9 Natural Air Fresheners You Can Make at Home

Allie Ogletree
Written by Allie Ogletree
Updated September 23, 2022
Aroma oil diffuser on chair against in the bedroom
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Stubborn odor, meet your match

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From pets to kids to that seafood you cooked the night before, sometimes smells have a way of lingering around longer than they should—especially indoors. Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can naturally freshen the air in your home to combat unwanted odors. Get your creative hat on with these nine tips for homemade air fresheners. 

What Is a Natural Air Freshener?

Composition with an air humidifier and wildflowers.
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With buzzwords like “green,” “eco-friendly,” and “all-natural” taking the marketing world by storm, knowing the difference between a natural air freshener and a conventional air freshener can help you make the best choice to freshen the air in your home. 

A natural air freshener differs from conventional air fresheners in that it doesn’t contain synthetic ingredients. Instead, natural air fresheners use simple ingredients found in nature—many of which you might already have around the house. These natural air fresheners can be a great option for those on a budget, people looking for a fun DIY project, or those with allergies to certain fragrances.

1. Sprinkle Baking Soda in Odor-Prone Areas

Trying to cover up bad odors can be a little like spraying perfume on a trash can: it just doesn’t work. So, before you try to freshen up the air in your home with added scents, it’s a good idea to put baking soda in particularly stinky areas—aka the trash can, your fridge, areas near the stove, in the dirty clothes hamper, near litter boxes, and other smelly sites.

2. Get Rid of Smells With Vinegar

White vinegar and baking soda are like two peas in a pod when it comes to tackling smells and dirt, so it comes as no surprise that vinegar is second on the list. White vinegar helps eliminate odors from smoke, pets, and more by neutralizing unwanted smells. 

Adding vinegar helps prime the air for some of the scented air fresheners you’ll find below. To make the most out of white vinegar, spray undiluted vinegar in the air or store small bowls of vinegar in your kitchen area to absorb cooking odors. 

3. Put Your Coffee to Work

Coffee beans decoration
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Whether it’s the first cup in the morning wafting to your room on auto-brew or the scent of freshly ground beans, there’s nothing quite like the smell of coffee in the morning—or any time of the day, really. And if you’ve ever been to a candle or fragrance shop, you might know that a bowl of coffee beans can do wonders for cleaning the air and giving your nose a break. 

The science might be out on coffee beans actually serving as an olfactory reset, but the beans do absorb household odors while giving off that irresistible scent that is as refreshing as it is effective. 

Bring that tantalizing coffee shop to your home by placing your favorite coffee beans in an open mason jar or bowl to help absorb odors. Alternatively, repurpose used coffee grounds by putting them in a shallow, open container in the fridge.

4. Make Potpourri a DIY Air Freshener

Potpourri is a creative and classic way to add some sophistication to your bathroom and other areas of the house prone to unpleasant odors. The sky is your limit when it comes to choosing what to put in your potpourri. A good starting point includes the following dried ingredients:

  • Rose petals

  • Lavender

  • Rosemary

  • Orange peels

  • Orris root powder (a fixative)

  • Essential oils (optional)

You can put the ingredients into sachets, tie them in twine or with rubber bands, or leave them loose-leafed in bowls. If you’re feeling like taking your DIY skills to the next level, you can dry flowers and herbs on your own by baking them on a baking sheet on a low setting (200 degrees Fahrenheit) for an hour or so. Just be sure to keep an eye on them.

5. Bring in the Florals

Woman holding flowers
Photo: Oscar Wong / Moment / Getty Images

From a bouquet of flowers to an indoor garden, the sweet smell of flowers is one of the most natural ways you can freshen up the air in your home. The best part is that flowers offer a great visual aesthetic and pleasant odors. 

For a garden or contained planter, utilize shelves and hanging baskets in well-lit areas of your home. For vases of flowers, mix and match flowers and herbs and place them on tables in areas in need of a refresher.

6. Use Oil Diffuser Sticks

When it comes to an all-natural air freshener, very little is more popular than an essential oil diffuser. These diffusers use bamboo or rattan reeds to absorb essential oils and dispense the scent throughout your home slowly over time. They come in all types of scents, but if you want a natural air freshener, avoid synthetic perfumes and double-check that the ingredients are 100% pure essential oils. 

7. Add Aromatherapy to Your Humidifier

A modern essential oil diffuser
Photo: Catherine Falls Commercial / Moment / Getty Images

As with oil diffuser sticks, you can use the same essential oils as an air freshener in humidifiers that indicate you can add essential oils into the water chamber. A humidifier is a great option for the winter months, as this method will help you to combat dry indoor air. A few good options for aromatherapy include:

  • Lavender 

  • Peppermint

  • Lemon

  • Frankincense

  • Fir

  • Orange

*Note: Not all essential oils are pet-friendly. If you have a pet, always check before you add any scents to your home’s interior. Tea tree oil, eucalyptus, cinnamon, clove, and ylang-ylang are just a few examples of oils that are harmful to pets. 

8. Simmer It Down

If you don’t own a humidifier or diffuser, you can still make your own by cranking up the heat on your stovetop with some of your favorite natural ingredients. Try bringing any of the following ingredients to a boil in a covered pot of water—filled to about three-quarters of the way full—then letting them simmer uncovered for one to two hours for a makeshift humidifier:

  • Citrus zest

  • White vinegar

  • Citrus, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and allspice

  • Mint leaves

  • Pine and juniper

9. Add in a Pomander Ball

Pomander balls made of tangerines
Photo: Liudmila Chernetska / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Though usually used in Christmas decor and winter-themed weddings, who’s to say you can’t use a pomander ball year-round to add a bit of spice to the air of your house? A pomander ball is a perfumed orange embellished with cloves. This all-natural air freshener gets bonus points for being a fun (albeit a little sticky!) project to do with children. 

Make your very own orange pomander with fresh oranges and cloves. Use a skewer to poke holes in the orange, then insert cloves to make elaborate patterns. Again, this process might get a little messy, so use a towel to keep the orange juice from getting everywhere. Once you’ve made a pattern, hang your ornament up for all to see. Just be sure to refrigerate it overnight to keep it from molding.

What to Do If Natural Air Fresheners Don’t Work

If none of these natural tricks for freshening your indoor air successfully improves the smell of your home, you might have a bigger problem on hand or need to tackle the situation from a different angle. Consider changing your HVAC filters, deep cleaning your home, or hiring a local carpet cleaner to remove stubborn odors professionally.

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