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As a mom, limiting my family’s exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals is important to me. That’s why I’m constantly on the lookout for healthier, more natural alternatives to popular cleaning products.
Making your own cleaners can also help you green your routine and move towards becoming zero waste! Reducing our trash output as a family is a major goal for us in the year ahead.
An experience with a “carpet freshener” that made me open all the windows (in spite of outdoor temps in the 50s) sent me on a quest to make my own non-toxic homemade Febreze, as it were. Today I have a couple of different homemade air and carpet powder recipes to share with you. I hope you enjoy!
Are there toxic ingredients in air fresheners?
First, let me be clear that I’m using the term “Febreze” like someone might say Band Aid or Ping Pong in a generic way to mean air fresheners.
When it comes specifically to Febreze brand products, Proctor & Gamble is leading the way in the fragrance industry with their commitment to list all of their ingredients online by the end of 2019. Febreze products don’t contain phthalates, formaldehyde or flammable propellants, which is great.
That having been said, many Febreze air freshener products score a “C” or “D” according to the Environmental Working Group. Most other air and fabric freshener brands don’t fare as well.
According to a study published in 2017 in the journal Building and Environment, air fresheners can greatly decrease indoor air quality.1 A few of the important points are:
- Less than 10% of air freshener ingredients are actually disclosed to the public.
- Over 20% of the US population reports adverse health effects from air fresheners including asthma attacks, migrants, infant illness, and breathing problems.
- Air fresheners are a leading cause of organic volatile compounds in indoor spaces.
- Air fresheners labeled as natural, green, organic, etc. are just as likely to emit hazardous pollutants as conventional air fresheners (yikes!).
People are realizing the detrimental impact air fresheners can have on your health. Making accommodations for people with chemical sensitivities, including air fresheners is now part of the Americans with Disabilities Act!2
Non-toxic homemade Febreze without fabric softener
I was really surprised to see how many DIY air freshener recipes use fabric softener or laundry scent boosters! Most fragranced fabric softeners are also full of toxic ingredients. That’s why I’ve created a freshening room spray without fabric softeners!
What do you need to make your own Febreze?
- A glass spray bottle. It’s best to use amber or blue to keep the essential oils from degrading in the light.
- 1 1/2 cup distilled water.
- 1/2 cup unscented witch hazel -or- cheap vodka -or- white vinegar. Go with whichever you prefer!
- When purchasing witch hazel, look for one that has a high percentage of witch hazel or that’s pure witch hazel. Many are cut with rubbing alcohol.
- To increase the cleansing power, use 1 cup water and 1 cup witch hazel, alcohol, or vinegar.
- 1-2 tablespoons baking powder (optional, but recommended for added freshness)
- 20-30 drops total of essential oil
- Tea tree oil is a good choice because of it’s cleansing properties
- Orange, lemon, and/or grapefruit essential oils are popular for homemade cleaning products
- I love lavender and it’s name literally means “to wash,” so it’s always a favorite for cleaning!
- You could also use your favorite purifying blend.
To make & use your fabric freshener spray:
It can be easier to get the baking soda to dissolve if you gently heat your water first. I like to do this in a Pyrex measuring cup, plus that handy little spout makes it easy to pour into the spray bottle! This isn’t completely mandatory, but it can speed things up.
- Combine all ingredients in your glass spray bottle and shake to combine!
- Give the bottle a shake to recombine every time you use.
- Store somewhere cool and dark, or even in the fridge, to increase shelf life.
***Please note that not all oils are safe for pets. Please check with your vet if you have any concerns!***
Also, it’s best to completely avoid essential oils around infants who are less than 3 months old and use them with caution around babies and children. Allow the spray to dry fully before giving children access to the area and always make sure to keep essential oils and cleaning products, even natural ones, away from young children.
DIY deodorizing carpet powder recipes
Baking soda is an amazing, non-toxic cleaner! Combine it with some fresh-smelling essential oils or botanicals and your carpets will smell great!
For all the carpet powder recipes you will need a glass mason jar. Regular pint mason jars work fantastically! Citrus essential oils eat plastics, so please use glass!
Make sure to use a fresh, new box of baking soda for maximum cleaning power!
To make your carpet freshener:
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix with a fork or whisk to combine, then transfer to your mason jar.
- You can halve all the recipes to make one cup instead of two cups, if you’d prefer.
To use your carpet freshener:
- Sprinkle over your rugs or carpets.
- Allow to sit for ~15 minutes.
Citrus deodorizing carpet powder
Purifying carpet powder
- 2 cups baking soda (one box)
- 10 drops Purify essential oil. All the major brands have a purifying blend, so go with your favorite!
- 2 tablespoons borax powder (optional)
- 2 tablespoons food-grade diatomaceous earth (optional – helps with fleas and other pests!)
Relaxing carpet powder
- 2 cups baking soda
- 8 drops lavender essential oil
- 2 drops frankincense essential oil
Again, keep pets and children away from the area until you’ve vacuumed!
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- “Ten Questions Concerning Air Fresheners and Indoor Built Environments.” NeuroImage, Academic Press, 5 Nov. 2016, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/s0360132316304334.
- “New ADA Guidelines for Fragrance Sensitivity Explained.” Labor Law Education Center: Learn About Labor Laws in Your State, www.laborlawcenter.com/education-center/new-ada-guidelines-for-fragrance-sensitivity/.