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Freshening Your Home's Air or Adding Chemicals To It

Updated on June 10, 2014

Fresh Air or Health Hazard

Wanting the air in my home to smell fresh and clean too I would stand in the grocery isle sniffing the latest exotic scents with the rest of the crowd. It was fun to purchase air fresheners with such enticing and amazing scents and convenient too.

Along with clipping coupons and trying to save money on my grocery bill I looked at this product and decided it was not only an extravagance but a potential health risk.


The air freshening business is booming and the proof is in the advertising and grocery store isles full of new scents and decorative home decor devices that hold them. The promise in the latest Febreze Set & Refresh advertisement says its "...the perfect solution for eliminating unwanted odors in bathrooms, closets, mudrooms and small rooms." The manufacturer Proctor & Gamble made it a little easier to use the scent you've chosen by removing the need to plug it in and cost effective by no longer requiring batteries?

S.C. Johnson & Son the makers of Glade also produce air fresheners and promote plug-in scented oil, automatic sprays and scented candles. It’s interesting to note that the majority of the containers do not list the ingredients used to make these wonderful scents we fill our homes with.

Did you ever wonder what's in the pretty container to make all those nasty odors disappear? As consumers we should start looking beyond the decorative packaging of the products we buy and ask what is really in them. What are we bringing into our homes and what are we breathing in that smells so good? It may smell good but is it good for us, our children, pets and plants to be exposed to.

Remember that one of the main goals of the manufacturers of air fresheners is to make money and to do that they need to sell their product. In order to sell their product they need to convince you the consumer that it's something you need and can't live without.

The product also needs to be appealing to look at and to blend in with your home or office environment. It’s working too, as the pharmacy and grocery aisles fill up with more new inventory. Sales may be up for the manufactures of odor reducing air fresheners, but at what health cost to us the consumers.

Health & Home

How can you take care of an odor problem without filling your home with toxic chemicals?

* Open a window or two to let fresh air flow through your home.

* Find the source of the odor and remove it if possible from your home.

* Use natural minerals like baking soda and borax to deodorize and clean trash cans.

* Add drops of lemon, or lavender organic essential oils to organic cotton balls and put them around the house.

* Simmering spices like cinnamon and cloves in a little water on the stove top will add a nice scent to your home for pennies.

* Send lemon peels through your garbage disposal to freshen it up.

* Vinegar and water is great for removing pet odors.

For other safe odor removing ideas check out the links provided in this hub.

Toxic Chemicals in Air Fresheners & Plug-Ins

Benzyl Alcohol - "...upper respiratory tract irritation, headaches, nausea and vomiting."

Camphor - "On EPA's Hazardous Waste List...readily absorbed through the body tissues...irritation to eyes, shin, nose, and throat...dizziness, confusion, nausea..."

Dichlorobenzene - "extremely toxic, a central nervous system depressant, kidney and liver poison."

Ethanol - "...toxic to the skin, respiratory, cardiovascular, developmental, endocrine, neurological, and gastrointestinal systems."

Formaldehyde - "toxic if inhaled, poisonous if swallowed, skin and eye irritant, carcinogenic..."

Limonene - "...Carcinogenic, prevent its' contact with skin or eyes because it is an irritant and sensitizer...always wash thoroughly after using this material and before eating and drinking...do not inhale limonene vapor."

Naphtalene - "...a carcinogen that accumulates in our waters and marine life. It can be irritating to the skin, alter kidney function, cause cataracts and is toxic (cardiovascular and developmental), especially to children..."

Phenol - "...can cause skin to swell, burn, peel, and break out in hives...cold sweats, convulsions, circulatory collapse, coma and even death."

Pinene “Incompatible with strong oxidizing agents....very destructive of mucous membranes."

The information above is from the Global Campaign for Recognition of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.

Does Freshness Come From Chemicals?

It's truly disheartening to think that the people who run these companies and work in them continue to push products they know can potentially make their consumers sick just to make a buck. Now that I know what is in the sweet smelling air fresheners I've purchased over the years I will no longer be buying them.

Look past the glossy advertising and pretty packaging and ask yourself if it’s worth it to risk your own health and that of your families by using toxic chemicals just to make your home smell better.

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    • Green Art profile imageAUTHOR

      Green Art 

      5 years ago

      Rajan Jolly your comments are appreciated. Attractive packaging is part of the problem and an advertisers delight. It's surprising what we're willingly bring into our homes if it's wrapped in pretty paper or uniquely packaged.

      While shopping I ask myself if an item serves a purpose and if it will truly make my life better or cause me or my family harm. Just because something is for sale doesn't make it good for you or your life.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Awesome information. It is best to use natural products to freshen and deodorize rather than use these toxins and carcinogens packeged in an attractive packaging.

      Thanks for sharing. voted up.

    • catsimmons profile image

      Catherine Simmons 

      6 years ago from Mission BC Canada

      Sounds like a great idea :-)

    • Green Art profile imageAUTHOR

      Green Art 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for the vote up catsimmons. I find it not only interesting but frighting that a basically non-essential item that has so many chemicals in it is sold to millions of people.

      I'm now motivated since writing this hub to research all of my household cleaners, candles, make-up, nail polish, lotions and perfumes. Looking forward to breathing easier and having a chemical free home.

    • catsimmons profile image

      Catherine Simmons 

      6 years ago from Mission BC Canada

      I really like this (voted up). You can tell when you breathe these things in that they're not good for you!!

      Also loved the photos..I like nothing better than the smell of lilac to freshen the house.

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