To those who have never been to my house: imagine, if you will, a household in which seven of the nine members are covered in fur, unable to turn shower nobs (and likely afraid of water anyway) and unable to use a toilet.
Which is to say, to those who have been to my house: I'm sorry about the smell. I know it smells sometimes. We do try to handle that as best we can, but see above re: number of non butt-wipers among us.
Yesterday, Mark and I had a bit of a disagreement about the smell in our house. We both agree it smells, but Mark's solution is often to spray Febreeze all over everything. To my mind, that just makes it smell like dog butt+chemicals, which doesn't improve anything. My best air freshening solution thus far has been judicious use of reed dispensers. When I posted this out to Mark, he told me those don't work.
Which got me to thinking. They do work. At least, the one in my office works swimmingly. It makes the air smell nice without giving me the impression I am inside a fabric softener bottle. So why don't the ones in the house work so well?
What it must come down to, I decided, is volume. There were two mostly-empty bottles in my entire 1000+ square foot house, as opposed to one nearly full bottle in my small office. We don't need something different, I declared--we need something more!
The obvious answer would be to run over to the conveniently located Ross and buy a half dozen of the little things, complete with their unnecessary packaging, probable chemical ingredients, and steep price tags. However, it seemed to me that there was another way.
What you see here is what I started with. Two mostly-empty dispensers (formerly lavender and jasmine, I believe) and one new, full one that I didn't ever use because the "wild berry" scent makes me want to retch.
The first step, if I am going to reuse these, is to wash them out. So I poured the nasty berry one down the sink, filled the sink up with hot and soapy, and got scrubbing. For the bottles that still had labels on them, a little rubbing alcohol mixed with hot water did the de-stickying trick. Realizing I was going to need more bottles to fill every room in my house with these suckers than just these, I dug into my thrift supplies and found some similar small bottles and stuck them in to wash too.
After everything was washed up, I found I had seven little bottles ready to fill--just enough to fill every room! I was, however, going to need some more reeds for my diffusers, so I found a package of bamboo skewers that Mark will never miss and added them to my supplies.
Next came figuring out what to put in these little guys. Clearly the commercially prepared ones include some sort of scent agent (maybe EO, probably perfume) and some sort of carrier oil. But is that all? Commercial air deodorizers are usually alcohol based--should I include alcohol as well? How will alcohol mix with the carrier oil? Finally, I decided to try some oil-only versions and some alcohol and oil mixture versions and see which ones worked better. I still only needed a few easily accessible and inexpensive ingredients:
What you see here is a isopropyl alcohol and mineral oil, both available at any drugstore or supermarket (probably for less than a buck a bottle), and essential oils. Since my aim isn't flowers and bunnies, but rather making my house smell less like the great hairy unwashed, I wanted to go with something simple and air clearing, so I choose a mixture of lavender and rosemary EOs.
For the alcohol and oil combination, I did about 1/2 and 1/2, with a really generous amount of EO added. For the oil only one, it was just the mineral oil and EOs, again with a generous amount (several dozen drops in about a cup of total oil).
Since the mouths on these little bottles are tiny, I went with funnel to distribute the mixture. The whitish liquid in this picture is the alcohol and oil blend--it's not as pretty as the straight oil.
Finally, you see my completed project. The clear jars in the front are the just-oil mixture, the ones in the back contain alcohol. I've distributed them around the house and I will let you know if one variety seems to work markedly better than the other.
Obviously doing this saved resources over buying a new ones, but what about money? A conservative estimate would put these at about $4 each, or $28 for the seven of them I made. The bottles I used that were thrifted were at most $0.25 each, so if I had thrifted them all, that would be $2.75 max. Maybe $0.50 for the skewers. If I used a half bottle of alcohol and mineral oil total, that's another $1or so. I used maybe $1.50 worth of EOs. That totals $5.75. Savings of $22.25.