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Homemade Febreze Spray a DIY Air Freshener Guide


Last Updated on November 23, 2021

Febreze was my favorite scent in college. Didn’t have time to do laundry – Febreze it. Stinky dance shoes – Febreze it. Going somewhere – Febreze yourself. 

As I left my oh-so-fragrant college years and my understanding of the world matured, I started wondering if Febreze spray was really as natural as the promotions made it seem. I was surprised (but not surprised) to find that if I wanted a safe, non-toxic air freshener, I was going to need to make one myself.

what are the ingredients in traditional febreze spray?

According to Proctor and Gamble, Febreze spray ingredients are a simple makeup. They claim it doesn’t remove odor molecules, instead it traps them inside of a chemical shield to mask the bad scent with a fake chemical smell. Um – what?  

P&G claims “Take a peek at the label. We’re confident you’ll recognize what’s in each bottle…” See for yourself though, there are plenty of ingredients in their list that I don’t want all over my everything!

but is febreze toxic?

The Environmental Working Group extended the Proctor and Gamble list of chemicals when they found 89 separate ingredients!

A University of Washington study found that U.S. air fresheners released an average of 18 chemicals into the air.

On average, one in five of these chemicals were hazardous substances highlighted in federal and some state pollution standards. I would say it’s a pretty easy answer to the question is Febreze toxic. It certainly is!

To pile on, when the EWG conducted more sensitive testing of the air freshener Febreze Air Effects as part of a 2009 study of cleaning supplies used in California schools, they detected a total of 89 airborne contaminants, including acetaldehyde,  a likely human carcinogen according to the EPA.

Some of those chemicals include: 

  • BHT — a known neurotoxin, a hormone disruptor, immune system toxin, and irritant to the skin, eyes, and lungs.
  • Propylene Glycol — also a known carcinogen, propylene glycol is toxic to the immune system, is linked to allergies, accumulates in the body and irritates the skin, eyes, and lungs
  • Acetaldehyde — a known carcinogen, that has reproductive and development effects immune system toxin, and irritant to the skin, eyes, and lungs.
  • Fragrance — This is one of the four disclosed ingredients.  However, on its own, it can contain up to 400 ingredients, most of which 95% are petrochemicals. Exposure to fragrances can damage the central nervous system and cause depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope, behavioral damages, headaches, dizziness, rashes, hyper-pigmentation, vomiting, coughing, and skin irritation. the most common chemicals in fragrances are ethanol, benzaldehyde, benzyl acetate, a-pinene, acetone, benzyl alcohol, ethyl acetate, linalook, a-terpinene, methylene chloride, and a-terpineol.  Most of these ingredients were found in Febreze.  
  • 1,3-Dichloro-2-propanol — known carcinogen

Woah. Scary right? But, what if I told you there was a cheaper, easier, and safer solution? 

Homemade Febreze Spray in a Bottle

how to create your own natural non toxic air freshener

There are a number of ways to DIY Febreze. Using a homemade formula still provides you with the same smell-masking capabilities but provides a truly non-toxic air freshener that you can feel comfortable spraying all around your environment.

febreeze DIY : Vodka Spray

  • 1 part vodka
  • 1 part water

In a spray bottle pour it half full of vodka. For the other half pour in distilled or filtered water. Give it a good shake and spray.

DYI Febreze Spray

Homemade Febreze is literally that simple. Vodka is a disinfectant. It also has a very low likelihood of reacting with any colors or fabrics in your home. It is the easiest version of homemade Febreze and you will find it is just as effective at removing odors in the environment.

destroy odors naturally

When it hits your carpet, dance shoes, or sweaters, it will destroy the bacteria causing odor. Some ask if my house will smell like a bar. The answer is no. There is a light scent of vodka when you first spray it, but that dissipates in about 5 minutes and takes the other smells with it as well.

Now, you want to use the cheapest vodka you can find in a glass bottle or on tap. Save the good stuff for drinking. But, isn’t it cool knowing you could safely drink this if you wanted to? Homemade Febreze is awesome!

febreeze DIY : white vinegar and extract

  • 2 tablespoons White Vinegar
  • 6-10 drops of your favorite extract (almond, vanilla, etc)
  • Fill the rest of a medium spray bottle with water

For this method of making your own natural air freshener, use white vinegar and water as the primary disinfecting base. Spraying that alone all over the house will definitely remove the odor you are trying to kill, but might leave you with one that isn’t that much better. If you add a natural extract to the mix though, the mixture will take on a very pleasant scent and leave you wanting to spray it all day.

can I use essential oils in my homemade febreeze?

The answer is absolutely yes. Choose your favorite oil and add a few drops to any of the DIY Febreze recipes above. Two things to be aware of.

  • Essential oils may stain certain kinds of fabrics. Definitely test before you go too far. I would be careful with suedes, silks, and even some cottons as the oil may stick and show. Test, test test!
  • Shake it up! Oil and water go together like…well…oil and water. To ensure you get an even scent and mixture, it’s important to give your DIY mixture a good shake before each use.

what about infusing my DIY Febreze with citrus?

Citrus will certainly go well with any of these natural solutions. Adding lemon or orange is an all natural way to keep your air freshener non toxic. As with essential oils, be careful and test fabrics before you spray. Certain types of citrus will not react well with certain types of fabric.

What do you use to freshen your home?  Let us know in the comments.

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  1. Thank you so much for this info… I have two kids at home and want to make sure the home is safe while limiting the amount of chemicals. great post!

  2. This is so great! I love using fabreeze, but with two little ones I hate all the chemicals! I’ll definitely be trying this alternative!

  3. Who knew! Vodka is for more than just bloody mary’s. In all seriousness though this is such an awesome DIY project. Can’t wait to try it in preparation for spring cleaner.

  4. Hi! Do you think this would be suitable for freshening up clothes too? I’m trying not to automatically throw everything in the washing machine after one day.

  5. I’ve just re-read your post; and you’ve already answered my question. I’m off to hang my head in shame, sorry!

  6. I’m just getting in to making my cleaning products, can essential oils be added to this for a nice aromatic faux-breze?

  7. Are you fearful of the fire hazard aspect of using vodka? I use an aromatherapy diffuser for smell good and 7th gen disinfectant wipes to swipe wherever the dog goes. Thanks for sharing the vodka idea!

    1. No. There are a lot more flammable things in regular cleaning products than diluted vodka. I wouldn’t recommend using wipes since that’s just trash, and if you’re flushing them it really messes up our sewer system.

  8. I have a similar recepie that I use for a freshener – Basically, it’s about a tablespoon of white vinegar in a spray bottle filled the rest of the way with water. I like using essential oils in this, just shake the bottle before you spray!

  9. Do you think this could be infused with citrus peels, or something of that sort, to give it a lemon or orange scent?

  10. Hi Kathryn, thanks for this great idea for a sprayabe air freshener! Do you have any recommendations for something that could sit out all the time, and either smell nice or neutralize odors? I’m thinking of something I could set near my cat’s litter box. Thanks!

    1. A little bowl of baking soda set near the box and changed out when you change out the litter for new should do the trick!

  11. Hi! Newcomer to your blog here.. would love to be greener and I’m already implementing some of your suggestions. Do you think I can clean and reuse a store bought plastic bottle so that I don’t have to throw it away and buy a new plastic spray bottle? If so, how would you clean it?? Much love! Xxx

  12. Could you use another clear alcohol for this as well, or is it just vodka? I have a really gross-tasting bottle of cheap (clear) pisco (liquor from Peru/Chile) that I’d love to find a good use for!

  13. Do you find that it leaves behind the smell of alcohol? Have you experimented with any ways to add scents to it that won’t stain or discolor the items being sprayed?

    1. For something legitimate that isn’t sticky and actually, legitimately dissipates, use vinegar obviously or rubbing alcohol…

  14. I use white vinegar and either tee tree oil or lemon,oil, I used this for spot cleaning. Then,for bathroom spray , I use rubbing alcohol, essential of my choosing and distilled water.