How can I reuse or recycle plug-in air fresheners?

Following on in our vaguely spring-cleaning inspired cleaning week here on Recycle This, I received this email from Helen:

How do I recycle plug in air freshener? My daughter has been diagnosed with allergies and they’ve recommended no air fresheners now. I’ve got four to get rid of.

We’ve not used them so I’m basing my advice on reading/looking at pictures rather than hands on experience but I think they’ll be classed as electronic waste – they seem to be a plug with a small heating/vaporising/expressing element, which I’m presuming is some sort of electronics. If that’s the case (and someone please correct me if I’m wrong), then they should be recycled along with other WEEE waste, wherever it’s collected near you (usually the local tip/household waste centre).

It would be better to reuse it before sending it for recycling though – perhaps try passing them along to someone who might still use them (they could be Freecycled if no one in your family/friends circle wants them).

And while we’re on the topic, I know the point is to buy refills for them but can they be refilled at home instead – with essential oils or whatnot? Anyone got any suggestions on how to do that? Possibly still not a solution for Helen but it may save some waste for other people.

Any other recycling advice or reusing ideas?

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9 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle plug-in air fresheners?”


  1. Alice says:

    I don’t use these either so I’m just guessing, but I think the refill cartridge has a wick in the top which is soft, like the bit that holds the ink inside a felt tip pen.

    I bought an ink refill kit for printer ink cartridges, which came with bottles of ink plus a syringe to inject it into the cartridge. I’m thinking that the syringe could probably be used to inject essential oils or whatever through the wick of an air freshener into the bottle part.

    It’s easy enough to rinse the ink out as it’s water based and easily dissolved, but I guess it then couldn’t be reused for ink after you’d used it for anything oily like essential oils.

    Might work for refilling the refill cartridges yourself though, if you kept a syringe just for that purpose.

    • Roger says:

      Failing that, the ‘wick’ is held on by a plastic ring attatched to the glass surface, It is possible to break that off and fully remove the wick, and re-fill the glass compartment.

  2. Suzie says:

    I am experimenting as I write this…with Air Wick glass plug-ins…The wick pulls out easily..it is about 1/4 inch round…but is soon unravels like wet paper so cannot be reused more than once. I tried cutting small bamboo strips from my bamboo difuser and inserting them into the bottles-which can readily be refilled with any popourrie liquid..but the bamboo sticks dont seem to emit as much odor into the room..I found candle wicks that are the idea size but worry about their wax coating…it may not absorb the liquid…and it may present an electrical or fire hazard..Air wick also sells a large green liquid air freshner…pull up the cap to which is attached a large wick…..I am wondering if this larger wick could be cut down into strips that fit the small bottles? It should last as a wick quite a while longer.. I will try that next..once someone figures out the wick issue…..the air wick bottles can be refilled at home with any popourrie liquid and last forever!

  3. Suzie says:

    I am experimenting as I write this…with Air Wick glass plug-ins…The wick pulls out easily..it is about 1/4 inch round…but is soon unravels like wet paper so cannot be reused more than once. I tried cutting small bamboo strips from my bamboo difuser and inserting them into the bottles-which can readily be refilled with any popourrie liquid..but the bamboo sticks dont seem to emit much odor into the room.I tried them in the smaller bathroom and barely noticed a fragrance …I found candle wicks that are the ideal size but I worry about their wax coating…it may not absorb the liquid…and it may present an electrical or fire hazard.plus they are not ‘stiff’ enough to remain upright in the bottles.Air wick also sells a large green liquid air freshener…pull up the cap to which is attached a large wick…..I am wondering if this larger wick could be cut down into strips that fit the small bottles? It should last as a wick quite a while longer.. I will try that next..once someone figures out the wick issue…..the air wick bottles can be refilled at home with any popourrie liquid and last forever!

  4. Uluska says:

    Wash the container, fill with massaging oil, and warm it up before use as usual.

  5. Uluska says:

    You can also do it to aphrodisiac oils.

  6. Suzie says:

    OK…this is what I’[ve come up with since my last post here…I cut pieces of cotton rope into the right length and they made reusable wicks for a while…but they too didn not hold up well..They fit through plastic straws that fit through the bottle cap…However, there is a generic brand of refill bottles that fit the Air Wick heater…and these have a permanent wick…..so all one has to do is replace all your air wick bottles with this generic refill.. When empty, unscrew the little plastic cap and refill the liquid. I am trying to use the large bottles of inexpensive popourrie from Wal-Marts…however the fragrance just doesn’t fill the room as it should…keep experimenting and let me know what else any of you can come up with..Using expensive scents is not an option when eight diffusers are in use through out the house..

  7. Katy says:

    Purity fragrance have a range of refills designed specifically for plug ins. Their scents are amazing and certified SAFE. Adding any old liquid into an electrical appliance isn’t safe and Purity works out so much cheaper, and greener, than official refills.

  8. Robert says:

    Purity looks ideal as supplies for extra wicks etc but you don’t need to order them if the one they send with the oil is enough.



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