Good-bye Febreze, Hello Healthy Home!
First introduced by Proctor & Gamble in 1996, Febreze branded products now range from air fresheners to Mr. Clean, gain, and garbage bags infused with Febreze. Initially marketed as a way to get rid of unpleasant smells, Febreze sold poorly until P&G realized that homeowners didn't think their homes had an odour in need of removal. The marketing then switched to linking it to pleasant smells and good cleaning habits instead, which resulted in a massive increase in sales. Once Febreze became well established the marketing went back to emphasizing odor elimination properties as well.
P&G say that Febreze works by trapping odour molecules in a donut-shaped chemical, which leads to the "air-freshener" classification. In fact, the product does not remove odorous molecules, nor does it clean the item it comes into contact with. The odour molecules remain, but your nose smells the chemical product instead. That doesn't sound ideal, after all inhaling chemicals is dangerous and several of the chemicals present in Febreze are known to irritate the lungs. So Febreze is a toxic cocktail of chemicals made to be inhaled.
The most common places Febreze is used have the least ventilation - bathrooms, car interiors, our homes - so the inclusion of toxic chemicals is cause for concern.
Unfortunately there is not much data being shared on Febreze and their many products, but the Environmental Working Group (EWG) did conduct a test for the ingredients of one of their products, Febreze Air Effects.
Shockingly, P&G only disclosed THREE ingredients in this product, but the EWG found 87 chemicals in total! This is only one of a litany of Febreze products, but the fact that only 3 ingredients were disclosed and that so many undisclosed ingredients are dangerous, it's safe to assume that their other Febreze products are equally dangerous.
Some information for some of the 87 chemicals, starting with the most toxic to humans:
BHT - Known as a neurotoxin, endocrine disruptor, immuno-toxicity, non-reproductive organ system toxicity, skin eye and lung irritator
Acetaldehyde - Known to cause cancer, toxic to reproduction and development, immunotoxin, non-reproductive organ system toxin, skin, eye and lung irritator
"Fragrance" - One of the three ingredients actually disclosed, it's a neurotoxin, immunotoxin and allergen
Propylene Glycol - Causes cancer, allergies, toxic to immune system, accumulates in the system, non-reproductive organ system toxin, is classified with "enhanced skin absorption" and irritates the skin, eye and lung
1,3-Dichloro-2-propanol - Carcinogenic (causes cancer)
Limonene - Synthetic form used is known allergen, immunotoxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator
Methyl pyrrolidone - Toxin to reproduction and development, allergen and immunotoxin, non-reproductive organ system toxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator
Alcohol denatured - Also disclosed in the ingredients of Febreze, it's linked to cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity and skin, eyes and lung irritator
Butylphenyl methylpropional - allergen, immunotoxin and and skin, eyes and lung irritator
Ethyl acetate - linked to developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, organic system toxicity and and skin, eyes and lung irritator
Geraniol - Synthetic form used linked to allergies, immunotoxicity, organi system toxicity and and skin, eyes and lung irritation
Linalool - Synthetic form used is known allergen, immunotoxin, and and skin, eyes and lung irritator
Benzaldehyde - neurotoxin, and skin, eyes and lung irritator
Diethylene glycol monoethyl ether - non-reproductive organ system toxicity
Ethylhezanol - developmental and reproductive toxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator
Hexyl cinnamal - allergen, immunotoxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator
and the list goes on for a few dozen more
When considering the above, thirteen of the sixteen are skin, eyes and lung irritants, the cumulative negative effects cannot be dismissed.
The toxic chemicals constantly turn into vapor in the air and attach themselves to hair, clothing, and surroundings. One commonly used chemical is diethyl phthalate, which is used to make scents last longer. It can cause allergic skin reactions (contact dermatitis) and is classified as a skin sensitizer and a reproductive toxin.
Anne Steinemann, a professor at the University of Melbourne, conducted a study, which found that fragrance sensitivity is not only common, but often severe. One-third of participants experienced one or more health issues from scented products. The most common problems were respiratory, including shortness of breath or difficulty breathing;10% had experienced migraines; and 9.5% said they developed skin problems (like rashes, hives, tingling skin, and dermatitis).
Other reactions reported included asthma attacks (7.6%) and gastrointestinal problems (3.3%). Almost 5% of people said they suffered neurological symptoms (dizziness or fainting, for example); and 4.1% reported cognitive problems, such as trouble with their memory and difficulty concentrating.
What's more, nearly 8% of the respondents said they had missed work or lost a job in the past year as a result of feeling ill from exposure to fragrances in the workplace.
“Based on my findings, it’s clear that the health effects of fragrance sensitivities can be immediate, severe, and potentially disabling,” says Steinemann. Her previous research in the United States found that 19% of Americans experience adverse reactions to air fresheners.
Here are some suggestions to naturally eliminate odors:
1. Add some houseplants that have the ability to purify the air. Some potted plants can act as a strong biological filtration system that can gather the dust (with the help of their leaves), attract bad matters and release sufficient amount of oxygen. Some of the best are: Golden Creeper, Umbrella Tree, Dracaena, Peace Lily, Bamboo Palm, Spider Plant, Philodendron, English Room Ivy, Ficus Benjamina.
2. Remove odors naturally from all types of surfaces, consider the best approach given the task at hand. Wash things that haven't been washed in a while, like the bedspread, cushion covers, rugs and curtains. Household vinegar, baking soda and natural cleaners (Elva's All-in-1 Cleaner) can be used to tackle other areas of the house. Essential oil candles, diffusers or incense can add scent safely to your space.
3. Clean the air using essential oils. These are some of the best essential oils for controlling odor and tips to make use of each in your home.
Tea Tree -
This essential oil serves as a powerful disinfectant that kills germs and controls bad odors, which is made possible because of its unique fragrance.
To make use of Tea tree essential oil in your home, mix 2 tbsp. of tea tree oil with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on the areas with the musty odor and allow to air dry. Repeat the process as often as needed to remove musty odors and give your home a fresh smell.
Grapefruit Essential Oil is a wonderful energizing oil that isn't too strong or overpowering. It’s also a powerhouse filled with anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. With these properties, grapefruit essential oil will help remove smoke and stale odor, as well as musty, mildew, smells.
To get the best of grapefruit essential oil, pour 2 cups of cool water into a clean spray bottle. Add 20 drops of the grapefruit essential oil, and gently swirl the spray bottle in a circular motion to mix the water with the oil. Spray the offensive odor with the mixture, and leave to air dry. Repeat the process as often as needed to remove musty odors and give your home a fresh smell.
Clary Sage -
Clary sage essential oil is used as a calming aromatherapy and improves circulation. Sage oil has excellent antibacterial and antifungal properties that make it effective in removing any unpleasant odors from your home, the air, and your body.
To use clary sage essential oil to remove musty odors, fill a spray bottle with 2 cups of water. Add 10 to 15 drops of clary sage essential oil and mix well. Spray the area with the mixture, and allow to air dry. Repeat the process as often as needed to remove musty odors and give your home a fresh smell.
Lavender essential oil is one of the most impressive essential oils for eliminating odor. It has antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiviral, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties.
These qualities make Lavender oil the perfect essential oil for getting rid of that unpleasant smell on your fabric or in your home. This helps to reduce inflammation and is a universally popular scent.
To use lavender essential oil to remove musty odors, 5 to 10 tablespoons of vodka with 20 drops lavender oil, and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray the area with the mixture, and allow to air dry. Repeat the process as often as needed to remove musty odors and give your home a fresh smell.
Peppermint essential oil is quite popular for its therapeutic and refreshing effects, tension relief, and insect repellent properties. It has antiseptic and antibacterial properties that help in removing any unpleasant odors from your home, the air, and your body.
Peppermint is naturally cool, minty and it helps to stimulate the mind. The cool, invigorating scent will leave your home smelling fresh and clean.
To enjoy the cool scent of peppermint essential oil, mix 10-15 drops of peppermint oil with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray the mix on the affected area, and allow to air dry. This mixture can be used repeatedly to remove musty odors and give your home a fresh smell.
Lemon essential oil can help to remove smelly grease and can be applied to even older stains.
It is an amazing and effective essential oil to use for cleaning the kitchen due to its energizing and disinfecting qualities. The invigorating and uplifting scent helps drives away sluggishness and enhances clear thinking.
To use lemon essential oil to remove musty odors, mix 20 drops it in 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray the area with the mixture, and allow to air dry. Repeat the process as often as needed to remove musty odors and give your home a fresh smell.
Eucalyptus essential oil, extracted from the eucalyptus tree, is a purifying, cleansing, clarifying, and immune-boosting oil that is ideal for use on skin, in aromatherapy, and as a surface cleaning agent and a fabric freshener.
Using Eucalyptus oil to deodorize your home is pretty simple. Drop 5 drops of eucalyptus oil in the cup of boiled water, and pour the mixture in a spray bottle. Spray the area with the mixture, and allow to air dry. Repeat this twice and the room will become completely aromatic and it will eliminate the bad smell.
Sweet Orange -
Orange Essential Oil is one of the most popular essential oils within aromatherapy. This is as a result of its versatility, affordability, and wonderfully uplifting aroma. Its aroma makes it one of the best oils to improve the aroma of any room that is plagued with any foul odor.
To use sweet essential oil to remove musty odors, mix 20 drops it in 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray the area with the mixture, and allow to air dry.
Repeat the process as often as needed to remove musty odors and give your home a fresh smell or you could saturate cotton balls in pure orange essential oil, and place the cotton balls in bowls or vases around your home.
Natural air fresheners, from plants to essential oils are simple and safe ways to improve the air quality and even add a naturally pleasant aroma to your home in a way that's safe for everyone's health!