Most air fresheners do much more to affect our sense of smell than they do to improve the air itself. More to the point, they can pollute your home with a host of chemicals, including phthalates, which work to prolong the life of fragrance. But phthalates have been linked to hormonal and reproductive developmental problems in kids. Air freshener products also typically contain xylene, which affects the nervous system and naphthalene, a suspected carcinogen.
Who wants to take a deep breath of all that?
The good news is that there are alternative products that actually do freshen the air and leave our nasal passages, and our health, alone. Here’s how to spot a green air freshener.
As with any type of product, the greenest ones come in recyclable, recycled and minimalist packaging. Greener air fresheners come in pump sprayers rather than aerosol cans. A green air freshener may also be a scented beeswax or soy-based candle, which eliminates the need for extra packaging all together.
Reading the ingredients should be more like reading a recipe than a chemistry book. Green air fresheners are plant-based as opposed to petroleum-based. Products that list “fragrance” as a stand-alone ingredient are most likely not green. “Fragrance” is a lovely word that usually masks a long list of not-so-lovely or healthy chemicals. A green product will list all of its ingredients, and usually, the natural essential oils that give its scent.
The DIY alternative
Of course, you don’t need to buy a product to freshen your air. Here’s how to make your own:
Add 5-10 drops of the essential oil of your choice to 2 cups of water in a spray bottle and shake. Spray away!
It really couldn’t be any easier. You can create a few different sprays so you can scent your home according to your mood. A few great choices are:
- Citrus to ease stress and lift your spirits
- Lavender to help you sleep and relieve stress
When you go green to freshen your air, you really can take a deep breath and relax!
Kimberly Delaney is the author of Clean Home, Green Home: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Eco-Friendly Homekeeping, published by the Knack imprint of Globe Pequot Press.