Air Fresheners. 'Freshener'. What the heck does that even mean? More like 'Air Pollutener' or 'Air Frightener' or 'Air Make a Lot of People Feel Sickener'. You get the idea!
Most Air Fresheners, whether it's a Febreze-like product you spray, a toxic little tree you hang in your car or something you plug into a socket, aren't actually making the air 'fresh', they're masking odours with a toxic mixture of chemicals. A single scented product can have hundreds of chemicals in it to create its 'signature scent'. Labelling laws protect this 'signature scent' as a trademark secret, so these chemicals aren't listed on the label or may be hidden within the umbrella term, 'fragrance' or 'parfum'. Even products labelled as 'natural', 'green' and 'organic' have been found to contain hazardous chemicals! So what are these ingredients they're hiding from their labels?
The Secret Stink in Air Freshenots
There are many different chemicals in scented products. Two that are particularly troubling are VOCs (volatile organic compound) and phthalates. VOCs are hazardous air pollutants that can be carcinogenic and have been linked to neurological, developmental and respiratory issues. In one study that examined 25 scented products, from air fresheners to dryer sheets, researchers found over 133 unique VOCs, the average per product was 17.
The other concerning ingredient found in almost every scented product is phthalates. These chemicals are used to extend the scent of the product and have been linked to hormone disruption, obesity, cancer and reproductive issues. The Environmental Defence has written about the link between phthalate exposure and asthma development in children. One weird thing about phthalates is they are air-borne but then land and accumulate in dust, so they persist and move around your house.
DIY So Fresh and So Clean
The best way to clean the air of bad smells is to open a window. This lets bad air out and good air in (and yes, even if you live in a city the outdoor air is cleaner than your indoor air). If there's no window, uses fans or air filters to move the bad air outside. Best yet, it's free!
Good ol' baking soda is another awesome tool for bad smells. Keep a little jar of it in smelly places (bathrooms or kitchens) to absorb the smells from the air. Replace every month or so.
One of my favourite ways to make rooms smell nice is dried flowers. My mom grows lavender and dries bundles of it for me. These super-smelling bundles get hung up in rooms and stuck in my drawers so my clothes smell lovely without toxic drier sheets.
Essential oils can also be used to add a nice scent to the air. Add a few drops to a spritz bottle with water and make your own Febreze. Or make your DIY Car Air Fresheners with this adorable video by Tuja Wellness using felt and essential oils.
There are so many ways to freshen the air without buying products that contain toxins. Hope you like some of these simple DIY ideas and if you've got others, please share below!