Many of us enjoy fresh and pleasant scents at home but have concerns about using certain commercially available “air fresheners.” Some of these products are known to contain toxins such as phthalates and VOCs like benzene and formaldehyde , not what most of us have in mind when we think of “fresh air.” Covering up odors with stronger smelling chemicals is a toxic cycle and those chemicals eventually get into our ecosystems.
Bad air quality at home can lead to a myriad of issues. Some very common ones include sinus infections, allergies, and general immune system problems. Keeping the air at home clean is important and making all natural and toxin-free air fresheners is a fantastic approach. It’s easy to do, can save some money, and doesn’t add pollution to the air in your home!
- Houseplants. Indoor plants suck up the bad odors and emit good ones. Aromatic herbs such as oregano, mint, and sage are among those most often used. The fresh herbs are an added bonus.
- Essential oils. Add 12-15 drops of pure essential oil to 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1 1/2 cups of water. Put in a spray bottle (ideally a glass one) and spray when needed. An aromatherapy diffuser will also work. Some popular essential include: Bergamot, Vanilla, Ylang-ylang, Clove, Geranium, Tea Tree, Lemon, Peppermint, Cedarwood, and Lavender. Be wary of oils that contain chemical additives.
- Coffee. Besides being great to wake up to, coffee reduces mustiness in the air. Place a bowl of fresh grounds in areas of your home where you notice odor stagnation. You can even wrap grounds in a coffee filter and hang in musty closets.
- Open the windows. This may not be appropriate for all environments or health conditions but this simple method is one of the best ways to freshen the air. Opening the windows brings in the natural scents of the outdoor environment, plants, and flowers.
- Natural hot potpourri. Try this on the stove: Add 1/2 cup water to a small pan. Add about 1/2 cup of sliced lemon or oranges. Add six cinnamon sticks, a few cloves and maybe even a cardammon pod or two. Bring to boil and let simmer. The aroma is warm, relaxing, and great to use year round.
A step up in efforts to keep the air in your home fresh and odor free is to buy a high quality air purification system. I recommend and use the Guardian Air REME+ Air Purification System. It’s easily one of the highest quality indoor air purification systems on the market today. The REME will get rid of chemicals and odors, not just mask them.
How do you clean up the air in your home? Please share your thoughts!
– Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
- Natural Resources Defense Council. Protect your family from the hidden hazards in air freshners (PDF). Health Facts. 2007 September.