Let’s start with the bad and ugly, as that is what is on the market in great abundance. I have yet to find anything that is natural, organic, and not harmful to our health.
The EPA has identified several ingredients that are in commercially produced air fresheners. These include petroleum distillates, formaldehyde, p-dichlorobenzene, and aerosol propellants for canned air fresheners. Other possible additives include ethanol, phenol, and benzyl alcohol. Added to these are the fragrances, which for the most part are a combination of synthetic chemicals.
I’ve been using them for years. I thought they were fine!
No, they really aren’t. The toxic mix can cause ailments such as asthma, cancer, liver damage, anemia, and hormonal disruptions. Furthermore, the scents that are put in air fresheners don’t really freshen the air. What they do instead is fool our nervous system by masking the odor, thus altering our perception of smell. These chemicals can also work by laying down a film in our noses that keeps us from smelling the offending substance.
That’s not good. What do I use instead?
Good question. There isn’t really anything on the market that I can really recommend. An internet search does suggest some home remedies, which I’ll pass on here. These are the best options right now, in no particular order, and all could be used in a bathroom or in any other part of the house.
1. Make a pomander. Poke holes in an orange with a small skewer and stick cloves in the holes. Then cure in the oven at a low temperature (200 – 220 degrees) for about an hour, before setting out.
2. Put out a potpourri of dried herbs in a nice bowl, using such things as lavender, rosebuds, sage, bay leaves, lemon verbena, citrus peel, cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, and cloves.
3. Get creative with baking soda. By itself, baking soda is an excellent odor absorber. If you mix in a few drops of an essential oil, it becomes a nice air freshener as well. Maggie, who has a blog called Smashed Peas and Carrots, suggest that you can put this mixture in a mason jar with a ring lid closer, and instead of capping it with a solid lid, poke some holes in a piece of wax paper and screw that onto the top of the mason jar. Try lavender or lemon essential oils, or just mix some vanilla into the baking soda. If you have issues with a glass container, especially around children, or in the bathroom, you could use a plastic cup and hold the wax paper on with a rubber band.
4. Another suggestion specifically for the bathroom comes from Crunchy Betty – keep a bottle of eucalyptus oil by the commode, and add a few drops to the toilet bowl before going “number two.”
5. Why not make your toilet paper roll a vehicle for essential oils or perhaps some vanilla? Just add a drop or two to the inside of the roll.
I hope one of these alternatives works well for you. If you come up with another workable idea, feel free to write to me about it, and I’ll post it here on the blog, with kudos going to you!