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Natural Air Fresheners: How to Make Your Home Smell Good

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Toss toxic air fresheners and make your home smell good with safe and natural air fresheners, odor eliminators and room deodorizers. We spill the scent secrets here!

Toss toxic air fresheners and make your home smell good with safe and natural air fresheners, odor eliminators and room deodorizers. We spill the scent secrets here!

There’s nothing worse than walking into someone’s home only to be hit in the face with the gnarly scent of kitty litter. I am mortified to admit, my house was once one of those homes.

Of course, only my mother was bold enough to tell me my house reeked to the high heavens like a litter box. But, after I got over my initial embarrassment, I was so glad she did.

Matt and I immediately set out on a mission to get rid of the litter box smell, along with any other nasty household odors that might be lingering in the air, like trash (anyone else ever made the mistake of not emptying their trash before they go on vacation?! Blech!), clogged drains (if you smell rotten eggs, this is usually the culprit), mildew, must and smoke.

And even food. As much as I love the smell of bacon or garlic and onions sauteeing away in butter, when a few days have passed and the aromas are still lingering, it’s… shall we say, less than pleasant.

Though admittedly, I’d take old bacon over old cat pee any day. Ha!

But I digress…the point is, I wanted our house to smell clean, fresh, pure. The exact opposite of a litter box.

And I wanted to do it naturally. Because, of course, most conventional air fresheners are loaded with toxic chemicals, as we discovered in our Test Drive review on diffusers.

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The Truth About Toxic Air Fresheners

For those who need a quick refresher, the most common air freshening techniques usually involve plug-ins, room sprays, air freshening pots and scented candles, nearly all of which have been proven to cause cancer, disrupt our hormones, induce asthma and allergies, irritate our skin AND harm the environment. It’s the perfect storm of toxicity and not something I want in my home.

Read More: The Dangers of Store-Bought Air Fresheners

But I knew there had to be some safe, natural air freshening options out there that would make my house smell fresh and clean. And after lots of research, real-time trial and error and testing, I found the holy grail of natural air fresheners.

The answer lies in a combo of storebought appliances, DIY and homemade air fresheners and a few natural products that purify the air, absorb odors, add a subtle, non-toxic scent and keep your house smelling great! Check it out:

Toss toxic air fresheners and make your home smell good with safe and natural air fresheners, odor eliminators and room deodorizers. We spill the scent secrets here!

Cleanse the Air with an Air Purifier

One of the best ways to clean, deodorize and freshen the air in your home is with an air purifier. We splurged for the GermGuardian 3-in-1 Pet Pure Tower, which uses a HEPA Air Purifier system and UV Sanitizer to cleanse the air and reduce odors. I promise you, this thing works! Not only do air purifiers like this one capture allergens, like pet dander, dust mites and pollen, but there’s also charcoal air filters (this one has an added antimicrobial agent) that inhibit the growth of mold, mildew and odor-causing bacteria, too! I also liked that the GermGuardian purifier used UV-C light technology with Titanium Dioxide to kill airborne bacteria, viruses, germs and mold spores. This was worth every single penny we spent, and I think it’s likely one of the best things we could’ve done not only for our home, but for our overall health, as well.

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Eliminate Odors with Charcoal Air Filters

In addition to the air filter in the above purifier (which I keep in our bedroom, near the bathroom with the litter box), I also wanted to eliminate odors throughout our house. A fairly inexpensive way to do so is with charcoal air filter bags (I recommend Moso Natural), which act like sponges by absorbing excess moisture, thereby preventing mold, mildew and bacteria from forming, along with odors, allergens and harmful pollutants. I love these bags, which are filled with non-toxic, fragrance-free, environmentally-friendly bamboo charcoal. They’re small, but powerful and come in a pretty linen bag, so they’re not too unsightly to leave out where they can be seen. I have a bag in every room of our house and I’ve noticed a big difference.

Purify the Air with Plants

What’s more natural than using nature to keep your house smelling great? Indoor plants are a fantastic way to purify and naturally freshen the air (many even help remove formaldehyde, which is found in our furniture and household products, and indoor air pollutants) in your home. Some great options include Boston Ferns, Rubber Plants, Peace Lily and Golden Pothos. Great purifying flowers include Florists’ Mum, Gerbera Daisies and Tulips. Learn more here. An added benefit of houseplants: they’re beautiful to look at and they’ve been proven to improve mood and reduce stress. Triple threat!

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Clean Indoor Air with beeswax candles

Almost everyone I know uses scented candles in their home–I used to use them, too. Until I found out that candles made from paraffin, a petroleum waste product that is a known carcinogen, release toxins into the air that are the equivalent of those found in diesel fuel fumes. Then consider lead candle wicks release five times the amount of lead considered hazardous for children, and I knew I had to make a switch. Now I use 100% pure beeswax candles, which burn with almost no smoke or scent and clean the air by releasing negative ions, which then bind with toxins and common allergens like dust and dander, removing them from the air. They also burn slower (read: last longer!). These tea light beeswax candles are an inexpensive way to use beeswax throughout your home, but if you’d prefer something larger or scented, try Big Dipper or Bee Raw, which use essential oils to add natural aromas.

Deodorize with Essential oil diffusers

Most of the above options are great for cleaning indoor air, reducing allergens and pollutants and absorbing odors. And while having a fresh, pure smelling house is wonderful, sometimes I like an actual scent. This is where essential oil diffusers come in. Most diffusers use high-frequency ultrasonic electrical vibrations, rather than heat, to create an ultra-fine aromatherapy mist that lightly scents the air. They also double as a humidifier. My favorites include the ZAQ Noor Essential Oil Diffuser and the Now Solutions Ultrasonic Real Bamboo Oil Diffuser.

What essential oil brand do I recommend? I love Plant Therapy–their oils are 100% pure, free from any additives, adulterants, or dilutions. Their essential oils come in varieties like synergies, singles, organic, and pre-diluted roll-ons, and their facility is USDA Certified Organic. Their prices are also super reasonable, plus you can get 10% off your order of $50 or more sitewide with the coupon code ROOT10!

BONUS TIPS: Eliminate Pet Odors + Litter Box Smells Naturally

While our two kitties, Scout and Boo, are absolutely adorable, their litter box is decidedly less so. After experimenting with a few different litter boxes, we found success at eliminating most of the odors with a few different products. I recommend using a litter box with a cover (we use this domed litter box) to trap odors. I also add one of the charcoal filter bags right on the top, in addition to the built-in filter pad the litter box comes with. And every few cleanings, we add baking soda to the litter itself to help absorb odors. I also recommend this litter.

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Have you tried any of these natural air fresheners? Share your experience in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I've linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.

Kate Kordsmeier

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8 comments on “Natural Air Fresheners: How to Make Your Home Smell Good”

  1. In response to the question about whether you can smell vinegar left out in bowls, let me tell you my experience. A few years ago, we had the joy (?) of dealing with a skunk who sprayed right outside our bedroom window twice in three nights. I was ready to sell the house and move!

    Instead, first suggestion, leave all your outside lights on to discourage the darn critters from hanging around. Second, against my better judgment, I followed a suggestion to set out bowls of vinegar. There was the faintest scent of vinegar in the air, but it really worked to clear out the skunk scent!  I’d say it’s a great way to diffuse serious odors but probably not something I would want to leave out all the time.

  2. I really like the recommendation to purify the air with plants and to use oils or other forms of fragrance to improve the scent. It makes sense that it could be beneficial to use products designed to improve the smell of a home because it would allow for the most effective solutions. It’s something I’ll have to remember just to make my home that much more comfortable.

    • Thanks, Tyler. Yes, naturally good smelling items are always going to be better than synthetically produced chemicals. Hope this helps make your home smell great and fresh 🙂

  3. I found that bowls of Vinegar left in rooms, removed odors. especially in my parents house that has been closed up for awhile.

  4. I cook apples, cinnamon and cloves with water on the stove to purify the air and leave a smell of apple pie throughout the house. You basically bring it to a boil and let it simmer on low for hours. I also add orange peels in there sometimes.

    • Thanks so much for sharing, Claudia! That is such a great idea, and I’m definitely going to try that when the Fall comes. Appreciate the tip 🙂