5 DIY Car Air Freshener Ideas

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DIY in a Day brings you step-by-step instructions for easy projects that will spruce up your space — within 24 hours (or less!).

No one wants to be trapped in a car with a funky car smell, but it's a constant struggle if you have kids or pets. When my car picked up a sour smell I spent an (embarrassing) half hour crawling around inside and sniffing every car seat, corner, and surface to find the source. Oftentimes funky odors linger from carrying babies, or sports equipment, or wet camping gear (my culprit), and the air needs a good refresh. A homemade air freshener lets you skip the overpriced commercial versions that quickly overwhelm the senses. These five simple homemade car air freshener tutorials will bring a natural, fresh aroma to your car. While we offer ideas for scent combinations, feel free to use drops of your favorite essential oils to any of these step by step DIYs below.

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You might also like: a DIY expert on the top 5 DIY tools to have on hand, the three things to always​ to do when working on IKEA hacks, and listen to this episode on the "Being Home With Hunker" podcast.

1. Felt Car Air Freshener

All you need are a few easy-to-find materials to make your own hanging natural car air freshener with absorbent wool felt. Here we use a combination of lavender and rose to destress and inspire calm.

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Things You'll Need

Cut a small piece of wool felt into a fun shape — anything works here so it's a great project to involve the kids. Then use the hole punch to make an opening at the top. If you don't have a hole punch, just make a small cut with the scissors.

Drizzle on the essential oil drops and give the felt a few minutes to fully absorb them. Then tie a piece of string through the opening and hang it in your car. Refresh the essential oils as needed.

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2. Clothespin Air Freshener

Lots of commercial air fresheners clip onto air vents to help distribute the scent, but the smell can quickly become too strong. If you have a sensitive nose, our homemade vent clip version releases a more subtle scent and also allows you to customize the aroma.

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Pick one or two of essential oils of your choice and pour a total of 10 to 12 drops onto a wooden clothespin. Then clip onto an air vent in your car. The scent will fill your entire car interior.

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3. Peppermint Pick-Me-Up Travel Spray

A simple homemade air freshening spray is an easy way to cleanse stuffy air, absorb odors, and add energizing fresh scents.

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Things You'll Need

First, add the baking soda to a small spray bottle. Then fill the rest of the bottle with warm water and shake until the baking soda is fully dissolved into the water.

Then, add the essential oils to the bottle. We've used a combination of invigorating peppermint with lavender for a pick-me-up scent that's perfect for long road trips.

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Put the spray nozzle back on, and it's good to go. Shake well before each use to remix the essential oils. Then spritz inside your car for a boost of fresh air.

4. Sweet Orange Freshening Carpet Powder

This homemade mason jar air freshener does double duty as a carpet cleansing powder. If you have kids or pets, baking soda is perfect for neutralizing odors.

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Things You'll Need

Pour the baking soda into a small bowl and drizzle in the essential oils. Stir well to mix thoroughly and break up any clumps.

Transfer the mixture to a jar with a lid. To use, place the jar in the car and open the lid to release the scent and capture odors. If you prefer, you can use a container with a diffuser lid. Or you can make your own by punching holes in the jar's original lid or replacing the inner lid of a mason jar with a piece of cardboard or paper with holes in it.

When you're giving your car a wash, use the powder to freshen the carpets. Sprinkle the baking soda mixture onto the cloth mats and let them sit for 10 to 15 minutes to absorb oils and unpleasant odors. Then vacuum the mats and return them to your car.

5. Window Cleaner with Lemon Essential Oil

One of the best parts of cleaning a house is enjoying the fresh, clean scent when you're done. Good news: you can bring that lemon-y scent to your car with an easy window cleaner that won't leave smudges or streaks. If you're spritzing an air freshening spray, might as well get the added bonus of clean windows, right?

Things You'll Need

Round up an 8-ounce spray bottle and use a small funnel to add the vinegar. Then pour in the essential oil and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes to dilute the oils.

Fill the rest of the bottle with water (preferably distilled to reduce bacteria growth) and replace the spray nozzle. Give it a good shake to blend it all together.

To use on car windows, spritz on the cleaner and wipe with a paper towel, crumpled newspaper, or a microfiber cloth. Don't forget to clean both the inside and outside of the windows. You can even use on your rearview mirror, too.

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