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We like our homes to smell fresh not like feet or week old broccoli casserole.

Good smells can make us feel a range of emotions; calm, happy, or upbeat.  There’s actually a science behind how smells make us feel. The olfactory bulb is part of the limbic system which is the emotional center of the brain.  You know when you smell homemade cookies, you think of grandma? That’s because the smell triggers emotion. Literally.  Pretty cool.

Alas, I digress to feet and broccoli.

Febreze is one of the most popular air fresheners on the market.  It’s only around $4 and can be found at nearly every grocery store or pharmacy, making it affordable and convenient.  I get it.  We are busy people who like things to smell good.  But do you know what is actually in a bottle of Febreze?

You guys.  It’s gross.

What is in Febreze?

Good question. It is impossible to determine all of the ingredients in Febreeze or any air freshener for that matter because companies in the U.S. are not required to disclose them.

In 2009, the EWG evaluated Febreze to determine its safety as a school cleaning supply. Results showed the air freshener released 89 air contaminants, including one carcinogen.  Six of the known ingredients are pretty gnarly.

  • Acetaldehyde: on California’s Prop 65 list for cancer and reproductive toxicity.
  • Ethyl Acetate: a chemical toxic to the brain and nervous system.
  • BHT: linked with neurotoxicity, hormone disruption, allergies, and irritation to the skin, eyes, or lungs.
  • Propylene glycol: linked to allergies and skin and eye irritation.
  • 1,3-dichloro-2-propanol: also used in flame retardants, resins, plastics, and rubber; has been linked with cancer in animal studies, according to the California Environmental Protection Agency.  You can see that report here

Febreeze isn’t the only air fresheners containing these ingredients.  These guys are equally as toxic.

  1. AirWick scents
  2. Paraffin Candles
  3. Glade Gel

When you get right down to it, the air fresheners don’t actually remove the odor, they just mask them.  So when you use Febreze and other chemical air fresheners, you are really sniffing up the odor AND the toxic chemicals.

I know that was a lot but don’t fret! There are a number of ways to make your house smell good without inhaling funky toxins.

Natural Alternatives to Febreze

1. Essential Oil Spray

According to scientific studies, essential oils interact with the brain and the nervous system to impact mood and health (but that’s a whole different post). Every time you spray, you will be inhaling molecules of oil so quality and purity are key.  Make sure you buy pure, organic oil without additives. (I use doTERRA due to their quality but I’m not in the selling game.)


2-ounce dark glass spray bottle – essential oils break down plastic.  It’s best to always use dark glass when storing essential oils. 

1 teaspoon of witch hazel – great emulsifier to keep your oil and water mixed evenly.

15-20 drops of Essential Oil (see below) – you can pick according to what smells good or the vibe you want to create in your home. 

Distilled water – tap water contains bacteria.  Keep your spray sterile with distilled water. 


  • Add essential oil to a glass bottle.
  • Add witch hazel – a tiny funnel is super helpful.
  • Fill the remaining bottle with water.
  • Cap and shake before use.

Essential oils options – these are just a few ideas.  There are endless combinations and smells!

  1. Lavender – calming and relaxing effect
  2. Citrus – energy boost
  3. Peppermint – motivating and uplifting

2. Diffuser

An essential oil diffuser is a great way to freshen up your home without overpowering the senses.  Just like the spray, you can pick an oil according to the smell or feeling you want to achieve.  There are a ton of essential oil diffusers on the market and each only takes a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Diffusing Lavender in your room at night will help you have a great night’s sleep.  This is the one I use.  I love it because it’s discreet, affordable, and works really well.

3. Simmer Pot

These are fun in the cold winter months because it makes your house super cozy.  Plus, with the holidays, you will be more likely to have most ingredients on hand.


  • 1 lemon, cut into thin slices
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. orange zest


  • Fill a small saucepan 3/4’s full with water and bring it to a boil.
  • Add the ingredients and boil for 2-3 more minutes.
  • Turn the heat down to a simmer.
  • Add water as necessary usually every 45 minutes depending on the size of your pot.

4. Beeswax Candles

Beeswax candles are pretty cool.  When burned, beeswax candles release negative ions into the air. Most dust, pollen, and indoor air pollutants carry a positive charge. The negative ions released from the beeswax candle neutralizes the air contaminants and suck them back into the burning candle.

Paraffin candles, on the other hand, are the typical tealights and candles you see everywhere. And they are gross.  Paraffin candles are made from paraffin wax which is a by-product of petroleum….like the fuel kind.  After the oil is refined into paraffin, chemists mix in toxic fragrances and colors to make the candle smell and look pretty.  Paraffin candles actually release toxins in the air while they are being burned.

5. Plants

It’s true! Certain houseplants will help cleanse the air and remove harmful toxins and indoor pollutants.   So grab you an Aloe Vera or an Orchid and let them brighten your room and clean out the toxins.

You can read more about it in the following link.

10 Houseplants That Purify Indoor Air


There are several natural alternatives to Febreze but if making non-toxic air fresheners aren’t your thing, these are some great products.

Mrs. Meyer’s Room Freshener – Geranium

Seventh Generation Fresh Citrus Air Care Disinfectant Spray

Immortelle with Jasmine Room and Fabric Freshener

Do you have a Natural Alternatives to Febreze?

Natural Alternatives to Febreze