DIY Baking Soda Air Freshener Review – Does it Work?

5 out of 5 leaves

Sodium Bicarbonate, or baking soda is one of those special kitchen ingredients that can be used in many helpful ways around the home.  (Other magic home helpers include vinegar and coconut oil). Baking soda is often advertised as a odor neutralizer, and sold in everything from air fresheners to kitty litter.  Recently, instructions for DIY air fresheners have been making the rounds.  Do baking soda based air fresheners really work?

The Good

  • Better for you – no artificial fragrances of unknown safety wafting through your living spaces
  • Better for the environment – this DIY air freshener is made from all natural ingredients
  • Saves money – this air freshener can be made with things you probably already have at home
  • Easy – goes together in less than five minutes (ten if you go with the fancy scrapbook paper top method)
  • Fragrance can be quickly refreshed with a shake

The Bad

  • Baking soda alone is not effective against odors – must add an essential oil for fragrance
  • Essential oil fragrance can be very strong – too strong for some delicate noses

My Experience

So cute! But does it work?

True confessions time: my bathroom can get pretty funky in the odor department.  I have a preschool boy who isn’t terribly concerned about hitting the toilet bowl 100% of the time, and who very seriously adheres to “if it’s yellow, let it mellow“.  I also tend to have a trash can filled with the day’s wet diapers (the kids broke the diaper pail, and I’m too cheap to buy another).  All this muddled together means you can often catch the scent of stale urine as you pass by the bathroom door.  Gross.

I hate the strong smell of the commercial air fresheners.  Many are just too strongly scented for me, and make me feel ill.  I’ve also read that many of the ingredients in commercial fragrances are chemicals that can cause developmental and reproductive problems, or cause allergies or skin problems (reference info here).  I also don’t feel great about having candles, gels, potpourri, oil plug-ins etc, around the kids.  The get-into-trouble opportunities are just too great.

I was excited to try out this simple homemade natural air freshener that I read about here and here.  It took me less than 5 minutes to assemble, including the time to find a cute scrap of fabric in my sewing basket.  I hid it in the corner of my bathroom behind the trash can, hoping the kids wouldn’t find it there.  The first version I made was without essential oil because I wanted to see how effective the baking soda was by itself.  The answer: not too effective.  The odor remained, and I didn’t really notice any difference.

Baking Soda and Essential Oil are all you need

After a couple days, I added 8 drops of lavender essential oil, shook it up and put it back in the corner.  Wow – my bathroom smelled like LAVENDER!!.  The smell was a bit overpowering for me.  I recommend starting with four drops of essential oil, and then increasing as needed from there.  Also, I’m not a hug fan of lavender, so having the bathroom overpowered by it was not that much better than the previous stink.

I started over with some fresh baking soda, and four drops of lemon essential oil.  This worked great!!  My bathroom smells lightly fruity and fresh, instead of perfumed, or stinky.  I’ve found that when the fragrance fades, a quick shake of the jar will refresh the oils again, and continue to provide protection against odor.  I definitely recommend trying this out yourself – just go easy on the essential oils until you find the level that works best for you.

 Have you tried this green idea?  What is your favorite kind of essential oil?

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