How To Reuse Plug-In Air Fresheners Using Essential Oils

Many of you probably have at least one or two plug-in air fresheners that you’ve purchased at the grocery store. And while they’re a great way to freshen your home, there is a less toxic way to get the same results. That’s why today I thought I’d pop in to show you this simple home hack on how to reuse your old plug-in air fresheners using essential oils.

In just 3 simple steps, learn how to refill and reuse your old plug-in air fresheners with non-toxic essential oils.

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Essential Oils & Your Health

You may not know it, but I am a bit of a health nut. I love buying organic, I prefer free-range and grass-fed animal products, and I am always looking for healthier options in my home.

While I am not 100% healthy in my practices (self-admitted coffee and sugar addict here), I do often go down a rabbit hole of internet searches and YouTube binge-watching on nutrition, health and wellness.

So when I recently came across a few old plug-ins – all empty – I decided against replacing them with toxic fragrances and turned to the idea of refilling them using essential oils (especially organic essential oils).

Essential oils are naturally occurring compounds found in a variety of plants. They’re renowned for their health properties and their association with ancient healing practices.

Essential oils can be used in 3 main ways:

1.  Topically on your skin, hair and nails

2.  Ingested

3.  Inhaled

In each case, essential oils must be diffused or diluted to make them safe to use. The level of dilution will vary between adult and child and for pet owners, you may need to check with your vet first. (It is not safe to use essential oils in their concentrated form around cats, for example).

One of my favourite health experts is Dr Josh Axe who has several articles on the safe use of essential oils. You can check out all his articles on this page: Natural Remedies:  Essential Oils. One of my favourites is his 101 Essential Oil Uses & Benefits – it’s a great primer for those looking for a summary of the powerful healing & cleaning properties of these oils.

I’ve been a regular user of essential oils for a while now, mainly using them topically and as an air freshener. But while I have several air freshening sprays, I really wanted to have a ‘plug and play’ option available. And, so, the idea of using an old diffuser was born.

Here’s how you can reuse your old plug-in air fresheners using essential oils. 

Just 2 Supplies Needed:

Materials needed to create a natural plug-in air freshener - old refill and essential oil.

1.  Old Plug-In With Bulb:  I reused an old Wallflower brand plugin with the empty bulb. It’s small, unobtrusive and because it’s white, it blends in with our space.

2.  Essential Oils:  You can use any essential oil or essential oil blend for this project. One of the things I love about essential oils is that you can get one or multiple oils to mix as you see fit, or if you’re not sure what to blend, you can find plenty of pre-mixed varieties.

How To Reuse Plug-In Air Fresheners Using Essential Oils (in 3 Easy Steps)

Many a wiser home hack guru has already done this at home, but in case this is your first time (as it was mine), here is how to do it, in 3 easy steps.

Step 1:  Clean Plug-In

There will be residue left in your old plug-in so clean that up before doing anything else. I simply wiped it off using a cleaning wipe, but you can use a toothbrush or anything else that’s handy.

Step 2:  Remove Wick and Soak

remove wick from empty plug-in

Remove the wick (while I simply got my nails in and dug it out, you may feel more comfortable using a butter knife).

Remove cotton wick from empty plug-in bulb.

Since you’ll be reusing it, it might be a good idea to soak the wick in warm water for 10-20 minutes. Then, taking a tissue or old rag, squeeze the wick between the tissue and your fingers to allow some of the residue from the previous fragrance to drain off.

Clean cotton wick by soaking in water and draining excess.

Some residue will remain, but you’ll get a significant amount off before moving onto the next step.

Clean wick after soaking to remove excess.

Step 3:  Refill Bulb

Fill the empty bulb 1/3 of the way with the essential oil or essential oil blend.

Refill empty bulb with essential oil.

Fill empty plug-in bulb with 1/3 essential oil.

Fill the rest with water. (Notice how the oil floats along the top).

Add 2/3 water, leaving some space at the top for reinserting the wick.

Now, simply add the wick back onto the bulb and re-attach to your plug-in.

Reinsert wick into plug-in.

Although oil and water don’t mix, as the saying goes, just shake up the bulb before plugging it in.

How to reuse an old plug-in using essential oils

The oil and water will continue to separate, but as long as the wick is soaking up both elements, the diffuser will work just the same.

DIY diffuser using essential oils.

Now you can breath a little easier & enjoy the refreshing, natural aroma of your new essential oils plug-in.

Happy home hacking 🙂









  • Reply
    January 22, 2018 at 7:00 am

    That’s such a good idea Jelica. I’m not a big fan of the scents that normally come with the plug in air fresheners. They smell to “plastic” if that makes any kind of sense. This is so much better. I wonder if you can add salt or baking soda to the water/essential oil mix. It should act as a dispersant (not sure how to spell that word) and allow the water and oil to mix freely.

    • Reply
      January 22, 2018 at 8:58 am

      That is a great idea, Michelle! Once I get through my current bulb I’m going to try that. Thanks for the tip!

  • Reply
    Laura Ingalls Gunn
    January 22, 2018 at 11:03 am

    I LOVE this post! I had received a cute air freshener for Christmas and love that I can refill it with my favorites. Have a happy Monday!

    • Reply
      January 22, 2018 at 12:54 pm

      So glad you enjoyed it, Laura. I don’t like throwing perfectly functional items away when I can reuse (and reimagine) them in better ways. Now you can keep that cute air freshener 🙂

  • Reply
    January 24, 2018 at 8:55 am

    Interesting! Thanks so much for stopping by!!

    • Reply
      February 1, 2018 at 10:18 am

      Thanks Debbie 🙂

  • Reply
    January 26, 2018 at 8:10 am

    That is such a clever hack Jelica. I don’t use oils but all this interest in them has got me excited too. When you say you use them topically do you mean on your skin as moisturizers?

    • Reply
      February 1, 2018 at 10:17 am

      Hi Mary (sorry for this oh-so-late reply!). Yes, I use them on my skin (diluted in my regular moisturizer – I just add a few drops to it). You can also dilute them in a spray bottle with water. Some add a bit of vodka to help disperse the oil, but I often just dilute in water and shake before spraying on my skin (it’s the lazy girl’s method 😉 ).

      The best thing to do is to go to some expert advice on this (I would recommend going to Dr Josh Axe’s site which is full of a lot of great natural health advice).

  • Reply
    Christina Makri
    January 26, 2018 at 11:57 am

    What a great idea Jelica! I’ve never thought it will work! I have to try this the soonest possible!

    • Reply
      February 1, 2018 at 10:11 am

      Thank you Christina!

  • Reply
    Jas @ All that's Jas
    January 26, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    That’s a brilliant idea! Now I know what to do with my oils that are otherwise just collecting dust.

    • Reply
      January 26, 2018 at 7:59 pm

      Dust off those bottles of essential oils, Jas, and get diffusing 🙂

  • Reply
    January 27, 2018 at 6:37 pm

    I love this idea Jelica! I’m all about recycling & re-using, and although I haven’t personally explored using essential oils yet, I’m interested in the idea. Do you have a diffuser you recommend for a first-timer? We have pets in the house, so I have bought the grocery store plugins, but they smell so artificial, I’m not a big fan of them.

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