It’s easy to make your home smell great with these 7 inexpensive and effective natural air fresheners. Get rid of the chemical sprays that are toxic to people and the planet and breathe easy!
An important part of creating a non-toxic home is eliminating dangerous chemicals whenever possible. The everyday cleaners and air fresheners we grew up with contain ingredients that can be harmful to us, our kids, and pets.
Why aren’t those chemicals listed? Good question. Under the U.S. Federal Hazardous Substances Act, manufacturers are not required to list all ingredients of household cleaners. Convenient, hmmm?
Toxins in Air Freshener Sprays
Many of us grew up using air freshener sprays, gels, and plug-ins in our homes. What we didn’t know then (but are learning now) is that many air fresheners use carcinogens, chemicals that can aggravate asthma, and affect reproductive development.
Independent lab testing of spray, gel, and plug-in air fresheners confirmed the presence of phthalates (hormone-disrupting chemicals that could be a health risk to babies and young children) in 85% of products tested—including those marked “all natural.” None of the products had these chemicals listed on their labels. (source)
“No problem,” you say. “I have some lovely scented candles that I’ll use instead.”
I have bad news for you.
Toxins in Scented Candles
We stopped using scented candles years ago, when the kids were little. It seemed waaay too dangerous to have a yummy-smelling open flame around a toddler. But there are even more reasons why you should toss the scented candles.
Regular scented candles, like the Yankee ones and the Stinky Bath Store type, are actually a source of chemicals that are as dangerous as second-hand smoke. Most scented candles are made from paraffin wax, which releases toxic chemicals when burned. These chemicals have been linked to asthma, allergies, and even cancer. (source)
Older scented candles, or cheap imported candles may have lead wicks. When burned, these wicks can emit lead into the air at levels that exceed OSHA standards for adults. This makes the air even more toxic for children. (source)
Instead of candles or sprays, make one of these natural air fresheners and breathe easy.
This easy DIY Febreze copycat is one of my favorites. It costs only pennies to make, and is safe for kids and pets. Use a single scent, like Lavender, or a combination of scents (Blue Moon is one of my favorites).
I had no idea that you could make your own gel air freshener until I read this tutorial from my friend Laura at Our Oily House. This would be fun to make with the kids, and would work well in the bathroom.
Diffusers are an easy way to clean and freshen the air, even in a large room. We have one in every room of our house! Check out my recommended diffusers here.
Most of us are familiar with this—it’s probably the method that your mom or grandma used. Place a pan of water on the stove and add some orange rind, cinnamon sticks, or cloves to the water. Bring to a simmer and allow the smell to waft around the kitchen.
Steeping citrus peels in white vinegar is a fantastic way to improve the smell of vinegar. Since vinegar is an odor remover, you can spritz citrus vinegar in the air without the kids complaining that the house smells like a salad (ask me how I know).
Unfortunately, you can’t just bring a plant inside and magically expect the house to smell good. But NASA scientists have studied the use of houseplants to fight indoor air pollution and found that they have a significant impact.