I have a pretty close relationship with the local liquor store cashier.
Our monthly meet-ups usually start the same way. I walk up to the counter with the largest bottle of vodka. He smiles, and I smile back. Then I proceed on with a full five-minute speech trying to persuade the poor man that this, larger-than-my-purse, bottle of vodka is for a DIY project. “I don’t have a drinking problem!”
The conversation usually ends with a nod of his head and a polite acceptance, “Okay, Ma’am.”
And in an odd way, I always leave the store feeling unsatisfied, “Why didn’t he ask about my latest DIY project? I don’t think he really believes me. He must think I drink a huge amount of vodka each month! Why didn’t he card me? Do I really look older than 21?”
Moral of the Story: You don’t want to accept a job at my local liquor store. I’ve been told that a crazy DIY lady, who writes some blog, frequents the place.
And now that you’re probably thinking, “Who is this girl?” let’s go straight to today’s recipe. I promise, it will help clarify the whole monthly vodka-buying internal struggle. So, Mr. Liquor Store Cashier, I hope you’re reading this.
Last month a Live Simply reader, Daisy from Simplicity Relished, commented on a DIY post, “Can you share a recipe for homemade air freshener spray?” I thought about her comment for several days, contemplating the best (most economical) way to make a DIY air freshener that kills bad odors, freshens linens, and leaves behind a pleasant all-natural scent. The answer?
Vodka, of course!
As it turns out, vodka can be used for much more than a strong cocktail. It’s also a very handy DIY ingredient. For example: Vodka may be used to make homemade extract, like: vanilla and mint. Seriously, once you make your own extracts, especially vanilla, you’ll never go back to the store-bought extracts. Need another example? Vodka can also help shine chrome and glass. Simply wipe a surface with a cloth that’s been moistened with vodka, and viola–squeaky clean!
Vodka may also be used to kill odors and freshen-up fabrics. That’s right. Kiss the Febreze good-bye. All you really need is a large bottle of vodka. Vodka is also the perfect liquid for making an infused scent, since vodka (really strong alcohol) doesn’t grow bacteria like a bowl of water. Infusing vodka with a natural scent is pretty easy, you just need a handful of citrus peels and a little bit of patience.
Let’s simplify this conversation a bit more…
Vodka + Citrus = DIY Citrus Air Freshener!
This DIY citrus-infused air freshener is for you, Daisy! It’s made with just four ingredients which means you can enjoy a natural air freshener that deodorizes, disinfects, and leaves behind a delicious scent without spending a ton of money, or spraying your home’s contents in a million artificial toxins. And this story is for you, Mr. Liquor Cashier, because as it turns out, a bottle of vodka can be a DIY girl’s best friend.
4-Ingredient DIY Citrus Air Freshener
- 4 cups vodka high-proof vodka
- peels from 2-4 oranges , grapefruit, and/or lemons
- storage jar
- 2-3 sprigs fresh herbs (optional) such as: mint or rosemary, optional
To Make the "Sprayable" Air Freshener:
- glass spray bottle
- infused vodka recipe above
- distilled water
- 30-35 drops sweet orange essential oil per 16 oz. bottle of air freshener
- 20-25 drops germ destroyer synergy essential oil (optional) per 16 oz. bottle of air freshener or a germ-fighter essential oil blend (like Thieves). Lavender essential oil would also be lovely.
- Place the citrus peels (and fresh herb sprigs, if using) in a storage jar. Pour the vodka over the peels. Place the vodka in a cool, dark place. Infuse for 7-14 days.
- Fill a spray bottle with ½ the infused vodka and ½ distilled water. Add the essential oils until you reach the desired scent. Use this air freshener on the couch, rug, clothing, linens, or a really stinky bathroom! Always test a small area before applying to an entire surface.
This recipe may be customized to your desired scent by replacing the essential oils with your favorite oils. Lemon or grapefruit essential oil also work great in this recipe.
More DIYs You May Like:
DIY Glass and Stainless Steel Cleaner
DIY All-In-One Bathroom Cleaner
We don’t go near alcohol since it’s an out of bounds substance. Is there an alternative that we can use instead of Vodka, Many Thanks.
Just water and essential oil, can add some baking soda but be careful it doesn’t clog the sprayer.
Hello, please can you explain to me what is vodka and how can I get it.A also which preservatives can i introduce into a water solution and it will not have any negative effective in the solution.
Hey Abiola, Vodka is an alcohol. I recommend just making small batches versus adding a preservative.
Hello, I have a question. Is there any risk of this freshener damaging wooden floors and upholstery? I have just renovated my place and am freaking out about all kinds of damage. My expensive stoneware floor tiles seems to stain irreversibly from… water. Yes, water. Thank you for your help.
Could I use grapefruit essential oil instead of the orange? I love all citrus, but grapefruit is my favorite.
I see a couple of people talking about baking soda. I do not see that in the recipes….
Hey Joelle, I removed that option from the recipe, since it was confusing for some folks. Basically, you can add 1 tsp of baking soda to the spray bottle, shaking it each time before use. Baking soda deodorizes.
I’m probably missing something, but how & when do you add the baking soda and what’s it’s purpose? And how do you make vanilla extract?
Hey Karen, You can add the baking soda when the infused vodka and water are added to the spray bottle. Baking soda neutralizes odors, so it’s an optional extra. Here’s my vanilla extract tutorial: https://livesimply.me/2013/08/27/homemade-vanilla-extract/.
I am just starting out making natural cleaners etc, just wondering how long does this freshener lasts? Also could I use white vinegar instead of Vodka and just infuse for longer.
PS Loving your blogs here in New Zealand 🙂
Hey Katie, If you keep the final product in the fridge, it will last several months. Yes, you can do this with vinegar: https://livesimply.me/2015/11/24/citrus-infused-vinegar-cleaner/.
I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog!!
The I’ve made homemade “orange cleaner” with vinegar, and orange peels… It definitely still have a VERY strong vinegar smell. Works wonderfully for cleaning. If you like the smell of vinegar, then go for it.. But for me personally – the orange peel and vinegar smell was just too much, and I wouldn’t wanna use it as a air freshener.
Thanks for sharing, Ashleigh!
I’m new to your blog & am very happy to have found it. I’m a fellow diy nut & lover of essential oils. Anywho- this may be a dumb question, but can you please clarify the first instruction in your Citrus Spray recipe?
Fill a spray bottle with ½ the infused vodka and ½ distilled.
Do you mean 1/2 infused vodka and 1/2 distilled vodka? Or 1/2 infused vodka & 1/2 distilled water?
I’ve made other sprays that call for a half-&-half dilution with distilled water, so I thought I should just check to make sure.
Hey Jillian, Yes, 1/2 infused vodka and 1/2 distilled water. I’ll make sure this is noted in the recipe, too!
PS: Welcome to Live Simply!!
Hi Krisitn. Great idea here, but I must say using vodka is a very expensive way to do it! Your local hardware store sells methylated spirits for about $1 per litre. Use this in place of the vodka for really dirt cheap air freshener. 🙂
Thanks for sharing, Vince. We pick up vodka at Costco for very cheap.
Im really enjoying your posts and making your products.
I have a question about the citrus air freshener, what can be used to replace the Vodka that is preferably non alcohol based?
Hey Aisha, I think you could use witch hazel.
I’m so glad you’re enjoying the DIYs.
Hello, fellow Kristin with 2 “i’s”! I’m very eager to make this, but was wondering if this could also be used as a disinfecting surface spray (i.e., countertop spray)? I’ve been looking for something to use on my granite counters since vinegar is big no-no for stone surfaces. Please forgive me if you’ve answered this question in a previous comment…I didn’t read through every comment thread. Thanks!!
Hey Kristin ;)!
Yes, vinegar is a big no-no for granite countertops (we don’t have granite, but my parents do). My recommendation is to use rubbing alcohol and castile soap. About 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol and 1 teaspoon-1 Tablespoon of castile soap (or dish soap if castile soap isn’t available). That should do the trick. You could also dilute the rubbing alcohol with water. Of course, try the cleaner on a small test area first.
While infusing do you put a lid or cover on the jar, leave it open to air, or does it matter?
Hey Jeremy, I leave the lid on the container during the infusing process.
I have questions about the baking soda.
Does it dissolve well? I am thinking it might clog spray mechanism over time.
Does the baking soda leave any residue on surfaces that may be sprayed?
Why would distilled water give longer life to the product than tap water?
The baking soda definitely can clog the spray mechanism if it’s not cleaned regularly. I usually place the sprayer in a glass of water and vinegar every week (for all my DIY cleaner bottles) and spray a few times just to clear out any gunk. Castile soap can also do this. After some shaking the baking soda will dissolve the best a powder can dissolve into a cold liquid–although some may settle at the bottom of the bottle. Shaking the bottle before each use is recommended. The baking soda won’t leave any residue on the surface (although I haven’t tested a surface by soaking it with this solution, just light mists are fine.) I left the baking soda as an optional ingredient, so the air freshener will still work without this addition, if desired.
Distilled water is processed very differently than tap or spring water. During the process the water is boiled (and more!) to remove impurities. Distilled water is considered “cleaner” and less likely to harbor anything that will encourage bacteria growth, etc.
Love your website – thankyou for all the fun ideas to try.
This looks wonderful. What about other ‘flavors’?
Can this be made with just lavender or even vanilla?
Hey Lynn, Thank you so much :). I’ve been experimenting with a lavender/vinegar/vodka solution for cleaning, and I think it would also work as an air freshener! My experiment is still infusing on the shelf. I’m not sure if vanilla will work, since homemade vanilla extract doesn’t really have an intense vanilla smell. I bet you could add vanilla oil (it’s not an essential oil, I believe, but sold by many oil companies/aromatherapy shops) to vodka for an easy and lovely homemade spray.
Hi Kristin, I’m from Holland and found your blog just yesterday (yup, you’re global!) and am really enjoying browsing through all your recipes. Am just making the switch to natural cleaners, but find them quite expensive. DIY seems worth a go for sure 🙂
I do have one question about this freshener. If used on linens, particularly whites, does the orange/yellow colour not transfer to the fabric? Thanks in advance for letting me know.
That’s awesome, Marilyn! Welcome to Live Simply!
I haven’t tried using this spray directly on white fabrics, but I don’t think it will stain them. Just to be safe I’d try spraying a very small amount on a white fabric. You could also try using lemon peels instead of oranges since lemons actually help brighten whites.
I agree…the DIY route is much cheaper in the long-term than green cleaners at the store.
Haha. I have to laugh at your liquor store story. They know me at my grocery store and I got the funniest look when I bought a bottle of vodka, and little else, for DIY projects. They know I never buy alcohol & must have thought I was having a really bad day.
Lol, that’s awesome, Linda! Thank you for sharing!
First, I have to say that I LOVE your blog! It has been the extra push I need to get on track to an all-natural lifestyle after starting the process 3 years ago 🙂
Second, I am trying your recipe with some everclear alcohol (95% alcohol – all though it’s not available in every state). I’m hoping it works! But I was wondering about the essential oils… Are they really necessary? Or could I just leave the concoction to sit longer? I don’t have those oils and I’m very frugal, so for me personally, it doesn’t seem worth it to put them in the mixture. What are your thoughts?
Thanks in advance! 🙂
Hey Anna, Thank you so much! The alcohol and citrus alone will produce a nice scent and pack a disinfecting punch, but the essential oil(s) really bring out a strong citrus scent. I think sweet orange or lemon oil (with the infused citrus and alcohol) would be a great addition and both are generally very inexpensive (I really like Plant Therapy which averages $6/bottle). The citrus essential oils can also be used a variety of cleaning recipes (for scent and disinfecting properties). Enjoy!!
I’ve been reading and using many of your recipes for a few months and I love them! Thank you for sharing!
A vodka question…Can you use rubbing alcohol instead of vodka? Or would the smell be too strong? (I have rubbing alcohol but no vodka currently in my cupboard.) 🙂
Hey Colleen, Thank you so much, I’m so glad you love the recipes :).
I’m not 100% sure about the rubbing alcohol, but I think it could work. There may be a stronger alcohol smell to the air freshener, but you could infuse the orange peels for a few more days. You’ll definitely need the essential oils for extra scent. If you try it, please let me know how it goes!!
This is absolutely fantastic and JUST what I was looking for!!
I’m so glad you like the recipe, Daisy :)!!