not your thing, there are plenty of other things you can buy to purify your air. There are charcoal air purifiers, non-toxic air freshener spray, potpourri, or even just buying a bunch of those air fresher trees you see hanging in cars. My friend has about 50 of them hanging from his mirror.

natural air freshener

Toxic Air Freshener Ingredients

While the ones stated above are probably the worst, they are not the only ones you should be wary of. In addition to the absorbents, oxidizers, surfactants, and and disinfectants that are often found in air fresheners, there are many others that you should look out for. These include fragrances, aerosol propellants, preservatives, and solvents such as mineral oil and 2-butoxyethanol and other glycol ethers. In 2005, a report by the BEUC, Bureau Europeen des Unions de Consummateurs found that many air fresheners emit allergens and toxic air pollutants including benzene, formaldehyde, terpenes, styrene, phthalate esters, and toluene. 


Unfortunately, there is now something else for you to worry about in your home. Air fresheners may seem innocent, but they can be highly toxic to your life and the life of the environment. But by switching to natural air fresheners like the ones mentioned, It is fairly easy to avoid any issues whatsoever. Plus you'll be making your house look very trendy in the process, and who doesn't like trendy? For any other information, head on back to Green and Growing. 

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Patrick Sands

Hey, I'm Pat. I am a Millersville grad with a Bachelors of Arts in English. I love to write, play video games, watch movies and TV, basically be a total nerd whenever I can. Green and Growing is important to me because it allows me to help others be as green and eco-friendly as possible. With Climate Change being what it is, it is even more important for people to get educated about their environment. This website allows me to do my part in that. Also, I'm a huge goof who tries to add some humor into anything I write. Stay Excellent out there!

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