DIY Natural Home Deodorizers & Air Fresheners!


Whether you know it or not, your house has a unique smell. It can range from a light, fresh scent all the way to a musty, stale, wet dog kind of smell.

The unfortunate part is, you get so used to this smell that you don’t even recognize it when you walk through your door. But, when other people come over do they ever notice. They may feel calm and happy when they walk in, or weary and somewhat turned off.  What story does your home’s smell tell?

Think about it like this.  Some people have signature scents i.e. ‘I always wear Burberry Brit perfume’ and when you smell it, you think of them.  But inside a home is a little different; the smell of a home literally imprints itself into your mind, like a signature on paper.  The homeowner has no control over what that smell is (unless they do something about it).   That’s why I refer to it as a scent signature, because it’s a unique scent stamp of that space. When we cook, renovate, or neglect to clean certain parts of our homes, the scent signature can temporarily change or progressively get worse. Smelling garlic mashed potatoes at 6 PM on Tuesday is great, but smelling them at 9 AM the next day isn’t too desirable.

We remember scents and associate memories and emotions with them.  That’s why so many stores invest in creating a scent signature that translates into dollars (just think about the last time you walked into an Abercrombie and Fitch store).

It’s quite simple to see the importance of having a positive scent signature at home!  Companies will create products to do this for you, by offering up every scent combination they can think of in the form of candles, plug in air-fresheners and room sprays.  This can become expensive, confusing if you use multiple scents and can put a lot of unnecessary chemicals into your home.

So, if you want to change your home’s scent signature, I have a few really easy and fun things to try, and they cost next to nothing do.

First, think about what scents you love; it’s different for everyone.  You can even think about the seasons and what you want your home to smell like based on what season it is.  Now, you know what to base your scents around.  Also, you likely don’t want your bathroom smelling like freshly baked cookies (or perhaps you do) so consider a room-appropriate scent.

Now, hunt & gather the following items for your natural home deodorizer:

  1. Mason jar / old tomato sauce jar (if storing in the fridge)

  2. Pot for stovetop

  3. Water

  4. Any of the ingredients listed from the recipes below.

How to Make Natural Home Deodorizers..

  1. Cut any fruits and place in water, add spices, extracts and herbs.

  2. Fill your pot with water (I use a small saucepan) 3/4 the way full, and boil.

  3. As soon as it reaches the boiling point, reduce to low heat and simmer.

Now,  gorgeously scented vapour will travel throughout your home, changing the scent signature and overpowering other smells in your home. 

Often times, realtors will tell you to bake cookies or boil cinnamon sticks or vanilla on your stove top to create a scent in your home, and this is an elaborate extension of that idea.

CinnamonYou can let the pot simmer (attended) for hours on end, continually adding liquid to prevent the ingredients from burning.

When you have had enough, you can jar the liquid and ingredients up, refrigerate once cooled and use a few more times (keeping in mind some fruits and herbs hold up better than others for prolonged periods of time).  This can keep for about a week.

If you are headed somewhere for dinner, you can jar up your favorite recipe and give it to your host in lieu of wine or flowers.  It looks quite pretty when placed in a mason jar (and you can get extra fancy and use twine or ribbon to tie it up).

Natural Home Scent Recipes..

  • The famous recipe that people claim comes from Williams-Sonoma consists of: 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and one sliced lemon.

  • Fall Wonderland: 1 sliced orange, 5 cinnamon sticks, 2 tablespoons of whole cloves

  • Orange Amaretto: 1 sliced orange, 1 tablespoon almond extract

  • Sweet Mint: 2 sliced limes,  1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon peppermint extract

  • Gingerbread: 5 1/4 inch slices of ginger, 1 tablespoon almond extract, 3 cinnamon sticks

  • Orange Creamsicle: 1 tablespoon vanilla, 1 sliced orange

  • Cordon Bleu: 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon of peppermint extract, 4 sprigs of rosemary

  • Italian Backyard: 1 lemon, 1 tsp black peppercorns, handful of basil

  • Forest: Cedar twigs, by themselves. I love cedar.

  • Regal Cream: Bergamot tea (Earl Grey), 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Blueberry Tea: Bergamot tea, 1 sliced orange, 1 tsp almond extract

  • Coconut Bay: 1 tablespoon coconut extract, 1 sliced lime

Ingredient ideas..

And of course, you have the opportunity to create your own depending on what smells get you going.  I would love to hear what your recipes are, please leave us comments sharing your favorites!


Apples, lemons, limes, oranges, cranberries and ginger.  Citrus fruits last the longest in the pot, so keep that in mind.


Fresh is the only way to go.  Leafier, thinner herbs won’t hold up as long as more rugged herbs.  Look for fresh herbs that are woody or with twiggy for best results (rosemary, thyme, lemongrass).  The thinner herbs can be used, but just keep in mind that they won’t last as long in the pot.  But they’ll still smell divine.


Cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, star anise, peppercorns or any other mulling spices work well.  Of course, you don’t want to boil up paprika so stick to the sweeter smelling spices and leave the savory ones for cooking.  These can be used whole or grounded, however I’ve found whole spices work best.


This is where you can have some fun.  Add peppermint, vanilla, maple, almond or coconut extract to add a powerful note to your home’s scent signature.  There are hundreds of extracts available, if you look for a specialty extract provider, you can find lovely scents including cotton candy, apricot and blueberry.

Creative ideas:

If you love tree scents, add some pine needles twigs from fragrant trees to the mix.  You can also find your favorite tea and add in a tea bag alongside some fruits for a lovely smell.  If you want something that tastes as good as it smells, consider making some masala chai tea and drinking that afterward.  What a sweet reward!

Other scent signature ideas you can try – Homemade Room Spray

Consider making your own room spray.  Simply add 10-20 drops of essential oil (or a combination of two or three) to a clean spray bottle filled with 3 parts water to 1 part vodka.  Now you have a home made room spray that will save you tons of money and place no chemicals into your air.  These are great for bedrooms and bathrooms and replaces a product like an air spray or a Febreeze.  I personally love lavender and eucalyptus, geranium, tea tree oil, sweet almond, cinnamon and orange. OK so basically I like everything.

The importance of cleaning, deodorizing and airing out your home

These are all well and good, but they are just band-aid solutions to a larger issue and these recipes but cover up a smell.  If you truly want your home to smell fresh (i.e. like nothing), then the house needs to be clean and free of dirt.  The best ways to achieve this are as follows:

  • Emptying garbage often, especially with compostable food items
  • Deodorizing carpets and upholstery by cleaning professionally regularly
  • Vacuuming to remove dirt and odours from carpets
  • Refraining from wearing shoes in the house
  • Refraining from smoking in the house
  • Opening windows to let fresh air in, we do this as often as we can (weather permitting)
  • Using bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans to remove odours and moisture from the home
  • Managing pets properly (i.e. emptying litter boxes and cleaning pet paws after being outdoors).

So, the next time you walk through your front door, think about your home’s scent signature and how you can change it!


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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. hello melissa,thank u for the recieps,i wanted to know how will i preserve for about a month without putting it in a refrigerator.because of my work sechudle,i cant always be cooking it ,is the anyway i can cook it once and the store up to get the same fragrance anytime i want without having to cook it .

      • I was wondering, should I buy vanilla extract from any super shop or should I make it myself at home. I am also wondering about the storing. Will it work same if I store it on refrigerator for long term? How long I can store them?

  2. I am so excited to try this. I was in a store today and wanted something for a scent at my front door (which is right between a kitchen and bathroom and litter box area-many smells!) but all the strong store-bought products were offensive. I would love to try the mini crock pot method. I can’t wait to come home to a nice smell at the end of the work day. Thanks.

  3. we have a small house, our kitchen, bedroom and living room are just across each other.

    Everytime im in the kitchen cooking something, the odor spreads out in the entire house.

    My main concern is that our house do not have enough ventilation.

    What will be the best way to lessen the odor to spead out.

    – 1 apple
    – 1tbs ground cinnamon (or 1-2 cinnamon sticks)
    – Apple juice

    •Cut apple into slices (like you would eat)
    •Fill pot 1/4 full with water
    •Pour apple juice until 3/4 full
    •Add apple slices and 1tbs of cinnamon (or 1-2 cinnamon sticks)
    •Boil for ≈ 5 min and reduce heat to medium

    ENJOY 😍

  5. Love the fall wonderland recipe. If we want to leave around in the bathroom instead of boiling it over the stove, which recipe is good?

    • Cinnamon sticks, Vanilla extract, Lime cut in half, a few whole cloves. I also threw in a little bit of instant coffee, maybe an orange or Apple if you want. It worked for me. Watch the water level don’t let it dry up, set the burner on low after boiling to release the steam and avoid drying up too fast. Small pots are best. The concoction is more concentrated in a small pot than in a huge one just not too small, enough to hold a good amount of water.

  6. Love your recipes and ideas!!!!! So simple yet wonderful and so many varieties. I will definitley try!!

  7. Melissa, I love your idea! I’m trying the orange and clove recipe now, it smells wonderful. Keep the videos coming

  8. Thank you. I have guest coming over today & your idea’d were great. I didn’t have any fruit but I used a couple “tension tamer” tea’s & an assortment of spices & let me tell you my house smells amazing. Thanks again your a life saver!!!

  9. hi melissa.
    i just watched your blog on ridding your home of unwanted smells. very well presented and your “freeway” comment made me laugh out loud. your reaction after saying it was even funnier.

    i am wanting to get rid of an ungodly smell in a workshop room in my condo building. there are no windows and no ventilation.
    it smells like something died in there and for the life of me i cannot determine what is causing the putrid odor.
    because there is no heating appliance (stove), can you suggest something i can leave in the room ongoingly to help?

    with thanks…

  10. I like to put these ingredients in a crock pot also. How long will they usually stay good until you have to get all fresh ingredients?

  11. When you ‘jar up’ the cooked mixture, what does it mean that you can use it again? You can cook it again and your house smells nice? Or you open it and it smells nice? I’m a bit confused :/

  12. Love this! Tried cinnamon sticks, dried pepermint twigs, 2 ginger tea bags, some cloves and a whole lime sliced with juices squeezed in the water…..amazing!

  13. I am trying your idea of orange and spices.

    I have a question maybe you can help me with.
    My older leather sofa and chair have an old smell. What can help that? I used saddle soap and damaged the leather. Warm water is all that was recommended. Like I said they are older…. like 15 years now. They still have a some good wear to them but smell a bit. Can you help?

  14. I am going to try the oranges and cloves. After I bring heat up enough I think I will put it into the smaller crock pot I have. Like that idea?

  15. I have 2 cats, and wondering which scents to avoid, or which ones are best to use with cats around? For example, I’ve heard cats don’t like citrus scents, and I can’t remember what it was about cloves and cinnamon (which would be nice for an overall home scent)…. Anyway, anyone know which scents to use, and which ones to avoid, with cats around? (And is it different if the scents come from essential oils vs. other sources?) I’d also like to find a quick natural scent to spray around (not in) the litterbox, right after one of the “kids” makes a smelly poopie, to absorb that smell in the air. I already use baking soda mixed into the clay clumping litter.

    • I often read tea tree oil is a serious hazard for kitties. I am owned by twelve furbabies and often use the orange peels, whole cloves, cardamome, cedar twigs, vanilla mix and none of my cats shown a reaction.

  16. I’m wondering what I can use to freshen gym shoes or boxing gloves when not in use. Thought it could be contained in a sock to easily use again

    • I’ve heard you can wrap charcoal in newspaper or put in a small brown paper bag, it doesn’t scent them but it absorbs the odor.

    • That will cause a severe reaction in anyone who is chemically sensitive. I really wish people would start going natural instead of chemical. I have to wear a mask when I leave my house because of the high use of chemicals that everyone else uses. It clings to your clothing, hair and skin and will stay there for hours and slowly dissipate into the air around you. Please think of others before using chemical crap. Thanks

  17. Very nice! Another great video, Melissa! Thank you! I just saw you for the first time on YouTube for blood stains on mattress. It worked!! We did the hydrogen peroxide water with detergent mix. Amazing! I will go and try this new air freshner now. Thank you for the inspiration! Congrats to you and (I heard on the video), Chad. With love from South Florida, Faith (and my 21 year old daughter who also sits and loves to watch you teach us).

  18. I love your blend for the fall wonderland scent. I own a handmade soap company and had made a blend using this same recipe for one of my wintertime soaps but added just a hint of peru basalm. Using all natural oils (and not fragrance oils) in handmade soap can be a chore because there is almost no way to get a good vanilla scent to come through. Using the same blend that you have, but adding just a touch of peru basalm really sweetens up the blend. Just wanted to share that. Love the blog posts. Very interesting reads. Thanks for the great content!!!

  19. Any idea how to incorporate one of these into a form suitable for an automatic dispenser? I clean the litter box regularly (twice daily) but find the room where the box is still needs a little added freshening. I want to set up an automatic dispenser to dispense every 60 minutes but have not been able to find one that has a natural freshener (and I hate chemicals in the air)

  20. What about deodorizers for my plastic dresser drawers. Should I just spray something and put in into my drawers? What would you suggest? 🙂

  21. HI Melissa, We run an animal rescue centre and we have about 10 dogs that live in the office area as they will never be homed. They run and play outside but there is always a ‘doggy’smell when one walks into the office. The doors open out onto the outside play area so there is fresh air going in and out but still there is the doggy smell. What could one make up to leave in the office area and give off a lovely fragrance? We do have much electricity usage in the day as it is too costly, hence there is no cooking facilties …. so we would need something that we can make up at home and leave in the office. Do you have any suggestions.
    Kind regards, Robyn

  22. Hi Melissa,
    re: cleaning wood floors… watched your video (great video) but I did not see what the use for the rubbing alchol was?

  23. Love this! Plus, you are hysterical…you make me smile and I love your practical advice delivered with your cool & funny sense of humor.

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