northstory + co.

DIY Air Freshener – How to scent wood with essential oils

This DIY Air Freshener project has become one of my most popular (and most copied) blog posts on both Pinterest, and other websites. And the funny thing, it wasn’t even planned but rather the result of a happy accident that occurred, simple because I had a messy office and the fact that I was trapped in my house under mountains of snowbanks one winter.  That being said, it’s very easy to make this DIY Air Freshener, but it’s also easy to scent wood with essential oils. 

At the time I put this together, the winter we endured was the second coldest that we had on record in 25 years. Needless to say we lost our minds from being cooped up indoors. The last thing you want to blog about are home projects when you’re staring at everything you want to change in your house, but can’t change and are trapped inside the same 4 walls.

You can’t get into your garage to do all the projects you want because it’s -35 with the windchill, and that cold air will follow you in there like the smoke monster from LOST. Spray painting season in our neck of the woods, doesn’t begin until at least April or May.

So while I was reorganizing the chaos that is our home office (my husband keeps telling to admit that it’s a craft room, but I will die before I admit I have a craft room because that will officially solidify my suburban mother status), I had left my scented baking soda dough ornaments in the same container as my craft wood shapes, and pieces of wood veneer.

And in a Captain Obvious discovery, I realized that some of the wood had absorbed the scent of some of the essential oils.

Sort of like when you find a piece of furniture that you love at a thrift store that, but you can’t bring it home because it reeks of cigarette smoke and damp home odors, deeply embedded in the wood. The one that you know is going to require a crazy amount of work to get it out.

But in a good way instead. Like how awesome fresh cut cedar smells.

In which case because my kids closet was smelling, well, like a kids closet and the bathroom was smelling, well, like a bathroom, I decided to actually make little air fresheners out of some wood cubes and wood shapes.


  • Wood cubes or wood shapes of your choice
  • Your favorite essential oils
  • Plastic ziplock bag or glass jar
  • Small craft paintbrush (but not always necessary)


Choose whatever scented aromatherapy or essential oil you’d like and put some in a container or on a small bowl/plate. Then with a paint brush, brush on the oil.

For the wood cubes, I put them in a jar with several drops of oil and shook them up until the oil had gotten all over them. I had some lemon, lavender and orange oils laying around, as well as some of my Body Shop perfume oils.

Both worked.

I even tried spraying perfume on it and that also worked.

But if you do that, you NEED to ensure that you do it on a relatively thicker piece of wood or the wood will warp. The perfume ones did not last as long as the oil ones did.


After you cover the wood with the essential oils, in a closed container, let the wood sit overnight to absorb it.

Then hang or place your air freshener where ever you’d like. And that’s it. Super simple.


I did this project early on February because I wanted to see how the oils would affect the wood and how long the scent would last. And all the ones in the closets are still going strong.

Especially the lemon scented ones. If the scent fades, all you have to do is re-add some oil to it again and re-use. Citrus blends tend to work better and this is the same for the Scented Wood Christmas Ornaments

We did some with various shapes for the cars.

Nothing says “Drive Safe!” like something hanging off your rear view mirror. Before you send me emails, this was a photo illustration only. I put them elsewhere inside the car.

For example, if you don’t want to hang them, just get a small Velcro sticker and put it on the backs of the wood and adhere them wherever you’d like.

Or just sit them in a bowl on a shelf.

Between this and the scented candles all over my house, I can now pretend that Spring is actually coming versus that musty smell of winter.

And plants. I need to go find some plants. Send me plants please. I promise I’ll make a nice planter to match it.

Want some more scented crafts?

Scented Baking Soda Dough Ornaments
Scented Wood Christmas Ornaments

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  • Reply
    February 28, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    What a cool idea!!!

    • Reply
      October 2, 2023 at 7:31 pm

      I infuse 1″ cubes of pine with peppermint oil and with cinnamon oil (separately). Since I have a vacuum chamber, I use that. However, the cubes are actually used to keep mice out of my shop and the attic of my house.

  • Reply
    Betsy Skagen
    February 28, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    I saw your comment on the Funky Junky “How to Build a Dream Job” posting and came up with an idea. I decided to visit each person who commented on that particular posting because we are all likely facing similar situations. If each of us do that for each other and then return regularly to the sites we especially like, we can help each other build up our readership. You can find these comments of the Funky Junk Interiors post here:

    For the record, Betsy Skagen of came up with this fabulous idea and she would be eternally grateful if you would keep this credit in and more importantly, visit her blog at

    If you want to participate in hopping to these blogs, just copy this text, visit the sites of those who commented, then paste the text and add your own signature and web site to the bottom. However, please be respectful and take the time to actually look around each person’s blog. Just like you, they put a lot of hard work into it.

    Have a creative day!
    Betsy Skagen

    P.S. Your outside picture looks a lot like it here in Minnesota. Way too much snow and cold. 🙂 Your blog is thoroughly advanced and I welcome any tips you can offer so I can eventually get enough readers and then start finding sponsors.

  • Reply
    Danielle from Storypiece
    March 1, 2014 at 1:42 am

    This is why you are one of my favorites… you always have the most creative ideas!

    • Reply
      Linda Davidson
      July 1, 2019 at 3:14 am

      absolutely awesome. i had a similar idea, but of using wooden beads and scenting them in cedar wood, as i understand these repel fish moths?! don’t know if anyone can verify. but now your blog has given me tons of awesome ideas. thanks soo very much for sharing.

  • Reply
    Kim @ DESIGN + LIFE + KIDS
    March 1, 2014 at 9:10 am

    This is awesome!

  • Reply
    Victoria • Restoring our Victorian
    March 2, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Okay. We are having an UNUSUAL amount of snow. However, now I am realizing that I have NOTHING to complain about. And I will now be grateful for not having negative windchill.

  • Reply
    March 3, 2014 at 5:53 am

    Oh my gosh… When will the snow STOP?!? Going crazy… But your scented wood air fresheners are making me want to get crafty (because I’m not crafty at all so this is getting crafty for me) and make some too! Your photos are looking mighty fine these days, lady… Even with all that white crap in the background!

  • Reply
    Debbie @Dewdrop Gables
    March 11, 2014 at 8:54 am

    But of course!! Wood absorbs…and it can make pretty neat decor, too. I wonder why I haven’t seen this done before? Great idea!! I think I’ll have to try this.
    Debbie 🙂

  • Reply
    Alexis @ Persia Lou
    March 18, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Now way. This is so cool! Off to pin this genius idea.

  • Reply
    March 19, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    I love this! Thanks for sharing it. I am also totally in love with your blog. Thanks for being inspiring. 🙂 I hope the sun melts away all that cold snow. 😉

  • Reply
    March 22, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Such a great tip…Wood can be used in so many ways and this is creative. New idea for me.

  • Reply
    Nicole Baker-Wagner
    May 16, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    This is great!! I kind of figured this out by accident too, and I want to try it in my closet. I love the small cubes you used.

  • Reply
    July 6, 2014 at 1:25 am

    What is the best kind of wood used for scented air fresheners?

    • Reply
      July 6, 2014 at 11:04 am

      Anything that doesn’t have an obvious scent of it’s own. For example cedar already has a great natural scent that you could use as is but I wouldn’t recommend putting anything over that or you may wind up getting a scent that is a mess. But for these I just buy the little wooden shapes at any hobby or dollar store.

  • Reply
    September 9, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing.. I will definitely try this 🙂

    • Reply
      September 9, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      You’re most welcome!

  • Reply
    September 9, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Where can I find the oils?

    • Reply
      September 9, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      I picked mine up at a local drugstore but if you search for Scented Oils online you will come across a ton of retailers to choose from. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Linda Knapp
    November 14, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Can you paint the wood then apply scented oil to the wood or could you add scented oil to the paint

  • Reply
    Linda Knapp
    November 14, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Can you paint the wood then apply scented oil to the wood or could you add scented oil to the paint then paint the wood

  • Reply
    judy dowell bundschuh
    March 4, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    A great place to buy fragrance oils is wellington fragrance. I buy from them often, they have perfume grade, manufacturer grade, body oil grade, essential oils, diffuser oils, you name it! I highly recommend them.Tell them Jude sent you 🙂 they are wholesale and I do not get paid for anything, just my honest opinion. They have so many to choose from, too!

  • Reply
    Michelle Carroll Carroll
    March 11, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    These wood scented cubes would be excellent in linen closets, wardrobes. Love this idea !!!!!. Australia. make nice little presses xx.

  • Reply
    Rachel May
    March 26, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    This idea was brilliant! I used mint extract and needless to say my living room now smells minty fresh 🙂 Although my local store doesn’t sell wood blocks, so I had to use craft sticks. But still, amazing idea!!

    • Reply
      March 27, 2015 at 6:54 pm

      Thank so much Rachel! I’m glad it worked out for you. 🙂

  • Reply
    Amanda Newman
    May 6, 2015 at 10:06 am

    When you made these, did the oil dry on the wood before you used them? Or did you start using them when still wet?

    • Reply
      May 6, 2015 at 10:13 am

      They were still damp when I used them. That is if you touched them they would feel damp but not greasy enough so that it would stain your fingers. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    June 23, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Just wondering if you could maybe stamp on them and bling them up a bit! Intersting concept tho! I can really put some of those old Sizzex dies to work now!

    • Reply
      June 24, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      I’ve used my metal stamp set on wood but I don’t think regular ink would last. I’ve tried that also and it’s smeared off. Wood burned wood however would look amazing!

  • Reply
    June 24, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    do u think candle scents would work?

    • Reply
      June 24, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      I alas can’t answer that as I’ve never used candle scents. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  • Reply
    July 26, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    I love the minimalist look of the wooden cubes! The reed diffusers never really fit my taste, and in my opinion didn’t put off enough scent, but for a bathroom the bath and body works plug in was so overbearing (too little/too much, what can you do?). And this was the perfect fit! I just pull the wick out of the BBW oil refill, soaked them in that and they were good to go. Way more cost effective than plug ins too, you only need a little oil to soak them in and it lasted almost two months!
    Thanks for the idea!

  • Reply
    November 23, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    I’ve been doing this since 2007. It all started with a wooden paw print air freshener for our truck that I bought at walmart. (It smelled like apple spice). I bought a new truck in Oct 2007 and wanted it to smell like home, since I traveled so much. Well, the scent faded so I’ve been rescenting it ever since. Eight years later! Even in a new truck. We rescue and spend our lives around animals so I’m never throwing out our paw print hanging behind (from, but tied very tight where it doesn’t dangle) the rear view mirror.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    So nice and really creative ! Just an idea, you could try sticking a small magnet behind the shape and use it as a fridge decoration and a kitchen air freshener.

    • Reply
      March 23, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      That is a GREAT idea! 🙂

  • Reply
    February 20, 2017 at 2:16 am

    Hi Alex where in Australian can I purchase a wood to use as a car freshner to hang in your car. I have created a scent in oil

    • Reply
      February 23, 2017 at 4:43 pm

      Hi Lillie, unfortunately I am unfamiliar with the stores in Australia but if you have any craft stores like Michael’s or even a Walmart, they have wood craft pieces and letters all the time. I pick mine up everywhere from there to dollar stores.

  • Reply
    Catherine May
    April 28, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Hey, I came across this while searching for ways to make air fresheners for my closet. I have some great Aveda oils and I’m going to try this! But then I read the comment about the BBW oil diffuser refills and now I have more ideas…

    However, I also found this post that looks like it stole your photo (but added a watermark!) and paraphrased your directions. Thought you’d want to know!

    • Reply
      May 2, 2017 at 10:44 am

      Thank you for letting me know! I had no idea they were using my work. I really appreciate it! and definitely try it, I just made some this weekend for the main floor washroom.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    I really love these simple & cute ideas. Regarding the heart-shaped car air freshener, or any hanging-type cut-out freshener; what material would be best to use…cardboard? And would I paint the oil directly onto cut-out? Ty!

  • Reply
    February 18, 2019 at 12:27 am

    I bet you could just paint a clothes pin and pin it to the air vent!

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