Automatic Air Fresheners at Home

Automatic Air Fresheners at Home

Our home is our refuge–a place we should be able to kick back and relax and enjoy the company of our family, human or otherwise, and friends. We want our houses to smell good, especially on special occasions like holidays or when we are entertaining. Unfortunately, just about everything we do leaves an odor behind. We are surrounded by scents from cooking, dirty laundry, pets, diapers, stuffy air, and more. To put it simply: Life stinks. Automatic air fresheners quickly replace those offensive odors with almost any fragrance we can imagine. According to a recent market research report from Grand View Research, the use of air fresheners in the home is growing at a healthy rate. Consumers are willing to pay a premium price in order to make their homes smell good. Unfortunately, in many cases, money is not the only thing we sacrifice. We are also compromising our health. In this article, I will discuss the types of air fresheners that are available, the hazards involved in using them, and safer alternatives.

Air Fresheners – The Quick Fix

The easiest remedy for a smelly house is to purchase automatic air fresheners that can be placed throughout the home where they will periodically squirt a pleasant odor of your choice into the room. These are my least favorite of all choices because I do not appreciate being squirted no matter how pleasant the scent is and I don’t think my guests would enjoy it much, either. I also don’t like what they do to my lungs, but evidently many people do not seem to be bothered by them. There are many alternatives to automatic air fresheners for your home, including plug-in air fresheners, gel-based air fresheners, candles, and sprays. All of these work the same way: they replace the offensive odors with pleasant ones. They do not, however, make the unpleasant odors go away.

The Dangers of Air Fresheners

About a quarter of the chemicals in air fresheners are toxic. The Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates these and similar products and they do not require manufacturers to list all the ingredients in their products. A single scent can contain over 100 chemicals, including many that are known to be toxic and others that have not been tested for safety. Air fresheners omit a bouquet of VOCs – volatile organic compounds which easily become vapors or gas at ordinary room temperature. VOCs are known to cause health problems in pregnant women and to their unborn babies and young children. They have been known to cause diarrhea, headaches, asthma and even depression. Limonene, often used in citrus-scented fresheners and pinene which is used for pine-scent, are both known to react with ozone, commonly found in homes, to create formaldehyde and other toxins which continue to linger long after the scent has vanished. These have been proven to cause respiratory conditions. These and other chemicals commonly found in air fresheners cause a variety of health concerns such as cold or flu-like symptoms, headaches, dizziness, throat irritation, or fatigue. Even though some people may not show immediate symptoms, they are at risk for cancer, heart disease or respiratory diseases. Automatic_Air_Fresheners_at_Home_Sneeze

Possible Fire Hazard

There is also some concern over the possibility that plug-in air fresheners can pose a fire hazard. Several years ago, Social Media blew up with stories of home fires that were caused by air fresheners followed by stories that debunked those stories. Since I had a close friend who lost her home to a fire that started at an outlet where she had an air freshener plugged in, I tend to lean toward distrusting them. Candles pose a fire hazard when they are left unattended, especially near flammable items such as curtains or hand towels. Aerosol sprays are flammable and should be kept away from cooking areas, fireplaces, or other sources of heat such as a lighted match.

Odor Eliminators – Another Option

Another option for dealing with offensive odors is to eliminate them instead of covering them up. Baking soda is also a natural odor eliminator. Many people are aware that when placed in a refrigerator, it will absorb odors. It works in other places, too. Try sprinkling it on carpet or furniture and leave for a few minutes before vacuuming. Activated bamboo charcoal is an environmentally safe option that absorbs moisture, helping to prevent mold and mildew. Usually sold in hangable air-purifying bags, these odor eliminators last up to two years. It is recommended to lay them in the sun for a couple of hours each month which allows them to dry out and rejuvenate. There are products that change the molecules that cause bad odors and they take pride in being non-toxic, biodegradable, VOC-Free, and free of artificial fragrances. Yet others change the nose’s receptor sites so that they find it harder to detect the scents. (That sounds scary to me.) The EPA (the United States Environmental Protection Agency) has an interactive tour that illustrates some common causes of poor indoor air quality and what you can do about them. The picture below is a link to their page.

Causes of Offensive Odors

Damp air is often the cause of offensive odors. In areas with moisture such as kitchens and bathrooms, exhaust fans will help. In basements, cover any cracks and use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity below 50. Bacteria is another source of unpleasant odors. In that case, we need to be diligent to clean bathrooms, trash cans, and litter boxes. Cooking scents can often be alleviated by opening a window for a few minutes and allowing fresh outdoor air to flow inside. Many cleaning products contain harmful chemicals and often add to the air pollution in our homes. There are many alternative methods to clean such as using baking soda, Borax, lemon or vinegar to clean. Hydrogen peroxide can often be sprayed in areas where odors are caused by microbial action, like trash cans.

Alternative Solutions

High-quality microfiber, such as that which is made by E-cloth, will remove 99% of odor-causing bacteria and mold, using just water. The fibers grab the contaminants and hold them until they are rinsed away in warm water. An air purifier with a HEPA filter will work wonders to freshen up your home and an air cleaner is useful to help capture allergens that float around in the air. Plants are useful for purifying indoor air. Spider plants, snake plants, and peace lilies are common household plants that can help to remove VOCs.

In Summary

“Clean” does not have a scent. The best way to eliminate odors is to locate the cause and eliminate it. Although automatic air fresheners and other air fresheners create a multitude of health issues, there are many safer alternatives. The Internet is a wonderful resource for finding recipes for natural homemade cleaning solutions. Essential oils will add a pleasant scent to your home if that is important to you. You can place a drop of oil on a light bulb, make them into sprays, or diffuse them. In order to avoid cluttering up this article with ads, I have created separate links within the text to pages that will allow you to shop for Automatic Air Fresheners (not recommended), alternatives (not recommended) and safer options. As an affiliate, I receive a small compensation for sales generated through these links at no additional cost to you. I’m sorry that some items are duplicated; I’m new at this and don’t quite have it all figured out.


Are you aware of the hazards that might be lurking in your personal care products? Click here to learn more about safe beauty products.

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23 thoughts on “Automatic Air Fresheners at Home”

  1. I know a friend who reacts to air freshers, I will make sure he reads your blog post too.

    I know of the fact it could cause a fire hazard. There are some which are not properly made which could lead to fire hazard. It happened once but luckily the man escaped.

    • It is a true fact that air fresheners can cause fire hazards. I am not saying you should try this but if you take an air freshener and spray it on fire you would see that it would make the fire become more violent. I guess this occurs due to the chemicals used in making these air fresheners. I don’t know if they all do this but most I have come across normally act this way.

  2. Great post and good info.

    I never knew about these kind of hazard honestly we have an automatic air freshener inside, and reading this, makes me considering throwing it away. 

    It really has so many bad side effects for your health? That is a big wow to me. 

    Many thanks for sharing this, since it seems I could poison myself without knowing it! 

    • It’s pretty scary. If you do a Google search for “air freshener hazards” or something along those lines, you will find that the top articles are written by scientists and doctors.

  3. Hello Theresa,

    Thanks for sharing the review about this air freshener. Next time I wanna buy freshener I will definitely put this product into consideration following your accurate and precise review. Thanks also for sharing the possible dangers of this freshener too, I for once never thought of the chemical coming out of the freshener as possible danger especially to babies. Your article was interesting and educative as well, keep up the good work. 

    • Thanks for your feedback. I used to take my babies with me on cleaning jobs. It’s important to be careful what we expose their delicate systems to. 

  4. Automatic air fresheners are a nice item to have around. I used to have one in my house but due to every occupant of my house not being able to agree to a specific scent, someone always had a problem with a fragrance, we had to discard it. The best way to get rid of smells and odors is to have proper ventilation and let fresh air flow into the house. There is no air freshener like natural fresh air. 

    • I agree that ventilation and fresh air is best. Unfortunately, some people live in areas that are so polluted that opening a window only makes the problem worse. In other areas, weather can be an issue. In those cases, it’s nice to have alternatives.

  5. Thanks for this informative and educative article, I find every piece of it useful in getting rid of offensive odors in my house. 

    I truly have not used any automatic air fresheners before. Most times I use a spray air freshener but stopped using it frequently when I was told it bad for my health. Even if you don’t recommend the automatic air freshener, I would like to give it a try. I can use it as an alternative in some cases to replace the spray air freshener I use.

    • Thank you for reading my post and sharing your thoughts. I am sorry to see that you would choose the automatic air freshener because they are very dangerous to your health. Please consider the natural ones instead. Live long and healthy! Theresa

  6. I definitely learned quite a few things from this page!  

    The market research report was extremely helpful and descriptive, along with the stats that are included there.

    The “Quick Fix” provided information that I did not know, and I’m sure many others also did not know, along with safe alternatives for the reader.

    “Details on Automatic Air Fresheners” effectively tell the reader why these items are not a good choice to have in their homes.  This section was helpful for health-conscious people. Also, the details you include on VOC’s is an awesome way to educate and breakdown how it can be harmful to our health.

    The link to the EPA page helps the reader to verify for themselves “Common Causes of Poor Air Quality.”  It is an awesome way for the reader to search for details to solidify what you are saying.

    Overall, it was informative and educational!

  7. Wow, I learned some valuable information reading this. I never really thought about the fact that air fresheners are toxic.. I also had no idea that they’re not even required to list all the ingredients. I feel like if that were any other product, they’d be illegal. It was really eye-opening to find out that they can also be a fire hazard. Great article – I’ll definitely be keeping this information in mind for the future!

    • Automatic air fresheners irritate my sinuses and lungs pretty badly and I’m a healthy person. It’s scary to think what they might be doing to small children who cannot speak for themselves. I’m glad that people are becoming more aware of the hazards.

  8. We live in an overchmicalized environment. I’ve done a lot of work to cut down on as many chemicals as possible in my home. Many people today don’t understand the dangers of the chemicals used in home cleaning products and air fresheners. Highly scented products are particularly bad. Manufacturers don’t even have to list all of the chemicals included in fragrance.
    As you mention, there are plenty natural cleaning products such as baking soda that can be used safely, you just need to apply a little more elbow grease.
    Scented air fresheners do nothing but mask the bad odour, they don’t eliminate it. I use a good hepa air purifier, charcoal sachets and diffuse essential oils.

  9. Most of us always like to consider the scent of an air freshener but we never think about how hazardous it might be to us and our surroundings. There are definitely safer ways to give the house a nice scent that would not cause us any health issues and air fresheners should definitely not be one of them.

  10. Hi Theresa, we use a bit of both. Automatic air fresheners for those quick needs and special plants for the longer term. Interesting read this post though. Thanks for sharing.


  11. I am glad you showed me some insight on unsafe automatic air fresheners. This invaluable knowledge may help keep others from getting caught up in a fire hazard. When you say how it is a composite of over a 100 harmful chemical no wonder it’s a carcinogen.

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