Car Air Freshener

Can you say, “Hexahydrotetramethylmethanoazulenyl”?

{gasping for breath}

Neither could I. 

Turns out, that’s an ingredient in your run-of-the-mill car air fresheners. Oh, don’t let their cute designs and smiley faces fool you. Can you say, “rosemary, peppermint and sunflower oil”? Because that is all there is to making your own delightful car freshener in 2-minutes. You will also benefit from the aromatherapeutic benefits of the pure essential oils. Rosemary and peppermint are particularly beneficial in stimulating and boosting cognitive function, which makes them ideal for focused driving. Do you feel more awake after brushing your teeth in the morning? That’s the peppermint. Side note: I have no idea what that chemical with the long name actually is, so I can’t claim that it is toxic, but I’d prefer to have a perfectly natural car air freshener with ingredients that I can pronounce.

Recipe variations

You can use any carrier oil, it doesn’t have to be sunflower oil, it’s just one of the cheapest. You can also use vodka or gin as the carrier base, instead of oil. However, the freshener won’t last very long with alcohol, so you’ll be topping up more frequently, but the fragrance will diffuse better. You can also use any essential oil combinations, but for obvious reasons avoid essential oils with sedative properties like chamomile, lavender, valerian, marjoram etc. Stick to essential oils that are stimulants.

Cost & Shelf Life

Cost Price: R10.67 per 10ml.
Lasted me about:
 2 weeks.
Estimated shelf life: 1 year, but the fragrance will fade quicker than that, especially in a hot car.

*Costs accurate at the time of writing, and based on the best retail prices I’ve found.


Requires a lot of essential oils: You need to use a generous amount of essential oils to achieve a strong enough scent that will diffuse into your car and last a couple of weeks. The scent is most noticeable when you get into your car after it has stood for a little while (like a few hours in the parking lot while you’re shopping).

Cherry on Top

  • Reuseable: No need to keep buying car fresheners – you can just keep reusing and refilling your bottle as required. If you buy 10ml essential oils just for this recipe, one bottle should provide you with about 10 refills (using 20 drops at a time), which I bet is cheaper than buying 10 car fresheners.
  • Aromatherapy while you sit in traffic, or sing car karaoke on the open road.
  • Less waste: Most car fresheners are single-use items. By making your own, you are reducing your waste on this planet.


  • Sunflower oil: is a fragrance-free and cheap carrier oil which can be found in most grocery stores. The oil will help to retain the fragrance by impeding the evaporation of your essential oils so that they can last longer. If you put straight essential oils into your container only, it would all evaporate within days or hours. (buy here)
  • Rosemary essential oil (EO): Stimulates and boosts cognitive function and focus. Other aromatherapy benefits include the relief of stress, headaches and respiratory problems (Buy here)
  • Peppermint essential oil (EO): Stimulates and boosts cognitive function and focus. Other aromatherapy benefits include the relief of stress, headaches and chest congestion (Buy here)
  • The container: I’d hate to promote buying a car freshener just for the container, so I recommend asking your friends and family if you can have theirs when it’s finished so that you can re-use it. I personally got mine from my mom. Alternatively, you can use a glass roller bottle (the kind that lip gloss is packaged in), tie a string around the thread of the bottle neck, and leave the lid off but keep the roller ball on.

Need help finding these, or other ingredients? My shopping guide may help you. Are you new to essential oils? Please read how to use them safely

Have you tried an alternative scent combination in your car? How long did it last? Please share your feedback in the comments below.


4 thoughts on “Car Air Freshener”

    • Thank you. I will really appreciate your feedback! It helps me to ensure that I publish quality recipes – the more tried-and-tested, the better it is for everyone.


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