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!)
Learn more about the premium essential oils I recommend.

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.

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  1. says

    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. says

    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 😀 I look forward to reading more

  3. says

    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!!

    • says

      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.

      • says

        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.

    • Danyelle says

      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.

    • Nancy Sutton says

      I use many homemade cleaners, sprays, etc. I stopped adding baking soda to them because, in a closed container, the soda tended to build up pressure and make the container leak:) I now use a mixture of water and my choice of essential oil and find it very effective. For a plug-in room freshener I put coconut oil and a few drops of a pleasant smelling essential oil. Many of the oils are also effective in destroying air born germs…lemongrass, four thieves and frankincense to name a few.

    • says

      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. says

    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. says

    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. says

    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. says

    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 says

    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.

    • Krysta says

      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. says

    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. says

    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. says

    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 says

    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????

    • says

      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. says

    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?

    • says

      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. says

    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 says

    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. says

    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. says

    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. says

    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. :)

    • says

      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.

  19. mattie says

    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?

  20. Margaret Orr says

    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.

  21. Joan says

    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.

    • Renegade says

      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!!!!!

  22. says

    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

  23. alfonsosilvana1@gmail.com says

    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?

    • says

      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.

  24. says

    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!

  25. Stephanie says

    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!

  26. manwai says

    Hi, we have just moved into a new house and there is a room they us to smoke in, i have painted the walls, vacuumed and washed the carpets, we have got air fresheners all over the place, got all the windows open and cups of vinegar in the room but the smell just won’t go away. i will try this but do you have any other things i can try. thank you.

    • Terri says

      Did you ever get rid of the smell? If not, you need to tear up the carpets, smoke gets in them and can’t be removed easily, if at all

  27. Kelly says

    I just found your post on pinterest. I can’t wait to try your ideas. My only question, and I mean no disrespect. How do you know that febreeze can not be normally recycled? I have not purchased febreeze in some time but I never remember seeing a hazardous waste symbol on it.

    • says

      Thanks for visiting! The Material Safety Data Sheet for Febreze (http://www.pg.com/productsafety/msds/professional_line/professional_line/Febreze.pdf) says this: “Waste Disposal Method. Slowly flush down sewer with excess water or dispose as liquid scrap. Disposal is to be performed in compliance with all Federal, State or Provinical and local regulations. Discard empty container in trash. Do not landfill liquids.” Which means that you could pour it down the drain, but who knows if they can get all those chemicals out when they treat the water (ick).

      • Michelle says

        Thank you for sharing that. I was reading all these comments and thinking how absurd it is to think we have to dispose of Febreeze as hazardous waste. I didn’t think that could possibly be true and would like to know why anyone really thought this was the case. Seriously.

    • says

      No staining–but if you spray it heavily on an object, you could theoretically see baking soda residue. I haven’t noticed it myself, though.

  28. Jackie says

    Love this! Thanks so much for sharing- I’ve been trying to use more natural cleaning products in my house (particularly with a dog), and I just came across this and tried it out myself last night- I did notice a baking soda residue on some nearby things that I sparyed (not fabrics or the carpet themselves, but a mirror that was near where I was spraying). I think next time I will just use less baking soda.

    I am curious; why do you recommend distilled water? (I just used tap water as I had no distilled water on hand).

    • says

      Good question! I use distilled water because it doesn’t contain the bacteria that is in tap water. Tap water can turn your air freshener into a stinky, slimy mess if you let it sit for a long time.

  29. says

    Can u use vanilla extract instead of EO? I want to mixed a batch up using rubbing alcohol, distilled water and extract if possible cause want to use what I have on hand right now.

  30. Robin D. says

    1-25-15 I made this today and it worked great. A neighbors dog had overwhelming perfume on it and it made my jacket smell after picking the little dog up. I made some with lavender and sprayed it on my jacket. Took the smell out with a fresh lavender smell. The link to the disposal of the old frebreze bottle is not there. So question….where to recycle your old bottle WITH some left in it?

  31. Jane Anderson says

    How did you find out the ingredients to Febreze? Could you find out what is in KOE? Kennel Odor Eliminator. It is used for dog kennels, and people use it to clean floors after doggie accidents. Some people like the fragrance so well they even use it to wash their clothes. According to the propaganda of the manufacturer, KOE is harmless. Just ingredients made from plants, and essential oils. But one day a fly got in my house and I couldn’t get it with a swatter. I had some KOE mixed up in a spary bottle so I aimed it and hit the fly with the spray. What happened next shocked me. The fly that had peacefully been sitting on the window screen immediately dropped. Then it started walking frantically and the more it walked the more it wobbled. Then it went into convulsions and died. I tried the spray on other flies. Same result, although they didn’t always have convulsions before dying. The process took only seconds. So I email the manufacturer. He claimed oh the fly drowned. Don’t think so. He totally refused to tell me what was in KOE. Is there anyway to find out? This is truly scary. People are using this, they can get it on their arms, they can breathe the spray. People have a right to know if it is harmful to themselves, to their pets.

    • says

      Jane, I found the ingredients on Environmental Working Group’s website: EWG.org. I couldn’t find anything there about KOE, but you could email them and see if they have info.

  32. Barb says

    All essential oils have an odor. All odors affect my breathing. I like odor free Febreeze just fine. And it smells like isopropyl alcohol just like the doctor cleans your skin with before an injection. Isopropyl alcohol is in the list of ingredients. You are all a bunch of nuts afraid of every little thing.

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