3.13.2013

32 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 (flavour of your choice)
Small piece of breathable fabric (I picked burlap because I had some on hand)


Step 1: Scoop baking soda into the mason jar. You want it to be about 1/4 full.
Step 2: Add essential oil to the baking soda. I used peppermint
Step 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. Use whatever you have on hand. 
Step 4: Fumble with getting the lid on for about 15 minutes and think about hammering it into place but then my magic get it to screw on evenly.
Step 5: Nailed it.



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32 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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  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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  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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  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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