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DIY Gel Air Freshener (10 Recipes)

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Learn how to make 10 fragrant DIY gel air fresheners with this easy home fragrance hack. These colourful air fresheners are safely formulated with essential oils, and will leave your home smelling fresh and clean — minus the questionable ingredients found in many commercial home gel deodorizers. Plus, a vegan gel air freshener formulation without gelatin is also provided.

DIY gel air fresheners

Making your own gel air fresheners is an easy and inexpensive way to make your home smell good without resorting to the use of synthetic fragrance products which can compromise your health.

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to make homemade mason jar gel air fresheners in 10 different scents.

They will freshen the air in your home, much like store-bought gel deodorizers, but without the problematic ingredients contained in many commercial deodorizing products.

Also, included is an option for vegans without gelatin, and answers to questions such as how to make to make your gel air fresheners last longer and smell stronger. You can find a list of questions and answers at the bottom of this post.

What are gel air fresheners?

Gel air fresheners are household deodorizing products that are used to mask or dampen odours in the air of your home, car or garage.

They work by gradually dispensing fragrance into the air as they evaporate, leaving behind a fresh, clean scent.

How do gel air fresheners work?

Gel air fresheners work due to a combination of a gelling agent, a solvent, a liquid base, and of course, your scent.

Gelatin or agar-agar which forms the base of the gel, and which is the main ingredient of these air fresheners, is important because it acts as a vehicle for the essential oils.

When the gel sets, the essential oils scent particles are suspended in the gel. As the gel evaporates, those scent particles are then dispersed into the air.

The benefit of gel air fresheners is that they last longer than scented products such as room sprays or diffusers. This is because the gelling agent slows evaporation, allowing the gel’s scent to linger longer.

Homemade gel air fresheners

Why you want to avoid commercial air freshener gels and deodorizers

Commercial brand gel air fresheners and deodorizers often contain a plethora of problematic ingredients, including synthetic fragrances and phthalates.

While phthalates help to distribute fragrances into the air and can also help fragrances last longer, they can have a negative affect on one’s overall health and well-being.

Research has shown that phthalates can disrupt our bodies’ natural hormone levels, which can lead to serious issues such as metabolic and thyroid issues.

Not to mention the fact that synthetic fragrances can trigger allergies, migraines and respiratory problems in many people.

It may seem harmless to use a spritz or two of synthetic fragrance here and there, but the daily accumulation of artificial fragrances is a more complex issue.

Considering the average woman uses a vast number of daily personal care products that contain synthetic fragrances, cutting down on your scent load is an important first step in lowering your body’s toxic load.

Additionally, typical household items such carpeting, rugs, upholstery, manufactured wood furniture, and cleaning products emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can further add to your toxic load.

That said, there is nothing that will combat bad odours in your home more naturally then simply opening a window or two, and letting in a fresh breeze.

However, when the season or the weather isn’t cooperating, homemade air freshener products using essential oils are a simple hack for safely scenting your home, without the negative effects of synthetic fragrances.

DIY gel air freshener without gelatin

In case you’re wondering if you can make a vegan gel air freshener, yes, you can. For the vegan version of these gel air fresheners, you will need to use agar-agar in place of the gelatin.

Agar-agar is a natural, vegetable-based gelatin subsitute derived from seaweed. It’s white, semi-translucent and dissolves easily in water, and is often used to thicken sauces, and to make vegetarian jellies, custards or desserts. 

The measurements for the vegan formulation will be different than the recipe containing gelatin. This is because agar-agar behaves differently than gelatin and sets more firmly.

DIY gel air freshener without gelatin

What do you need to make naturally scented DIY gel air fresheners?

The process of making these naturally scented gel air fresheners is fairly easy.

For your homemade gel air freshener formulation, you will first need a gelling agent. This can be gelatin, or agar agar if making the vegan option.

It’s important to note that you should not use flavoured gelatin or jello, as flavoured gelatin contains sugar and will therefore form mold more readily.

You will also need water, your favourite essential oils, and vodka. You’ll also require salt or another preservative such as potassium sorbate. However, salt and vodka are more easily accessible to most people.

Ingredients for gel air freshener

The combination of vodka and salt acts as a natural microbe inhibitor which is an important step in the gel formulation. If clean is your goal, you don’t want to risk creating a product that grows mold or bacteria.

Salt is the cheapest and most readily available natural mold inhibitor. The reason salt inhibits mold is because it aids in reducing water activity (in other words, the amount of unbound water available to microbes).

Of course, you will need a selection of your favourite essential oil blends on hand to scent your gel air fresheners. Below, I’ve included 10 of my favourite essential oil blends which are all wonderful for deodorizing your home naturally.

Finally, for a fun pop of colour, you can add a drop or two of natural food colouring to give your gel a bold bright hue or a soft pastel tone. However, this is completely optional.

Storing your homemade gel air fresheners

To store your gel air fresheners, you will need a number of mason jars with wire lid inserts (otherwise known as frog lids).

You can choose small mason jars if you’d like a smaller, compact air freshener, or larger, wide-mouth jars for a larger air freshener.

But you can also use any heat resistant jar you may have on hand, such as jam or baby food jars.

Reusing jars makes for an eco-friendly solution to store-bought air freshener products. And since the ingredients used in this recipe are completely biodegradable, you can simply throw the used gel into the compost when it loses its scent, making these air fresheners completely zero waste.

Homemade gel air fresheners in mason jars

How to make gel air fresheners

For detailed instructions, ingredient measurementsprocess photos, and tips and tricks, be sure to see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

How to make DIY gel air freshener without gelatin

  1. Dissolve 2 teaspoons of agar agar in a small saucepan with warm water.
  2. Next, bring the dissolved agar agar and water to a boil. Stir or whisk to be sure the agar agar is well mixed.
  3. Remove the pot from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  4. Transfer the mixture into a large, heat-safe measuring cup such as a Pyrex cup, or another cup with a spout.
  5. Then, add salt or potassium sorbate and stir to incorporate.
  6. Add the remaining water. Then, add vodka. 
  7. If desired, add natural food colouring and mix well.
  8. Carefully pour your air freshener mixture into your jars.
  9. Then, add your essential oils to each individual jar. Mix well with a whisk to incorporate.
  10. Place in refrigerator to set.
  11. To finish, cover the jars with frog lids.

How to make DIY gel air freshener with gelatin

  1. In a small pot, slowly sprinkle gelatin over room temperature water. After 5-10 minutes, the gelatin will swell and partially dissolve.
  2. Next, place the pot on the stove over medium heat. Stir or whisk until the gelatin is fully dissolved.
  3. Remove the pot from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  4. Transfer the mixture into a large, heat-safe measuring cup such as a Pyrex cup, or another cup with a spout.
  5. Then, add salt or potassium sorbate and stir to incorporate.
  6. Add the remaining water. Then, add vodka.
  7. If desired, add natural food colouring and mix well.
  8. Carefully pour your air freshener mixture into your jars.
  9. Then, add your essential oils to each individual jar. Mix well with a whisk to incorporate.
  10. Place in refrigerator to set.
  11. To finish, cover the jars with frog lids.

Essential oil combinations for homemade gel air fresheners

Below, I’ve included a variety of essential oils blends for use in your homemade gel air fresheners.

You should use 35-60 drops of essential oils depending on the size of your jar. For small mason jars, use the recipe as is. For larger jars, double each recipe.

Lemon Lavender Essential Oil Blend

Those who love this classic blend will love this floral fragrance with a zesty citrus top note.

15 drops lemon essential oil
15 drops lavender essential oil

Homemade gel air freshener with essential oils

Citrus Breeze Essential Oil Blend

Crisp and refreshing, this blend will release an uplifting citrus aroma into any room of your home.

12 drops sweet orange essential oil
12 drops lemon essential oil
12 drops lime essential oil

Fruity Floral Essential Oil Blend

Equal parts fruity and floral, this delicate aroma is perfect for those who love floral scents with a twist.

10 drops tangerine essential oil
10 drops grapefruit essential oil
8 drops geranium essential oil
8 drops lavender essential oil

Vanilla Latte Essential Oil Blend

This unique blend smells like a warm, delicious vanilla latte.

15 drops vanilla oleoresin
15 drops coffee essential oil

Woodsy Essential Oil Blend

This tenacious blend is perfect for men or teen’s rooms.

I used Simply Earth’s Timber essential oil blend, but you can also achieve this woodsy, masculine aroma using a combination of each individual oil in the blend: cypress, patchouli, cedarwood, Peru balsam, sandalwood and mandarin.

30 drops Simply Earth Timber essential oil blend

Alternatively, you can use:

5 drops cypress essential oil
5 drops patchouli essential oil
5 drops cedarwood essential oil
5 drops Peru balsam essential oil
5 drops sandalwood essential oil
5 drops mandarin essential oil

Ocean Breeze Essential Oil Blend

This unique oil combination is reminiscent of a cool ocean breeze, without the artificial fragrances typically associated with this popular aroma. You can find each of these essential oils in Simply Earth’s Ocean Scents diffuser set.

12 drops lime essential oil
8 drops rosemary essential oil
8 drops cedarwood essential oil
4 drops spearmint essential oil

Lavender Eucalyptus Essential Oil Blend

Potent and herbaceous, this essential oil blend is said to help ease congestion and headaches.

15 drops lavender essential oil
15 drops eucalyptus essential oil

DIY essential oil gel air fresheners

Pumpkin Spice Essential Oil Blend

This fall favourite evokes the sweet and spicy scent of pumpkin pie! Alternatively, you can also buy a pre-made pumpkin spice essential oil blend.

15 drops vanilla oleoresin
10 drops copaiba oleoresin
4 drops cardamom essential oil
1 drops cinnamon bark essential oil
1 drops ginger essential oil
1 drops nutmeg essential oil
1 drops clove bud essential oil

Wildflower Essential Oil Blend

Floral with an undertone of ho wood, this blend is perfect for lovers of floral fragrances. You can also find these oils bundled in Simply Earth’s Wildflowers set.

15 drops ylang-ylang extra essential oil
5 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops geranium essential oil
2 drops ho wood essential oil

Defender Essential Oil Blend

Made with a collection of antibacterial essential oils known as Thieves, this blend is purported to help purify the air.

You can find all of these oils in Simply Earth’s Defender blend, or you can use a combination of each individual oil.

30 drops Simply Earth Defender blend

Alternatively, you can use:

10 drops cinnamon leaf essential oil
5 drops rosemary essential oil
5 drops lemon essential oil
5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
5 drops clove bud essential oil

How to use your gel air fresheners

To use these naturally scented gel air freshener jars, place them in areas of your home prone to odours such as your bathroom or under your kitchen sink.

These air fresheners will also safely scent clothing closets, laundry rooms, and linen closets. We like to keep one in our garage to keep it smelling fresh. You can also place one of these handy odour absorbing jars in your car.

As with any product containing essential oils, please keep your gel air fresheners out of reach of small children and pets.

Homemade odor absorbing gel

Questions about DIY gel air fresheners

How long do gel air fresheners last?

Your gel air freshener jars should last approximately one month. Their longevity also depends on the weather, which can affect the gel’s rate of evaporation.

When the scent is gone, you can easily make a new batch. Simply scoop the gel mixture out of your jars and place it into the compost. Wash and soak your containers in hot, soapy water, then remake the gel formula to refill your jars.

While these gel air fresheners are inexpensive to make, they’re not meant to last as long as store-bought options. To make a very long lasting air freshener, you would need to use aroma chemicals such as fixatives and phthalates.

That being said, there are a few ways you can make your natural gel air freshener last longer.

How do you make gel air fresheners last longer?

You can make your gel air freshener last longer by rehydrating it every so often. One way to do this is by using a homemade vodka room spray with essential oils.

When your air freshener’s scent begins to fade, spritz it generously with a room spray in your desired scent. This will help rehydrate the gelling agent and lengthen the life of your gel air freshener.

Alternatively, simply mix 1-2 tablespoons of vodka with your choice of essential oils, and pour the mixture onto your air freshener gel. The gel will reabsorb some of the liquid before it evaporates, replenishing your air freshener’s deodorizing ability.

If placing an air freshener in your car, it may help to use a small splash of vegetable glycerin in your air freshener formulation to slow evaporation. This can also be helpful in hot climates.

Glycerin is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water from the surrounding environment. This can help prevent your gel from drying out too quickly, helping prolong its lifespan in a hot environment.

Finally, yet another way to make your gel air freshener last longer is by using fixative essential oils. Fixative essential oils are heavy essential oils (such as resinoids) that evaporate slowly. Which brings us to our next question.

How do you make gel air freshener smell stronger?

The best way to make gel air fresheners smell stronger is simply to use more essential oils. However, it also matters what kind of essential oils you use.

In perfumery, each note of a fragrance is given the classification of base note, middle note and top note. This has to do with a fragrance’s weight and evaporation rate.

Aromatherapy has borrowed this terminology and applied it to essential oils. Top notes like citrus oils dissipate quickly, while base notes take far longer to evaporate.

Base notes are also sometimes called fixatives, as they help “fix” or anchor a fragrance and increase its tenacity. They also have a heavier, more viscous texture, like resinoids, balsams or oleoresins.

Patchouli oil, for example, is known as an excellent fixative for other scents. In this study, 2% patchouli oil was used as a fixative in a gel air freshener formulation.

So, you can make your gel air freshener last longer by using more base note essential oils in your blend.

Examples of base note essential oils include:

  • Sandalwood
  • Cedarwood
  • Vanilla Oleoresin
  • Patchouli
  • Cypress
  • Peru Balsam
  • Frakincense
  • Copaiba Oleoresin
  • Ylang-Ylang

I can certainly vouch for the efficacy of using heavier essential oils. The woodsy air freshener gel made using Simply Earth’s Timber blend creates a tenacious, long-lasting air freshener gel.

This makes sense, considering the Timber blend is made up almost entirely of base note essential oils: cypress, patchouli, cedarwood, Peru balsam, and sandalwood, with one top note of mandarin.

Yield: 4 small jars

DIY Gel Air Freshener (10 Recipes)

DIY gel air fresheners

Learn how to make DIY gel air fresheners! This easy tutorial also includes a vegan recipe without gelatin. Inexpensive, natural and safely scented with essential oils.

Active Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $3

Materials

Tools

Instructions

DIY Gel Air Freshener without Gelatin

  1. Dissolve 2 teaspoons of agar agar with 1 cup warm water for 5 minutes.

    Adding agar-agar to bowlAdding water to bowl
  2. Next, bring the dissolved agar agar and water to a boil. Stir or whisk to be sure the agar agar is well mixed.
  3. Once fully dissolved, remove the pot from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  4. Transfer the mixture into a large, heat-safe measuring cup such as a Pyrex cup, or another cup with a spout. This will make it easier to pour the mixture equally into each mason jar.
  5. Then, add salt or potassium sorbate and stir to incorporate.
  6. Add the remaining 1/2 cup cold water. Then, add 1/2 cup of vodka. 
  7. You can now add the food colouring if you wish to make all your jars all the same colour. But if you want each jar to be a different colour, you can add the food colouring to each individual jar.

    Adding natural food colouring
  8. Whichever method you choose, mix the food colouring in well. A small whisk makes this easy.

    Stirring gel air freshener mixture
  9. Carefully pour your air freshener mixture into your jars.

    Pour air freshener gel into jar
  10. Then, add your essential oils to each individual jar. Mix well with a whisk to incorporate.
  11. Place your jars in the refrigerator to set for at least 3 hours.
  12. To finish, cover the jars with frog lids. Or, you can use the gel jars without a lid.

DIY Gel Air Freshener with Gelatin

  1. In a small pot, slowly sprinkle gelatin over 1 cup room temperature water and allow it to gel. After 5-10 minutes, the gelatin will swell and partially dissolve.
  2. Next, place the pot on the stove over medium heat. Stir or whisk until the gelatin is fully dissolved.
  3. Once fully dissolved, remove the pot from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  4. Transfer the mixture into a large, heat-safe measuring cup such as a Pyrex cup, or another cup with a spout. This will make it easier to pour the mixture equally into each mason jar.
  5. Then, add salt or potassium sorbate and stir to incorporate.
  6. Add the remaining 1/2 cup cold water. Then, add 1/2 cup of vodka. 
  7. You can now add the food colouring if you wish to make all your jars all the same colour. But if you want each jar to be a different colour, you can add the food colouring to each individual jar.
  8. Whichever method you choose, mix the food colouring in well. A small whisk makes this easy.
  9. Carefully pour your air freshener mixture into your jars.
  10. Then, add your essential oils to each individual jar. Mix well with a whisk to incorporate.
  11. Place your jars in the refrigerator to set for at least 3 hours.
  12. To finish, cover the jars with frog lids. Or, you can use the gel jars without a lid.

Notes

Health & safety tips

  • It's your responsibility to practice kitchen safety. Never heat vodka on the stovetop as this will cause a fire. Be sure to remove your gel air freshener mixture from the stove and allow it to cool before adding the vodka.
  • Please keep out of reach of small children and pets.

Tips & tricks

  • This recipe makes approximately four small 4oz mason jars, or one large 16oz mason jar with a little bit extra.
  • Using gelatin will create a clear gel, while using agar-agar will create a gel that is slightly cloudy.
  • For information on shelf life and how to make them last longer, see the section in this post called "questions about DIY gel air fresheners."
  • You can use a single essential oil or a blend of essential oils in your air fresheners. Each jar (depending on size) requires approximately 35-60 drops of essential oils. The more essential oils you use, the longer the scent will linger.
  • For fragrance ideas, see the section on essential oil combinations.

Did you make this DIY?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Other ways to deodorize your home naturally

Deodorizer jars with baking soda

Another natural way to freshen your home naturally is by using baking soda. You likely already have a box of baking soda in your fridge or near your kitchen trash can to absorb odours.

Baking soda is a natural odour absorber. In fact, we have a simple recipe for creating baking soda and essential oil air freshener jars.

These jars can be displayed or placed under your kitchen or bathroom cupboard to absorb odours and to keep those spaces fresher.

Natural DIY room sprays with essential oils

Homemade room sprays are yet another natural way to keep the air in your home smelling good. But again, be leery of commercial room sprays, as they also contain synthetic fragrances.

It’s far safer to simply make your own room sprays using vodka and essential oils. We have quite a few recipes for vodka based room sprays on the blog.

We also have a seasonal chocolate and roses room spray recipe as well as a vast variety of holiday room sprays

Have you given up commercial air freshening products? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

For even more natural home ideas, follow us on Pinterest! You can also find us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Petrina

Tuesday 15th of September 2020

Is there a substitute for the vodka? Where I live alcoholic beverages are expensive. Thank you

Kim

Tuesday 15th of September 2020

Hi Petrina, you should be able to use rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) in place of the vodka. Just make sure not to heat it. Thanks for reading!

Resh

Thursday 3rd of September 2020

Would micas work as to color the gel?

Kim

Thursday 3rd of September 2020

We haven't tried it but it should work!

Debbie B

Monday 31st of August 2020

This recipe did not work for me. I followed it step-by-step and it did gel in the refrigerator, but when I took it out and put it in a room it turned back to liquid. It still smells OK and is deodorizing but it certainly is not solid. Just in case the gelatin was older I’m going to try again.

Kim

Wednesday 2nd of September 2020

Sorry, to hear it didn't work out for you! We tested the recipe many times and didn't have that issue. You might be right though and it could be your gelatin or it could also be the hot weather. We'd try adding extra gelatin or try using agar agar as it tends to be firmer than gelatin. But we are going to make a video on how to make these gel air fresheners so we can try tweaking the recipe with extra gelatin and updating the post for those who might have the same issue. Hope that helps. Thanks for reading and commenting!