small measures

Small Measures: Natural Room Spritz

by Ashley

I have what I’ve dubbed a “hound’s nose.” Depending on how you look at it, this can be a blessing or a curse. I can sniff out specific aromas as soon as I step into a business or residence. This is great when it’s a French bakery, and less pleasant when it’s, say, a cat’s litterbox. When I was pregnant, this sense was magnified. Oh, the gripes my long-suffering husband had to withstand!

The thing is, though, that my particular olfactory department is especially affected by synthetic smells. I’ve been in the car with my mother when she decided to remove her nail polish and just about had to pull the car over because of my intense reaction to her polish remover’s scent. So when it comes to fragrances in my home, I go as natural as possible. There are a number of truly wonderful room spritzers available for purchase today, but I love whipping up a bottle of my own. It’s easy to do, cost effective (once you’ve purchased some essential oils, that is) and customizable in multitudinous permutations.

For today’s Small Measures, I’m sharing three seasonally themed all-natural room-spritz blends. Now you can freshen up your space while keeping synthetic (and potentially toxic) ingredients out. And if your nose is anything like mine, this is a very, very good thing indeed! — Ashley English

The post continues after the jump . . .

Any time I come across a bottle whose shape or general appearance appeals to me, I remove the label and squirrel it away for later use. This comes in handy when making room spritzers. All of the bottles and misters shown above were up-cycled from their previous incarnations (which include a bottle of Chinese herbs, a vanilla extract bottle and a personal fragrance bottle). If you don’t have bottles or misters on hand, you can often find both at natural foods stores or at Mountain Rose Herbs (a wonderful supplier of essential oils, also).

For each of the three blends listed here, place the essential oils in a 4- to 8-ounce jar. Add 3/4 cup of ethanol (I used vodka), and top off the bottle with distilled water. Shake, spritz and enjoy!

Winter Wonderland

  • 10 drops balsam fir needle essential oil
  • 10 drops juniper essential oil
  • 10 drops pine essential oil


Citrus Grove

  • 10 drops lemon or lemongrass essential oil
  • 10 drops orange or tangerine essential oil
  • 10 drops grapefruit or bergamot essential oil

Sugar & Spice

  • 10 drops clove or nutmeg essential oil
  • 10 drops cinnamon or anise essential oil
  • 10 drops vanilla essential oil


What about you? Got any natural, simple ways to freshen up a room? (Check out my post from last December on making a natural potpourri!) I’d love to hear them. With Thanksgiving nipping at our heels (next! week!) and the holiday season right around the corner, having a go-to room spritzer on hand is just what you (and your guests) could stand to have around.

Images and styling by Jen Altman

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  • I completely feel you on the pregnant nose, even pleasant smells were UNBEARABLE for me. But, I don’t understand how this works, doesn’t everything end up just smelling like vodka (it’s such a strong smell)?

  • I love these! I used to absolutely adore pine-scented candles, but after cutting most synthetic fragrances I find I get headaches from them (plus, you know, crazy chemicals and all). I will absolutely be making the Winter Wonderland spritzer and using it often!

  • I’d love if Design*Sponge could post a Pinterested button on posts! I try to “add pin” from my browser but even manually, I can’t link to anything from here.

    • kim

      please see earlier posts and comments i’ve made about pinterest on d*s. at this point, i don’t like encouraging people to take photos over there because you’re signing over copyright to pinterest when you post something there. i certainly don’t have permission to give that away for the people who choose to share photos here on d*s. especially from this column, which is shot by a professional photographer for us.


      • You are not giving up copyright on Pinterest. You allow Pinterest to display your image. IF photographers watermark their images, pinning is a GREAT way to market one’s work. I can’t think of any site owning the copyright merely because you post or pin it. That’s been stricken from most TOS. Esp large sites. I too am a professional photographer. Hope that helps. The images are lovely.

        • PS I could Pin this right now. I added a Pin button to Chrome. I see you have a Pinterest button on the left? So have you update your policy? NOT trying to cause problems. Just passing thru and sharing info. YOU all are doing just fine here. Lovely lovely.

  • Do you ever find that your sense of smell is so strong that people don’t believe you?! People think I’m overreacting. I find it frustrating! Thanks for the recipe. : )

  • I second Kim’s comment. I am constantly inspired by DS posts but have trouble remembering them all. Please, please add a Pinterest button! Cheers!

  • P.S. I once freaked out my husband by sniffing around where he was cutting into a kiwi and flat out telling him the kiwi was off. He didn’t believe me and ate the kiwi, anyway. Then promptly spit it out in the trash can because it was rotton. I held that one over him for days. :-) Showed him not to mess with my hyper sense of smell! Hehe.

  • Would vanilla extract work instead of vanilla essential oil? Vanilla essential oil seems to be super expensive.

  • Ugh I can’t stand synthetic fragrances either, AND I have so many bottles “squirreled” away like you said! Looks like I have a new project on my hands :) Cheap vodka would work ok right? What are other inexpensive forms of ethanol?

    Strive to Thrive,

  • Nice to know I’m not the only super smeller in the world! Pregnancy is Hell with a nose like ours. I am going to give this ago, as even some scented candles can get me going,

  • I make my own air fresheners like this quite a bit – but I use the cheapest, nastiest bootleg-style vodka I can find. All you need is a neutral spirit… sometimes I can find some in the clearance bin. Works way better than water. Thanks for your “recipes” – they sound great!

  • sarah-nope, there’s not even a hint of an alcohol smell once your spritz, just the amazing scent of whatever essential oils you’ve chosen!

    karen-you needn’t use an expensive vodka for this project. heck, you don’t even need to use vodka at all, you could use everclear and have it work just as well. all that’s important is to use a source of ethanol. it can be bottom-of-the-barrel vodka and the end result will still smell heavenly. hope this helps!

  • I have containers of water on my radiators for humidifying the air and add drops of essential oil when the mood takes me. If I’m feeling snuffly due to a cold, I’ll use eucalyptus. On vaguely headachy, fuzzy brained days peppermint helps to clear the fog.

  • I’m a super-smeller and there is really nothing good about it. I am grateful that I have a sense of smell, but sometimes, it is just too much. Thanks for the recipes, they sound awesome!

  • I think being a Super smeller will be useful to us one day! I hope…there has to be a point of it. I will totally try these out though. Thanks :)

  • Absolutely love this post! I’ve been looking for some nice, natural ways to freshen up my apartment now that my windows are shut for the winter.

  • Grace if you are so against people pinning from Design sponge there is a way of making your site un-pinnable?
    There are Design sponge links all over the web(not just Pinterest) which are always reminding me of why I love this site so much. I understand you not encouraging but you aren’t stopping people either.
    It is like one blogger complaining that her children’s faces are on Pinterest because she has pictures of them wearing the clothing she makes. Did she honestly think that was the only place their faces would be copied – no but it was a reality call that she has yet to act on.
    Should I feel guilty for pinning off of this site? You tell me.

    • lisa

      there’s a VERY big different between people reblogging images on their sites and putting them on pinterest. blogger, wordpress, and most other sites don’t claim copyright to images uploaded on their servers. so yes, i’m hoping that people will be responsible when they take content that isn’t theirs and put it on another site. (we get written permission to use images on our site and social media outlets)

      the only thing i can do to make things un-pinnable is by not using a pin button currently- people can obviously screengrab things they want. that said, i’m currently debating whether or not it’s better to have a pin button or skip it. if i have a button it might ensure that people link back to the direct post, where the photographer or stylist will be credited. but we have lots of photographers who DON’T want that happening (pinning). so it’s definitely something i’m trying to figure out for my own site and i’m constantly talking to content creators asking what’s most comfortable to them. bottom line, i think anyone that’s not the original source of a piece of content owes that source the courtesy of not giving away their copyright and/or images without credit/links.


  • Ashley, what is the function of the ethanol? I’ve mostly made hydrosols, which are simply essential oils and water, and haven’t heard of adding ethanol. I am about to make some holiday spritzers so this is timely, thanks!

    Everyone, Floracopeia essential oils are bit expensive but SO worth every penny once you’ve experienced them. I took a workshop with the founder and they are very high quality and responsibly sourced. I keep an eye for sales to treat myself :)

  • The alcohol serves to break down the oils into the mixture. With just water, the oil will just float on the top (like it typically does).

    I made a cedar oil spray with vodka, and I use it on everything! I use it on my clothes that need freshening up, which keeps me from needing to wash them as often. Also great to spray on sheets and pillows, curtains….

  • My husband just gave me a set of essential oils & I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. Thanks! On a side note, skipping around D*S the way I do (like a giddy child!), I hadn’t seen your thoughts on pinning. I really like reading your policy, and it will make me much thoughtful on other sites as well. As an artist, I have mixed feelings about Pinterest. I confess I really enjoy the visual aspect of scrolling through others’ work there.

  • Where do you buy the actual sprayer piece? I too collect nice looking or cute jars and bottles (for future use for….something& but wouldn’t think just any spray piece would fit them……..

  • I’m a bit confused about people having trouble pinning from your site. I (sorry to say, because I did not know your feelings on the matter) pin from this site somewhat frequently…without screenshots and without the pin button. You can pin from this site just like you would any other…right?

  • Grace I get where you aren’t sure which way to go on the Pinterest matter.
    Like RS says you don’t need a pin button to pin off of sites it basically makes it easier.
    I guess my question was why don’t you when you can stop anyone from pinning off of your site. There is a code that you add to your site and when anyone tries to Pin it comes up as you can’t use Pinterest from this site.

    • lisa

      that code doesn’t stop people from dragging images off the site manually or screengrabbing things, so for me it’s not a big difference to use the code or not.


  • Excellent topic! Trying my best to go pthalate free.

    I’m laughing at comments with concern over the use of vodka… :-)

  • I have just discovered this blog and I love it! I ran out of my Williams Sonoma cleaner. Now I know what to do. I actually use hand sanitizer to lean my glass tables and counter tops

  • So glad you posted this great idea. I am extremely sensitive to chemical and even some natural smells . I cannot hardly even go into a candle or shop that has potpourri or other strong fragrances and they are usually the lovely boutiques I would just love to spend time in otherwise.

    I will certainly be making up a batch of this spritz!

    bee blessed

  • I just made a version of the citrus one with lemongrass, tangerine, and grapefruit. It worked out so nice I might make bottles of this to give as hostess gifts. Just lovely. I used the cheapest vodka I could find (hello plastic “Carry Pack”) and it’s true you can’t smell the vodka at all, although the other liquor store patrons were baffled by my alternate use. ;)

  • Wondering about the corrosive potential of essential oils. Maybe corrosive isn’t thd word but aren’t they awfully strong? Any problems with staininv on, say, fabric inthe home or eating away at the plastic tubes tgrough which you mist?

  • This is awesome, except my super sense nose can’t stand the smell of alcohol in sprays and perfumes… what would be a good replacement of ethanol or alcohol? Would a using a jojoba oil or something work?

  • A note of caution, watch out for the citrus eo’s, they can strip varnish off your furniture or leave spots in the varnish.

  • I thought Pinterest revised their copyright rule to change that nasty “now we own it” clause. I was going to stop using the site, but remember feeling a bit reassured when I read that. Maybe you’re more up to date on the matter, though, and it’s just wishful thinking on my part.

  • Grace, I just found your site and love it. I re pinned several articles easily using a Pinterest app and have just read your views on pinterest. It appears that there is no problem pinning if the site links back to your site if i understand what you said in one of your later responses. My app does, when I hit the pin it comes right to your site. Is that OK then?

  • Super sensitive to smell so always looking for non-chemical alternatives. Just have a question what could I use to spray mattresses? Not sure I want to use vodka, is there an alternative? Thanks for any suggestions.

  • Originally thought it might be a waste of vodka. Then I thought, “hey, I’ll be breathing vodka”. Now I can’t wait to try it :) Do you do this with single scents as well (rose, lavender)?

  • The pin from Pinterest is what directed me to your site so thanks for allowing others to share these great recipes!

  • Love the idea of adding essential oils to make a room freshener. I use a 50/50 solution of vodka and water as a costume deodorizer. Old-school theater trick. Now I have a use for the bottles I have squirreled away!

    • We used straight vodka for costume freshening at the local opera house. We called it Vo-breeze.

  • I like the ideas above and I been wanting to use natural sprays. I bought some spray from Mountain Rose Herbs but it didn’t work out for me. My nose is super sensitive to smells. I guess I didn’t choose the right scents.

    What can I mix with the Amber Aromatherapy oil to get a better smell? And with the Aphrodite Aroma Spray? Help!!! Thanks.

  • I have been using a lavender laundry spray made with witch hazel, easily picked up at a pharmacy. It is lovely. I will definitely use the citrus recipe — again, using witch hazel — as a spray in my bathroom. Thanks!

    • Luc

      The instructions say “4- to 8-ounce jar”, but I think the intention here was that you could make one big spray or two small.


  • I’m a super-smeller too. It was stronger when I was pregnant, but it continues to overwhelm me from time to time. I am looking forward to trying the sugar and spice scent.