Hacking a Glade Automatic Spray air Freshener

glade air freshener steps

How a Glade Automatic Spray air freshener works. (and you thought it was just a simple cam!)

According to my Youtube statistics, about 90% of my audience is male.  My mom is a big fan of this site, so if you’re not her there’s a good chance that you’re a guy.  Given this, you may not have heard of automatic air fresheners made by Glade, but I assure you they do exist.  The whole principle behind one of these things is that a “normal” spray bottle of air freshener is pushed down at different intervals by some as-of-yet undetermined mechanism.  This device has incredible hacking potential for under $10 and, as a bonus, the included air freshener will be a nice gift for your wife/girlfriend/mom/check-out-girl.

Screw extractor

A small screw extractor makes quick work of these non-standard bits

Glade seems to have gone through some trouble to not let you hack their device, using “triangle screws” to attach the outer cover on, but they forgot that screw extractors, which are available at Home Depot or online, exist.  If the screw is really stuck in something hard – like steel – you’re supposed to drill a pilot hole first and possibly even use a tap handle.  This would work, but as these crappy triangle-shaped screws are only in plastic, I simply put the screw extractor into my drill, hit reverse, and they came out easily.

Remove the screws in blue, not the screws in red

Remove the screws circled in blue

Once you’re in the outer case, everything else uses standard Phillips head screws. To remove the plate with the motor on it, remove the screws pictured to the right circled in blue.  The screw on top is hidden by a gear, but the gears are held in place by the now-removed case.  They come off and are replaced easily.  The screws circled in red support the motor, so leave these alone.

button from Glade air freshener

Button after rivet removal

Once you have the screws off, you may be tempted to cut all the wires and remove the plastic housing.  That’s fine, but if you’re careful, you can preserve the button used to spray air freshener on command.  If you clip the plastic rivets holding it on, you can remove the button and be able to actuate your motor with no soldering.  Clip these rivets and remove the plastic holding the switch shown to the right on, then cut or wiggle the wires out and you’re one step closer to some hackable parts.

3 volt battery box hooked up with motor

everything removed and hooked up.

After this you need to clip the leads going to batteries.  These AA batteries are wired in series, so you can replace them with a 3 volt source.  On mine, the positive side was the green wire and the negative was white.  Usually green is ground, but apparently not in this case.  Once I unclipped these wires, I then connected them to a 2 AA battery pack from Radio shack.

air freshener internal components with dimensions

A partial list of dimensions for the internals. The diameter of the bottom two holes is .165"; the top is 1.20"

You now have all the usable components free and ready to do whatever you had in mind.  One thing you will notice is that the gears do not stay on; they slip off since there is no longer a plastic housing.  I solved this by putting some 5/32 air line over the ends of the shafts that the large gears sit on.  Another solution would be to drill a small hole through a piece of plastic material and press fit or glue it on.  Possibly even a piece of the air freshener itself could be used.  I’ve put some dimensions for the guts of this device if you’re trying to get an idea of what it will fit into.

You have several options for timing from 9 minutes to 36 minutes, but the other option would be to hook your own controller to the wires leading to the manual start button.  A 555 timer would probably work or any sort of microcontroller or PLC.  I have several ideas for how to use this in the future, so be sure to check back.


About Jeremy S Cook

Jeremy is an engineer with 10 years experience at his full-time profession, and has a BSME from Clemson University. Outside of work he’s an avid maker and experimenter, building anything that comes into his mind!
This entry was posted in ROBOTICS and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Hacking a Glade Automatic Spray air Freshener

  1. Pingback: Trigger Your Camera Using an Air Freshener |

  2. kevin mcguigan says:

    have you come up with any ideas to trigger the device more than every 9 minutes? i have the device but i am having difficulty figuring out how to hook it up to trigger every minute or so. could you be of assistance? i m not as well versed in the electronics as you obviously are and any help would be greatly appreciated. please email me if you have any ideas.

    • JC says:

      Hi Kevin,

      Yeah, I’ve thought about that myself, but haven’t gotten around to implementing anything like that (honestly, the device broke when I tried to put a hole for the viewfinder in, but that’s another story). If you have a microcontroller like a BSII or an Audrino, it could be hooked up to output (either directly or through a relay not sure) to substitute for the trigger button. A 555 timer woudl probably work as well or even a PLC. Hopefully that helps. I’m honestly a bit better at the mechanical side of things and hack around with the electrical stuff.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s