Whether it’s the stuffiness of closed windows during inclement weather or the heat of summer driving you to use your air conditioner, your indoor air can get pretty stale and smelly. You’d prefer a home that smells pleasant and inviting. For many of us, a pleasantly scented home is difficult to achieve if you are living a toxin-free life – and it may even have consequences.
What’s in that Bottle of Air Freshener?
If you suffer from allergies, you know you need to avoid these choices to make your home smell nice. But is there a real danger to use scented products in our home? Cleaning products, air fresheners and fabric sprays that have scents can actually make the air more toxic. A study by NRDC has found the following items in air fresheners:
- Phthalates, which are carcinogenic and can act as endocrine disruptors;
- A VOC called 1,4 dichlorobenzene which can be harmful to the lungs;
- Formaldehyde, which is listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a carcinogen.
Scary stuff you don’t want around your children! Other unhealthy solutions people turn are fabric deodorizers, such as Febreze. EWG’s Healthy Cleaning Guide reviewed 40 such products. More than 50% of them scored a D or F, with only 3 products getting an “A” for safety.
And most scented candles are no better. According to Keeper of the Home, in addition to artificial dyes and scents, candles can release harmful chemicals when burned, including lead (yes, lead!), benzene, toluene, and a whole host of toxins which can be carcinogenic or at the least, trigger allergic reactions You should also know that any candle that contains paraffin may release toxins, including “healthy” soy candles.
How Naturally Scent Your Home, the Safe Way
Now that you know what not to do, here are some steps you can take to safely and naturally scent your home at any time of year:
1. Get rid of stale air.
- You can take some of the same steps as you would to prevent allergies: use a high quality air filter and carefully vent the air in your home by opening windows when you can.
- Make sure your oven ventilation system is properly working or use fans if you are cooking something that leaves a heavy smell in the air, such as frying bacon.
- Have the air ducts in your home professionally cleaned regularly to ensure that the air is flowing properly.
- Use plants to keep your air fresh and full of pure oxygen.
- Use beeswax candles to naturally detox the air.
- Here are 7 more tips to detox your indoor air.
2. Eliminate unnaturally scented chemicals and toxins.
- Throw out everything with a fragrance, including conventional air fresheners and paraffin candles, cleaning products that are scented or use strong chemicals like ammonia. Remember that you will be doing a favor for any guests you entertain who are allergic to these chemicals!
- Use organic or homemade cleaning products and deep clean areas that are rarely touched, such as basements, attics or hard-to-reach spaces in living areas. Check out our Green Cleaning Guide to make safe choices.
- Use HEPA filtered machines when vacuuming.
- Check out these tips for how to remove odors from used electronics.
3. Scent your home with healthy, natural options.
- Use essential oils in a diffuser. Essential oils are not only one of the safest ways to keep a home fragrant, you can choose oils that have a positive effect on your mood, like calming lavender – one of my daughter’s favorite!
- Strategically place Himalayan salt lamps. According to Wellness Mama, these wonders clean the air, reduce allergies and can improve mood. They’re also pretty and unique bit of decor, too. I think my daughter would get a blast from having one in her bedroom!
- Julie Blanner has some amazing tips for creating homemade potpourri so you can scent your home with dried produce. I love this idea because you can use seasonal produce and scents!
Of course, you can also make sure your house regularly smells nice by cooking mild food on a daily basis – but that might be a challenge for busy moms!
What techniques do you use to keep your home fresh and smelling nice without all the toxins?