3.13.2013

57 Kicking Toxic Air Freshener to the Curb



Joe is pretty sure that the previous owner of our truck owned a dog who was always wet. I don't notice it because he chooses to cover it up by attaching Febreeze air fresheners to the air vents. It is very hard for me to even be in the truck because of how strong the Febreeze is. I can even smell it on B's clothes after he has been in there only a few short minutes. If I can smell it on them, just imagine what they are breathing in.  The Febreeze tag line is "So you can breathe happy", but breathing in toxic chemicals does not make anyone happy.


I went in search of the product MSDS and it is hard to find. It is not on the Febreeze website, but rather you have to go to the parent site of Proctor and Gamble. If a company has nothing to hide then they will put all information on a product right where you can buy it.  Sadly, the 'New Car Smell' MSDS isn't going to do you any good as rather than be open about what is in this product P&G has chosen to hide behind the guise of proprietary information on their fragrance blend which they say is 100% of their product. The Vanilla MSDS gives a bit more of a break down including the following chemicals:

Benzyl Acetate - Formed by the condensation of benzyl alcohol and acetic acid. It is often used in fragrance blends because of its strong jasmine smell. It may case adverse health effects and has an exposure limit.

Ethyl Acetoacetate - May cause adverse health effects and is flammable.

3,7 Dimethyloctan-3-ol - An artificial flavour additive that is flammable, can cause serious eye damage and is toxic to aquatic life.

Vanillin - Synthetic vanilla used in place of real vanilla. May cause eye and skin irritation. 

"So you can breathe happy" I don't think so P&G.

We have now replaced Joe's Febreeze car air freshener with a homemade non-toxic air freshener. It doesn't just mask odours it absorbs them. The jar fits into any cup holder including the one's you find in the doors so it is easy to find a spot for it. Just shake it up every few days to keep it fresh and replace every 6 weeks.

Making your own air freshener

What you need
1 small mason jar
3/4 cup of baking soda
5 drops of essential oil (scent of your choice)
Small piece of breathable fabric (I picked burlap because I had some on hand)

Instructions
  1. Scoop baking soda into the mason jar. You want it to be about 1/4 full.
  2. Add essential oil to the baking soda. I have used peppermint, grapefruit, Balance, Purify to name a few (not all together, obviously).
  3. Cut a small round piece of breathable fabric that will fit in the place of the lid. I used burlap but you could also use lace or whatever you have on hand. 
  4. Fumble with getting the lid ring on for about 15 minutes and think about hammering it into place but then by magic get it to screw on evenly.
  5. Place in any cup holder in your car. The closer to the stink, the better. 

Have you tried making this yet? Let me know how it turned out!


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Want to learn more about essential oils?  Click here

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57 comments:

  1. Good idea! I'll have to try this!

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  2. Fabreeze is bad news! There's nothing happy about it. I love your simple 'recipe' for a DIY air freshener. I think I could even make them!

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  3. Looks great and super easy! Thanks for sharing!

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  4. If you guys try it let me know how it works out for you!

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  5. I've been wanting to try this. Do you just put the drops in the baking soda, or do you mix them in?

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  6. I poured the baking soda in and then just put the drops right on top of it. I didn't mix it in at all but in a few days Joe will shake it up to keep it "fresh".

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  7. The process looks simple. I would give it a try.

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  8. Awesome post, my hubs is Febreeze crazy! thanks am pinning...

    ~Laurie @ Vin'yet Etc.

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  9. Let me know if you convince him to switch Laurie!

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  10. I can kind of, sort of, see why people love that "new car smell" so much that they would buy a "freshener" that imitates it, but when I looked into what the new car smell actually was, it turned out to be a scary mix of flame retardants and plastic softeners, all very nasty. Your recipe for a real freshener makes so much more sense!

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  11. I use those. I can't smell them at all except for a few minutes the first date.

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    Replies
    1. I had the same experience. Baking soda absorbs smells, so this idea is sort of counterproductive.

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    2. Actually that is exactly what you want to have happen. Traditional air fresheners cover up smells, baking soda absorbs them. Which is what you want to have happen without filling your car with unnecessary chemicals.

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  12. Thank you so much for your recipe, I hadn't though to make my own air fresher before reading this - must Pin!!!

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  13. I do these all the time, I love my DIY air fresheners!

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  14. Do you have to use essential oil? I'm not concerned about the car smelling nice but rather absorbing odors. Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Adriana - No you don't have to use essential oils if you don't want to.

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  15. @Heather - I'm starting with Joe's truck and then will be putting them around the house (as I get more of the little mason jars)

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  16. @Adriana - No you don't have to use the essential oils if you don't want to. You could just use the baking soda!

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  17. @CelloMom - the offgassing of new cars is so gross. Formaldehyde is part of what offgasses and is absolutely toxic so it also surprises me that the smell appeals to people.

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  18. I just made a spray 'Febreeze' with water, baking soda, and essential oils (tea tree and lavender). I just went around my house spraying it, so much better than toxic chemicals!

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    1. How many drops of each oil, how much baking soda, what size spray bottle and did you completely fill the container with the water after adding other ingredients?

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  19. A spray version is a great idea!

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  20. I think the "new car smell" attraction is a Pavlovian reaction, along the lines of "new car = success". Even though it makes so many people nauseous, headachy, dizzy etc. We need to punch through the myth, and remember it's part of our larger problem with plastics.

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  21. Great idea! I'm thinking of trying a pouch version - the bottom of the pouch as something more solid of course but then wrapped with the breathable fabric and tied at the top so it could be hung.

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  22. Yet another reason to buy used cars!

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  23. A pouch is a great idea too! Let me know how it turns out.

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  24. I've been using Malie Organic room + linen spray and biokleen Bac-Out Fresh. Do you think the ingredients look OK?

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  25. Malie Organic spray ingredients includes Organic Aloe Barbadensis, which is aloe leaf juice and so I can not understand why it would be needed in a room/linen spray as it is used for skin moisturization and healing wounds. Kind of makes me think it is in there so they can say the product is organic (70% of the ingredients in the spray are organic they say..and only 2 listed ingredients are organic. 2nd ingredient in their list is SD 40B alcohol - http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/705850/SD_ALCOHOL_40B/. It gets a 4 rating on the EWG. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/705238/PPG-1-PEG-9_LAURYL_GLYCOL_ETHER/ gets a 3 rating. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/704811/PHENOXYETHANOL/ gets a 4 rating and most likely acts as a preservative. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorphenesin is a muscle relaxant.

    IMO I would not be using that product because there are some toxic ingredients involved, I think the organic is being used as a gimmick and because a lot of the ingredients seem odd to be in a room spray.

    Biokleen Bac-Out Fresh - I can't find the MSDS/ingredient list online but they are on the EWG website where they have been given an F rating http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/5016-biokleenBacOutFreshNaturalFabricRefresherLemonThyme and as such I would not use this product either. Have a look at their indepth analysis and why they have given it the rating they have. For me it is the Surfactants being used that are a major issue.

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  26. Very ingenius. I use a box of baking soda inside my refrigerator to absorb the odors.

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  27. We used to get physically ill when we visited my mom at her assisted living facility, because they had those plug-in smell things ... might have been fabreeze, might have been something else. Whatever it was gave us headaches after about 20 minutes, so we had to leave. My mom never really believed it, I suppose because she couldn't smell it, but I can't believe it was goo for her, and of course if it shortened our visits that was bad too.
    I'm going to try making one of those air freshers; I'll bet there are a whole lot of creative ways to use that concept! Thanks for the idea.

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  28. Randy - I wonder if your Mom got so used to the smell that it no longer bothered her. Maybe she even thought it smelled "good". It is like strong perfumes, people around them all the time just get used to it and almost "tune" it out.

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  29. Wow, how easy, and way cheaper than constantly buying air fresheners! Thanks for sharing!

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  30. Totally cheaper! Especially if you can get the baking soda in bulk.

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  31. those febreeze commercials FREAK ME OUT, dirty laundry, rotten food and all you smell is "ocean front sweetness" come on, that's SCARY. we use baking soda for freshening of all kinds! it's my miracle product! sharing...

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  32. Those commercials are crazy!!! And they keep coming up with new one's!

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  33. Hi Jen, how often should I change the baking soda? and how often should i put the drops? :)

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    1. Hi Chelsea - We shake it up every few days, add a few new drops around the 3 week mark and change the baking soda at 6 weeks.

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  34. Thank you Jen for this. I found you through Cello Mom. Great ideas.:) I am excited to try putting a large number/bigger containers in our car + gently washingand filter vacuuming car to attempt to get rid of new car toxins. We can't really avoid new car toxins with used cars as we get leasing through Husband's work;(. But, yesterday's drive and headaches and worry for the smaller people in our lives have me wanting to do whatever green things I can so to help things along. Any other ideas? We would be so grateful.

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    Replies
    1. The car is offgassing which can't be prevented as it is the fabric and plastic that it is happening to. Is there anyway you can let it sit with all the windows open for a few weeks? It could sit in a garage if security is an issue.

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  35. This is a great idea!

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  36. Great idea! Did you think this would help a cat litter smell?

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    1. I have never tried it for that use but some cat litter products has baking soda right in it to absorb odors so the same principles would apply.

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  37. ?Where do you put the jar so it doesn't tip over and spill the contents?

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    1. Hi Laura, I put it in the cup holder.

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  38. I just made mine! Like you, I had problems screwing the lid back on, so I just pushed really hard and was able to get it on haha. Made two so once is going in my car and the other is going in my closet. So fingers crossed to smell of closet goes away haha.

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  39. Omg, I seriously just made this in less than 5 minutes! I love it already! I used a flour sack towel that I already had in my kitchen drawer! I can't wait to put one in my hubby's stinky work truck!

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    Replies
    1. Great upcycling of the flour sack towel!

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  40. Thank you so much for this great idea! I cut up an old cotton t shirt for the breathable fabric. There is always an old t shirt too ratty to donate hanging around.

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  41. Thanks for the great idea! I cut up an old cotton t shirt to use as the breathable fabric. I usually keep them for cleaning rags and now I have another use for them.

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  42. Took me a whole 3 minutes to make. Great idea! Thank you

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  43. Why do you need to put the lid back on? how will you be able to smell the fragrance through the fabric if the lid is on?

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    1. Hi Cherry - You don't have to put the lid on if you don't want to but I would recommend it to keep everything from spilling out and from things getting into it. It's not about being able to smell the essential oils that you have added to the baking soda, its more about the baking soda absorbing what smells might be in the area so you don't feel the need to cover them up in the first place with an air freshener.

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    2. so glad someone else asked me - couldn't figure out why you would make air freshener and then put a lid on it. what is the point??

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    3. 1. It isn't a lid, it's a piece of burlap
      2. So it doesn't spill all over the place
      3. Cats

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  44. But then when you put the lid on, how can the smells be absorbed by the soda, and how can the essential oils be smelled as well? Isn't it better to cover the jar with the fabric and fasten it with a rubber band around the mouth of the jar? Would really appreciate comments since I want to confirm this before making for myself.
    Thank you so much

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    1. Hi there! You put the ring part of the jar back on with a piece of burlap. You don't put the flat part of the lid back on.

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