Last Updated on November 23, 2021
Febreze was my favorite scent in college. Didn’t have time to do laundry – Febreze it. Stinky dance shoes – Febreze it. Going somewhere – Febreze yourself.
As I left my oh-so-fragrant college years and my understanding of the world matured, I started wondering if Febreze spray was really as natural as the promotions made it seem. I was surprised (but not surprised) to find that if I wanted a safe, non-toxic air freshener, I was going to need to make one myself.
what are the ingredients in traditional febreze spray?
According to Proctor and Gamble, Febreze spray ingredients are a simple makeup. They claim it doesn’t remove odor molecules, instead it traps them inside of a chemical shield to mask the bad scent with a fake chemical smell. Um – what?
P&G claims “Take a peek at the label. We’re confident you’ll recognize what’s in each bottle…” See for yourself though, there are plenty of ingredients in their list that I don’t want all over my everything!
but is febreze toxic?
The Environmental Working Group extended the Proctor and Gamble list of chemicals when they found 89 separate ingredients!
A University of Washington study found that U.S. air fresheners released an average of 18 chemicals into the air.
On average, one in five of these chemicals were hazardous substances highlighted in federal and some state pollution standards. I would say it’s a pretty easy answer to the question is Febreze toxic. It certainly is!
To pile on, when the EWG conducted more sensitive testing of the air freshener Febreze Air Effects as part of a 2009 study of cleaning supplies used in California schools, they detected a total of 89 airborne contaminants, including acetaldehyde, a likely human carcinogen according to the EPA.
Some of those chemicals include:
- BHT — a known neurotoxin, a hormone disruptor, immune system toxin, and irritant to the skin, eyes, and lungs.
- Propylene Glycol — also a known carcinogen, propylene glycol is toxic to the immune system, is linked to allergies, accumulates in the body and irritates the skin, eyes, and lungs
- Acetaldehyde — a known carcinogen, that has reproductive and development effects immune system toxin, and irritant to the skin, eyes, and lungs.
- Fragrance — This is one of the four disclosed ingredients. However, on its own, it can contain up to 400 ingredients, most of which 95% are petrochemicals. Exposure to fragrances can damage the central nervous system and cause depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope, behavioral damages, headaches, dizziness, rashes, hyper-pigmentation, vomiting, coughing, and skin irritation. the most common chemicals in fragrances are ethanol, benzaldehyde, benzyl acetate, a-pinene, acetone, benzyl alcohol, ethyl acetate, linalook, a-terpinene, methylene chloride, and a-terpineol. Most of these ingredients were found in Febreze.
- 1,3-Dichloro-2-propanol — known carcinogen
Woah. Scary right? But, what if I told you there was a cheaper, easier, and safer solution?
how to create your own natural non toxic air freshener
There are a number of ways to DIY Febreze. Using a homemade formula still provides you with the same smell-masking capabilities but provides a truly non-toxic air freshener that you can feel comfortable spraying all around your environment.
febreeze DIY : Vodka Spray
- 1 part vodka
- 1 part water
In a spray bottle pour it half full of vodka. For the other half pour in distilled or filtered water. Give it a good shake and spray.
Homemade Febreze is literally that simple. Vodka is a disinfectant. It also has a very low likelihood of reacting with any colors or fabrics in your home. It is the easiest version of homemade Febreze and you will find it is just as effective at removing odors in the environment.
destroy odors naturally
When it hits your carpet, dance shoes, or sweaters, it will destroy the bacteria causing odor. Some ask if my house will smell like a bar. The answer is no. There is a light scent of vodka when you first spray it, but that dissipates in about 5 minutes and takes the other smells with it as well.
Now, you want to use the cheapest vodka you can find in a glass bottle or on tap. Save the good stuff for drinking. But, isn’t it cool knowing you could safely drink this if you wanted to? Homemade Febreze is awesome!
febreeze DIY : white vinegar and extract
- 2 tablespoons White Vinegar
- 6-10 drops of your favorite extract (almond, vanilla, etc)
- Fill the rest of a medium spray bottle with water
For this method of making your own natural air freshener, use white vinegar and water as the primary disinfecting base. Spraying that alone all over the house will definitely remove the odor you are trying to kill, but might leave you with one that isn’t that much better. If you add a natural extract to the mix though, the mixture will take on a very pleasant scent and leave you wanting to spray it all day.
can I use essential oils in my homemade febreeze?
The answer is absolutely yes. Choose your favorite oil and add a few drops to any of the DIY Febreze recipes above. Two things to be aware of.
- Essential oils may stain certain kinds of fabrics. Definitely test before you go too far. I would be careful with suedes, silks, and even some cottons as the oil may stick and show. Test, test test!
- Shake it up! Oil and water go together like…well…oil and water. To ensure you get an even scent and mixture, it’s important to give your DIY mixture a good shake before each use.
what about infusing my DIY Febreze with citrus?
Citrus will certainly go well with any of these natural solutions. Adding lemon or orange is an all natural way to keep your air freshener non toxic. As with essential oils, be careful and test fabrics before you spray. Certain types of citrus will not react well with certain types of fabric.
What do you use to freshen your home? Let us know in the comments.