By Dorothy Dobbie
Artificial air fresheners contain phthalates, now being phased out in the manufacture of children’s toys in the United States due to these concerns. There are over 350 different chemicals and allergens in these products, including benzene, formaldehyde and the above-mentioned phthalates.
The toxic chemicals in these products can cause all sorts of allergic reactions in sensitive people. The chemicals can also cause cancer, early puberty, autism, birth defects, reduced lung function and increased asthma rates – the list goes on.
These artificial scents are commonly used in candles, laundry products, sprays, and gadgets to be plugged into the wall. More and more often we are seeing these scents being sprayed in hotel rooms and on public transport.
Run when you detect these odours. Refuse to get into cars that hang the cardboard “fresheners” from their rear view mirrors. You may have to avoid homes that use air fresheners or those pernicious laundry products that promise to “stay fresh” for months. Many people now avoid grocery store aisles where these products are sold.
That doesn’t mean you need to live in a scentless world. Natural essential oils are not only harmless, they can be helpful in inducing sleep or calming nervousness. They come from a wide range of naturally occurring products, such as flowers, bark, stems, seeds and even the roots of plants. A few drops can perfume a large area, or you can use them in a diffuser – there are many of these for sales now.
To truly freshen air, you need to absorb odour rather than mask it. There are a number of products that will do this for you, including charcoal, zeolite, baking soda (use it in your fridge, sprinkle it on your carpet or on upholstery before vacuuming – even use it in shoes). White vinegar will also neutralize odours. So will borax. It’s available in supermarkets in the laundry detergent section, although it is not a detergent but rather a water softener and detergent booster. It helps brighten laundry and remove stains and it makes clothes smell fresh and clean.
Borax is also a natural fungicide that will help get rid of that damp smell due to mould in the home.
Sprinkle borax in the garbage bin – it works wonders to keep the bin odour free. It will also neutralize drain odours. You could use baking soda, too, but borax is cheaper. Sold as 20 Mule Team Borax since 1891, it is still an invaluable product in the home.
Odours are caused by bacteria. Keep things clean with simple soap and water. You’ll be amazed at how good clean smells when it isn’t covered up with the stink of artificial scent!