Air Freshener Safety

Who doesn’t like a pleasant smelling home or even that ‘new car’ smell in your vehicle? I can’t argue with that as it makes people feel good to have fresh and clean smelling surroundings. For years I used air fresheners and plug-ins; I loved Fresh Scent and Clean Linen most of all. Clean Linen reminded me of summer days when I was a kid and we’d hang the laundry out to dry. Nothing smells better than wind kissed laundry!

Eventually I noticed a coincidence that each time I used an air freshener, I’d also have a headache. I started to note the coincidences and after several weeks (and a lot of denial) I made a connection. 

Could my beloved Clean Linen be making me ill?

Turns out the ingredients found in many air fresheners, plug-ins, candles and the like do raise concerns.  One cause for concern is fragrance oils which can cause respiratory reactions, headaches, nausea, vomiting, as well as skin reactions. Skin reactions can be a result of air fresheners coming into contact with skin, including touching the oils of plug-ins or synthetic candles. 

Another concern is that some of these products contain formaldehyde and phthalates, both of which are hazardous. Long term inhalation of formaldehyde can cause respiratory issues, and eyes, nose and throat irritation. Phthalates have been linked to interfering with male hormone production, testosterone, and associated with reproductive abnormalities. 

Goodbye Clean Linen.

In hindsight, my use of air fresheners was a bit funny; I say funny because Fresh Scent and Clean Linen were intended to mimic the fresh air outside my window.  The fresh air outside my window. Not only is that air better for us, it’s free.

If you have the ability to open your windows or doors, do so for a period of time and allow that clean air to freshen your home. You can do the same if your car interior smells a bit stale; crack the windows a tad and leave it until the next day. 

If your home isn’t set up for leaving a window open for a bit, you can make your own air freshener with fruit and/or spices. 

Natural Air Freshener Recipe

  • Small saucepan
  • Water
  • Approximately ¼ of a thinly sliced orange, lemon, or lime.
  • Cinnamon stick (optional)


  1. Fill the small saucepan halfway with water.
  2. Add your citrus fruit slices and cinnamon stick. 
  3. Heat the mixture to a boil
  4. Reduce the temperature to simmer, sit back and enjoy; though be sure to keep an eye on it so the water doesn’t completely evaporate away. 

Another option would be to invest in an aromatherapy diffuser and diffuse 100% pure essential oils. 

If you feel like you have no choice but to use commercial air fresheners, please do so sparingly to avoid excessive inhalation. 

Until next time, discover the power of making your own fresh scent.

Formaldehyde. (1992). EPA. Retrieved from

Griffin, S. (2013, August 16). Fragrance Oil Safety. LiveStrong. Retrieved from

Hobbs, A. (2015, September 3). New Study Finds Scented Candles and Air Fresheners Pose Dangerous Health Risks. Woman’s Day. Retrieved from

Protect Your Family from the Hidden Hazards in Air Fresheners. (2007, September). NRDC. Retrieved from

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