Let’s be honest. Non toxic air fresheners aren’t the first thing you think about when you start to green your home. I certainly didn’t. In fact, I totally forgot about it. It’s almost as if you get so used to certain scents in your home that they completely escape your notice.
That’s how integral scents are to our daily lives. The smell of a place can leave a very strong first impression, whether stepping into a home, a restaurant, an office or a public bathroom. And after awhile, they become a part of that place – just like any other physical fixture.
So it’s no wonder so many of us become dependent on conventional air fresheners to make our interiors smell more appealing, but it’s time to ask: does the typical air freshener truly “make your air fresh”?
To answer your question: yes, it most likely is.
Let me put it to you another way. Before we even get down to discussing what’s inside these insidious products, research has proven that air fresheners are outright unhealthy for many people.
One report reviewed air fresheners and a number cleaning products, revealing that they give off both primary and secondary air pollutants. Both these types of air pollutants have been proven to contribute to the onset of severe asthma and allergies.
Air freshener manufacturers are not bound by law to state the ingredients on their packaging. So it’s not surprising that they take advantage of this to sneak in a few ingredients that you really don’t want you and your family to be sniffing on a daily basis.
Like what ingredients, you ask? Here’s a few of the most common offenders found in your average air freshener…
In a study done by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 12 everyday household air fresheners tested positive for containing Phthalates.
Phthalates are chemicals that are shocking for our health. They have been shown to cause cancer, hormonal imbalances, endocrine disruption, birth defects and reproductive problems.
These chemicals have also been linked to a majorly increased risk of Sudden Infantile Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is a condition used to describe an infant that suddenly dies “inexplicably” or “without a known cause.”
Here are 5 different kinds of Phthalates found in air fresheners and what they do in your body:
In other words, every time we want to make the room smell good, we’re damaging our reproductive organs and our lungs!
That’s not all though…
Terpene was also discovered to be present in air fresheners. However, when this toxic compound is exposed to the air, it forms Formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde, as you may already know, is infamous for causing cancer and killing most living tissue it comes into contact with. It has also been implicated as one of the leading causes of leukemia!
1,4 Dichlorobenzene is another common ingredient found not only in deodorizers, but in insect repellants too. In a case study done on 1000 American citizens, it was found that 98% had this toxin in their urine and 96% had it in their bloodstreams!
In mouse models, 1,4 Dichlorobenzene causes liver cancer and tumor growth. It has also been associated with advanced lung problems and many more degenerative health effects.
These toxic ingredients are just a few of many more that are used to contaminate your air with “freshness.”
Now that you know all the bad news – what’s inside the common air fresheners we use on a daily basis – it’s time for a little good news: there are oh, so many natural alternatives you can use.
To be honest, the first time I deep dived into all the nastiness found in air fresheners – I felt sick. And then when I read about the huge variety of natural alternatives that have been open to us all along – I felt stupid.
But those feelings didn’t last long. Once I started actually using non toxic air fresheners, it became so very apparent that this is one household product that’s incredibly easy to replace with a green, natural option. And then I just felt triumphant.
And that last feeling is what I want to leave you with. So without further ado, here’s a roundup of the best non toxic solutions to actually freshen up the air!
An essential oil spray is the most convenient alternative to adopt as it is the closest to a deodorizer spray. Many organic brands readily sell these handy sprays, but they are also very easy to make yourself.
Depending on what types of essential oils you use, you can also deter many insects from out your interior!
To make your own, fill a spray bottle with water and add 5 to 20 drops of one or more of your favorite scents into it. Strong essential oils like citrus and clove will need less, softer scents like lavender will need more.
Essential oils also come with multiple benefits when inhaled in the air. A few examples of some great smelling ones include:
An aromatherapy diffuser is any kind of device that takes a drop or two of essential oils and disperses the smell potently in the room.
It can be as simple as boiling a pot of water and adding a few drops in or you can get a specialized stand that heats the oil another way.
Here are some common types of aromatherapy diffusers:
These are by far the most common aromatherapy diffusers. Typically, a ceramic oil burner of this nature will have a hollow or space at the bottom where a candle is placed.
A small bowl is suspended above the candle, in which you can place certain types of diffuser crystals or a carrier oil. A few drops of your favorite essential oil are then added to the bowl for a lovely smell that lingers around.
You’ll want to use a beeswax based candle in the spirit of being non-toxic too (refer to the section below).
These resemble a ceramic ring which fits around an upright light bulb. The ring has a catchment lip where you can drop your essential oils into, allowing the smell to diffuse off the heat of the bulb.
Also known as humidifiers, these are electronically powered devices that send out a fragranced mist into the air. You get ones that are essential oil based and that do not use chemicals in their mixes.
Oh, and we can’t forget about the car! These are small portable versions of electric diffusers that plug into the cars cigarette lighter port. Many of them use a vinegar-water mix, which you can liven up with a drop of any essential oil.
Scented candles are another great way to make a room smell amazing. Be careful though – many scented candles are made with toxic waxes and use artificial fragrances, both of which are linked to harmful side effects.
Instead, opt for natural candles that are made with organic soy or beeswax. Look out for wicks that are made from lead, as combusting these will also create air pollution. Natural candles will use essential oils and other natural ingredients like coconut shavings to scent the room and burn longer.
The best air freshener of all time is proper ventilation. Open the windows for a quick dispersion of even some of the most awful smells.
This works even better if you have some pleasant smelling plants placed just beneath the windows outdoors, such as jasmine or honeysuckle.
Speaking of plants, there are a few indoor plants that indirectly contribute to air freshness by giving out masses of oxygen. Oxygen helps to keep the air cleansed and feeling fresh.
One of the best producers of oxygen is the Snake Plant. It was shown that one snake plant can produce 1/6th of your oxygen supply alone! That means if you were placed in a room without any oxygen, six of these plants can make enough to keep you alive, no problem.
Flowers, herbs and spices have been hung up and dried for centuries to improve the smell in the home. Fresh basil, lavender, chamomile, citrus peels and mint are just a few examples.
You can easily purchase potpourri in bags or make your own with your favorite flowers and herbs. Add a few drops of essential oils to enhance the flavor and then place bowls or sachets of it around your living environment for a pleasant odor.
A pomander is either a lemon or an orange that has pricked with many clove studs. They smell citrusy, warm and are entirely natural.
Engrave thin lines in the fruits skin to release more of the pleasant odors contained within. You can also get creative and make patterns this way, using them as ornaments!
Certain substances absorb odors directly from the air. Placing baking soda in a bowl in the smelly parts of your house or the bottom of your garbage bag can help to absorb unpleasant smells. This works equally well when placed inside your fridge.
There you have it! Avoid toxic air fresheners and rather go for one or more of the above non-toxic solutions instead. It’s damn easy to do and you, your body, your family and your environment will be happier off about it in the end!