I have personally never been a fan of synthetic air fresheners, but I remember my college roommate spraying them every time after we cleaned the house. And yes, we actually cleaned our house in college. ;) She would also get those plug-ins and put them all over the place. At the time, I never gave much thought to what was used to make these smelly concoctions. I remember just thinking, they smell kind of gross, but whatever. It wasn’t until my real food journey turned me into a crunchy-hippie, that I started looking into these things. Man, once you start uncovering what a chemical stewpot all this stuff is, there is no going back.
Brands like, Febreeze might want us thinking that we are “finding and eliminating odors”, but what are we really spraying into the air that we breathe?
So, what is really in air fresheners?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “There are four basic ingredients in air fresheners: formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, p- dichlorobenzene, and aerosol propellants”. They also go on to warn us that air fresheners are highly flammable and the solid fresheners usually cause death if eaten by people or pets.
Is a colorless pungent gas, made by oxidizing methanol. Continuous exposure can lead to cancer, respiratory problems, skin conditions, and inflammation of the mucus membranes. The problem is that it’s in so many things in the home, from building materials, to cleaning products and body care products.
Are hydrocarbon solvents derived from crude oil by distillation. They are often used as anti-foaming agents in body care products. According to this state of New Jersey hazardous substance fact sheet, petroleum distillates can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs causing coughing or wheezing. They can also affect the nervous system, causing headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, confusion and loss of balance and coordination. Higher levels of exposure can cause coma or death.
p- dichlorobenzene (p-DCB)
p-DCBis commonly used as a space deodorant and a moth control agent. According to the EPA, the long term health effects include anemia, skin lesions, appetite loss, damage to liver and changes in the blood.
Wow! This is some toxic stuff, right? I definitely don’t want to be spraying this stuff into the air in my home and I am sure you don’t either! Especially since the EPA estimates that most of us spend 90% of our time indoors. They also estimate that the air quality in the average home is two to five times more polluted than the air outside, mostly due to household cleaners and pesticides.
Luckily, we can greatly improve our air quality in our homes by switching to non-toxic and homemade cleaning and body care products! Making homemade air freshener is one of the changes we have made. It is easy breezy to make and it smells much nicer than the chemical stewpots that you find in conventional stores.
I always use glass spray bottles when working with essential oils. The essential oils will eat at the plastic and increase the chance that chemicals will leech from the plastic and into your product.
I love the lavender + clove air freshener that I usually make, but I recently started experimenting with other scents and I came up with this orange and rosemary combination. The orange adds a sweet and tangy smell to the air and the rosemary has antibacterial properties. There is always a bottle of this in our bathroom and one next to Indyanna’s changing station.
Homemade Air Freshener (Orange + Rosemary)
30 drops orange oil (find it here)
12 drops rosemary oil (find it here)
8 drops clove oil (find it here)
8 drops peppermint oil (find it here)
1/4 cup vodka (I use “Ciroc” because it is gluten-free)
3/4 cup distilled water
Combine all ingredients in a measuring cup, then pour into an 8 ounce glass spray bottle.
Note: If you have time, you can also add the vodka and essential oils to your bottle and let it infuse before adding the water.