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?


  1. I've done a couple of those! Baking especially works, hehe. Smells can drive me crazy! I realized that just cleaning can freshen the air (dust smells!) but learned the hard way not to use strong chemical cleaners, it's not pleasant thinking about all the junk in them, and they smell too. Plain old water, vinegar, borax, (thanks to you) and dish soap is what I use now.

    I threw a pack of lavender incense in a cubby, it sure smells pretty. Burning the incense is nice but not necessary to use as an air freshener.

    My Grandma has a jar of wet potpourri that she'll occasionally throw in rose petals and to keep it moist pours in a little brandy. I have to get her recipe because it reminds me of her and smells sooooo nice.

    1. Wet potpourri and it doesn't ever mold?? :) That's neat, please share the recipe.

  2. I have a huge aversion to scents, lotions, perfume, cologne and especially air fresheners. Even scented candles gross me out most of the time. The one smell I love (besides just letting fresh air sweep through your house) is bounce dryer sheets. I lived in this tiny apartment before I was married. The neighbor smoked and when the air got stale, I used to tape a dryer sheet to each fan blade and turn the fan on. Moved the air and made it smell like clean laundry. Tackiest thing you ever saw, but it worked!

    1. Haha, love it! I have a smoking neighbor, too, so it's a constant battle to keep his air on his side of the wall and my air on mine. :)

  3. crazy as it sounds i used cinnamon powder and sprinkled it on my carpets before i vacuumed!

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  5. When I empty the dust bag in my vacuum cleaner I take a small piece of tissue paper and drop some lavender oil on it, maybe 5 drops. Then I suck it in the vacuum cleaner and every time I clean I get a nice smell in my house. And it's all natural.
    Tip from Sweden.