Make Your Own: Homemade Febreze

>> Thursday, August 6, 2009

I have a five-year-old bottle of Febreze that's starting to get on the low side. Obviously judging by how long I've had it, I don't use Febreze often. But let's face it. There are just some times when you need a quick and easy way to cover up a smell. (Like when your potty training child has an accident and you have guests coming over any minute. I know I'm not the only one who's been there...)

I decided to try making my own Febreze mainly because the ingredients list on the back of the bottle is awfully cryptic: water, alcohol, odor eliminator derived from corn, fragrance. "Odor eliminator derived from corn?" What does that mean? And what kind of fragrance? Natural? Synthetic? I have this thing about only using products when I can identify the ingredients.

I tried googling for homemade deodorizers, but most of the recipes I found involved fabric softener, which I haven't bought since back when I was battling Second Son's eczema (and we haven't missed it). I think you can probably find some eco-friendly fabric softeners, so if you're interested in that recipe, here's a link.

I think a greener solution would be this recipe from my favorite resource, Better Basics for the Home:

8 drops lavendar oil
4 drops each bergamot and clove oil
2 drops oil of peppermint
1/2 cup vodka
1/2 cup distilled water

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. Spritz into the air four or five times in areas you feel need freshening, being careful to avoid your eyes when spraying.

Other Resources

:: Best Green Home Tips uses the same recipe but with alternate essential oil combinations.

:: Darla Shine's Happy Housewives Club has a recipe with the simple combination of lemon juice, baking soda, and water.

:: About My Planet provides a number of suggestions for naturally eliminating odors, including making your own potpourri.

Photo by KitAy

This post was included in the Make It From Scratch Carnival on August 25 at It's Frugal Being Green.


Anaquita August 7, 2009 at 12:28 AM  

I actually have asthma attacks around things like febreeze so I'll give your homemade version a shot and see if it works. :D

Green Bean August 7, 2009 at 1:33 AM  

Love the homemade version idea. The ones you buy are usually downright awful and smell like they are full of all the chemicals that are in them.

Kristin August 7, 2009 at 3:40 AM  

Thanks for this! We have 2 dogs and 3 cats so I'll have to give this a try. I could probably put it in my old Febreeze container which I kept just in case I found a use for it. I've been thinking about buying "Better Basics". Is it pretty good?

Erin aka Conscious Shopper August 7, 2009 at 8:48 PM  

@Anaquita - I know what you mean. I don't have asthma, but I have bad allergies that are sometimes sensitive to too much fragrance. With the homemade version, you can adjust the amount of essential oils if it's too strong for you.

@Green Bean - Thanks, and so true!

@Kristin - I love "Better Basics." It has recipes for just about anything you could possibly need in your home. I like that they're all together in one spot in my cupboard, but just so you know, you can find most of the recipes in the book on Annie Berthold-Bond's website

Funny about Money August 25, 2009 at 10:19 AM  

What a good idea! I can't stand the stink of Febreze. This would give you a perfumed odor cover-up that's not obnoxious.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper August 25, 2009 at 1:07 PM  

@Funny About Money - Yeah, it wouldn't "eliminate the odor" like real Febreze is supposed to, but mostly all you need is a cover-up. And I like that you can make it smell like whatever pleases you.

Traci August 25, 2009 at 5:31 PM  

I think I'm going to try this because I think I have all this stuff already in the cupboard. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous,  September 15, 2009 at 1:09 AM
A quick google search turned that up. The active ingredient (the odor eliminator derived from corn) is cyclodextrin, a modified starch. Ingredient identified! And, it actually grabs the odor molecules and binds to them so that they cannot be detected as a scent. A spritzer bottle full of essential oils just adds fragrance and doesn't actually remove odors - it just covers them up briefly with another smell.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper September 15, 2009 at 9:12 AM  

@Anonymous - Yes this recipe is for a cover up - it doesn't actually remove odors, but most of the time all you need is something to temporarily make your house smell better while the odor diffuses. If you really need the odor removed, for goodness sake, wash the item! Spraying something, whether it's with essental oils or a corn derived odor remover, will not make it clean.

Andrew and Cassie March 27, 2010 at 1:59 PM  

I've been searching for a DIY Fabreze recipe for some time now--yours is the only one I could find that didn't have fabric softener in it. Thanks!

Levinson and Axelrod April 12, 2010 at 2:08 PM  

Great idea. It could be a very versatile recipe with other scents. Thanks for introducing this.

Zee @GreenBlossoms April 15, 2010 at 4:27 AM  

Love everything homemade! Thanks for sharing this recipe, Erin. We've been sharing DIY recipes in our blog but they're all homemade beauty recipes for the face, hair, hands, etc :) I love the fact that in this version, you can adjust the amount of essential oils! Really can't stand the scent of most odor eliminators!

Aline N. September 13, 2010 at 9:58 AM  

Thanks for sharing!! Someone told me that Fabreze was "natural" but like you, I was suspicious of the cryptic ingredient list. I will try this. But can I spray it directly onto fabric? I have this vintage wool sweater that is starting to smell, well...vintage. Is it safe to use it on this type of fabric? Thanks!

Erin aka Conscious Shopper September 13, 2010 at 11:00 AM  

@Aline - Unfortunately, I don't know if this is safe to use on wool. Wool is a pretty picky fabric.

Anonymous,  July 30, 2011 at 4:14 PM  

Lost my previous recipe, so I came here for this one. @Those who think this only masks odors: the vodka -- being alcohol -- helps pull out and evaporate them. Vodka/water (alone) spray is used in the theater to minimize odors on costumes when frequent laundering isn't practical.

@Aline: I've used it on wool; don't drench it and, of course, don't dry it with heat. (If it's pale, I would use vodka/water only.)

And, yes, there are MANY scents of essential oils available; I like geranium & orange (I'm burned out on lavender). All of them are definitely better than the chemicals in Febreze or fabric softeners, kaf, kaf.

Wendy HB
Mountain View, CA

Melody December 20, 2011 at 2:16 PM  

Hello! I just wanted to voice my appreciation! I was writing an article for my own blog about saving money and "going green" and was looking for more recipes for fake febreeze. Unfortunately almost all of them out there include Fabric softener! Im still on the lookout for more than this recipe and a couple others I know.

But again, just wanted to say THANK YOU. Fabric Softener is SO BAD to use in a fabric refresher!

Anonymous,  March 3, 2012 at 12:05 PM  

Can you replace the vodka for rubbing alcohol?

Ariel May 14, 2012 at 12:47 AM  

Hi, I saw that this question was already asked, but didn't see a response. Can the vodka be replaced with rubbing alcohol?


Erin aka Conscious Shopper May 14, 2012 at 9:54 AM  

@Ariel - I have never used rubbing alcohol, but I would assume its okay.

Anonymous,  November 7, 2015 at 6:07 PM  

LOL, Vodka? Do you drink this while you are spraying to deodorize?

Fixit January 18, 2019 at 3:45 AM  

"made from corn.." you mean like corn starch? Nah, substitute with Baking Soda! Oh and leave out the smelly "essential oils" and the vodka, I mean who has vodka laying around the house, and it's toxic, and lots of people are sensitive to smells like lavender, clove, or even mint. Something like lemon or lime is probably a better bet, and you can just add a few drops of the plain juice.
What I've found works is a quart of purified water, tablespoon baking soda, and a drop or two of liquid dish soap. If you need some sort of alcohol in it to make the spray finer, I add one tablespoon of vinegar. That's much better than a quarter pint of Vodka. Add the vinegar just before you cap the bottle, the mixture will foam.

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