Air fresheners and Health don't mix.

I'm a sensitive soul, tough on the outside, and like marshmallow on the inside. I have a strong body and life force that can repel many things life throws at it. I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty, and worked hard in a profession and volunteered doing many arduous filthy tasks in difficult conditions. So can tolerate most things without complaint of being covered in filth and being subject to smells only found in sewers.

Therefore, it surprised me that there was something my body would not tolerate. Air fresheners. When I say not tolerate, it's not a judgment on my part that they stink. It's that my head starts to spin and I get a terrible feeling in my stomach and want to vomit. It's physical and not brought on by thoughts. I remember a difficult journey from a train station in Sommerset England in a taxi with several friends. Sitting in the back seat I started to get that terrible nauseating sensation after the smell of one of those Christmas tree fresheners you hang from the mirrors. I was too polite to ask the driver to put it in the glove compartment. I actually wanted to tell him to throw it out. I was too polite and held onto my strong physical desire to cover his taxi with my digested lunch.

Last year I decided to get gym membership, my physical temple was in need of refurbishment and tender loving care as happens from time to time. The space in our local gym was quite good, it's fairly new. The treadmills look out over the swimming pool and modern cafe and all seemed quite pleasant doing the circuit of weights and squats and all things physical.

Then, a smell started wafting through the ethers. No it was not Hercules without deodorant or smelly gym socks. Darn air freshener. Thoughtfully placed in several sectors of the large room were timed dispensers that pushed out a mist of chemicals to ensure the ambience of the room stayed 'pleasant.'

I was willing to let it go as I was able to maneover myself to avoid being directly sprayed, until it came to the stretches and warm down at the end of my session. Yep, right above my head - whoooosh - sprinkled with dichlorobenzene and phthalates, and if I was to continue with my fitness routine, everyday the same thing would happen.

Now I'm no chemist so those two big words you just read - I just found them, they look impressive in that paragraph don't they. See I looked up air fresheners on the net - and there you go - 100 good reason's not to spray toxic chemicals on top of yourself.

Even if you are not sensitive to air fresheners, doesn't mean they are not affecting you. Be aware of that. I have a barometer in my skin, lucky me. My body tells me when something is not right. But imagine if you don't have that, imagine your baby sitting playing in your living room amid the air freshener plugged into the power socket. And for good measure spray the stuff overhead to do a good job of making the room smell nice. Yikes!

Open the darn window. Use natural fresheners, flowers, grow them in your garden, use plants. Find the natural alternative and stop poisoning yourself. You wait, people will start suing over this one in the future, bet you $100.

I spoke to the gym manager who said he would address the situation and thanked me for bringing it to his attention.

Philosophically (I'm a deep thinker) I am amazed to what lengths people go to to cover up the smell of natural elements. There is something rotten in Denmark when chemicals are a preference over a bunch of lavender or flowers.

More by this Author


Comments 60 comments

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 8 years ago from St. Louis

Hi Jewels. Great hub. I am currently working on a series of articles about replacing store-bought products with non-toxic stuff you can usually find around the house. Here is a great spray air freshener that is fresh, delightful and totally non-toxic: Into a spray bottle, put 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1/2 bottle of lemon extract and 1/2 bottle of orange extract. Fill with water and shake vigorously to make sure baking soda is completely dissolved. That's it! The baking removes odors and the citrus oils naturally perfume the air but it doesn't stay around long. You can use any essential oils you like -- eucalyptus, etc. -- or even your favorite perfume. Nicely written hub!


Jewels profile image

Jewels 8 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks for that Christoph. I hope your series of articles are successful and will look out for them on hubpages.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 8 years ago from California

OMG, thank you, I'm not the only one who freaking HATES these stupid ass things. YOu know, the worst are the spritzers you're talking about. I'm sure your gym has a service that comes in and does them for them, or at least buy the fancy ones, but my wife gets those stupid household ones that you plug in. Not only are they annoying, stink, and use ENERGY to do what a scented candle or a vase of flowers could do.. they are LOUD. I freaking hate them. I sleep kind of alert to some sounds I guess (and not others for whatever reason) and those damn things make this sucking-spurty sound when they go off that startles me out of my sleep. Took me a year to finally get her to stop using them. She just took them out last week. Stupidest product of all time.

Nice hub. Sorry, I got pissy there for a second, but I'm all better now.


Jewels profile image

Jewels 8 years ago from Australia Author

It's interesting how you get thrown back into your body when they go off. It's not just sound that does it but an unconscious alarm that your body gives out too. (Sorry to sound weird but it's an experience). You know how you sense things, it's like your life force has a knowhow that tells you when something is wrong. Why would you want to sleep soundly and safely with chemicals blowing on you? You may think it's the sound, but the sound is associated with what's coming with it. Those sucking-spurty spritzer things are exactly what they have at the gym. We get fit to feel good, get poisoned to die a slow death!

Love it when you get pissy.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 8 years ago from California

I don't doubt it at all. Like I said, I don't know why I select sounds, but I'm willing to bet its some primal sense that knows those things are crap and should not be in my house. Same reason people see snakes and spiders and have a reflexive caution response.


Jewels profile image

Jewels 8 years ago from Australia Author

Absolutely. I'm one of those who sense a snake at 50 paces. Must be a Steve Erwin genetic throwback from somewhere!


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

Jewels, I'm right there with you and Shadesbreath. Who dreams these things up? I've never smelt one yet that was even halfway pleasant, and yes, that whole sucky hissy noise thing makes me jump every time. Mind you, I'm not the greatest fan of strong perfume generally. For some reason young men are the biggest offenders here. If I get too close to a lad with a liberal dowsing of Lynx spray I can be sneezing for hours. Advertising has a lot to answer for! Neat hub, Jewels.


Jewels profile image

Jewels 8 years ago from Australia Author

Maybe these young males need a bit of re-educating. Our women folk need to help them. A hub Amanda on men and aftershave. Do you want the job? If not, Ms Snow perhaps.


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

Hi Jewels, that's not a bad plan. I'll get my head around it! Thanks.


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

Hi Jewels. Hub published a couple of days ago. Going ok so far! Thanks for the suggestion.


hot dorkage profile image

hot dorkage 8 years ago from Oregon, USA

Air fresheners suck. You are the canary, the one who keels the easiest from them, but as you say, they affect you whether they make you sick on the spot or not. My mom is the canary -- she can smell things no one else can, like some lotion I put on my skin four days and two showers ago.


Jewels profile image

Jewels 8 years ago from Australia Author

Sounds dangerous dorkage. Lotions and soaps can be terrible, full of perfumes that are....... well terrible. I'm starting to get worried about shampoos. I can no longer get the type that are gentle and non-abrasive. Most these days take more than dirt away. I must start investigation what I'm cleaning myself with.


VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 8 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

I have been using essential oils and put drops in a diffuser, and it smells delicious without it being irritating.


Jewels profile image

Jewels 8 years ago from Australia Author

I can use diffused essential oils as well VioletSun. A much better alternative than the toxic variety.


HikeGuy profile image

HikeGuy 8 years ago from Northern California Coast

Jewels --

Thanks so much! I found this validating, as I have a similar reaction. I have the most difficulty with the plug-ins and with many chemically fragranced laundry products. Two people I used to visit often went out and bought a case of the plug-ins, even after I mentioned that I had sinus and other respiratory problems after being in their home. They use a lot of scented fabric softener, too. After a couple of conversations in which I suggested some natural alternatives, I gave up on visiting them. So, it was helpful to see I'm not the only one with this kind of reaction. High exposure, such as in that home (which has plug-ins everywhere) or in a laundry room can leave me feeling sick to my stomach and congested for the rest of the day. Even though, like you, I've worked in all kinds of environments and am in overall good health. Thanks!


the3rdalien 7 years ago

Deep thinker are you?I don't think so deep most times, so I just unplugged my air freshener.

I guess I will be washing the dishes and taking out the garbage more often.

Makes me wonder what is in furniture polish as it smells so nice, and perfume sometimes really gets me. But I do tend to go for the fit and sweaty woman, maybe because they are hot and slippery, I don't know. I may have to think about that one.

Thank you for the info and I did unplug the air freshener.


Jewels profile image

Jewels 7 years ago from Australia Author

I am soooo pleased you unplugged the air freshener. The guy at my gym is addressing the airfreshener issue there too and will hopefully be replacing the perfume with something natural. Thanks for commenting.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

I hate air fresheners, except natural ones such as dried lavender.


Jewels profile image

Jewels 7 years ago from Australia Author

I'm with you LondonGirl. I'm going to plant more scented plants so I can make use of them more. Nothing like cut flowers, or having a jasmine plant near the window - as long as you don't get hayfever! Glad I don't. I've an allspice bush and lavender. I think my favorite is freesias.


Mr Nice profile image

Mr Nice 7 years ago from North America

Hi Jewels, air fresheners are not good for health but we all need to use them some times specially after cooking. I use air purifier which helps in reducing some odors.


Jewels profile image

Jewels 7 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks for dropping by Mr Nice. Less chemicals always best.


Iphigenia 7 years ago

great Hub - I have to admit to having air fresheners and di not realise that they could have such an effect. they don't particulary annoy me - but I don't really like them either. Frankly, I got them for convenience - but out they go. I have some lovely oil burners which natural oils somewhere - time to fish them out and get used to lighting them and keeping them topped up.

Off to put air fresheners into the bin right now !


Jewels profile image

Jewels 7 years ago from Australia Author

Something special about lighting the candles and using essential oils. Even if it's done every few days or weekly, in itself it creates a lovely feel in your home. Thanks for dropping by Iphigenia.


Shady Lady profile image

Shady Lady 7 years ago from here and there

I had no idea!! I often get the same sort of feeling, and I am usually bothered by it where I work. I don't use air fresheners at home, but they use them all the time where I work. I wonder if that could be why I always feel sick when I am working.


Jewels profile image

Jewels 7 years ago from Australia Author

Shady Lady, that's worth a bit of investigation. There are natural alternatives available, probably a bit more expensive - I never went into cost. But it's worth a suggestion to the boss.


Paper Moon profile image

Paper Moon 7 years ago from In the clouds

I was a bit of a hippy in my youth.  Living in my van down by the.....bay.  I grew accustomed to body odors as the hippies just went about things more naturally.  I now work managing a huge thrift store.  We had a lot of Immigrant workers from a small European country.   They did not use deodorant.  This caused quite the stir with the locals.  Now a few of my old timers dowse themselves with all kinds of sprays and causes me to go stomping around yelling “Who’s Spraying?”  Most commercial deodorant is really bad for you too.  I have found a deodorant Chrystal that keeps the “civilized” people happy, but does not fill my body with aluminum (which smells to high hell when you sweat it out, causing you to…use more deodorant).  My favorite trick for the house is putting cinnamon in a pot of water, and slowly simmering it.  Can be used with any spice, herb, flowers, extracts or essential oils.    


Jewels profile image

Jewels 7 years ago from Australia Author

I've used those Chrystal sticks also, a great alternative. Love the idea of the simmering cinnamon - I can smell it from here. Thanks for your suggestions Paper Moon, worth spreading it around.


skydiver profile image

skydiver 7 years ago from UK

I'm not a fan of air freshners either, I always end up having to run outside to get some 'fresh air' after my fiancé has been spraying the stuff! I worry about my 8 month old son breathing it all in aswell. I have sensitive skin, but hadn't thought about air freshers causing trouble, its more the breathing it in I'm conscious of (because it tastes disgusting!)

Also, I can't believe they were pumping air fresheners into your gym, couldn't think of anything worsel! Didn't you say something??


Jewels profile image

Jewels 7 years ago from Australia Author

I did address it with the gym manager, he was looking into natural airfresheners because he also didn't like them.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

Jewels, you are so right. I seem to remember that a few years back they came out with a plug in air freshener with some kind of oil in it that could catch on fire! That's taking air freshening to an extreme!


Guardian1 profile image

Guardian1 7 years ago

I have heightened senses, which is to say that i can smell air freshener or any kind from at least 30 feet away. If I walk by a lilac tree, I become so overwhelmed that sometimes my sense of smell will cut off briefly. It's like self preservation. Air freshener and often times perfume will make me dizzy. The stuff is toxic.


Jewels profile image

Jewels 7 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks for visiting Dolores, I dare say the airfresheners will get worse before they are extinguished, if this ever happens.

Guardian - some perfumes are lovely, but when you're in a room full of women competing for smell attention, it can be overwhelming. Less is best, or aroma naked would be my preference. That dizziness you get, I want to vomit with it. The body's way of expelling toxicity - interesting how it's allowed to be commercially available. That's interesting how your smell shuts down. Is that a brief experience or does it stay until you're out of the toxic zone?


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

I HATE air fresheners and will quickly get out of a room if someone sprays the horrible stuff. I have unfortunately often been in someone else's house or had landladies that uses the muck and what can you do but tolerate as best you can when in such circumstances. I really do not understand why so many people feel they have to spray this poison around their rooms and then say it smells so much cleaner and fresher now. To my nose it smells like a threat to my health and to be avoided.

I also hate hairspray and that can make me sneeze, which sometimes happens if I am on a bus or in a room with someone close by that has it on their hair.


Jewels profile image

Jewels 7 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks for dropping in Bard. Hairspray is a worry I have to say, the smell is quite toxic and I wonder if it leeches into the skin - it must? I'll have to investigate that a bit.


Earthscribe profile image

Earthscribe 7 years ago from Tampa, Florida

Great to see the word getting out!

My room mate looked at me like I was nuts when I removed the electronic airwick from my room upon moving in. He just could not fathom my wavelength as I tried to give a rational explanation of why I didn't want the toxins in my room... babysteps, I suppose.


Jewels profile image

Jewels 7 years ago from Australia Author

So right Earthscribe, babysteps.


drpastorcarlotta profile image

drpastorcarlotta 7 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

Hello my friend!! Ran across this Hub and I truly like it!

Thank you! And Blessings to you!!! ALWAYS!!!


vanderhaven profile image

vanderhaven 7 years ago

Glad to have found this hub, It is great to know I am not the only one that thinks this way and has this reaction to scents and smells of the chemical kind. :)

Natural is always better and mostly non poisonous!

Gonna go read more of your hubs now. Thanks!


Jewels profile image

Jewels 7 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Vanderhaven. It's Spring in Australia at the moment so I get to have my own sweet smelling flowers wafting their scent around my house.


Disturbia profile image

Disturbia 7 years ago

I so completely agree with you about air fresheners. I have terrible reactions to them. They should be banned!


Jess Killmenow profile image

Jess Killmenow 7 years ago from Nowheresville, Eastern United States

I know someone who has a reaction to any kind of perfume or scent. Air fresheners are a big no-no in our house. We take your advice and open a window!


Jewels profile image

Jewels 7 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Disturbia, banning would be good. Would need allot of voices to succeed there, but gentle ones to family and friends is a great start.

Hi Jess, even the scent of a woman can be off at times! Subtle in the perfume department is always good, but I still prefer a la naturale.


Belleekgirl 6 years ago

THANK YOU, THANK YOU THANK YOU! It isn't just me!

We recently bought a new home and the person before us used the plug-in oil based "fresheners" and the house still reeks of the smell of them. I swear it is in the paint on the walls... I can't stand it. I had a sore throat after spending a couple of hours trying to clean and get ready to move in, goodness only knows how bad it is for my kids to be around it- I shutter to think. I told my hubby that if we can't get the smell gone- I can't live there. Does anyone have ideas how to get the nasty perfume smell gone? Thank you for this article- it helped me convince my hubby that this is a real concern.


Jewels profile image

Jewels 6 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks Beleekgirl for your post. Finding solutions to seep up the toxicity and the strong smell would be a great help. A few suggestions: In addition to airing the home via open windows, a few bowls of bicarb soda placed around the home could help to soak up odors. Burning candles can help to neutralize odors(never leave unattended of course). Wash the walls and drapes. A last resort would be to repaint or recarpet. Google 'neutralizing odors naturally' for some more solutions.


Lamme profile image

Lamme 6 years ago

Very nice hub. I have a similar reaction to most perfumes, hair sprays, cleaners, etc.


Jewels profile image

Jewels 6 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks for your comment Lamme. Hairsprays are becoming a concern, they seem to be getting worse in their strength and toxicity. I avoid the detergent isle in supermarkets and if I have to go down them I hold my breath or shallow breath all the way. Makes for fast shopping!


Sunnyglitter profile image

Sunnyglitter 6 years ago from Cyberspace

I had to stop using air fresheners as well, as they always gave me a bad headache and made my asthma (which is nonexistent these days) worse.


Jewels profile image

Jewels 6 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Sunnyglitter. I just saw a commercial for an airfreshener/anti bacterial spray/germ killer to protect the children. I just thought - you pollute the air, kill the germs and poison your kids! Amazing what is happening for a 'pretty smell.'


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Great post. I try to sleep with windows open if possible! Thanks for the heads up!


Jewels profile image

Jewels 6 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Micky Dee, it's spring in my part of the world at the moment and the perfumed flowers are doing there thing. An open window does wonders this time of the year.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Oh Jewels! Winter is now upon us! I should move to Australia for your spring! I'll start a fund for that. God bless!


Jewels profile image

Jewels 6 years ago from Australia Author

You would be most welcome in Oz Micky Dee.


Brenda 5 years ago

Any hotel that uses the ScentAir air freshening system is very toxic to its employees and customers. Why does ScentAir refuse to release its MSDS listing the ingredients and chemicals in their scentair product?


Jewels profile image

Jewels 5 years ago from Australia Author

Good question Brenda, is there something to hide? Most likely. The majority of commercial air fresheners are toxic and unless the employees speak up about their health concerns nothing will change regarding the use of air fresheners in public places like hotels.

What turns me cold is seeing TV commercials for air fresheners and including babies in the ads. Might as well place poison in the baby formula.


Tonipet profile image

Tonipet 4 years ago from The City of Generals

Hi Jewels,

I agree that a hairspray can be a worry as there really are brands with smell that's obviously toxic. You're right at that, it can leech into the skin! This is probably why most hairdressers advice spraying just a little to make sure spraying doesn't have to seep deep into hair and reaches the skin. Thanks for bringing this awareness back to our minds. Very useful and informative.

-Tonipet


Jewels profile image

Jewels 4 years ago from Australia Author

We seem to be living in an environment that is more and more toxic. I do hope the general public wake up and smell real roses and stop poisoning their homes with this stuff.

Hair products as with makeup generally is becoming more and more dangerous, also laden with lead. Hair straightening products are known to contain formaldehyde and we all know what that does to us.

Thanks for contributing Tonipet, is pleasing to see more and more people wanting clean chemical free lives.


SpittingFeathers 4 years ago

I used to hate spitting but now I find it a necessary evil in which my body produces more and more saliva when ever I am poisoned with air polluters. I cannot smell them any more but as always my body lets me know in other ways that I have been infiltrated!!!I seem to be able to taste them well and depending upon the actual make-headaches nausea dizziness lightheadedness and seriously feeling ill with my heart pumping rapidly and the lining of my lungs about to grind to a halt.I now have to stay indoors and keep windows closed re neighbours air polluters coming in and re washing that becomes contaminated too. Also have to find out first re dining out or simply having a drink or otherwise. Public toilets too - baby changing rooms - where will it end and what can we do to get on top of it? Kind Regards Stay Safe


Jewels profile image

Jewels 4 years ago from Australia Author

Where will it end? Good question Spitting Feathers - or is that spitting toxins. The chemical industry is sooooo big I think it would take a major uprising to address this issue. But we have put a dent in the tobacco industry so there is always hope.

Perhaps writing to those restaurants you would normally visit and explaining how offensive the air fresheners are. Being polite is always preferable to anger, so saying I'd much rather the smell of your food over the chemical ridden bathroom any day may prompt action. Saying nothing does nothing. Mature action can make a difference.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada

Jewels, I am completely with you. I hate air fresheners. They make me absolutely nauseous. When we first got married, my husband tried buying some to put in our house and I immediately went out to buy some potpourri to cook up and freshen the place. Yuck! I can't believe people still use them. Thanks for a great hub with an important topic. Have a great day!


Jewels profile image

Jewels 4 years ago from Australia Author

You have a great day too prarieprincess and thanks for dropping by.

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