Frugal Homemade Air Fresheners (Recipes and Tips)

by Reader Contributors

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You can freshen up your home without the expensive store-bought air fresheners. Save money by mixing up some of these frugal scents for cents.

Are you tired of spending money on store-bought air fresheners that lose their scent quickly? Why not make your own?

Making your own air fresheners will not only save you money but will also allow you to customize the scents. By using simple, cost-effective ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes, you’ll discover how creating homemade air fresheners can reward your senses and your budget.

Below you’ll find several frugal homemade air freshener recipes contributed by our readers.

Frugal Homemade Air Freshener Recipes

We reached out to our frugal readers for their favorite homemade air freshener and deodorizer recipes and tips. One of their recipes is sure to keep your home smelling pleasant for pennies.

Simmer your Way to Freshness

I have a small simmering potpourri crock that I purchased at a garage sale for 25 cents. I keep this out on my kitchen counter and fill half-full with water. Next I add a few cloves, a couple dashes of cinnamon, and a dabble of extract (vanilla, orange, etc.). Citrus peels are another great ingredient.

Plug in the crock and you have a warm comfortable smell wafting throughout your home that isn’t overly pungent like some of those expensive wall-outlet units. (Just be careful to watch your water level of your crockpot as the heat will cause evaporation. You don’t want this to run dry.) If you don’t have a potpourri crock, any crockpot will do.

You may also simmer homemade scents in a small saucepan on the stove.

Cheap Ingredients From the Pantry

I have one of those electric crockpot potpourri burners and I make my own scents to put in it. These are items most people have on hand or are cheap enough to buy to have on hand.

1 1/2 cups warm water or manufacturers direction
4 cinnamon sticks broken into pieces
1 tsp. imitation vanilla
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ginger or 1 medium piece of crystallized ginger
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil (helps with binding the scents and rapid water absorption)

Mix together and enjoy. Your family and friends will be searching the cupboards to find the goodies you baked that made the house smell so good.

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Easy as Apple Pie

Simmer a sliced apple and a couple of cinnamon sticks in some water on your stove. The whole house will smell like apple pie.

To quickly get rid of odors (especially fish), simply heat some white vinegar on the stove (don’t boil!), and after about 30 minutes, remove it. The slight vinegar smell dissipates quickly and takes any odors with it.

Use the Basics: Baking Soda and Vinegar

I have gradually changed my cleaning products to products I make myself. I have really saved a lot of money, and my house has never been cleaner. We also never have to worry about toxins. Here are the air fresheners that I have found work best.

  • Mix 1/4 cup baking soda with water in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray. The baking soda absorbs the odor. You can also add a little scent if you want. (I use vanilla extract. It smells great and drives men wild for some reason)
  • Spray undiluted white vinegar in the air. The vinegar smell evaporates very quickly taking odors with it
  • Place a bowl of vinegar on the counter and let it sit for a few hours
  • Dampen a towel with vinegar and wave it through the air
  • Fill a parmesan cheese shaker with baking soda. (I like to spray it with a little of my favorite cologne.) Sprinkle over carpets and let it sit as long as possible (Overnight is best). Vacuum. I also add table salt to the baking soda, but it is not necessary. The salt absorbs moisture and acts as an abrasive. It really makes the carpet look better than vacuuming without it.


10 Tips for a Fresher Home

  1. If you use dryer sheets, you could put them in the vents. This will not work if you have baseboards. They will freshen the air as it comes into the room. You can put them in fresh or after they’ve been through the dryer.
  2. Save any citrus peels and spices that are too old to use. Boil them in little water. They make the house smell lovely for next to nothing. I ground up cinnamon sticks for cinnamon and saved the bits that were too big for my spice bottle for a simmer pot.
  3. If you burn scented candles, save any wax bits left over and add them to a wax potpourri burner. If you mix scented and unscented, they will last longer.
  4. You can put fancy soaps in your drawers to freshen your clothes. You can also do this with the scented perfume ads from magazines.
  5. Open a window as air inside is usually more polluted than air outside.
  6. When my dad has been smoking, my mom lights a candle to get rid of the smoke scent.
  7. Potpourri in a small dish might work for a while to freshen your air. You could try making your own.
  8. Bake. It makes the house smell good and you get something to eat as well.
  9. Put essential oils in a light bulb ring. You could also add them to a vaporizer.
  10. Dilute your essential oils (or old perfumes) in a spray bottle, put on the finest setting, and mist your rooms with it. This also works on sheets, pillowcases, and towels.


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An Orange-Fresh Home

I just love the smell that comes after cleaning with those expensive orange cleaners, but I often can only afford to use regular old diluted bleach or Windex. Here’s my secret to having an orange-fresh house all the time.

When you buy oranges at the grocery store, they usually wind up in a fruit bowl. Right? Next time, before they go in the bowl, grate a bit of the zest off one side of each orange. The whole house will smell like it was just cleaned.

Long-Term Freshness

One of my favorite tips is to put a drop of a very inexpensive “perfume” on a light bulb in each room. I found a jasmine-scented body spray for 50 cents, and it’s lasted me for quite awhile.

Also, if there is an “odor” I want to remove, I pour a little white vinegar on an old washrag and wipe the walls down lightly with it. As soon as it’s dry, the place smells clean and “sweet” without the perfume. Another of my favorites is to tuck away a dryer sheet under the couch or some other hidden spot.

Make Scented Rocks

Scented rocks make a great air freshener. Mix 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup flour in a bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon of a favorite essential oil and 2/3 cup boiling water and a few drops of a food coloring to create a desired shade. Blend all ingredients, form into balls, and allow to dry.

For the bathroom, dampen a cotton swab with your favorite perfume or cologne and swab the inside of a toilet paper roll. Each time the toilet paper is rolled, a fresh scent will fill the room.

Another way to purify the air is to dampen a cotton ball with pure vanilla extract, place in a dish and set in odorous area of the house. A dish with three cotton balls is great for the living room. A room in which heavy smoking occurs might require another dish.

Scented Rocks Revisited

Here’s an easy recipe.

Make a small amount of Plaster of Paris, but use liquid potpourri instead of water. You can buy inexpensive candy molds at many stores. Pour the liquid POP into the molds and let it dry completely. Pop them out and you have scented rocks of a sort.

Put them in a mesh bag and hang in your car, or put them in the ashtray if you don’t use it. When you open the ashtray, the smell comes out.

The “Smelly Jelly” Answer

I have a recipe that my daughter gave me. They are inexpensive and fun to make. The name on the recipe was called Gel Air Freshener, but we changed the name to “Smelly Jelly.”

2 cups Concentrated Potpourri Liquid
4 envelops Knox gelatin
1 tablespoon salt (to deter molding)

Heat one cup potpourri until almost boiling. Remove from heat. Add 4 envelopes Knox Gelatin and 1 tablespoon salt. Stir until dissolved. Add remaining one cup potpourri. Pour into clean jars and allow to set. If in a hurry, lightly cover and refrigerate them to speed the process.

I add food coloring if I don’t like the color. This can be put in a vase, and as it starts to set, place artificial flowers in the vase. The flowers seem to be real because they have a smell.

Reviewed April 2023

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