There’s no denying it, walking into a house that smells sweet like vanilla or tropical like your last vacation is amazing.  No doubt about it, air fresheners smell much nicer than old trash and cat litter any day.

But what are air fresheners made from?

Are they safe to be inhaling on a consistent basis?

To answer these questions, we will examine the typical ingredients found in air fresheners and offer non-toxic alternatives.

Common Ingredients

Although most manufacturers of air fresheners do not disclose every ingredient, here is a list of the most common ingredients found in many types of off-the-shelf air fresheners.


  • a blanket term used to describe a multitude of potentially toxic chemical compounds, including:
    • phthalates: hazardous chemicals known to cause hormonal
      abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems

      • manufacturers do not have to disclose these on the ingredients list


  • carcinogen
    • known to cause leukemia in humans


  • carcinogen
    • known to cause nasopharyngeal cancer and leukemia


  • possible carcinogen in humans

This is by no means a complete list of ingredients found in air fresheners. However, the number of carcinogens or straight-up toxic ingredients on this small list should be alarming to any of us who use or have ever used a run-of-the-mill, conventional air freshener.

Given the number of toxic, potentially carcinogenic ingredients listed, conventional air fresheners are absolutely not safe to be inhaling on a daily basis.

One of the main problems is that manufacturers are not required to disclose all of the ingredients, most likely for proprietary reasons. This leaves consumers in the dark about what is actually in their products.

Lucky for us, there are some things we can do to prevent our association with the toxic carcinogenic ingredients found in conventional air fresheners.

Stop using them altogether

That’s right, instead of covering up and masking an unpleasant odor, find the source and eliminate it!

Sure, it’s more work cleaning than just spraying a toxic fragrance around, but you won’t be inhaling questionable aerosols and you will have finally gotten to the root of your smelly problem.

Crack a window

Along the same lines as the previous suggestion, an open window can work magic on a musty, stale smelling area.

Take it a step further and stick a fan in the room to get the air circulating and bad smell out for good.


You can make your own air freshener or deodorizer using baking soda, vinegar, essential oils, and other household ingredients.

Here is a list of great resources for you DIYers:

Store Bought

Don’t have the time to make your own natural air freshener? No worries, there are some air fresheners you can buy that aren’t filled with toxic chemicals. YAY!

Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag 

Made from bamboo charcoal, this air purifier (Amazon link) has some great features, including:

  • absorbs odors
  • fragrance-free
  • chemical-free
  • non-toxic
  • great for home and vehicle use
  • good for two years

Grow Fragrance

Looking to replace your Febreeze air freshener with a natural one? Look no further, Grow Fragrance just may be the solution.

This spray air freshener is made from essential oils, has a transparent ingredient list, and is 100% plant-based.


It is also:

  • toxic-free
  • great for fabrics
  • an odor eliminator
  • pleasant smelling with several fragrances to choose from

Honestly, your best bet when it comes to air fresheners is to do your best to eliminate the source of the smell. That is by far the safest method. Stay away from store-bought air fresheners that do not show their complete ingredients list, that is a red flag for sure.

If you want to walk into a nice smelling house, try diffusing some essential oils, that is probably your safest bet besides just opening a window.

It’s unfortunate that we have to be so wary about the products we purchase, but this is the reality we live in. Manufacturers can hide dangerous ingredients under ‘proprietary’ reasons. We as consumers need to be educated on the products we purchase in order to do our best to keep harmful, unsafe, toxic products out of our lives as best we can.

What do you use to freshen your home? Do you have any secret, natural air freshener methods you would like to share? Please comment down below, I love to hear from you!