Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Toxic! Did You Know. . .

Many air fresheners on the market don't actually freshen your air. . .They lace it with toxins like benzene, phthalates, and formaldehyde! Even companies that have taken "pledges to avoid known toxic chemicals" still undeniably use synthetic fragrances.

I didn't think too much about the hubbub surrounding synthetic fragrances and whatnot until I read Keeper of the Home's "Toxins in Candles: Sad, But True." If even the seemingly innocent, pleasing scented candle can be so toxic (and not even just for fragrance reasons!) what about aerosol sprays or scented oil plug-ins that are artificial through and through?

Here are some frugal and more natural ideas for a fresh smelling home.
  • Open the windows--Unless your windows open out onto a busy highway or smoggy city scene, the air outside is probably fresher than the air inside your home. (Think of all the fumes coming from the synthetic materials in your home—couches, foam mattresses, glues, and more!)
  • Bake something! Nothing can beat the scent of cinnamon coming from a warm oven . . .
  • Keep houseplants—all plants are natural air purifiers that can absorb and neutralize chemicals. Aloe is supposed to be particularly good for fromaldehyde. Simple Homemade ran a great article on "growing fresh air" with a list of the top 10 plants to keep in your home.
  • Make your own air freshening spray: Combine equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Shake and use. The vinegar smell will evaporate quickly, taking other odors with it. If you're really not a vinegar fan, you can make this more palatable by adding essential oils.
  • Brew a simmer pot. Fill a large pot 1/2 to 2/3 full and set on the stovetop. Add virtually anything that smells good. Vanilla extract, cinnamon sticks, essential oils, cloves, fresh or dried herbs, slices of citrus or dried citrus peel. . . Whatever you have handy! Bring to a boil and then simmer for as long as you'd like, taking care that the pot doesn't boil dry.
  • For the bathroomI'm sure you've seen this on Pinterest, but I'm going to mention it because I can't believe it actually worked. Put a few drops of an essential oil on the cardboard inside your toilet paper roll. Whenever the roll is turned, it will release the scent. I just tested this today, and wonder how long it will last!
  • Vacuum—I always feel like the air quality in my apartment improves when I vacuum. Kick it up a notch with some deep-cleaning: the night before you vacuum, mix equal parts salt (abrasive and absorbs moisture) and baking soda (absorbs odor) in an old parmesan cheese shaker and shake liberally over the carpet. This is best done right before bed and probably in just one room at a time. (Remember not to leave the vacuum cleaner on the other side of your powdered room unless you relish grainy feeling socks!)

Here's a tip I learned from working at a hotel: To quickly freshen a room, spray an air freshener or fragrance on an air source—the filter of the wall-mounted heat/AC is what was done at the hotel, but you could spray curtains next to a breezy window, or a thin piece of fabric to drape over a fan or vent. Turn on your fan or central air and the fresh scent will circulate and linger. (Of course, at the hotel we used horrible commercial air fresheners, but you could easily get the same effect with your own naturally scented brew!)

Do you have any tips and tricks for keeping your home smelling fresh and clean?