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Why You Shouldn’t Use Air Fresheners (and What to Do Instead)

In your outlets. Hanging from your car mirror. In your bathroom. Air fresheners are everywhere.

But they can cause some serious health and environmental problems.

We’ll explain the 3 biggest issues with air fresheners and what you can use instead.

Air fresheners cover up smells that can indicate problems

Despite commercials that seem to claim the opposite, air fresheners do not actually clean the air. Instead they mask it.

What’s wrong with that?

Masking smells can hide dangerous problems from you, including:

  • Mold/mildew growth
  • A gas leak
  • Sewer gas leaks
  • Smoke

These problems are serious and require you to actually address the root of the problem to make sure your home’s air is clean and healthy.

Many air fresheners may contain hazardous chemicals

A study done by the NRDC in 2007 showed that many air fresheners release potentially hazardous chemicals into your home’s air. The chemicals they found are called phthalates and have been linked to health problems like:

  • Hormonal abnormalities
  • Birth defects
  • Reproductive problems

In the study, 86% of the air fresheners they tested contained these harmful chemicals—even ones that were labeled “all natural” or “unscented”. And the worst part is that you won’t find these ingredients on the label. Air freshener manufacturers aren’t required to disclose them.

Air fresheners trigger asthma symptoms

For 29.7% of those with asthma said air fresheners caused breathing difficulties and 37.2% found scented products irritating, according to one study.

Related: Asthma Triggers: What They Are and How to Avoid Them at Home

How to clean your air without air fresheners

If air fresheners are bad, how can you clean your home’s air safely? It’s actually simpler than you’d expect. Just follow these tips.

For consistent, lingering smells: remove the source

Most lingering smells are symptoms of a bigger problem that needs to be corrected. For example, if you have a moldy/musty smell in your home, you likely have a moisture problem.
You need to:

  1. Fix the source of the moisture (repair the leak, increase ventilation, etc.)
  2. Clean up the mold

For temporary or infrequent odors: ventilate and filter

If the smell is from something more infrequent (like cooking) you should let in fresh air by opening windows and using exhaust fans.

This is also where a quality whole-home air cleaner can help. A whole-home air cleaner is a super-efficient air filter that removes even the smallest pollutants from your home’s air. 

Further reading:

Cool Today provides award-winning air conditioning service to Sarasota, Florida and the surrounding areas like Bradenton, Tampa and Port Charlotte. If you have any questions, talk to one of our experts for help.