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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Natural Air Fresheners

Natural Air Fresheners

Everyone knows closing up the house against winter’s cold and drafts is meant to create a warm, cozy environment and save on energy usage. But let’s face it, after a while the kitchen can begin to smell like last month’s spicy chili, baked fish, fried chicken, and liver and onions, along with last week’s bacon burgers and garlic roast—as though they were cooked in one big pot!

In the bathroom, and especially if your family’s clothes hamper sits in a closet next to Cleo’s litter box, the inability to open the windows for any period of time can result in mold and a musty smell. Kids’ bedrooms can also be a source of sweaty, musty odors from sports clothing strewn about, frequently worn athletic shoes, wet pets camped out on the bed, piles of old blankets and sweaters, and more. And we all know what the diaper pail can smell like!

Though providing a quick fix, store-bought air fresheners and deodorizers usually contain toxic chemicals and irritants such as cyclodextrin, sodium polyacrylate, and benzisothiazolinone that may be particularly harsh and harmful to babies, those who are pregnant, and others with sensitive respiratory systems. With cancer rates on the rise, and an eye to environmental factors, there are natural options to sweeten and freshen the air in your home. These involve essential oils (oils from herbs, flowers or leaves that have been separated from the plant), whole herbs, spices, orange and lemon rinds—each bringing the scent of spring to the stuffiest days of winter.

Try these gentle, chemical-free homemade recipes for a fresh-smelling house that helps you breathe easier:

Fruit Oil Room Spray
Add 12-15 drops of essential oil like grapefruit, orange or lemon—or 20 drops for a stronger result—to ½ cup white vinegar and 1½ cups water. (If using more essential oil, use a little more vinegar and water.) Try peppermint or lavender oil too. Pour into spray bottle.

Baking Soda and Essential Oil Air Freshener
In a small jar, add 8-12 drops essential oil of your choice to 1/2 cup baking soda. Cover and shake. Remove cover and place a small screen over the top or punch holes in cover and close. Set on counter or table.

Ground Cinnamon, Cloves, and Fruit Rinds Kitchen Deodorizer
Place a few teaspoons of cinnamon and cloves into boiling water. Add orange and/or lemon rinds or zest. Allow to gently simmer for a while but be sure to keep an eye on the pot to ensure water doesn’t evaporate.

Eucalyptus Oil Freshener
Fill a spray bottle with water and a few drops of eucalyptus oil. In addition to freshening the air, eucalyptus oil is thought to kill bacteria on countertops, door knobs, etc.

Coffee Grounds and Baking Soda
Fill separate bowls with coffee grounds and baking soda. Set out overnight or for a couple of days. Reportedly works wonders at absorbing odors in the air.

Peppermint – or Vanilla-scented Cotton Balls
Sprinkle peppermint or vanilla essential oil on cotton balls. Place in a small bowl in bathroom, such as behind the toilet.

Vodka and Essential Oil Air Freshener
Because ethyl alcohol is a primary ingredient in vodka as well as commercial air fresheners, adding 20 or 30 drops of fragrant essential oil to a cup of vodka in a spray bottle will work well—without the added chemicals.

6 comments

1 Katherine Smith { 11.07.12 at 4:44 pm }

Another suggestion for an AMAZING room fragrance is putting about 6 – 10 drops of Ylang-Ylang Oil in water into a potpourri burner (either electric or votive heated). The scent is just intoxicating! Don’t be fooled, however, by the initial scent of Ylang-Ylang from the bottle itself because it is deceptively powdery and heavy. But once the fragrance is released into the air, it is like a fresh, exotic garden in that room. Another suggestion is taking the combo of essential oil and baking powder, sprinkling it on the carpet just before bed, and vaccumming the next morning.

2 Lil Al { 11.07.12 at 3:52 pm }

Gail: what spice do you use with the cinnamon? I use cloves, cinnamon and orange peels but open for other ideas. Thanks.

Cat the Great: did you learn how to make essential oils? I would be interested also. Thanks.

3 Vicki M. { 11.07.12 at 12:43 pm }

I have added the oils to the baking soda and then placed in clean, dry spice bottles with the shaker on the bottle to let the aroma come through. I tied a ribbon around the bottle that coordinated with my room colors and just set it on an end table. The odor filled the room without being overpowering. If you feel that the aroma is a bit much for your room you can put a piece of clear tape over some of the holes reducing the number to something that is more pleasing to your environment.

4 Terri { 11.07.12 at 11:14 am }

I use and sell essentail oils. They make a difference with everything from uplifting moods to freshening rooms.

5 cat the great { 11.07.12 at 11:04 am }

how do you make essential oils

6 Gail McCanless { 11.05.12 at 4:54 pm }

These are great ideas. I’ve actually boiled all spice and cinnamon together for years. I will try immediately the baking soda and coffee grounds. Thanks for the info.

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