15 Things You Can Do With Old Perfume (And What Not To Do!)

Perhaps you’re growing your perfume collection faster than you can use it up (hey, it happens!), so that leaves you with a few bottles of fragrance that you haven’t touched in a while. Besides wearing it, what other things can you do with old perfume?

You could use the bottle as an appealing decor piece, a fragrance diffuser, or as a lovely scented touch to everyday objects like stationary, curtains, and the bottoms of your clothing drawers and in your closet. There are so many possibilities! 

If you have perfume or cologne that you want to use up but aren’t sure what to do with, keep reading. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of 15 things you can with old perfume, plus what not to do with your old fragrances as well.  

15 Things You Can Do With Old Perfume

Luckily, there are many things you can do with old perfume and cologne, including the bottles they came in. 

Many people opt to save the bottles to use as household decorations or unique diffusers. Others spray every last drop on fabrics to spruce up their smell, from curtains to bedsheets to the backs of closets and dresser drawers. Perfume also makes an excellent re-gift item for family and friends.

Check out the rest of this list of 15 things you can do with your old fragrance, especially if none of the above ideas appeal to you!

1. Spray Your Bedding

Why shouldn’t your bed sheets smell as good as you do? They should!

Whether it’s the sheets, covers, duvet blanket, or pillowcase, try spritzing your old perfume on your sleeping necessities. You could even spray it on your mattress the next time you change the sheets! 

2. Spritz The Lamp Shades

You can spray your lampshades with perfume; be mindful of using only a translucent scent to spray on your lampshades, so you don’t stain them due to the fragrance’s (typically) high alcohol content. The warmth from the lightbulb’s heat helps to disperse the perfume.

You could even spray or dab a few drops of perfume onto the light bulb itself, though avoid using an oil-based scent when doing so.

3. Add Perfume To Tissue Paper

Brighten any birthday or holiday with scented tissue paper. Try storing clothes and socks with tissue paper that has been sprayed with perfume to keep them smelling delectable even when you’re not wearing them.

Get creative and stash spritzed tissue paper in handbags, shoes, sleeves, and pant legs. Don’t forget about scarves, gloves, and boots for the colder months!

4. Give Your Fans Some Love

We’re talking about the fans on your ceiling here – though any standing fan would work too. Reach up and give the fan’s rotating wings a spritz or two, though first, be sure to clean off any dust. You could also spray the cloth or tissue you will use to wipe the fan clean with your perfume. Once you turn on the fan, your fragrance will diffuse softly throughout the room. 

If you use handheld fans in the summer, try adding some of your old perfume to them, too. Blinds are just as game.

5. Use It On A Handkerchief And Throw It In The Dryer

If you have a handkerchief on hand (or other small, unsoiled rag or cloth), then spray 5 or so sprays of your old cologne or perfume on it, then toss it in the dryer when your clothes are halfway dry.

You could also spray a fabric softener sheet. As a result, your laundry will be lightly scented, and now you have something extra that is fragrance-infused (the handkerchief), which you could toss somewhere else.

6. Turn Your Bath Or Shower Into An Aromatherapy Spot

The next time you start a bath, spray perfume into the steam coming from the faucet or spritz directly into the air a few seconds before stepping into your steamy shower.

Essentially this creates an aromatherapy-like experience. Go for lighter perfumes with floral, citrus, and fresh, clean notes over heavy and overpowering scents to feel extra clean!

7. Boil The Scent On The Stove

This one is easy, though you may want to select a pot solely for this purpose (since perfume contains alcohol and other chemicals). Boil water on the stovetop and spritz the water a few times with your perfume. The fragrance will diffuse as it mixes with the steam from the boiling water.

This should carry the scent far throughout your house. You could also spray your humidifier, though be cautious that the perfume particles could “stay” on your humidifier for a while. If you have allergies or are more sensitive to scents, perhaps avoid this tip altogether. 

8. Use It As An Air Freshener

Simple enough, right? Give your perfume a spray or two in any room and walk away. You could opt to leave a bottle of fragrance in the guest bathroom as a number two cover-up while doubling as a pretty piece of decor. Some people even create their own custom Poopourri-like product!

9. Make Your Own Poopourri

Speaking of Poopourri products, which trap odors by encasing them under the toilet water’s surface, you can make your own DIY Poopourri with your old perfume! You need a container to house the DIY blend (go for dark glass to prevent light from getting in and turning the perfume), distilled water, rubbing alcohol, a carrier oil, vegetable glycerin or dish soap, and your fragrance. You could also add essential oils to the mix.

While using perfume in your DIY Poopourri is not as effective at deodorizing as using essential oils, it does work. Ideally, it would be best if you reached for oil-based perfumes when going this route. 

10. Use Perfume For Cleaning Carpets

There are several easy ways you can do this. For starters, spritz perfume on the carpet or any rugs. A second option is to lay a cotton ball or pad on the carpet floor and spray it with fragrance. As you vacuum it up, you should be able to smell the scent subtly.

The best option is to sprinkle baking soda on the carpet, vacuum it, then spray a cotton ball with perfume and vacuum that up. 

11. Spray Letters And The Like

If you’re keeping up the almost extinct art of writing handwritten notes, such as birthday cards and thank you notes, gently spray your perfume all over for a forget-me-not lasting impression.

You could even spray your cologne or perfume over your writing utensils like pens and pencils. Give your writing desk a good wipe down by spraying a clean cloth with perfume. 

12. Mix Old With New

This tip works if you have other fragrances in your collection and aren’t solely rocking a signature scent every day. Layer your almost-gone perfume with other fragrances in your collection, and try to stick to similar or the same notes to avoid a headache from mixing too many overbearing notes.

For example, layer fragrances that have notes in common, such as jasmine or vanilla. However, you can experiment and combine two or more perfumes with opposing scents, like vanilla and spice, for example, if you wish. 

13. Keep The Bottle As A Decoration

The perfume is gone or almost there, and while you hate the idea of tossing out the beauty that once housed your favorite perfume, you aren’t sure you want it (and the rest of your scented ensemble) to eventually end up as a collective perfume graveyard.

It doesn’t have to be that way! Keep your bottles as fragrance keepsakes. Store a gorgeous perfume bottle in the bathroom to spruce it up or line up a few bottles as a chic centerpiece. Filling empty perfume bottles with beads, shells, sand, or glitter is also a fun option.  

14. Give It Away

Sometimes it’s best (and quite simply, easiest) to give away perfume and cologne we no longer want or need. There are many great options: friends, family, resale shops, nursing homes, women’s shelters, even online. Even if you no longer can enjoy a perfume, someone else out there can. 

15. Sell Your Perfume

If giving away isn’t your thing, you can always consider selling your old perfume. Many old perfumes are no longer produced or are reformulated, making them highly sought-after by fragrance enthusiasts!

These sought-after old perfumes are called vintage perfumes, and some bottles can go for twice the retail price, even if halfway empty!

Can I Use Old Perfume?

You can wear expired or old perfume without a problem, provided it has not expired yet. The expired perfume smells off, and although not dangerous, it’s definitely undesirable.

Perfume does not expire in the same way that food does, so we don’t have to necessarily worry about using up all the fragrance in a bottle before it expires. However, wearing expired perfume can cause unpleasant bodily responses like an unusual odor, skin irritations, and allergic reactions. These are scarce things to occur, though, and if they happen to you with old perfume, chances are it happens with new perfume as well.

Perfume poisoning, which can cause immediate and irreversible damage to your health (even if you only used a fragrance once), is rare. However, it is important to note that exposure to topical or on-the-skin scents can trigger skin sensitivities and allergies over time. 

Does Perfume Expire?

On average, a perfume bottle has a shelf life of 3 – 5 years, so perfume can expire. If a bottle is unopened and stored correctly away from direct sunlight, then you can extend the shelf life. The quality of each fragrance plays an essential role in its shelf life as well, with perfumes containing higher concentrations of alcohol more likely to evaporate faster.

Should I Pour Old Perfume Down The Drain?

Never pour old perfume – or any perfume for that matter – down the drain. Pouring old perfume down the drain runs the risk of contaminating the waterways with the chemicals inside the fragrance, posing health hazards for wildlife and us humans.

Many perfumes and personal care products contain chemicals that can pass through the water system, potentially contaminating water which is later released into the ecosystem. Some of these chemicals cannot be filtered and eliminated by water treatment plants, so it’s best not to pour any of your fragrances down the drain. 

Take another look back at the tips section if you need more ideas of what to do with the leftover perfume you no longer want. 

What Should I Do With Empty Perfume Bottles?

I know, those perfume and cologne bottles are too cool and memory-filled to be tossed out with today’s trash. Instead of throwing away your empty bottles, how about repurposing them in a cool new way instead?

Ways To Reuse Your Empty Perfume Bottles

  1. Use it as an oil burner
  2. Use it as a reed diffuser 
  3. Add plants to a bottle to use it as a tiny planter
  4. Turn it into a flower vase 
  5. Make a gorgeous display for the bathroom or living room (and fill up the bottles with colored water)
  6. Add paper-mache to a bottle for a fun art project
  7. Put a bottle string light inside 
  8. Use it as a unique candle holder
  9. Get glittery and turn the bottle into a glitter globe
  10. Make a terrarium by adding soil, pebbles, and plants  

Can I Sell An Empty Perfume Bottle?

Empty perfume bottles of vintage perfumes can be sold. Many collectors seek older bottles, and they are willing to pay a good price. Be aware, though, that some buyers of empty bottles repurpose them to sell counterfeit perfumes. 

Some major retailers have an exchange policy where you can bring in your old perfume bottles for a discount on a future fragrance purchase. The Perfume Shop is an excellent choice if you live in the UK. 

There is a trend going around where social media influencers are paying money to buy empty containers of fragrances, soaps, and other luxury toiletries to keep up the look of a luxurious lifestyle.

If you look on eBay, you can find individuals selling used containers of perfume and soap from high-end brands such as Aesop, Chanel, and Jo Malone. Some bottles can go for over €20 or $24. 

Jasper Pieterse

Hi, my name is Jasper and I've been a long time fragrance fan. Ever since 2014, I started to get a huge interest in fragrances and I've had my nose on countless of different fragrances. I'm excited to share my experiences!

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