Are Air Fresheners A Smell You Can Live With?

Remember when you were a kid and you went to Grandma’s farm and she’d have a pie cooling off in the window? Remember how you could smell it as Pa turned his jalopy onto the dirt path that was the driveway? It made you wish you didn’t have to endure an entire meal before you were allowed to dig into a piece of that delicious, fruit filled goodness.


We don’t remember it either, but you still know what we’re talking about. We’ve all been in a restaurant or building with a kitchen and smelled something baking that brought you to a place that may or may not have ever existed for you, and you liked it. How could you not? It created a feeling of comfort and nostalgia that is almost overwhelming.

And it makes your mouth water.

But then reality smacks you like an old gym sock- because that’s what it smells like. And that, dear friends, is not a smell that is nice to be around.

Most of our days and nights are spent in a smelly environment; maybe not smelling as bad as a locker room, but not exactly fresh as a daisy either. Homes develop odors, whether it be the musty smell of moisture collected, the sulfuric smell of rotten eggs, a plate that didn’t get cleared quick enough and ended up under a bed or the shoes hanging out in the darkness of a closet. We don’t even need to talk about B.O. and flatulence…

So how do we deal with the stink? Most people use some kind of air freshener. But is that a good option?

Many air fresheners contain phthalates, chemicals used to lengthen the duration of the fragrance. The problem is exposure to phthalates increase your risk of developing reproductive, endocrine and developmental problems. Even more concerning is that, as Ben Kim revealed in an article on his website, some of the brands didn’t include phthalates on their list of ingredients- even those labeled “unscented” or “all-natural.”

Headaches, earaches, depression, irregular heart beat and diarrhea in babies are common, immediate side effects of air fresheners.

The majority of air fresheners also emit terpene which, when mixed with naturally occurring ozone, creates formaldehyde, which has been classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Studies have also shown that use of air fresheners can even double your risk of developing asthma.

So what are our options, besides doing the laundry more often (which carries its own set of problems)?

1. Take the garbage out every day.

2. Open the window, even if it’s just a little bit in colder months. Half an hour of fresh air will take that stink right out of your home, provided you don’t live a heavily polluted area or Kaukauna, Wisconsin.

3. Indoor plants can do wonders for restoring a fresh smell to your digs. Don’t bother with plastic flora. They just collect dust.

4. An open box of baking soda does wonders for the refrigerator. It works on rooms as well.

5. Speaking of baking soda- try sprinkling it on your carpets before you vacuum.

6. Consider keeping a natural bowl of potpourri out in the open. You could also keep smaller bags and bowls spread throughout your house or apartment.

7. One of our favorite things are essential oils. Not only do they replace foul odors with a pleasant, agreeable smell, they have many, many health benefits as well.

All of these options are better than spraying toxic chemicals throughout your living space. They’re also better than living with nasty odors. Give them a try.