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A house with a fresh inviting scent is always welcoming. It is not unusual to bring out the air freshener when guests are coming over, or when you are trying to mask an odour. The truth is air fresheners are great, but not all of them. There are so many types of air fresheners on the market, often making it difficult when choosing what to buy. Unfortunately the majority of air fresheners on the market contain highly toxic chemicals that can cause harm to you and your family.


Here we will help you understand what these toxins hiding in your air fresheners are and what they are potentially doing to you and your family. Don’t worry we also have some great recommendations for replacing them!

Common Toxins in Air Fresheners


Whether you choose the plug-in air deodorisers, the self-standing gels, the spray can neutraliser, the scent diffusers, or the decorative spray cans that release scent automatically during intervals, chances are they have some type of chemical in it, that may not be specifically labelled on the package.


Studies provided by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), discovered the common toxic chemicals found in various air fresheners are formaldehyde, benzene, petroleum distillates, 1,4 dichlorobenzene, aerosol propellants and various phthalates.


To make it a little easier to understand here is a quick break down each of these ingredients:



♦ Formaldehyde


Riatta Explains Toxins FORMALDEHYDE


Formaldehyde is used as a preservative despite it being a KNOWN carcinogen (cancer causing).  It is associated with cancers in the upper airway, is a noted as a respiratory, skin and immune system toxin and rated a 10 in the EWG database – the worst possible rating. Despite this Formaldehyde and other Formaldehyde releasing preservatives are disturbingly widely used.



♦ Benzene


Benzene is a volatile liquid hydrocarbon used as a solvent. Its use in air fresheners is probably partly because it evaporates quickly in the air. Benzene is a known carcinogen, once again rating a 10 in the EWG database, and is associated with leukemia. It has also been noted as a developmental and reproductive toxin in humans and is a significant environmental toxin among other concerns.



♦ Petroleum distillates


Many petrochemicals have been linked to cancer and hormone disruption. Petroleum distillates (5 in the EWG database) have been linked to cancer as well as being a high priority organ system toxin. There are also contamination concerns with highly hazardous contaminant, Butadiene (10 in EWG database, cited for cancer and reproductive/developmental toxicity).


Short-term exposure can cause dizziness, drowsiness, headaches and nausea. It can also cause irritation in the eyes, throat and skin. Long- term exposure can cause drying and cracking of the skin.



♦ 1,4 Dichlorobenzene


1,4 Dichlorobenzene is a synthetic preservative and deodorising agent. It is a significant respiratory toxin and potential carcinogen (shown in mice).



♦ Aerosol propellants


Propellants are used to provide and maintain the pressure needed for an aerosol to work. ‘Propellants’ is a broad and vague category. Not all propellants have the same toxicity concerns. Common propellants used however are severe respiratory toxins and potent cardiac (heart) toxins, potentially causing both acute and chronic damage to frequent aerosol users. They have also been linked to cancer.



♦ Phthalates


Phthalates are associated with causing cancer, endocrine (hormone) disruption, and is a noted reproductive/developmental toxin (shown to cause poor semen quality and changes in genital development).


These chemicals have been associated with air fresheners that market themselves as having natural fresh scents. Don’t worry just yet! There are a variety of ways to give your house the clean smell without resulting to using chemical filled products.



Tips for avoiding toxic air fresheners


♥ Remove the Oder - A fresh smelling house is always nice but you shouldn’t jump straight to covering a smell up. You need to make sure to address the sources of the smell. Identifying what is causing your house to smell, means you can deal with the smell head on.


♥ Air the House Out - Open up all the windows and doors for at least ten minutes a day to remove the stale air and bring in fresh air.


♥ Do Not Allow Smoking Inside -Smoking inside causes the cigarette smell to stick to the furniture making it difficult to get rid of.


♥ Use Baking Soda - Baking soda has properties that remove odours. Sprinkle it on pretty much anything, the rugs, the kitchen bin, animal litter boxes, shoes, pour some down the drain to remove drain odours, create a paste and put it in a smelly refrigerator. It’s very versatile.


♥ DIY or Shop Natural - Make your own natural air fresheners or buy from a reputable natural brand.



Natural Air Freshener Recommendations


If you are looking to shop natural one great option is the Planet Luxe Freshen Up Spray. We also personally like spraying Weledas Deodorant Sprays around the room. If you tried them out you would see why! Here are our reviews of these products below.


◊ Planet Luxe Natural Air Freshener Review


Freshen Up Spray – Lavender, Bergamot and Geranium | 200ml $25.00 




Planet Luxe is a great Australian brand that had a range of high quality personal care and household products. They donate 1% of their profits back towards not for profits supporting sustainability. Their ‘Freshen Up Spray’ is free from synthetic fragrances and other toxins. It is 100% natural. The scent comes from a natural botanical blend of plant extracts and essential oils.


I would describe the scent as a lovely sweet floral scent but with a sharp woody undertone that makes it smell incredibly fresh. It really does seem to lighten up a room. There is a slight most but it is not a very wet spray and it disperses well. The bottle is sleek and stylish looking. I love Planet Luxe because they give such amazing smelling products with a luxury feel for non-luxury prices.



◊ Weledas Deodorant Sprays


Wild Rose Deodorant Spray |100ml $28.95 

Citrus Deodorant Spray | 100ml $21.95 




If you are thinking, deodorant spray? I thought we were talking about air fresheners… don’t worry we still are. Weledas deodorant sprays are great light body sprays with beautiful scents of rose, citrus and sage. Because they smell so good I have also found myself spraying them around a room from time to time. Unlike the scent of a perfume, which would be overpowering, these sprays are a decent strength to lightly scent a room and give it a fresh feeling.


I would recommend the wild rose and the citrus spray as an air freshener. They may not last quite as long as other air freshener options but if you don’t use or need a lot air freshener this is a great product you can potentially use for multiple uses. They are great stylish reusable glass bottles with a decent quality misting spray nozzle.


We hope this helped answer any questions you may have been wondering. Have any questions or thoughts you want to share? Comment below!


Weleda Natural Deodorant Spray Review | Actually Works!