The best natural air fresheners don’t cost anything at all, as there is nothing to buy. Just remove odours (spicy food, cigarette smoke, smelly feet!) Ensure pets are let out regularly for pee breaks (smelly fur is often due to not being outside enough and infrequent grooming). And if your bathroom is a source of frequent smells, look at what you are eating.
Most commercial air fresheners are packed with toxic chemicals, linked to asthma, hormone-disruptors and even cancer. Dump all of them (including those plug-in air fresheners and tree car fresheners).
Never use essential oils or anything scented near pets (or babies or for pregnancy/nursing). Air rooms before allowing them back in. Cats, birds, ferrets and reptiles in particular cannot tolerate essential oils, so never spray where they live/sleep.
Houseplants don’t ‘clean the air’ (a 30-year old NASA myth). Many houseplants are toxic to pets (just brushing a tail against a lily or sago palm can harm).
Tips to Naturally Freshen the Air
- Clean and clear every room, and donate, sell or recycle anything you don’t need, to remove stagnant air. Wash what’s left in hot biodegradable soapy water, rinse and air-dry, leaving windows ajar (at least 10 minutes) if safe to do so. Wash floors and vacuum thoroughly.
- Don’t let dirty clothes stack up in the bedroom (discarded socks are choking hazards for pets, as they smell amazing to your furry friend).
- Groom pets outdoors if possible (most vets sell Kong Zoom Groom rubber groomers which are gentle and effective). Regularly wash pet bedding and toys with biodegradable laundry (unscented). Change cat litter regularly (again, free from essential oils).
- Bicarbonate of soda (not food grade) can be kept in bowls in the fridge to remove odours. Or sprinkle overnight on carpet smells (away from pets and children) then vacuum the next day.
- Charcoal can absorb most odours, over a large surface area. After using bamboo charcoal water filters, place spent pieces in drawers or even in smelly trainers.
- For pet-free homes, make your own pot pourri (dried petals & spices) with a recipe at Steenbergs.
The Best Commercial Air Fresheners
- PURGGO (US) and Moso Bags can absorb odours of stinky nappies, cigarette smoke, pet accidents etc. Air in the sunshine every few weeks, for longer life. Both can also be used in the car.
- You can buy stainless steel bars of soap to keep near the sink to ‘wash your hands’ to remove smells. They have mixed reviews, but can’t harm. Or try vegan palm-oil free coffee soap, to get rid of onion/garlic smells.
- If you don’t have pets or children travelling in the car (and you don’t suffer from allergies), Scent is a car air freshener that houses real essential oils in a wooden tube, which attaches to the air vent. Each refill is made from cotton, lasts for 3 weeks, then biodegrades.
Should You Use Scented Candles?
Avoid near pets/children/babies and avoid for pregnancy/nursing and for allergies). Candles are fire hazards, see biodegradable plant wax candles. For pet-free homes, ELM RD makes biodegradable reed diffusers in cardboard boxes with stainless steel lids. Their room mists are made with essential oils.
The Oil Hut’s Lime Basil Mandarin Room Spray is made with all-natural oils, and sold in a zero waste aluminium bottle with a plastic lid (recycle with household waste). This fresh and uplifting aroma is ideal for bathrooms, with a base of basil, lime, mandarin and orange – and top notes of ylang ylang. Handmade in Devon. Avoid spraying essential oils near pets or babies, or if pregnant or nursing.
Natural Home Fragrance Oils
These natural home fragrance oils are a safer alternative to burning candles. The boxes also contain seeds to grow mustard seeds (not near pets – see make your garden safe for pets). The candles are in 5 aromas (we have left out the ones with rosewood oil as this is from an endangered tree):
The fragrance sprays are free from alcohol and sold in beautiful glass bottles, with an easy-to-recycle aluminium pump and a natural wooden cap. Choose from:
- Sleep (lavender, chamomile, vanilla, sandalwood, verbena)
- Serenity (sandalwood, frankincense, lemongrass, ylang ylang, clary sage)
You can also use the essential oil wellness blends (the same fragrances) in an electric aroma diffuser (add 5 drops per 100ml of water) or add up to 6 drops in carrier oil, and add to bath water (or use without oil, for an easier-to-clean bath!)
This glass essential oil diffuser is a much better alternative to those toxic diffusers sold in stores, and also safer than burning aromatherapy candles. Avoid burning essential oils near pets (esp. cats, birds, reptiles, ferrets) and avoid for pregnancy/nursing (esp. the Rejuvenate blend as it has clary sage).
Made with biodegradable softwood reeds, they are distilled with essential oils that are blended by hand with plant-derived base oils. Allow 48 hours for the oil to be absorbed by the reeds, and released into the air. The pack includes a 200ml diffuser jar with 150ml diffuser oil. Choose from:
- Relaxing (ylang ylang, lavender, juniper berry)
- Uplift (bergamot, red mandarin, white grapefruit)
- Rejuvenate (pine, patchouli, clary sage)