Tag Archives | traditional air freshener

Air Freshener Options

Regular readers of Mommy Footprint know a few things about me… I’m scent sensitive and normally can’t tolerate air born particles from air fresheners, plug-ins, perfume, cleaners, etc. You see, when a person is sensitive to chemical scent, you can smell things most people can’t, triggering headaches and other reactions. So when our friends from Urban Forest Soaps sent me air fresheners to review I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I do know lots of people that won’t give up the convenience of a spray to combat odor so I tried the air freshener/linen spray and tested on my mattress, pillows, and used as a room freshener, I was actually surprised that I didn’t get a headache. It was also nice to have a linen spray to use while my pillows were out in the sunlight getting dust mite maintenance. I won’t turn into a daily air freshener user but I’m happy to recommend this to people that need one. And if you’re thinking you don’t need to replace that big bottle of Febreeze or Plug-In – the rest of this article is for you; to remind everyone why traditional air sprays are so bad. Not just for us lot that are sensitive – but the toll they have on human health.

If you read this article and want a 100% organic solution for air freshness  – think back to how our grandparents did things: bake something with cinnamon or open a window. Want a longer term solution? I have a friend named Marisol that wasn’t going to give up her air fresheners and after listening to her reasons why, I know there’s more people that feel the same and want something easy and convenient. A good rule to follow is looking for options that release scent using essential oils. Here is a link to the sprays I was sent from Urban Forest Soap and I like they only contain two ingredients (witch hazel, organic floral water) and have a light scent that dissipates quickly. I tried the lavender and orange sprays and really liked them both. I sent them to my friend Marisol to test for me since she likes linen sprays and room deodorizers to see if I could convert her – she’s also very honest! She wasn’t a fan of the orange spray but is still happily using the lavender and has replaced using Febreeze type products to spray clothing, bedding, air, and her car. I’ll call that is a success story! It is important to note that just because a product contains essential oils – you might still find the scent or oils irritating.

Why am I so against traditional air fresheners? They are loaded with chemicals that cause cancer, effect fertility, and can effect brain/nervous systems. A bottle of Febreeze only lists 3 ingredients on their packaging – do you know how many actually exist in this air freshener? The EWG released an article finding 89 air contaminants within a bottle of Febreze Air Effects and the chemicals of concern according to this report are scary! Here are only three of the many chemicals but it gives you an idea of how serious these chemicals are. Read the full list here:

BHT: Neurotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Occupational hazards

ACETALDEHYDE: Cancer, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs)

FRAGRANCE: Neurotoxicity, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Miscellaneous

Do you want to know what is disclosed on the exterior label of the same bottle of Febreeze tested by EWG? “Odor eliminator, water, fragrance, non-flammable natural propellant, quality control ingredients.” There aren’t regulations on the use of harmful chemicals in air fresheners so as you can see, reading labels with traditional sprays won’t help us. Another place to check for air fresheners is your workplace or school bathrooms. I can’t think of anything I’d rather not have my children inhaling every time they enter a school bathroom than those chemicals found in air fresheners (you know those pink pucks found behind the toilets?  Yeah those!). Allergies and asthma are exasperated with spraying air-born chemicals so make sure you check what is flying around day cares, dance/gymnastic studios, schools, and locker rooms where your children spend large amounts of time. And for those that need something to spray  – Tricia from Urban Forest Soaps has you covered!

This article is being written just at the crest of Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Don’t get forget there is a lot of marketing for synthetic scents to spread the smells of Christmas (cinnamon, candy canes, and trees) around your house. Make sure they are the real thing rather than off-gassing with chemicals. Try this great DIY recipe for the stove top with cinnamon sticks and orange – it will fill your house with scent, without the chemicals. While your reading this article – scroll down further and read a story about my first encounter with a women using Febreeze around my children. My kids were shocked by my reaction but we all laugh about it now.

Related Articles:

Natural Tips to Improve Bedroom Air Quality

Think Before Using Fragrance



How To Clean Your Vehicle Without Chemicals!

The sun is shining and it always seems to emphasize dust – especially in a vehicle. My van is a typical mom mobile – it is for the most part really, really messy. Today we deep cleaned our van and I realized this is another area of our lives where traditional, toxic gimmicks advertising ‘cleaning’ and ‘freshening’ are not necessary!  Here are a few simple steps for cleaning your vehicle’s interior without products that contain formaldehyde, phthalates, or fragrance that off-gass into the small confines of your van or car.

Eco-friendly Interior Vehicle Tips

Grab your Dr. Bronner liquid soap. I’ve written about this gentle, organic, fair trade, made in the USA product so many times. But it is my all-in-one household cleaner that also works great on a vehicle’s interior and exterior. Load up a soapy bucket of water with a few squirts of Dr. Bronner (scented or not) and dust the dashboard and any other hard plastic parts of the car. Eliminating dust is important because dust carries lead, phthalates, and can easy be blown around in the small confines of a vehicle. The rag picks up the dust and dirt and leaves behind a wonderful scent – my favorite scented Dr. Bronner soap is the almond scented liquid soap.

How would you ‘air freshen’ your vehicle? Certainly not by purchasing a traditional air freshener seen in any nearby gas station. These contain synthetic fragrance that besides for giving you a headache, contain phthalates once they are hung and start off-gassing your vehicle. There is a must simpler way; dust using a vegetable based soap with essential oil or simply add essential oil directly into water and dust. Or the most obvious – open your car windows and drive! I blurred the below picture so not to pick on any specific brands but it’s the shelf that represents any gas station in North America and they are all filled with synthetic ingredients.

Interior car windows also need cleaning so before reaching for that bottle of Windex that contains carcinogens that will blow through the small confines of a vehicle, grab a squirt bottle with a few drops of essential oil/water mix and your microfiber window cloth or newspaper. You will have streak free, clean windows without using toxic window cleaners. For people that love fuzzy dice or Angry Bird stuffies – give these friends a monthly freshen with a  trip into the freezer or put in direct sunlight to eliminate dust that will collect on these rear-view window or dashboard friends.

My interior van carpets probably take the biggest beating especially with kids eating in the car. All four of my kids recently discovered spits for the first time this baseball season…my van’s floor looks like the under belly of the bleachers at the field. <grin> Before we head to the gas station with the high intensity suction, a sprinkle of baking soda works to absorb carpet odors in the carpet. My kids love to sprinkle baking soda so it’s a great activity for them. I would recommend using the high suction gas station vacuum and then following up at home with a Dyson or HEPA filter if your kids have bad allergies or asthma. The high suction vacuums are great – but I noticed they blow a lot of dust around so it’s great to follow up with the Dyson.

Time to make your dashboard shiny! Traditional wipes or dashboard sprays that are used to ‘polish’ the hard plastic are no longer needed!  Just like cleaning my stainless steel kitchen appliances, I put some olive oil on a paper towel and wiped down the dash and plastic cup holders in the back of the van. My kids helped and thought this method of cleaning was brilliant! I’ve only tested the olive oil polish on our plastic dash board, if you are trying to a different material, test first in a small corner of the dash to ensure it doesn’t stain or discolor your dash.  I have to say – this is the best tip for reducing toxic cleaning supplies with cleaning your car’s interior  – my dash board is shiny and looks fantastic. No smell either – even with parking the van in the hot sun all day.


Picture of my shiny dashboard:

After following these few steps – you’ll have a shiny, clean, car interior without any toxic fumes! We saved the bucket of Dr. Bronners from the interior because it also works great on the exterior of the van. It’s important to understand in a small space like a vehicle that freshening the air with traditional methods is a really bad idea. Any ‘sprays’ like Fabreeze are horrible for human health – read this funny post to understand how I view products like this near my children. You can avoid blowing formaldehyde around your car interior with doing more than ‘masking’ odor… which is all these air deodorizers do by simply opening your window. And with the method of wiping away dust, you are also removing other toxins like lead and VOCs that are carried via the dust sitting on your dash. I would love to hear back from anyone that tries the olive oil method of polishing your dashboard. Remember not to polish the wheel – it does make it slippery and you want to avoid that when driving!

To learn more about Eco-Cleaning Tips for your home – read here!



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