In a perfect world, the scents that happen in the bathroom would stay in the bathroom—but in reality, you might need to address some particularly unpleasant odors before they drift throughout the rest of your home. Air fresheners and harsh room sprays often bill themselves as able to tackle any scent, but essential oil-based options—like potpourri, room sprays, and oil diffusers—make freshening your bathroom as natural a process as using it.
“Air fresheners often use ingredients such as aerosols, phthalates, and preservatives that are not safe to breathe,” says Sofia Chiocca of Poo-Pourri, a “before-you-go” spray made with essential oils. “Natural products are safer for our bodies, homes, and the environment.” Puneet Nanda, founder of the Guru Nanda line of essential oils, explains that plant-based smells are metabolized more naturally in the body, so they’re less likely to cause a reaction. “Versus, whenever you actually use a harsh chemical,” he says, “your body [can] perceive it as [an] irritant.”
If putting out a dish of potpourri reminds you of your great-aunt’s guest bathroom circa 1992, upgrade to handmade, artisan-quality products made with dried petals, spices, and essential oils. Popular ingredients include roses, geranium, and lily petals; cinnamon and mint; floral-scented oils; and touches of dried berries and greens—together, the blend creates a colorful blend of scent that can help mask other smells.
As for your other options? Popular essential oil-based scent refreshers include reed diffusers and room sprays. Reed diffusers consist of two elements—a vessel of essential oils and a set of thin reeds that soak up the oil and disperse it into the air. Along with helping hide unpleasant odors, the diffusers offer aromatherapy benefits, too: Choose lavender or chamomile for relaxation or lemon or orange to brighten your mood. You can also buy room sprays in a variety of custom blends, or DIY your own by combining water, your favorite oils, witch hazel, and dried flowers in a spray bottle. While you can opt for any blend of oils you like in the bathroom, some are more crowd-friendly than others. “In your guest bathroom, we recommend using fresh scents, such as Original Citrus ($10.13, amazon.com) or Fresh Sea Salt ($9.99, bedbathandbeyond.com),” says Chiocca, “as these scents tend to appeal to all noses.” And if you’re looking to buy a natural air freshener? Consider a few of our favorite picks, below.
Spritz Poo-Pourri into the toilet before using it and the essential oils eliminate odor at its source—instead of covering it—leaving your room with the scent of lemon, bergamot, and lemongrass.
Shop Now: Poo-Pourri Before-You-Go Spray in Original Citrus, $10.13, amazon.com.
The lush, fresh scent of Christian Tortu’s Forest potpourri comes from pine needles and resin, complemented by Virginia cedar, moss, and just-mown grass.
Shop Now: Christian Tortu Potpourri in Forest, $68, shopterrain.com.
Dot & Lil
Montreal-based Dot & Lil’s Clark & James Héritage spritzer—designed for use as a room or fabric spray—offers a deep, complex scent with “notes of water, wood, soft musk, and orange blossoms.”
Shop Now: Dot & Lil “Clark & James Héritage” Room Spray, $25, macys.com.
This bright and energizing room fragrance draws on three primary essential oils—neroli, sourced from bitter orange tree blossoms, bergamot, and frankincense.
Shop Now: Aromatherapy Associates Revive Room Fragrance, $35, net-a-porter.com.
A pretty frosted glass jar holds eight reeds, which soak up and emit a beach-inspired blend of sea salt, grapefruit, tarragon, and black pepper.
Shop Now: Apotheke Sea Salt Grapefruit Reed Diffuser, $48, bloomingdales.com.
Saint Rita Parlor
This handmade potpourri gives off whiffs of whiskey, tobacco, and rose—just a few of the more than 18 different oils used in its production.
Shop Now: Saint Rita Parlor Signature Fragrance Potpourri, $60, amberinteriordesign.com.