These Homemade Air Fresheners Will Make Your Space Smell So Clean

ecofriendly cleaners for the home
Kate Mathis

We talk about scrubbing down counters and washing the sheets all day long, but we tend to forget a really important part of making a house a home: keeping the air clean. It's important for both our physical and mental health, especially for those who are highly sensitive to odor. Factoring air pollution into your cleaning routine can make life at home so much more pleasant. Using true HEPA filters in your air conditioner unit, vacuuming regularly, and opening the windows when the weather is good can all help reduceallergens and airborne bacteria.

Smells are everywhere in our home and, sometimes, they aren't all too fresh. What do you do with a kitchen that reeks of fish and garlic? Or a bathroom that doesn't smell like a bouquet of roses? Before you reach for the store-bought cleaner, consider using a do-it-yourself, green alternative. You've probably used baking soda to freshen up your fridge, but there are plenty of other natural products you can use to deodorize your home and give it a delicious scent. While keeping your indoor air clean is important, it would be a mistake to underestimate how the smell makes you feel: The smell of eucalyptus can wake you up and the smell of flowers can help you relax.

Of course, if your home smells bad, you don't want to just be covering it up—it could point to a serious issue like mold, poor ventilation, or a gas leak. But if the smell is just a short-term thing, you might just need to simmer some vinegar for an hour or so. So, whether you're trying to get rid of the food smells that linger or just looking to purify the air in general, try one of our homemade air fresheners.

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Con Poulos

If you're trying to keep your home clean with natural products, having vinegar on hand is essential. A small dish of vinegar can neutralize the scent of smoke, cooking odors, and musty smells. Fill a glass dish with 1⁄2 inch of white vinegar and set it on the counter, but simmering it on the stove for an hour will make it even more effective.

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Essential Oils

dried herbs and essential oils
botamochi / Getty Images

Making a homemade air freshener using essential oils is simple, says Jasmine Bues, a clinical aromatherapist and the co-owner of Madison + Green. All you have to do is mix a few drops of concentrated oils into a water solution and spritz. Looking for a few easy recipes? To clear the air in your bathroom, add 20 drops of bergamot oil, 15 drops of thyme oil, and 10 drops of geranium oil to a glass spray bottle, pour in two cups of water, and spray as needed—these oil types have disinfectant and antimicrobial properties, says Bues, which goes a long way in this space.

Hoping to deodorize your kitchen, instead? Turn to different ingredients: Combine 15 drops of lemongrass oil, 10 drops of peppermint oil, and five drops of basil oil into two cups of water. "These essential oils are capable of attaching to food molecules, while also deodorizing them," Bues explains, adding that the solution should cut through the smell of grease and burned food.

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preserved lemons
Johnny Miller

Lemons add brightness to your meals, but you probably didn't realize that you could use the leftovers to get rid of any smells your food leaves behind. There are a few ways to go about it: freeze the rinds and grind them up in the garbage disposal, simmer a few slices in water, or bake them in the oven. Any way you go about it, your kitchen will smell lemony-fresh when you're done.

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Lavender smells beautiful both fresh and dry, so you really can't go wrong either way. A few studies have looked into the potential use of a chemical in lavender's scent as a way to reduce anxiety. We're probably way off from seeing it used as a treatment option any time soon, but filling your home with its aroma can't hurt. Try tucking dried lavender sachets into your drawers and pillows—or leave a vase of fresh lavender on your nightstand for an instant bedroom deodorizer (and organic stress relief tactic).

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woman disinfecting groceries
Getty / Susumu Yoshioka

Reach for the vodka bottle next time you're trying to get rid of a bad smell in the house. When spritzed, poured, or sprayed, it disinfects surfaces and neutralizes odors without damaging fabric or harming your skin. Spray it onto clothes, linens, upholstery, curtains, or rugs that are smelling musty.

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Activated Charcoal

making a charcoal face mask

Activated charcoal is effective at absorbing most odors and air pollutants. It's odorless and nontoxic, and you don't have to do anything besides stick it in the places that need deodorizing: scatter loose granules at the bottom of the trash can, mix it into cat litter, or pour it into sachets to hang in stale-smelling closets.

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Eucalyptus branches hanging in shower
Liudmila Chernetska

The ancient Greeks and Romans sported leafy wreaths as symbols of power and victory. Our favorite use for them will make you feel like a champ too: Hang one in the bathroom, where the shower's steam will release their invigorating scent. We made ours from a single branch of seeded eucalyptus, secured with wire, but you could do the same with bunches of rosemary or bay laurel—the emperors' favorite. Fresh sprigs should last about three to four weeks before they dry out.

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