DIY carpet freshener recipes get rid of odors naturally, without exposing your family and pets to potentially dangerous chemicals.
Wall-to-wall carpeting in homes is becoming less commonplace, but throw rugs, sectional rugs, and pet beds still scream out for freshening and deodorizing to keep the whole house smelling fresh and clean.
Carpet fresheners soak up nasty smells by getting down into all of the little nooks and crannies created by the fabric pile and weaves in carpeting, throw rugs, and pet beds.
Absorbing these yucky odors can be easily accomplished by mixing up a DIY all natural carpet deodorizer for only a fraction of the cost of chemically infused commercially manufactured fresheners.
Table of Contents:
DIY Carpet Freshener Ingredients
Not only will you be able to easily pronounce every ingredient on this very short recipe, you will know exactly what you are sprinkling on your carpets – and exposing your loved ones to on a daily basis.
For less than $1 you already have an active and ultra absorbent carpet deodorizer sitting in your kitchen pantry.
Baking soda sinks deep down into the carpet, well beyond the areas of the fiber you can actually see. It both absorbs and neutralizes odors by sucking them up before they are removed from the carpet, rug, or pet bedding entirely by a vacuum cleaner.
Because baking soda is a dry carpet freshener agent you cannot overly saturate your carpet or even upholstery and worry about it developing either mold or mildew.
The growth of mold bacteria in your carpet, pet beds, and throw rugs can pose a substantial health risk, even if natural ingredients are used to make the DIY carpet deodorizer.
When damp carpet is walked upon, it attaches to the particles of dirt, barnyard feces, (and other types of yucky stuff on the bottom of shoes), and traps everything down in the dense fibers.
These natural oils provide ample and long-lasting fragrance without exposing your family and pets to synthetic or potentially toxic chemicals.
What Essential Oils Make Your Carpet Smell Good?
Remember, simply because essential oils are all natural, that does not mean an infant, pet, pregnant or nursing mothers should be exposed to them. Please learn about the potential side effects of any essential oil you plan to use before mixing it into this recipe.
This essential oil will boast an earthy scent, and when combined with peppermint essential a hearty yet light fragrance.
Lemon is one of the most commonly used scents in household cleaners because it leaves the area smelling so fresh and clean.
Like lemon and lime essential oils, this citrus oil boasts a light and clean fresh fragrance. Orange essential oil pairs well with rosemary and chamomile essential oil.
Orange essential oil is a superb natural degreasing agent and might be helpful when cleaning kitchen throw rugs and other high traffic carpeted areas – along with upholstery.
Not many folks are in love with the scent of tea tree essential oil – I think it smells a lot like turpentine, myself. But it has been known to kill mold and insects on contact, making it highly beneficial to use when treating dog peds, upholstered cat play towers, and when trying to save old carpeting.
Use caution with this essential oil if you have small or young pets. Some folks, including the ASPCA, feel exposure to any or more than a small amount of tea tree oil could be extremely harmful to an animal’s nervous system.
I have used tea tree oil in small amounts (about 2 drops per cup of recipe base ingredients) in my natural homemade flea spray, fly spray, and quite a few other cleaners and livestock treatments without any problem.
If you have concerns about using tea tree oil, either remove this essential oil from consideration or speak with your veterinarian.
The sweet and strong scent of peppermint has also been known to keep mice, spiders, and other pesky insects away from the area where it is being used. Not only will peppermint essential oil make your DIY carpet freshener smell great, it might also help get rid of various bugs – perhaps even fleas from your pets.
When cleaning upholstery and carpets that young children and pets can be exposed to, I always opt for lavender essential oil as a natural fragrance ingredient. Children age two and younger can be highly allergic to many essential oils, but lavender is not known to be one of them.
This is also one of my favorite essential oils to use when making natural household cleaning agents. It just has a crisp, clean, and inviting smell. It can be paired well with lavender and citrus essential oils for a deeper and more robust scent.
Siberian Fir Essential Oil
If you are looking for a more earthy scent for fall and winter or want a “manly” aroma in the room where the carpet is being deodorized, try Siberian fir essential oil. It pairs well with juniper berry, especially in the winter time.
Baking Soda-Based Carpet Freshener Recipe
- Measuring Cup
- Clean and empty Parmesan cheese or spice container – optional
- ½ cup baking soda
- up to 35 drop essential oil
- ¼ to ⅓ cup Borax optional but recommended for deeply soiled carpet. Note that Borax and boric acid are NOT the same thing.
- 2 pinches herbs optional but recommended for scent if you opt against using essential oils or want a longer lasting aroma
- Measure the baking soda, and pour it into a bowl or your clean and empty shaker style container.
- Add in the drops of your chosen essential oils.
- Toss in any spices you have chosen to use. If using spices, I recommend adding in rosemary, mint, cinnamon, or ginger. Some folks run the spices through a blender or food processor to make them even more fine in texture.
- Place the lid on the container and shake vigorously for about 60 seconds.
- If using Borax, remove the lid and add in the robust cleaner.
- Place the lid back on the container, and shake vigorously for about 60 seconds one more time.
How To Deodorize Your Carpet
1. Sprinkle the baking soda carpet freshener via the container or from a bowl by hand onto the area being treated. It is best to apply the DIY carpet freshener just prior to bedtime or when the treatment area will not be used for at least one hour to prevent tracking or disturbance of the absorption process.
2. It is best to allow the baking soda carpet cleaner to sink into the carpet, upholstery, or other fabric area being treated for a minimum of one hour but up to 24 hours for rank smells or moisture removal.
3. Repeat this step if attempting to deodorize old or heavily soiled carpeting.
4. Use a vacuum cleaner or shop vac to sweep up the baking soda DIY carpet freshener after it has absorbed up the odor. If the mixture was applied to throw rugs, pet bedding, or upholstered pet play towers, you may be able to simply take the items outdoors and shake them vigorously to get rid of the used natural carpet freshener.
I typically make this DIY carpet freshener as needed and do not store it. Over time, even when stored in a tightly sealed container, the baking soda will absorb the essential oils and prevent them from offering a robust fragrance in the treatment area.
Is Carpet Freshener Toxic?
The answer to this question will vary widely depending upon whom you ask. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have deemed all products on the market safe to normally use.
But, the absorption and inhalation of some of the ingredients commonly used in carpet fresheners – especially the fragrances, may be linked to significant health issues.
As a report by the Chemical Free Me notes, synthetic ingredients in commercially manufactured carpet deodorizers might be linked to kidney damage, hormone disruption, lung damage, blood disorders, nervous system damage, and could also be carcinogens.
Even though your carpeting, throw rugs, and dog beds might smell as fresh as a mountain morning or as enticing as a tropical vacation, you could be inhaling dangerous toxins.
The powdered carpet freshener burrows deep down into the fiber of the material so tightly that even top quality vacuum cleaners or a shop vac many not be able to get them out.
This means you and the little ones crawling on the carpet or the animals napping on it, will be absorbing and inhaling the synthetic ingredients for many months to come.
Fragrances used in not only carpet fresheners but a plethora of common household cleaning products are rarely, if ever, listed on the container label. Such ingredients have been legally dubbed as “proprietary” work product.
There are roughly 3,600 different ingredients used in fragrances that can be added to products in the United States. If you assume all of these ingredients have undergone rigged, long-term, and widespread testing by the FDA, EPA, or other governmental agency, you would likely be wrong in most cases.
In 2017, the Natural Resources Defense Council reviewed so-called “air fresheners” sound in great abundance on the market and found that phthalates in all but two of the test samples.
Phthalates are used to make shower curtains (am I the only one who gets stinging eyes and coughs when opening a new plastic shower curtain liner?) toothbrushes, plastic food wrap, vinyl flooring, teething rings, and food containers – and that’s just a handful of examples.
Both the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the EPA has deemed phthalates to be “probably carcinogens”, but yet they remain on the market. Manufacturers of such products claim that studies which has shown health problems in test animals does not equate to harm being caused in human beings.
If you are also a label reader, you already know that it essentially requires taking a magnifying glass to product labels to attempt to determine what type of chemicals your family is being exposed to when they are used. Even then, you are not getting a full listing of the ingredients due to proprietary laws.
The only way to find out everything the product contains is by contacting the manufacturer directly and demanding a copy of the MSDS manufacturing specification sheets.
Other potentially dangerous chemicals commonly found in air freshener and deodorizer household products include terpenes, naphthalene, and dichlorobenzene.
Some types of dichlorobenzenes may cause damage to lung function, and also be carcinogens. When dichlorobenzenes are combined with some other chemicals in a plug-in air freshener a form of formaldehyde can be created and cause respiratory issues.
Naphthalene can be particularly problematic for young children when used in carpet fresheners, deodorizers, and cleaners. The potentially toxic fumes exposure to upholstery, pet beds, throw rugs, and carpets that naphthalene has been used on may cause both liver and kidney damage, as well as possible central nervous system issues.
Be on the lookout for carpet fresheners and other household cleaners that contain any of the synthetic ingredients listed below:
- Perchloroethylene – May cause nervous system, liver, and kidney damage.
- Ammonia – Can cause blindness, lung, skin, and throat problems if swallowed.
- Hydrochloric Acid – The fumes are harmful and can cause death is swallowed.
- Butyl Cellosolve – When inhaled could cause tissue damage and general irritation.
- Phenols – This chemical group may be a carcinogen.
- Sodium Hydroxide – Better known as lye, this chemical is extremely caustic. Contact with the skin can cause a severe burn (I was burned with lye while wearing thick protective gloves when tanning a cowhide, and it is an experience I do not want twice) eye damage, damage to the mouth and throat, as well as both kidney and liver damage.
- Petroleum Distillates – This chemical is extremely flammable. It may cause damage to nerve cells and tissue in the lungs.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – This chemical has been known to irritate the skin.
- Trichloroethane – Damage to the kidneys and liver might be caused by this chemical agent.
Does Baking Soda Ruin Your Vacuum?
The best answer I can give to this frequently asked question is maybe, but it has never happened to me personally. Because baking soda is so small, it can be suctioned into the motor area of electric vacuum cleaners and cause them to become overheated after preventing proper air flow.
Baking soda might also be able to cause a short in the motor if it falls inbetween bearings and gears, and could cause extra friction while the vacuum is being used over time.
Both bags and filters in vacuum cleaners can also become clogged – even HEPA filters. If your vacuum cleaner filter or bag becomes clogged, air flow is again restricted and the entire machine will have to work harder to suck in debris – and may overheat.
The concerns about sweeping up this DIY carpet freshener and potential harm to the vacuum cleaner is generally no more or less possible when commercially manufactured powdered carpet freshener is used.
If possible, purchase a simple manual vacuum cleaner, the same style you might have had a miniature version of as a child or are regularly used in restaurants. This simple machine does not have filters, bags, or motors that can become clogged when sweeping up carpet deodorizers.
Tara lives on a 56 acres farm in the Appalachian Mountains, where she faces homesteading and farming challenges every single day, raising chickens, goats, horses, and tons of vegetables. She’s an expert in all sorts of homesteading skills such as hide tanning, doll making, tree tapping, and many more.