Homemade, Natural Febreze

Homemade, natural Febreze: BrownThumbMama.com

Have you seen the latest batch of Febreze ads? Their slogan is “breathe happy.” Unfortunately, breathing in these toxic chemicals does not make me happy:


And this is only a partial list–read more on Environmental Working Group’s site.

“But wait!” you say. “The ingredient list on the bottle says, ‘Contains water, alcohol, odor eliminator derived from corn, fragrance.’ Why aren’t all those chemicals listed?”

For one single reason–they don’t have to be.

Under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, manufacturers are not required to list all ingredients of household cleaners. This is ostensibly to protect their formulations (I find that odd because bread has all the ingredients listed and there’s no lack of healthy competition there…but I digress).

Thankfully, you can make your own odor eliminator spray for pennies and you won’t have to worry about residue on the baby’s crib–on the dog’s chew toys–on anything at all.

You’ll need:
A clean, empty spray bottle
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 cups distilled water
10 drops essential oil (a single scent, or a mixture. Imagine the possibilities!)
This is a great essential oil starter kit.

Homemade, natural Febreze: BrownThumbMama.com

Measure the baking soda into a bowl and add the essential oil on top.

Homemade, natural Febreze: BrownThumbMama.com

Using a fork, mix the oil into the baking soda. This will help keep the oil suspended in the water.

Homemade, natural Febreze: BrownThumbMama.com

Put the baking soda/oil mixture into the spray bottle (a funnel helps) and top off with the distilled water. Label your bottle, shake before use, and breathe happy–and safely.

Homemade, natural Febreze: BrownThumbMama.com

P.S. Don’t throw that bottle of Febreze away. It is hazardous waste (isn’t that scary?) and must be disposed of at a licensed facility. Find one near you at Earth911.

This article was shared on Pennywise Platter, Small Footprint Friday, Simple Lives Thursday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Your Green Resource, The Thrifty Home, and Wildcrafting Wednesday.


80 thoughts on “Homemade, Natural Febreze

  1. Bama Girl

    Hello Brown Thumb Mama! What a frugal recipe! And non-toxic as well! So sad that you can’t dispose of the original without taking it to a special facility! Thanks for sharing the recipe and the tutorial! Blessings from Bama!

  2. Aubrey @ Homegrown and Healthy

    That is so scary, especially the part about how you have to dispose of your Febreze! We don’t use that stuff anyway– it just reeks of chemicals and I don’t feel it does the job. I love your alternative, thanks for sharing :D I look forward to reading more

  3. Jacqueline@ Deeprootsathome.com

    I am so glad you linked this up! I have heard that Febreze had terrible ingredients! I have a question…does the baking soda make a film when it is sprayed over tile or glass? I have found baking soda is like salt and makes a crystalline residue. Thanks!!

    1. Geraldine Valles

      Yes it does leave a flim on the floor. Yes you can Spray it up in the Air but remember what goes up must come down. I’ve already tried this and if you dont thinks so do a test by wear some shorts sit on the floor have someone spray above your head once its in the air you will fill it hit the ground and settle on your Legs.

      1. tartytez

        yeah the baking soda left behind is pretty bad, my dog, laying on the floor in the room I sprayed looked like she had horrible dandruff when she got up.

        I’ve been using a similar recipe but instead of baking soda, I used rubbing alcohol. It still needs to be shaken before use but it doesn’t leave a residue…and the essential oil completely masks the scent of the rubbing alcohol.

    2. Danyelle

      Yes baking soda does leave a film. Just made 2 kinds with baking soda and even if spray in the air whatever it lands on leaves a white film. Smells good but I will maybe opt for vinegar version of homemade air freshener spray.

    1. Teri Gelseth

      If there’s febreeze still in the container it is hazardous waste. When I switched out all the chemical cleaners in my home and tried to take them in a box to the dump I was informed that I literally had to take them to hazardous waste facility all of them including febreeze.

      Do you think that people don’t research things before we post them?

  4. Alison Bayne

    Hi, found you on the Raising Homemakers linky.
    Unfortunately I do like the smell of Febreze…but not at the cost of our health. Writing this recipe down in my Stuff I Can Make Not Buy notebook. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Desiree Fleck

    I’ve been making all my home cleaners including room spray (febreze) for years, but I’ve never used baking soda to suspend the oil. That’s a great idea and I will try that for my next batch!

  6. abbywinstead

    Thank you for this!
    With a toddler and a seven-month-old, both of whom put everything in their mouths, I’m now more than ever in search of homemade alternatives to commercial products.
    I will be making this soon!

  7. Brenda

    My hubs uses Febreeze you know where…So I my try this one out. I only use it when something goes bad in the trash and I spray it in the bottom of the waste basket before inserting a new bag. So glad to have this one to give a try.

  8. Anonymous

    I have MCS, (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity). Perfumes, air fresheners, (Lysol, Febrese) and many other things make me really sick. I called the Febrese company several years ago to ask if they made an unscented version. I figured if it really destroys the odors as advertised, it shouldn’t need perfume to mask them, right? They told me baking soda was the “active ingredient”. I have made a version of your recipe many times, (didn’t measure ingredients). I like it just fine, but getting co-workers to use it is a challenge. They like the labels and aerosol, etc. I’ll try it again, using your recipe. We’ll see.

    1. Krysta

      My trick with hubby (also a “label” fan) take the old containor, clean and fill with homemade ;)

      I also have perfume/sent sensitivity. I have had to fuss at co-workers and students (I’m a former teacher) about perfumes and “room deoderizers”. I can’t walk past Bath and Body works… I usually have to walk on the other side and hold my breath… And I worked in the mall for 3 years!

  9. Natural Mothers Network

    I couldn’t agree with you more– that list of chems is frightening indeed! Great solution to the odor dilemma and delighted you popped by to share at Seasonal Celebration Wednesday! Rebecca @Natural Mothers Network x

  10. Erin

    That’s crazy about Febreze! I tend to avoid using those kinds of air fresheners, because they bother my husband’s asthma. This sounds like it might be a good alternative though (and probably a lot cheaper too). I’m pinning. Thanks!

  11. Loretta E.

    I just happened to buy sweet orange EO! And I like to sneak sniffs every once in a while because it smells so delicious. Now I know how to truly take advantage of it!


  12. Anonymous

    Love the idea of using baking soda – an old-fshioned remedy used since my mother’s time. Question – can one use tap water instead of distilled? Also, is the essential oil just for a nice smell or does it also have odor-eliminating properties????

    1. Brown Thumb Mama

      I prefer distilled water since it has all the minerals removed through the distillation process. You could use tap water if you boil and cool it, but spending the 99c to buy a gallon of distilled water is worth it to me. :o)

      The oil is just to add a nice smell–the odor elimination comes from the baking soda.

  13. Brenda

    And I thought formaldehyde was all we had to be concerned about in commercial room sprays…. Thank you for sharing this valuable information! On the blog of an essential oils consultant [ http://tinyurl.com/b2z87oy ], I read that EOs can leach petro chemicals out of plastic, so we should use glass or stainless steel bottles, and then too, I guess we should remove the sprayer from the bottle after each use, since the tube is usually plastic. Does that make sense to you?

    1. Brown Thumb Mama

      Thanks for the link! Those fragrance combinations sound lovely.

      I don’t have any information on essential oils and plastic, so I’ll have to do some research. However, with just 10 drops of oil in 2 cups of water, I wouldn’t think the concentration would be strong enough to corrupt the plastic.

  14. Nicole

    Just hopped over from Eat Make Grow. I have used baking soda mixed with an essential oil as a carpet refresher (sprinkle all over and let sit a little while, then vacuum) but never thought to add water and make it a spray. Brilliant!

  15. Anonymous

    Of course if you use Chamomile essential oil, you’ll just be adding the hexyl cinnama right back into it.

    Many of these harmful chemicals listed are naturally produced.

    On the other hand, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a chemical compound that is made, and the making of it usually involves Ammonia.

    While baking soda is used for a lot of helpful things, it can also have really bad side effects, just like some of these other chemicals.

    I think this article is great to help people save money and reduce some of the bad chemicals in their house, but I also think that people need to research products and not just see a big scientific name and worry, and also check out common products (baking soda) to learn what is going into it! [:

  16. Angela Hopkins

    Recently found your site and made a batch of this w/ Jasmine oil. My house and furniture smells amazing. No more dog or stuffy house smell. My nose thanks you for posting. I love the smell of febreze, but my allergies hate it. Since I like the scent so much and your baking soda suggestion, I took canning jars, poked holes in the lids and filled with small amount of baking soda and jasmine essential oil and have been using as air freshener in couple rooms. Goodbye expensive store bought products!

  17. Bess

    If you google many of the ingredients in Febreeze, you’ll see that they are the chemical names of compounds derived from plants. Geraniol, for example, is an alcohol found in many essential oils. While it’s always nice to make your own products, this scientifically illiterate fear-mongering over chemicals is wrong-headed. Also, many of the natural alcohols found in Febreeze are what makes it a hazardous waste, not because it’s necessarily toxic. Turpentine, which is derived from pine trees, is an effective solvent is also highly flammable and, so, is considered hazardous waste and must be disposed of carefully.

  18. Tommy

    Great recipe. But the article is a bit inflammatory in its listing of limonene, geraniol, and linalool as “toxic chemicals”. They are natural components of essential oils, and in appropriate quantities and applications, have aromatherapeutic value.
    Otherwise, I appreciate the recipe as an alternative to a mainstream product. :)

    1. Pam Farley

      You’re correct, Tommy, as Bess was above. The ingredient list is only a partial one, so I’ve removed those items and left in only the worst offenders.

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  20. mattie

    I am wondering if anyone has found a natural aerosol type bottle? I’ve done air fresher in a spray bottle, but I like how the aerosol sprays. Is there a healthy alternative?

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  24. Margaret Orr

    While I admire, and use many of your recipes and love them, would the baking soda not stain curtains or the like?…many thanx for past tips etc.

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  26. Joan

    I have an older cat who leaks urine throughout the house. What would be better to eliminate this odor without leaving a residue – ammonia or vinegar? I read someone’s post about citrus vinegar but have not heard of this. Would I mix EO with the citrus vinegar?

    Thank you.

    1. Renegade

      Read the label if you think it is not toxic Eric !!!! And they test on animals!!!! I love the fact that there are healthy and safe alternatives!!!!!

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  28. Fran

    I have been using essential oil mixed with water for years in my bathroom. Just shake and spray. I use it in much less water but it only takes a shake up of the bottle and three sprays from an old perfume bottle

  29. alfonsosilvana1@gmail.com

    help guys, i did this but none of the spray bottles work for me, i think it’s the baking soda that cannot pass through the little pray nozzle, did anyone try this?

    1. tartytez

      yes this doesn’t work with many spray bottles, the one I used had a large hose and nozzle and still got clogged.
      The times I did use it, it left white residue on everything….I tried hot water and tons of shaking and other tricks to lessen the residue but the baking soda isn’t a great ingredient for this type of use.
      Try rubbing alcohol or vodka instead of baking soda.

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  34. Helen - myliladventures

    I love this idea until I read about the residue left on floors from the baking soda. I think I’ll be looking for the rubbing alcohol/vodka version to try in my home instead. But your recipe with the baking soda must be great in a room with a carpet – no need to sprinkle any on before vacuuming :) Thank you!

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  37. Stephanie

    I used to use febreeze! I figured out it was causing my dog to have seizures. Since I have started using all natural cleaners, she has not had one. I feel awful but am so glad I know this! Yay, thanks for this recipe!

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