How to Make Your Own Gel Air Fresheners with Essential Oils

While plug-in fresheners are not as bad as the old-fashioned aerosol sprays for the environment, they are not perfect.

By Cookist

Are plug-in air fresheners and sprays really safe for us and our pets?

While plug-in fresheners are not as bad as the old-fashioned aerosol sprays for the environment, they are not perfect.

Air fresheners can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are chemicals that can be harmful to human health as well as the environment. Some commercially available brands contain acetaldehyde – a possible carcinogen and federally-designated hazardous pollutant.


Apart from this, there are other toxic substances in plug-in air fresheners, such as phthalates, naphthalene, and formaldehyde.

Why not make your own gel air fresheners instead?

These are easy to make with a few ingredients, as well as being far less harmful than plug-in air fresheners.

You will need:

1 packet unflavored gelatin

¾ cup water

¼ cup vodka or 1 tablespoon salt

15 drops essential oil

1-2 drops food coloring

Small glass jars (like half-pint mason jars)

Lids with holes (such as a straw hole or a vent)

Small pan



Bring the water to the boil in the pan, and add the packet of gelatin and stir until dissolved. Turn off the heat when you add the gelatin, as the water will boil harder when you do.

Let the mixture sit in the pan until cooled to room temperature. Add the ¼ cup of vodka or tablespoon of salt. Either one of these will stop mold from forming on the gel air freshener.

Pour into the jar and add a couple of drops food coloring and stir well.

Add the 10-15 drops essential oils and stir, then refrigerate until the gel is set.

Put a grid or a lid with a hole on the jar. This keeps debris out while letting the scent come through. You don’t have to use a lid, but the gel will evaporate in around a month without one.

You can double or triple the recipe to make more fresheners.

Scent Combinations


Why not try combining essential oils instead of using just one?

Here are some combinations to try:


7 drops lavender oil

4 drops geranium oil

4 drops grapefruit



8 drops tangerine oil

6 drops lavender oil

3 drops lime oil

3 drops spearmint oil

Woodland Walk

7 drops cedarwood oil

6 drops white fir oil

5 drops frankincense oil

Zingy Refresher


5 drops mandarin orange oil

5 drops lemon oil

5 drops lime oil

5 drops grapefruit oil

Bug Deterrer

5 drops lemongrass oil

5 drops eucalyptus oil

4 drops basil oil

4 drops thyme oil



7 drops ginger

5 drops orange

5 drops cinnamon

Pumpkin Pie Spice

6 drops cardamom

4 drops cinnamon

3 drops clove bud

2 drops nutmeg


9 drops wintergreen

6 drops sweet orange

Christmas Time

6 drops fir needle or spruce

6 drops orange

3 drops wintergreen

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