Toxic Air Fresheners vs. Safe Alternatives: You Decide

We put them in our cars, our offices, our homes, our garages and everywhere that odors may linger. We mist, we spray, we plug-in and we sprinkle toxic “smell good” chemicals without even knowing the health risks.

Air fresheners that are chemically made are highly dangerous and are known to cause a number of health complications including:

  • Headaches
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Depression
  • Earaches

Dangerous Phthalates

The Natural Resources Defence Council released information in 2007 that 12 commonly used air freshener brands contained phthalates. These chemicals are added to air fresheners to prolong their scent or linger time.

Known damages caused by consistent exposure to these dangerous chemicals include endocrine and reproductive disturbances and developmental problems. Some of the brands that were tested even claimed to be “all natural” or “unscented.”

As a result of the information put forth by the National Resources Defense Council study, Walgreens removed three of their store brand air fresheners, which contained high amounts of phthalates, from their shelves.

Are Air Fresheners Without Phthalates Safe?

Just because an air freshener product does not contain phthalates does not mean that it is safe; there are other dangers to consider. Many let off terpene, a volatile organic compound that can form formaldehyde when it reacts with ozone, either inside or outside. The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists formaldehyde as a human carcinogen.

The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicines published a study in 2007 that warned about the risks of using synthetic air freshening sprays on a routine spraybasis. They stated that it could increase the risk of asthma by up to 50%.

Natural Alternatives

The good news is that there are numerous ways to freshen any indoor or enclosed space, fabric or carpet without risking your health. Here are a few easy and inexpensive ideas to consider:

  • Keep windows open, especially when you cook. Fresh air does wonders for indoor odors.
  • Sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda on carpets, or put some in your vacuum bag before you vacuum.
  • Use an aromatherapy machine.
  • Keep an indoor houseplant in each room and in your office.
  • Fill a small jar with some baking soda and add a few drops of essential oil. Place a piece of cheesecloth over the opening of the jar and tie. Set this jar wherever you need freshening.
  • Bake a loaf of gluten-free almond or coconut bread.
  • Place a simmering pot of water with a cinnamon stick and some orange peels on the stove to freshen up your kitchen.
  • Keep your dish disposal and drains clean by pouring in 1/2 cup of baking soda, followed by 1 cup of vinegar – rinse well with hot water.
  • Keep a small dish of borax in areas you wish to freshen, it will absorb odors.
  • Run white vinegar through your dishwasher once a week.

Homemade Air Freshener

  • Fill a medium-sized spray bottle with water
  • Add 1 teaspoon peppermint essential oil
  • Add 1 teaspoon orange essential oil
  • Add 1 teaspoon lemon essential oil
  • Shake and spray

-The Alternative Daily


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